Here's a little tip, David Cage. The next time you reveal a Hollywood starlet and indie darling as the lead actress in your upcoming game, how about your subsequent video footage has her actually doing something rather than staring into middle distance blankly for ten minutes. Whilst I'm excited for Quantic Dream's next game, I have to say that the presentation did little to actually warrant that itself, proving curious without ever really provoking a reaction. Maybe Kara raised my expectations a little too high, but when it came to the actual game that Cage and his team are making, I can't say I was particularly blown away. The facial tech is nice, the story sounds intriguing, it was wonderful to have something different after a day of relentless violence, but it didn't quite grab me in the way that GDC's short did.
I can't say that about The Last of Us, though. That's how you end a presser, by saving a punchy, brutal, undeniably triple-A exclusive for your finale. I was hoping it wouldn't just be a reskin for Uncharted 3 with extra beards and kids, and that presentation delivered - looking altogether more brutal and very atmospheric indeed. Sony Santa Monica also impressed with God of War: Ascension, although it must be said that by the end of the press conference, I could have done with some colour, maybe one of those indie titles Tretton was telling us about instead of showing us, something whimsical, something that combined Google Maps with Katamari. Sadly not.
After Nintendo, Sony perhaps had the most to prove this year. They'd dropped a new console earlier in 2012, and E3 should have been the moment for market consolidation, the chance to launch an onslaught against the 3DS, blow away smartphone arguments, and make the Vita roar.
Instead it was kind of treated like an embarrassing bastard child.
Yep, Blops Declassified was announced, and PSOne games will be coming very soon to the platform (FINALLY!!!), but where were the other games? Where was that massive list of "launch window" titles we were promised before the console released? Nintendo went on the initiative at last year's E3 with the 3DS, and they nailed it (even if they wrecked all else), they had to. It's not like Sony were demoing a new console. It's not as if they had 23 exclusive games to show off this year (sit still, Nintendo, we'll get to you). The PS+ announcement didn't need fifteen minutes, and as cool as the Assassin's Creed III naval warfare was, we'd seen that game twice already that day and it didn't need a spot that went on for aaaaaaages.
The most worrying thing is that I'm sure the presentation went on for an hour and a half, and I'm seriously struggling to remember just what they filled that time with. The first day of E3 needs to be fiery and flavourful, not frustratingly forgettable.
While it's hard to contain my disappointment that Quantic Dream's next project won't see the return of Kara and her artificial identity crisis, Beyond was a brave and ambitious opener. With little in the way of throat-punches and a restrained and responsible use of language, the demonstration was far more sombre in tone to the usual E3 fare, and absolutely compelling because of it. The inclusion of Ellen Page will undoubtedly raise the profile of Beyond, and our brief glimpse at her breathtakingly realistic virtual avatar proved why.
But, like so many before it, the conference began to flounder as the Vita's answer to Smash Bros took to the stage. I hold nothing against Playstation All Stars Battle Royale, but it'll have to be a lot more fun to play than it is to watch. The Vita got a relatively small showing all-told, but the news that Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified was coming to the handheld gave credence to the idea of Vita as a long-term investment for Sony.
The most exciting news to come out of the conference was that of Playstation Plus, and the PSOne classics headed to the service in celebration of a new model that will allow subscribers access to a catalogue of titles for a monthly fee.
Ending the conference on a spectacular, if grisly note came The Last of Us, which threw us into the middle of a fight for survival against the elements, as well as a group of particularly malicious marauders. It was a much-needed surge of adrenaline that will, if not put Sony's lacklustre E3 2012 conference on the map, at least throw Naughty Dog's latest effort to the forefront of gaming's collective consciousness. And rightly so.
The final press on Monday was one that provided a fluctuating sense of excitement. Beyond: Two Souls had me mesmerised from the get-go, and then we were greeted by the cross-platform news for All-Stars. It was a one-two punch that had me thinking Sony were going to continue the momentum and give us a fantastic presser.
And then they didn’t. Don’t get me wrong; building up more content for Playstation Plus is great news and continues to make it fantastic value for money, and the news of PSOne classics on the Vita will no doubt be welcomed (Final Fantasy VII on the go, anyone?) but it didn’t quite have the punching power of the initial reveals. Wonderbook has the potential to provide amazing ways to encourage reading, as well as provide educational tools, and the partnership with JK Rowling for the Book of Spells will shift it on its own. However, as that section of the presentation dragged on (far too long) I couldn’t help but feel that it will need a consistent supply of content to make it worthwhile. Let’s hope they can deliver.
God of War looked like more of the amazingly slick and shiny same we’ve come to expect from the series, and the naval combat that will be coming to PS3 version of Assassin’s Creed III was certainly refreshing. The news of the co-op for Far Cry 3 didn’t excite me as much as it could have, but the sharing of insanity is never a bad thing, right?
Then came the big finish; 7 minutes of The Last Of Us, which has me thanking my stars I wasn’t between lead character Joel and his will to survive. We’d seen reports that it was going to be grittier than Nathan Drake’s escapades, but this was off-the-chart brutality at its finest. So mixed results from Sony, and with only one proper Vita announcement in the shape of Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, it’s making me a little nervous looking over at my handheld.