PAX 2008 gaming coverage – part II

Just some general PAX related news:

XBox 360: Rumors continue to support a price drop coming September 5th.

Fallout 3: Bethesda promises to have some serious DLC to be released after the initial game.  Unlike Mass Effect which only saw ‘one episode’ of DLC which spanned about 90 minutes, Bethesda claims they will have multiple releases culminating in many more hours of content. Yay!

Resident Evil 5: Developer says they will be unveiling a controller scheme that will closely mimic the controsl fo Gears of War.

Halo 3: It appears there are rumors for an expansion pack possibly coming for Halo 3 as it’s been reported that at least 20 new achievements were recently spotted/leaked.

Little Big Planet: There will be a Best Buy exclusive skin that will let your ‘sack-girl’ emulate Nariko from Heavenly Sword fame.

THQ: Showed off quite a bit more of Red Faction: Guerilla multiplayer elements including ‘Team Anarchy’ and ‘Damage control’ modes.  Claims to have ‘very destructible’ environments.  Yay!

Destroy All Humans 3: Gameplay footage shown.  Takes place now in the 1970’s as opposed to the 50’s in the first two versions.


E3 2008: Sony press conference – Day 2



I’m a little late on this because I am a pretty detailed person with a lot to say and with writing the Nintendo report, I needed a small break to collect my thoughts and also give time to the other things I do as well. 

Even though I don’t own a Playstation, (I do however own a PSP) I was still looking forward to what Sony had to offer and possibly counter with Microsoft’s day 1 press conference.  I also needed something to be excited about after Nintendo’s weak offerings.  And dare I say, there were moments I was excited enough that even I wanted to go out and buy a PS3 just so I could play a few exclusive titles.

So Sony’s events was held at the Shrine auditorium, and clearly since they had this by themselves (Nintendo and MS were at the Kodak theater) they were able to build quite an electronically impressive stage and light show.  They had at least 6 very large screens (possibly more) surrounded by numerous (30+) monitors.  It looked very promising to say the least.

Unlike MS and Nintendo, Sony’s host didn’t seem as scripted (even though he was) and more human and thus more believable….and funny.  Funny in the way his jokes and comments felt genuine, unlike the force fed lame lines that Nintendo’s Cammy and Alex for driveling off.

Throughout the event, they had there requisite slides and graphs and charts that are always questionable to me since every company claims the exact same industry leadership, growth, sales numbers, blah, blah, blah.  But Sony did something innovative here….they used the creative aspects of Little Big Planet to build a presentation and it looked so awesome.  A great way to show off the game and keep people interested in sales number and projections.  Kudos to the person who cam up with that idea.

Okay, onto the meat of Sony’s offerings:

  • Movie Rental and Download service: Actually went live the day of the announcement itself, I suppose is Sony’s answer to MS/Netflix partnership.  Sony will offer both SD and HD versions of many movies and shows with direct partnering with the major studios.  SD rates will be $2.99-$3.99 where HD will be $5.99.  You can also opt to purchase a movie outright for even higher, but I don’t understand this feature for any console (360 included).  What happens if you someday upgrade to PS4?  If you download to the internal harddrive, do you always have to keep the console forever to watch them?  There isn’t an option to burn to a DVD that I’m aware of (is there?).  You don’t get all the cool extras that you would get with a DVD purchase (out-takes, gag reels, making of, etc.)  What if I want to take it over to a friends house some day?  Does that mean I need to lug my PS3 over there?  Seems lame.  One neat aspect I do like though, is that if you own a PSP (firmware 4.05+) you can transfer content via a USB cable and watch on the go.  Same if you have a PC.  That’s cool.
  • Hardware:Sony will not be dropping the price on either PSP or PS3, but instead on the PSP will offer some upcoming specialized bundles for $199, and the PS3 will have an upgraded 80GB hard drive (up from 40) on all new consoles for the same $499.  No other peripherals were shown.
  • Sony Home: Ah, the often talked about and just as often delayed Home was shown yet again.  Did mention it was being tested in Beta, but no street date given (surprise, surprise).  What they did show looked graphically impressive and a cool concept, and not to be critical, but I don’t get it.  I buy a console to play a game or watch DLC, not to walk around a virtual house I can decorate and talk with friends in one large virtual IM chat room.  I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t never use it, but just seems like an unnecessary distraction from hard core gamers, which clearly PS3 is targeted at.
  • PSP:No new models or design changes anytime soon.  I was a bit surprised they didn’t have more apps mentioned like Nintendo did for the DS, especially the rumored Skype or phone capabilities.  Two new bundles by the holidays including a Madden ’09 and Ratchet & Clank versions.
  • Resistance 2: Lengthy hands on demo that was visually stunning and impressive.  It felt as the yang to MS’s ying with GoW2.  One of the games I wish I actually owned a PS3 for.  There will be a Resistance version for the PSP which I’ll probably end up getting.  I recommend seeing the trailer or demo…I can’t really describe how impressive it actually looked and jealous I am.
  • Patapon 2 & Loco Roco 2: 2 PSP offerings where shown in a video montage that should have these niche fans happy.  Though Patapon 2 looked a lot like the original, I’ll probably still get it as I enjoy the first one still and a lot.
  • PS2: They’re still making this platform and if they’re accurate with their numbers, Sony is pretty impressive that this thing is still going strong at $199.  So strong in fact they said there are at least 130 games in the pipeline for PS2….they didn’t mention how many were only to be release in Japan though.
  • Little Big Planet: This exclusive for PS3 just looks incredible.  Here is the second game in which I am jealous that it will not be on the 360 and is tempting me to buy one.  There cannot be enough said on how visually stunning and creative the world of Sack Boy will be.  There will be so much player created content, it will be crazy.
  • DC Universe Online: Wildstorm and comic book artist legend, Jim Lee, was on-hand to show us a sneak peak of DC on-line.  This will be an MMO that crosses over to a PC as well that will allow players to be either established super heroes or villains, or create there own and live out there fanboy fantasies.  I kept thinking it looked like a prettier version of City of Heroes, and some of the moves and powers looked exactly the dame, just re-skinned.  Not to many details on how the game works though and how hero/villain creation will be worked out and if (and how) you level up.  I hope to see more details in the future.
  • Greatest Hits: Similar to Microsofts greatest hits, Sony will be taking many of the older titles and repackaging at a $29.99 price point.  Expect a lot of classics here.
  • Motorstorm 2: Announced and a brief trailer.  Looked cool, but nothing innovative I saw.
  • God of War 3: Probably the big announcement was the trailer for the return of Kratos.  Out next year.  No gameplay footage, just a teaser trailer.
  • Gran Turismo 5 Prologue race channel: There will be a unique PPV channel embedded with GT 5 that players can watch both live and taped events and shows related to various car racing gigs within a separate function of the game.  I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s exclusive here.  I’m not a huge race fan, but it seems strange to me to pay additional money to watch a real taped race or car show within a game itself.
  • Buzz series: Various incarnations of the Buzz game show will be made available on PS3 and PSP with future DLC available.
  • Various montages throughout the event showed regulars like Madden ’09, NBA Live, Tiger Woods ’09, Soul Caliber IV, Force Unleashed, GH World Tour, Rock Band, Sing It series, etc.

To sum it all up, Sony had a pretty strong showing that made up for the Nintendo sleep fest.  They showed or at least announced some pretty good heavy hitters coming up, but clearly focusing on more hardcore gaming as opposed to Nintendos casual style and Microsofts hybrid of both hardcore and casual.  ‘Home’ is still in beta and may debut by the holidays, and Sony has a counter albeit not as expansive video service at the MS/Netflix partnership.  I expect to see more PSP titles in the upcoming year too.  Microsoft and Sony clearly taking this seriously, although Nintendo has the Wii jugernaut behind them (despite crapware right now).