This year’s E3 was a spectacular one for Sony and for very good reasons. Though there are many to point out here are my top 5 favorite things that happened during their conference:
#5: Kevin Butler’s appearance at the conference.
Why?: For the first couple of years the PlayStation 3 has been out it had received a lot of negative publicity due to it’s then-expensive price point ($599!) and their very weird/bad marketing campaign. This and the combination of very few great games at launch made people believe that Sony and the PlayStation brand had lost its “cool” factor. What was needed was to capture the coolness and the humor of old PS marketing like the very old but well-loved commercials of Crash Bandicoot outside Nintendo HQ talking smack. Last year we got that in Kevin Butler, Vice President of pretty much anything PS related. His humor and dry wit won the hearts of many, myself included. KB’s jabs at the competitions offerings and his rousing speech at the end of his appearance made for one of the best parts of that show.
#4: Alex Evans (co-founder of Media Molecule) demoing LittleBigPlanet 2.
Why?: The original LittleBigPlanet was the first of it’s kind. It allowed its users to play an excellent and robust platformer with up to 4 people at once through a variety of well-built and imaginative levels. These users would then be able to create such levels online and share with their friends using the very tools the developers themselves had. Also, they introduced us to the very lovable Sack Boy/Girl. Now with the sequel players will be able to not only create levels, but different game types as well. Alex Evans of LBP developer Media Molecule showed us various game types like a reaction game, a deathmatch game, a top-down racer, a side-scrolling shooter (i.e. R-Type), a Real-Time-Strategy game (yeah, really!) and even a 3D-shooter akin to Rez and Tempest. This last I was completely blown away by. And according to Evans the creation tools will be much easier to use with the help of mapping on the face-buttons. MM has really upped their game this time for sure.
#3: David Jaffe revealing Twisted Metal for the PS3.
Why?: First of all David Jaffe is a liar. But in a good way. For a long time now people have hypothesized, theorized and all sorts of -ized words that his development studio, Eat Sleep Play, was making PS3’s new Twisted Metal game. But he has for a long time denied this, going so far as to say he would not be showing up at this year’s E3. But he pretty much fooled and wowed everyone when a trailer for Twisted Metal for the PS3 appeared on-screen. He added to the excitement by driving in a authentic, and scary, ice cream truck with chainguns attached being driven by Sweet Tooth himself and demoed the game for the audience. From watching it it looks like the dark humor and car combat we’ve known from years passed is still intact but with the added feature of 16-person multiplayer online. And as a gesture to old fans classic 4-player local splitscreen will be available as well. A classic comes back to open arms I say.
#2: Release date for Gran Turismo 5 FINALLY announced.
Why?: Ever since the PS3 came out in 2006 people have been chomping at the bit for the eventual release of a “next-gen” Gran Turismo game. Polyphony Studios teased fans, like myself, a hell of a whole lot with the release of Gran Turismo Prologue. Acting like an appetizer it could only sate our hunger for so long. It soon became a joke that his game would never come out. But as news of major additions to the game like World Rally Championships and NASCAR, we were all wondering when the hell this was going to come out. Now we know. An awesome trailer was shown at this year’s E3 with the release date of November 2, 2010. Let the drooling over beautiful cars commence.
Finally, #1: Gabe Newell showing up to tell us Portal 2 will show up on PS3.
Why?: Because absolutely no one could have predicted this. Let’s take a little trip back a ways. Valve, famous for making the Half Life games, has long been a maker of PC games and supporter of the XBOX 360. PS3, not at all. Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve (red shirt above) in 2007 once said, “I think the PlayStation 3 is a waste of everybody’s time.” and “The PS3 is a total disaster on so many levels…” Not exactly glowing endorsements. His main argument was that the PS3 architecture was too clunky to make it viable or easy for developers to work on. But his personal appearance at Sony’s conference and the first time anywhere the trailer for Portal 2 is revealed shows a total reversal of that stance. The addition of Steam (Valve’s own service which includes “cloud” saves onto their servers and automatic updates) makes the PS3 version, in Newell’s exact words, “…the best version on any console.” Considering the history between Valve and the PS3, this is by far the biggest news to come out of E3 in a very long time. As for the game, I cannot wait!
I hope this has been as interesting for you to read as it was for me to write. These conferences are always fun to watch and I thought I’d share some of the details about the better parts of Sony’s conference. The full conference can be found, legal free, over various sites. PS3 owners can even download hi-res versions of it from the PS Store for free so grab them and enjoy!