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Sony: E3 2012 Press Conference – Needs More Vita

Although the Sony press conference lacked Usher dancing on stage, a virtual fireworks display to end the presentation and a Kevin Butler appearance, Sony presented the most quality content of the three console developers. We already knew about games like God of War: Accession and The Last of Us, but knowing of their existence did not leave me less impressed.

Sony did have a surprise however – the moments that make E3 so special. New intellectual property by the Heavy Rain developers, Quantic Dream, unveiled Beyond: Two Souls. This stunning looking game that features the actual Ellen Page as the main character Jodie (not the oddly similar one in The Last of Us), opened Sony’s conference on Monday with some heavy dialogue from David Cage regarding life and death. I had a hunch that we would see something new from David Cage and his studio, though the reality was more aggressive than the thought.

The demo or trailer, whatever it was, looked visually impressive for technology that is fairly old, though the gameplay elements were not clear. There wasn’t much that could be doneconsidering it was just a conversation between Jodie and the cop, but I later found that it would reflect Heavy Rain’s idea of using Quick Time button prompts to interact with the environment. I suspect there will be more involving action scenes based on the concepts in the trailer due to the explosions and swat teams present. Whether or not Beyond will address the lack of traditional gameplay mechanics missing from Heavy Rain is unknown, but I don’t expect radical improvements.

The presentation was generally strong throughout. The Last of Us continues to amaze and God of War, which some no longer have a desire to play, looks like the hack-and-slash gory action God of War is associated with. Along with the first party games, Farcry 3 and Assassin’s Creed 3 made and appearance, showing off the cringe worthy co-op of Farcry, and ship combat in Assassin’s Creed 3, which with every showing, still manages to surprise me.

Those who were lucky enough to be at the conference in person, were each given a full year of Playstation Plus for free. Of course the audience went crazy, then even crazier when Jack Tretton revealed that 12 free games would be available this month for subscribers. Games like LittleBigPlanet 2, inFamous 2 and Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One, are some of the larger titles available for download. It’s exciting seeing games of that calibre given to you for a 5 dollar monthly charge, which led me to give Playstation Plus a chance.

While there were so many great things happening at Sony’s conference, something happened… Wonderbook.

What a disaster Wonderbook turned out to be. Sony’s resilience to just let go of the Move, has led them to showing an augmented reality, interactive Harry Potter spell book. On top of looking just so ridiculous, it didn’t even work. I will however give credit to the lady who so patiently stuck with the demo, calmly following the on screen prompts, failed attempt after failed attempt, until she succeeded.

I wouldn’t particularly mind Wonderbook’s appearance if it wasn’t for the almost non-existent presence of the Playstation Vita. This handheld, despite having a good launch line-up of software and powerful hardware, is not selling well in the slightest. The future is grim for the Vita, but Sony barely spoke of its software, only dropping names and screen shots for titles such as Call of Duty Black Ops 2: Declassified, Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale cross platform play, and Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation featuring a female assassin. None of these games were even demoed, and if the Wonderbook display only took a third of the time on stage, the Vita could have been properly represented in the rest of that time.

I was left with disappointment and bitterness with both Nintendo’s and Microsoft’s showing this year, while also not properly manage my expectations. Overall, Sony did a great job following what makes E3 so awesome, showing games. Although they could have definitely devoted more time to the Vita and less time to Wonderbook, I came away from their conference excited to play my PS3. If viewers come away with the same reaction I had, Sony should consider it mission accomplished for E3. I’ll document my expeirence with Playstation Plus over the months, to see firsthand if this service is worth the $50.