E3, FeaturesJoel Szerlip

E3 2012: Grading the Big 3 – Sony

E3, FeaturesJoel Szerlip
E3 2012: Grading the Big 3 – Sony

E3 is now underway and the second of the big three to take the stage was Sony. It seems like every year we as gaming journalists have a tendency to say its the year of Playstation. Well on this year where it doesn't appear to be nearly as prevalent does Sony do something to surprise us?

It’s not that Sony necessarily had a BAD press conference. It’s that it just wasn’t that unique. The beginning of the show just felt like Ubisoft: part 2- that is, after Quantic Dream showed off their game. While I think there’s a place for a company like Quantic Dream in gaming, I don’t think that Quantic Dream has proven themselves to be that company so far, but hey, maybe they finally got it.  Then, Ubisoft. I was also very surprised how much they told, but didn’t show. Promises of things to come, names of games rattled off, and all we see is a logo? That felt a little odd, and led well into their weird (but cool if I was younger and didn’t know how to read) Wonderbook thing, which was where I thought it was cool but completely checked out mentally.

Their exclusives, though, are interesting, and that’s something they ended on well. Where Microsoft didn’t do too much with exclusivity (not counting BS timed DLC), Sony has always done well with it, and Beyond, Playstation All Stars, God of War and Last of Us look strong. Last of Us, I will also note, was so visceral that it made me uncomfortable to watch. How weird we gamers are- watch a man get his balls ripped off and we don’t care. See someone slowly get choked to death while pleading with you to stop, though... absolutely chilling. But here’s the biggest question- where was the Vita? Instead of showing why it’s good to own the system, it was just announced that most games could ALSO be played on the PS3 itself. So what’s the point in owning a Vita? ...Good question! And it makes it feel like they’re already calling it quits on the poor handheld. Plus, where is Last Guardian? IT’S BEEN 5 YEARS! I’m not just confused because it was one of my predictions- it’s seriously weird now. So it was a good show, but there were some odd things left out on top of the uninteresting “not for gamers, per se” stuff in the middle, which kept it from really killing as much as it almost, ALMOST did.

By Hiram MojicaGrade: B

One thing you can definitely say about Sony is that they are consistent. Every year they produce a press conference that is jam packed with exclusives while keeping the boredom and tediousness to a minimum. Firstly, let’s talk about the the boring stuff: Wonderbook. A semi-interactive story telling app for the Playstation 3 using the Playstation Eye. They droned on for a good ten to fifteen minutes about something that most gamers wouldn’t ever use or care about.

However, that was all of the boring stuff. The rest of their press conference was filled with exclusives such as The Last of Us, Beyond Two Souls, Playstation All Stars, God of War Ascension and the newly announced Assassin’s Creed Liberation. It was also nice to see extended sessions with these games as well, unlike Microsoft who showed minimal amounts from what could seldom be described as a great exclusive lineup.

By Alexander Cattell Grade: B+

I have to hand it to Sony this year. While Microsoft focused on a few AAA titles and talked up some new PSN features, Sony’s conference was almost entirely an onslaught of games. They opened strong (Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls), ended strong (exciting footage from The Last of Us) and offered some exciting stops along the way. Other notable announcements include four player co-op for Far Cry 3 (it isn’t known if this add-on was a PlayStation exclusive), a new Assassin’s Creed and Black Ops title for the Vita as well as some content for the PlayStation Move, if you can believe it. Sony certainly beat out Microsoft when it comes to “wow” factor, as the ship to ship combat presented in Assassin’s Creed III was absolutely incredible.

The product I found the most intriguing was the upcoming Wonderbook, a sort of edutainment software suite that uses the PlayStation Eye as well as a book of AR sheets to create interactive storybooks. What makes this venture exciting is Sony’s partnership with J.K. Rowling to develop Book of Spells, a book set within the Harry Potter universe. God of War: Ascension was on hand, representing the most “meh” of the show. The only bad part of Sony’s show? No release date for The Last of Us!

By Allen Kessinger Grade: A

Watching Sony this year felt like a breath of fresh air after a day of stodgy executives, insufferably awkward banter, and stunt casting- Trey Parker and Matt Stone notwithstanding, bless them. Jack Tretton hosted the majority of the show himself, and was humble and grateful with his tone, taking time to outline that this would be a game-focused conference. And it was, but perhaps not as momentous as we would have hoped, and definitely not as broad as past Sony conferences.

Let’s get the problems out of the way first: the Vita. People have recently begun to characterize Sony as a company that builds exceptional hardware, then immediately loses its focus and runs off to make something else. After two exciting reveals in Assassin’s Creed III Liberation and Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified, celebration of Sony’s new handheld came to a grinding halt. Other, admittedly welcome, features such as Hulu Plus and PSOne Classics were also brought to light, but these seem like a matter of course rather than meaningful news. As the minutes ticked away after the Assassin’s Creed showing and Wonderbook (which I think is a genius idea for the younger set) was announced, I feared that we were seeing the same old Sony “alchemy-then-vanish” act. In all, it wasn’t a total loss for the Vita, but it wasn’t granted the stage time it needed.

Beyond that, everything else that was shown made for a decent show. David Cage “graced” us with his presence, using words like “emotional,” “unique,” and “intuitive,” as if he were citing system specs for a PC game, in service of Quantic Dream’s new cinematic adventure title Beyond: Two Souls, a game about Ellen Page as psychic Sinead O’Connor and her friend, Sherrif Louis C.K. Elsewhere, Ubisoft unveiled a new naval segment of Assassin’s Creed III that was stunning, gave an awkward 4-player co-op demo of Far Cry 3, and Sony announced that Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale would be cross-compatible on the Vita. I won’t lie, even as a lifelong fan of Smash Bros. I’m pretty excited for that game.

The show closed with two big demos, one for that new God of War expansion, and a look at Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us that shattered every other game in attendance, at Sony’s show or otherwise. Every second of it was so deliberate, so intense, that I was hooked even though I wasn’t playing. I can’t wait to play this, and not to be trite, but this is the game I saw in my head when Gears of War was first described to me. No date, unfortunately, but Naughty Dog can take all the time it wants if the game at large holds up to that demo.

So Sony had a good show overall. Not enough Vita coverage, and no mention of The Last Guardian were pretty disappointing, but the tone and focus of the press conference, coupled with The Last of Us, made it a stronger conference than most.

By Adam Condra Grade: B+

It was a solid showing from Sony this year. They struck a great balance between killer titles, reminding everyone of the various services they sell and just how much of a powerhouse Sony were in the gaming world, something that has been a little forgotten over the course of the last couple of years. The biggest news for me is undoubtedly the unveiling of two new IPs: The Last Of Us and Beyond. Whilst Microsoft stalled for time talking about multimedia, Sony are pushing on and it is a smart move in keeping people on the edge of their seats when it comes to Sony products.

There’s also a couple of interesting hardware points that once again managed to beat Microsoft at their own game. Further expansion of Playstation’s mobility, now coming to HTC phones, will further the brand, and Wonderbook looks like an utterly confusing but simultaneously inspired idea. I just wish the audience would stop hooting every time a something trademarked is namechecked.

By Ashley Chittock Grade: A

Well as you can see our editors had pretty positive vibes going out to Sony's effort at E3 2012. Check back tomorrow when we grade Nintendo's E3 2012 conference.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.