Sony At E3

Sadly, I didn’t watch Sony’s keynote last night. I had some friends over, and although most of them are console-agnostic, their collective history trends towards the Xbox, so I felt that their time would be better spent going over the Microsoft news and videos.

We started watching Sony’s presentation, and saw some gameplay from Uncharted 3. I have to say that it was “OK”, and I’m not coming from a place of animosity towards Sony or Uncharted. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was watching it on TV, and the quality of the picture wasn’t that great. I don’t know if it was due to the presentation, the channel, or both. This was followed by the gameplay for Resistance 3, which I can say I was not really a fan of. It seemed too much like Call of Duty: ruined buildings with holes in them, and collapsed roofs strategically and conveniently placed to allow you a singular route from one side of the map to the other. It seemed way to cluttered. I admit that I am a Halo fan, and I prefer the openness of the Halo maps to yet another shell-shocked, burned out city.

We ended the period after the announcement of the 3D bundle that Sony is offering: a 24” Playstation branded 3d monitor, glasses, HDMI cable and Resistance 3 for $499. I expected $599, so I guess this is a pretty good deal. Extra glasses will sell for around $60 a pair. Sony also announced a really great 3D feature: the ability to have 2 totally different full screen experiences on the screen at the same time. 3D displays operate at 120Hz, normally with the offsets running at 60Hz each. The lenses each pick up one of the two “flickers”, which provides the 3D effect. Sony’s new tech allows one player to see his character and his PoV at one 60Hz with both lenses, while the other player on the couch sees his own character and his own action at the other 60Hz. It’s brilliant, really. Sadly, Sony seems to be the only one rushing into the arms of 3D, which is not surprising, since Sony also produces 3D TVs they’d like to sell you.

What I missed, and what was the real reason I wanted to watch the Sony keynote at all, was the Vita announcement. I checked on the official site and the PSN blog, and when I read about it, I got goose bumps. It has a touch screen on both front AND back, front and rear cameras, Sixxaxis gyroscopic/accelerometer controls, compass, wifi, 3G and GPS. Visually, it’s stunning, but it’s the potential applications that this kind of hardware could muster that really make this a must-have device for me. One idea that seems to surface a lot: augmented reality, thanks to the cameras. Sony has done some AR in the past, with EyePet and Eye of Judgement on the PS3, and there was an AR fighting game for the current gen PSP, but I don’t think it’s available here in the U.S. I’d hope that AR takes off with the Vita, because it seems powerful enough to handle it. Another genre would be location-based games. We’re seeing the start of this genre on smartphones, but most of them overlay crap on Google Maps and call it a game. Put the Vita power behind it, and it’d be interesting to see what developers can come up with. Still, the Vita comes into the world at a good time. Unlike the PSP, which has had PSN and PS Store crammed into it, Vita should have tight integration from day one, working in tandem with the PS3 hardware, passing game data back and forth via the cloud, downloading content from the store…this is how mobile gaming should be done. There’s a lot of holes in the specifics still to be filled in (namely, the AT&T pricing plan for 3G service), so my excitement comes with an asterisk…but a very small asterisk. I’m trading in my DS and some games to Amazon for credit, because they pay better then GameStop.

Last Minute Addendum: I can’t believe I blew over these items: The Vita is priced at $249 for the wifi only, $299 for wifi/3G. This is a real kick aimed squarely at Nintendo’s crotch, and since N has a solid fanbase with cultural franchises, I don’t see this as toppling their mobile dominance. It won’t help sell 3DS’s, though.

Also…Dust 514. I’m kicking myself for not including this one above. Why is CCP talking about their EVE Online-linked FPS at a Sony keynote? Turns out that Dust 514 will be a PS3 exclusive. If that elicits a “huh?”, then you’re in good company. As someone said, Microsoft is very adamant about third-party server access, so that may have something to do with the console choice. Will Dust 514 ever show up on the PC? It’s where EVE has it’s fan-base, so I don’t think that a PC version is out of the question, although we know how well things end up when it’s a console-vs-PC FPS melding.

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