After enduring criticism coming off of their lackluster showing at E3, Sony came to bat yet again at European gaming convention Gamescom. And after watching amazing development after amazing development roll out for the hour-long presser, it’s safe to say that they heard the criticism, listened, and more than delivered to satisfy gamer’s demands.
Sony started with a bang by focusing on what would become a common theme during their conference: the PlayStation Vita. After poor sales figures have continually rolled out for the struggling handheld, Sony grabbed opportunity by the throat and used Gamescom to unveil a host of exciting announcements for the Vita.
First, we were treated to gameplay from Little Big Planet on the Vita, followed by the announcement of Tear Away, a new IP from LBP developer Media Molecule.
What made these games so interesting? The fact that they’re using all of the capabilities of the Vita that made it so unique to begin with. Not only can you use traditional button and analog controls to traverse the game, but you’ll be able to interact with the in-game world by using touch, tilt, and even sound.
This is critical for the Vita. It sits in a difficult market space in our industry, simply because it is competing with the 3DS and mobile gaming platforms. The different abilities and functions of the system used in-game are a critical aspect that needs to be brought to the surface and capitalized on in order to establish a niche for the handheld. With just these two titles alone, Sony has proven that they get this, and that they are moving toward touting the features that make the Vita so revolutionary.
Cross play was also a big part of the conference, showing that PlayStation is not afraid to pioneer the idea of cross-platform play between the PS3 and Vita. Vita players will be able to engage PS3 players in multiplayer on PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale, the Vita can be used for a controller in Little Big Planet, and the announcement of the Vita copy coming free with the purchase of PS All Stars on the PS3 all demonstrated that Sony is moving toward unifying its platforms in a new way that hasn’t been explored at quite the same length in our industry yet. It’s exciting, and from the look of it, it’s more than likely we’ll see this brought to future titles for both platforms as well.
On top of that, we were treated to looks at several upcoming titles for the Vita, including PS One classics dropping on August 28th, Assassin’s Creed Liberation, Killzone on the Vita, and the show-ending reveal of the multiplayer of Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified.
Overall, Sony did what they absolutely needed to with the Vita: they gave consumers a glimpse of its promising future and displayed for us multiple reasons why we should buy one. It was a brilliant showing for the Vita, and if everything pans out right, it’s safe to say that Sony has officially brought the platform back to where it needs to be.
Vita wasn’t the only thing on display, however; Sony also rolled out some new incentives for consumers in PlayStation Mobile and with new deals for PlayStation Plus. PlayStation Plus was touted as offering more free games for subscribers, including Rockstar Game’s Red Dead Redemption (not yet confirmed for North America), and the membership fee has been reduced by 25% for European gamers. Cloud storage has also been increased to 1 GB. One can only hope other online gaming services such as Steam and Xbox Live are watching this development and taking note of Sony’s bold move in rewarding players with free, quality content.
And yeah, we did have to suffer through some Wonderbook footage again, but I found redemption as new looks at some upcoming titles were rolled out for the PlayStation 3 as well, including Japan Studio’s intriguing new game Rain, where an invisible world is revealed each time it rains. The game looked to be a striking platformer set to be released on the PlayStation Network.
We also were treated to a new “teen horror” title for the move in Until Dawn, where players are challenged to survive until the morning as a killer stalks them while isolated in the woods. Yeah, it’s a motion-control game, but I couldn’t help but feel like the title was pretty interesting, to say the least.
And finally, we got a look at the upcoming Puppeteer, a 2D platformer with captivating visuals not unlike a Tim Burton film and an intriguing fantasy-based story. It’s an odd, quirky little title I can’t wait to hear more about in the near future.
We also, of course, got to see a bit more from The Last of Us, where we saw some more footage of the infamous ambush trailer released several months ago, as well as some of the brutal combat scenes seen last at E3. As always, it looks fantastic and left everyone wanting to see more.
At Gamescom, Sony proved to us something that no other company has been able to do this year; they proved that they’re capable of creativity and pushing the boundaries a bit. With a litany of new and interesting IPs coming down the pipeline, new takes on game worlds and environments, and an all-new look at cross-platform play and unification, Sony showed us that they see where the industry is headed, and they’re more than ready to evolve with it. They’ve got a hell of a lot of impressive projects in the works, and I have a feeling that their knockout performance at Gamescom was only the beginning.
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