Sony Focuses On Exclusive Games At E3

Also Reveals Unique Storybook Product

Sony Computer Entertainment of America President Jack Tretton led off the company’s E3 Press Conference by saying it was going to be a tribute to gamers and the awesome titles that would be coming to the PlayStation 3.

It was little surprise then that the very first game showcased was the highly anticipated and super-secret next title from Quantic Dream, the makers of Game of the Year Heavy Rain. Director David Cage introduced the new game, called Beyond, as an exploration of what happens after death. The title will follow main character Jody Holmes through 15 years of her life, allowing the player to grow with her as she explores dark secrets and special powers. Ellen Page will play Holmes, and it was clear from the demo that the girl in the game is modeled after her looks and voice, even though she sported a shaved head.

The gameplay featured a realistic-looking police officer questioning Page’s character as thunder rumbles ominously outside. Strange events occur in the room, but the talk is interrupted by the arrival of a SWAT team, which is gunning for Holmes. We don’t get to see much of it, but she apparently destroys most of the town Rambo style, warning the cops to leave her alone in the future. Somewhat spooky and deeply emotional, you can bet a lot of pressure will be on this one to be another genre-pushing blockbuster.

Next in line was the PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, a sort of battle pit where characters from across the Sony landscape can come together to fight in multiplayer battles. The demo pitted Sly Cooper, Fat Princess, Sweet Tooth and Kratos against one another. Surprisingly, Fat Princess was the winner after three minutes of heavy combat.

The next part of the presentation talked about PlayStation Plus, and Sony’s plans to provide lots of free games to subscribers. This month there will be 12 free games to PS Plus gamers including Saints Row 2 and Infamous 2. And they said this tradition they are starting will continue all year, to give a real reason for everyone to become PlayStation Plus members.

The Vita got a lot of time in the sun as well, especially with the announcement that an exclusive game for the Vita, Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified, will be released October 30th. Another exclusive Vita title, Assassins Creed 3: Liberation features a female assassin operating out of New Orleans during the American Revolutionary war, and has a completely open world to play in.

The most innovative thing shown though was something called Wonderbook, which is a way to bring books alive on the PlayStation 3. How it works is that gamers purchase a real book that becomes interactive when looked at via the PlayStation Eye camera. Then all sorts of magic happens on the screen. The very first title released for Wonderbook will be the Book of Spells, created by none other than J.K. Rowling. The demo showed people using the PlayStation Move to cast spells and learning how to become a wizard.

Because physical text is displayed on the screen, not only does it make novels interactive, but could help kids learn how to read, or read better. In addition to the Book of Spells, the company said that many educational and even reference materials are being planned, so you can visit faraway places when reading an atlas, or watch the stars when flipping through a planetarium book. Sony hopes to have an entire library of titles, literally, when Wonderbook launches.

Gasoline was tossed onto the fire when God of War: Ascension was shown. Sony’s bloody masterpiece looked amazing, and the demo featured non-stop action with Kratos dismembering, ripping off heads, swinging chains and generally being a total badass killing machine.

I was all set to declare the God of War live demo the most exciting thing at the press conference (though personally I’m really interested in Beyond) when along comes the show stealer title that had everyone in the audience on their feet: The Last of Us.

Created by Naughty Dog, which makes the Drake’s Uncharted games, The Last of Us seems to be set in a post-apocalyptic US city and features a main character and a little girl trying to survive while being hunted by what appeared to be a mixture of paramilitary goons and street bums. The little girl isn’t a pushover either. At one point when the main character is about to get shot, she tosses a brick into the bad guy’s head and yells ‘take that, a**hole’ giving you enough time to leap over a table and bash the guy.

Many of the gameplay elements found in the Drake games seemed to be present here, with multiple levels (they were fighting in what might have once been a luxury hotel), a cover mechanic, and a mix of hand to hand fighting, sneaking and gunplay. Near the end of the demo, the main character is getting choked out and the little girl leaps in again, planting a knife into the back of the assailant. This allowed the player to grab a dropped shotgun. The attacker then begs for his life, but gets a face full of buckshot instead. That had the crowd and even president Tretton on their feet. The only bad thing: The Last of Us won’t be out until next year.

Tretton returned to the stage and reiterated that he wanted the focus to be on games, adding that gamers should ‘keep fighting for those ground breaking experiences that make us remember why we became gamers.’

‘It’s been very fun,’ he said. ‘But I promise you the best is yet to come.’

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