Sony at E3 2010: the highlights

Sony keeps it simple, with big games, 3D & release dates

Killzone 3

Last night was Sony's turn to offer a glimpse inside its Pandora's Box of forthcoming PlayStation-related hardware and software, with an E3 presentation high on traditional gaming thrills that rather crushed Microsoft's attempt at selling us a glorified webcam.

The company's main opening thrust was the imminent mass arrival of 3D games on PlayStation 3, with the possible combination of PlayStation Move and 3D gaming putting you "Physically in the game itself" according Sony's Kaz Hirai. Imagine that.

A list of forthcoming 3D PS3 games was reeled out numerous times throughout the presentation, but the clear winner was Killzone 3.

The developer of Killzone 3 promised the crowd the game was built with 3D in mind from the "ground up" - rather than having 3D effects crudely stuck in because it so happens to fit in with 2010's hottest TV technology micro-trend.

The video demo didn't really live up to that promise, to be honest, with a visually intense but rather standard-looking shooter unfolding. Dropships flew in, aliens attacked, men covered each other and begged for "evac" while the audience cheered for the crazy jetpack-based combat sections.

It looked suitably epic and impressive, but what well-produced, Triple-A software product doesn't these days? Killzone 3 release date is Feb 2011 including PlayStation Move motion control support from launch, if you're into the whole clapping your hands and blowing raspberries business.

PlayStation Move games

And it was PlayStation Move that was the second thrust of Sony's E3 conference, with the company wheeling out a list of developers to back up the precise, 3D nature of the motion device. Sony's Jack Tretton was also keen to point out that PlayStation Move has "buttons" on it, in an attempt to differentiate Sony's offering from Microsoft's - while inadvertently making it sound like even more the blatant clone of Nintendo's Wii.

For all the talk of precision and accuracy, new game Sorcery was exactly what we've come to expect from motion control games - a character running around a 3D environment slashing away at angry-looking bad things.

playstation move

MOVE OVER MICROSOFT? PlayStation Move demo at E3

But compared to Microsoft's basic-looking collection of Kinect demos, PlayStation Move did indeed look more impressive. The chap controlling the Sorcery demo waved his arm around above his head, and the in-game character followed.

It wasn't a rough approximation of the movement, it was a 100% accurate recreation of the guy's windmilling. It was almost enough to convert a cynical person to the possibilities of motion-tracking games - if the game itself didn't look like such a by-the-numbers 3D action product.

Tiger Woods then completed his rehabilitation into the corporate scene by being chosen as the in-game character to demonstrate the PlayStation Move support that'll be part of this year's EA Tiger Woods game.

It looked incredibly hard to play. Even the developer - who made it - was struggling to hit the ball off the tee, with the precision offered by PlayStation Move making the Tiger Woods game much, much more like real golf. Might be a good thing, might just ruin the feel and send everyone back to their reliable Dual Shocks.

PlayStation Move functionality for the next Tiger Woods game will arrive as a downloadable extra through PlayStation Network, with a Move-enabled teaser also appearing on a demo disc that'll be bundled with the controller itself. Move has a UK release date of 17 September, with 15-20 games ready from day one - and they'll be priced a little cheaper than "normal" games.

PlayStation Plus

We'd also been expecting Sony to announce a paid-for online service to complement or perhaps even replace its existing free PlayStation Network online gaming area, and we got one - in the shape of PlayStation Plus.

After first criticising "the competition" (Microsoft) for charging users $50 a year for access to online gaming, Sony's Jack Tretton then announced its own premium content channel - for $50 a year.

Of course, Sony will continue to let PS3 owners play online for free, unlike Microsoft, but what you're getting with PlayStation Plus is lots of value added content hidden behind a paywall.

Your $50 gets you options to "expand and enhance" gaming features, like access to beta tests of upcoming releases, full PSN games and PS Minis, and discounts through PlayStation Store promotions.

It'll also add increased functionality to PSN, enabling "automatic downloads" of games, content and patches. If you're one of the people who didn't just sign into PlayStation Network once then go back to Xbox Live, it sounds like a nice deal.

Initial subscribers get themselves WipEout HD plus two PlayStation Minis for "free" - although your freebies will only be usable "for the duration of your subscription," so if you cancel your package you'll lose it all.

The car's the star (for the third E3 running)

The final killer announcement as far as long-suffering Gran Turismo fans were concerned, was an actual, definitely-going-to-happen-now release date for GT5, a game which first appeared on PS3 in public demo form way back in March of 2008.

Gran turismo 5

Gran Turismo 5 release date is, in North America at least, 2 November 2010 - and will be fully playable in 3D. Which goes some way to explaining the rather long wait. Gran Turismo 5 UK release date UK is also November, although the exact day is yet to be confirmed.

And thanks no doubt in part to know it was finally about to get GT5 out of the way and stop people on the internet laughing about its endless delays, Sony managed to exude a quiet confidence about everything it displayed at this year's E3.

The understated delivery of Triple-A game after Triple-A game was in stark contrast to the Sony of previous years - and indeed rather refreshing compared to Microsoft's choreographed whooping and cheering from the previous day.

Sony also used a remix of Reel 2 Reel's 'Move It' on its PlayStation Move game compilation trailer, which always gets the heart pumping and the synapses firing.

That might explain why we enjoyed Sony's show so much last night, but we think it was more to do with its emphasis on having a wide range of software for all its users, rather than an odd focus on one peculiar current trend.

And there were release dates and prices, which made it all feel so... real. Sony has a plan now, and it's looking like a good one.

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