SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Before he had his derriere handed to him at Waterloo, the French Emperor Napoleon had a saying, "An army walks on its stomach." That lesson was not lost on Sony Computer Entertainment. Each of the game giant's events are catered like a celebrity wedding, as the numerous waiters serving gourmet nibbles and cocktails outside the company's pre-E3 Media and Business Summit briefing could attest to.
But as distracting as the free sustenance and libations were, all eyes became laser focused once the door to Studio #16 at Culver City Studios opened. The satellite of the sprawling Sony Pictures Studios is hosting this year's pre-E3 briefing, and with Microsoft and Nintendo's press conferences already in the can, the onus is now on the Japanese electronics giant and its console, the PlayStation 3.
More than two days before today's happenings, the PS3 dominated headlines worldwide when Sony announced both a $100 price cut on the 60GB model and the introduction of the 80GB model to North America in a $599 bundle, to include MotorStorm. So did Sony steal its own thunder with the announcement? Or, do they have new surprises up their sleeves--a new PSP? An iTunes-like music and video-content download store? New exclusives, perhaps? GameSpot is on the scene, live-blogging the latest details.
[11:33] Conference begins with an abstract video montage of Sony logos and the requisite techno music.
[11:34] Jack Tretton arrives via his PlayStation Home avatar.
[11:34] He chats up some ladies on a virtual boardwalk, then emerges in the flesh.
[11:35] Jack jokes about how his avatar needs broader shoulders, then elicits laughs by joking about hi own wooden persona
[11:35] Tretton: "We're extremely proud of PlayStation Home, and that's why we started with it."
[11:36] He mentioned MotorStorm sold 1 million units--DRINK!
[11:37] Tretton brings out SCEA's biggest success story, the PS2.
[11:38] $26 billion in sales for PS2 games, hardware, and accessories in the US alone. That's a lot of cheddar.
[11:38] Talks up God of War II, and how the kids in Europe like the Buzz! series.
[11:39] Tretton talks about the PSP price cut, and the "Dude, get your own marketing campaign," er, campaign. Note to Sony: Get a new ad agency.
[11:39] More than 140 games coming to PSPs in North America this year.
[11:40] Here comes the PSP game montage.
[11:42] SOCOM US Navy Seals, Tactical Strike, Wipeout Pulse, Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow, NBA 08, God of War: Chains of Olympus, Silent Hill: Origins, Patapon...
[11:43] ...Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08, Sonic Rivals 2, Sims 2: Castaway--apparently being marooned is like a Jamaican BBQ...
[11:44] ..SWAT: Target Liberty (What, you hate freedom?), Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions...
[11:45] ...Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (Calling all goths!), and that's it. Smattering of applause.
[11:46] Tretton showing off his fat pad where he hopes "those hot chicks" can come over. "Are you playing 'Riiidge Racer: Kaz?" Massive laughter.
[11:46] Tretton is going to "chill here on the deck" of his virtual pad. Righteous, dude.
[11:47] SCE president Kaz Hirai takes the stage to show off...an all new PSP that looks just like the old one.
[11:48] The new PSP is 30 percent lighter than the old PSP and 19 percent slimmer with...VIDEO OUTPUT!
[11:48] Shows off new PSP, and is going to plug it into a Sony HDTV (naturally).
[11:49] Shows trailer for Spider-Man 2, then hits the display button. The image is then displayed onto a huge screen overhead and looks remarkably crisp and clear.
[11:50] He hits the display button again, the image goes back to the screen.
[11:50] Video output will allow for showing video and playing games on a TV.
[11:51] Real, sustained applause--people really wanted this. A very good first step.
[11:51] "We encourage people to think beyond the norm--that's what the PlayStation brand is all about," says Kaz. This guy is as smooth as glass.
[11:52] Tretton comes out and makes some more funny, self-deprecating remarks. (They hire Bruce Vilanch to ghost write this show?)
[11:53] And, out of nowhere, they introduce an all-new "ice silver" PSP which will come with the Family Guy: Freakin' Sweet Collection UMD.
[11:54] Suddenly, Chewbacca takes the stage to introduce the new Star Wars: Battlefront PSP pack, which will include Star Wars: Battlefront Renegade Squadron and a White PSP with Darth Vader's face on it.
[11:55] It will be available in October for just $199.
[11:55] Tretton: "Thanks, Chewbacca!" Chewbacca: "ROARRRGHGHGH!"
[11:56] Next up: A PlayStation Network update.
[11:57] 950,000 users in NA, 20 million downloads worldwide on the service.
[11:57] Enter Sony Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison.
[11:58] He touts the fact every PS3 has a hard drive, a big benefit for developers.
[11:59] He intros an all-new puzzle game for both PSP and PS3 called "Echo Chrome"
[12:00] Super-low graphics--game shows an art-class figurine negotiating a series of M.C. Escher-like stairs and mazes.
[12:00] Player rotates the mazes in real time, letting the figure jump from level to level, Lode Runner-style.
[12:01] Very minimalist, very interesting. Crowd is genuinely intrigued.
[12:02] Harrison touts Wipeout HD, which will be presented in "eye-blistering" 1080p HD.
[12:03] Send in the montage! Wipeout HD, SOCOM: Confrontation, and Warhawk. Harrison also brings the (PS3) Pain.
[12:04] Warhawk won't just be online MP ala MotorStorm--it will also have four-way split-screen offline.
[12:05] All four games shown off can be bought either via boxed Blu-ray discs or via digital download to the PS3's HD. SOCOM developer touts the fact that if it's on your HD it loads faster.
[12:05] Harrison: "I think those games alone demonstrate the power of the PlayStation 3 platform."
[12:06] PlayStation Home update: Everything is going to plan, apparently...
[12:06] And what? Harrison shows that the Home service will extend to mobile phones.
[12:07] The 3D avatars will be only for the PS3, but there will be home functionalities on mobile phones.
[12:08] Cut back into Home. Harrison's avatar struts down the boardwalk, and he intros some new spaces "under construction," which Home users will be able to purchase.
[12:09] Montage of an amazing pad reminiscent of the mansion in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The avatars there apparently are living it up!
[12:09] Harrison then visits his own Home, er, home--a Norwegian ski lodge where he apparently likes to kick it in full ski gear.
[12:13] Harrison continues to show off Home features, such as the ability to upload images from mobile phone directly into your private space on the virtual service.
[12:14] Bringing up Home's common PSP interface, Harrison announces the ability to meet up with your friends and launch games directly from within Home.
[12:15] Publishers will have the chance to create game-specific lounges where Home users can meet up as well as discuss or play their favorite titles.
[12:17] Tretton returns to the stage to reiterate the new 80GB PS3 model and the price drop for the original 60GB version, sales of which have doubled at a number of retailers since Monday's announcement.
[12:18] Blu-ray movies are currently enjoying a two-to-one sales advantage over HD-DVD titles, thanks in large part to the PS3.
[12:19] 15 exclusives coming to PS3.
[12:19] NCsoft is "joining the PlayStation camp."
[12:20] Under the agreement, NCsoft will make a series of PS3-exclusive MMORPGs.
[12:21] Tretton now touts the fact that Ubisoft's Haze will be exclusive this holiday season to the PS3.
[12:22] Trailer showing the corporate soldier hero of Haze and how he broke away from the private military.
[12:22] Big montage of huge battles between Mantelcorp soldiers and rebel forces, which apparently the hero joins.
[12:23] Actor playing the hero breaks the glass in live-action scene.
[12:24] Tretton back on stage, and he introduces Unreal Tournament III.
[12:25] Tretton says that Unreal Tournament III will be exclusive this year to the PC and PS3 (Epic Games vice president told GameSpot the game won't come to the Xbox 360 until "early 2008.") and it will allow the importations of mods made for the PC version to the PS3. That's pretty big stuff, especially for the mod community.
[12:28] Following a UTIII trailer, a montage hits the screen: Call of Duty 4, Assassin's Creed (to the tunes of UNKLE), Kane & Lynch, Resident Evil 5 (same clip that was at last night's Microsoft conference), Burnout: Paradise...
[12:31] ...Madden NFL 08, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Simpsons game, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, the delayed Medal of Honor: Airborne...
[12:32] ...and Rock Band, which is looking better and better.
[12:33] Tretton comes back to introduce "one last third-party platform," which he is "happy to say is only on PlayStation 3."
[12:34] Enter Hideo Kojima to introduce Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. He's nearly blinded by flashbulbs.
[12:34] Onto the stage comes Konami's Hideo Kojima to present Metal Gear Solid 4, which he says will complete the story of Snake. He also says it will be his last time making a game in the hallowed franchise. Like we haven't heard that before...
[12:35] Kojima says all the mysteries of the MGS series will be revealed and solved in the fourth game. It will also bring stealth directly into the battlefield.
[12:36] Enough talk! Show us the new trailer already! It's composed entirely of in-game footage.
[12:37] Colonel Campbell's gravelly narration talks about Snake's final mission. It's not an order from Washington, nor is it sanctioned by the UN. "This isn't justice, it's a covert assignment. A hired hit. Will you do this for me? Will you terminate Liquid?"
[12:37] There are scenes of Snake, Meryl Silverburgh, and others stalking Revolver Ocelot, whom Liquid Snake seems to have taken control of.
[12:39] Suddenly, the entire attacking force is overcome by vomiting and convulsions--the victims of nanomachine attack? Liquid/Ocelot has taken control of an entire army via these nanomachines. "He's planning an insurreciton."
[12:39] Snake: "You're planning to take him by force? That's crazy. It isn't that simple."
[12:41] This game will be the ultimate Metal Gear fan service. A bombastic scene of Raiden fighting MGS2's Vamp amid several of the biomechanical bipedal Metal Gears. This is one acrobatic and extremely bloody fight.
[12:42] Raiden impales himself in order to impale Vamp--yet the two keep fighting. The end of the trailer indicates a simultaneous worldwide release for the game, coming in "early 2008."
[12:43] Kojima-san to play MGS4 demo at Metal Gear event next week in Tokyo. Wish you could be there!
[12:44] Tretton moves things over to Phil Harrison, as his Home avatar appears onscreen in a Ratchet and Clank costume.
[12:45] Via a PlayStation Home theater, he introduces a trailer for Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction.
[12:46] Montage of Rachet giving the business to some opponents with some signature cartoon violence.
[12:47] Next up is some footage of Folklore, which features some witchcraft-inspired, soul-sucking action.
[12:47] Now it's time for Heavenly Sword, from Ninja Theory.
[12:49] Harrison says the game will take advantage of the PS3's high-capacity Blu-ray disc drive.
[12:49] Big montage of the God of War-like game--crowd delivers solid applause.
[12:50] Montage of NBA 08--the only NBA game in true 1080p HD!
[12:51] Now comes a new clip from LittleBigPlanet, the Media Molecule game that was the talk of GDC 2007.
[12:52] Montage shows off game's level-creation abilities. This thing is halfway between mad genius and totally adorable.
[12:53] Last but not least is Naughty Dog's Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.
[12:53] Trailer looks like a cross between Far Cry and Tomb Raider--very slick, smooth graphics.
[12:54] Short clip highlights facial animations before cutting off suddenly.
[12:55] Next up, Harrison announces a new game from Sucker Punch, developer of the Sly Cooper series.
[12:55] Trailer begins with a dead-serious tone, showing darkened streets.
[12:56] Shows lone hero with a shaven head fighting off foes with lightning--game is called "Infamous."
[12:56] Now comes the latest on Gran Turismo.
[12:57] Gran Turismo 5: Prologue coming for digital download...sometime. No date given.
[12:58] Clip shows immaculately rendered racing cars whipping down tracks and streets. Graphics border on photo-realistic.
[12:58] Ends with shot of an Nissan parked in London. Harrison, an Englishman himself, signs off and hands over the baton to Tretton.
[12:59] Apparently Harrison "forgot one thing..."
[12:59] BAM! Hellghast appear on every screen, the new Killzone 2 trailer begins.
[1:00] Harrison assures everything onscreen is in real time, and it looks almost as good as the 2005 trailer.
[1:01] A group of ISA commandos arrive in another drop ship into the midst of a war zone. Graphics get a bit choppy then, but it still looks pretty impressive.
[1:01] On one screen, a camera shows someone playing the game in real time on the corner of the stage.
[1:03] Human troops run into the interior of a building. Big lag after checkpoint. Apparently this is nearly the exact same stage demo as last night's preview event.
[1:04] And like that, it's over! Harrison bids farewell to everyone, then gives it over to Tretton--but for real this time.
[1:05] Mop-up time. Tretton hopes audience has seen Sony's commitment to gaming. Uplifting montage of PlayStation logos and hardware.
[1:06] Tretton wishes everyone good luck and thanks them for their attention. That's it!