If there's anything that particularly stuck out about Sony's E3 2011 press conference, it's that the company has an absolutely staggering amount of content; and if you're a current PlayStation 3 owner or if a PlayStation Vita--the official name of Sony's new handheld--is in your future, then you have plenty of reasons to be excited. But because of all the content, Sony's conference lacked focus, which not only resulted in covering as much ground as possible, but it also left little opportunity for some key games to stand out from the rest of the pack. Even time spent on Sony's diehard support of 3D could've been appropriated better as a Twisted Metal demo or at least a few seconds of Last Guardian footage inserted in one of the many sizzle reels.
At any rate, too much content is a good problem to have, but Sony Computer Entertainment of America CEO Jack Tretton chose to kicks things off on a somewhat serious note, addressing the PlayStation Network outage by thanking fans for sticking with the company and apologizing to retailers and its development partners. Oddly enough, this apology was followed by some bragging and then the conference's first PlayStation 3 demo of the impressive Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception. The demonstration was followed by a 3D trailer of the game, signaling that Sony isn't going to let go of 3D despite recent troubles at the box office involving 3D films.
In fact, Sony's dedication to 3D technology was one of the most surprising aspects of the conference. Sony revealed that it's not only prepping God of War Origins Collection (PS3 remakes of the PSP games) and the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection for 3D, but it's also releasing a special PlayStation-branded, 24-inch 3D-capable TV set. This TV also has a special viewing mode that removes traditional split-screen viewing and replaces it with a mode that lets individual players view the game as if they were looking at it in full-screen mode. On top of all that, Sony's releasing the whole thing in a package--along with a copy of Resistance 3, new (and cheaper) PlayStation-branded 3D glasses, and an HDMI cable--that will cost $499.99.
Given Sony's love affair with just about everything in its portfolio, it's not surprising that the PlayStation Move got quite a bit of attention. The conference highlighted what Sony's been doing with the platform all along: mixing core game support in with games that have a casual leaning but would still appeal to the core audience. NBA 2K12 was a big game in this portion of the conference (even if the Move support seems suspect). The Medieval Moves: Deadmund's Quest demo had the core game aesthetic mixed with the casual single Move wand controls.
A few trailers for Starhawk, a new Sly Cooper game, and a new shooter from CCP called Dust 514 seemed out of place, but they illustrated Sony's stacked lineup. This became clear with a quick transition to a presentation of BioShock: Infinite, which (in keeping with the theme of this particular portion of the conference) will also feature Move support. Additionally, Irrational Games' Ken Levine surprised the audience with an announcement that a BioShock game would be coming to the PlayStation Vita.
While this would've been a perfect opportunity to transition into PlayStation Vita demos and details, Sony (to its detriment) kept trucking with brief looks at the Star Trek shooter featuring the recent incarnations of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. This was then followed by an announcement that some key Electronic Arts games, including the upcoming SSX, will feature PlayStation-exclusive content--a big aspect of Sony's recent third-party strategy. Sony Corporation president Kaz Hirai then took to the stage with a bit more filler content on the PlayStation Suite that was probably best left out of its already packed E3 presentation.
But Hirai eventually moved onto the expected star of the show, the PlayStation Vita, announcing the official name of the device and that it would come in two flavors: Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi and 3G equipped. Not surprisingly, Hirai received some moans and boos from the press conference audience when he revealed that Sony's 3G partner will be AT&T, a company notorious for its 3G-congestion problems with iPhone users. From there, the audience was treated to impressive demos of Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Ruin (a social action role-playing game available for both the Vita and the PS3), ModNation Racers, Little Big Planet, and Street Fighter X Tekken. A stellar lineup was followed by an equally stellar price announcement--the Wi-Fi-only version of the Vita will retail for $249 while the 3G-equipped version will set you back $299. Unfortunately, no specific time frame was nailed down for release outside of the holiday season.
With that, the press conference concluded, and we all stopped for a moment to take a massive breath. Sony had a lot of content on display, and much of it was quite good, but again, we couldn't help but think that the time could've been used more effectively for certain projects and themes as opposed to covering such a broad swath of games. Some games on display should've received more attention, and there were quite a few high-profile games that were conspicuously absent. Namely, those games were The Last Guardian and key PlayStation Network games like Journey--granted, Sony probably thinks those are too old hat for a show like E3, at this point. Ultimately, this much is clear: Sony wants to put the PlayStation Network debacle behind and look toward its long-term future.