COLOGNE, Germany--Electronic Arts set the tone for Gamescom with a media briefing packed with news, including a new FIFA Street, a hard release date for the long-awaited Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, an April window for The Secret World, and the first glimpse of a new fantasy action free-to-play title, Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes. The publisher even capped it all off with a live demo of Battlefield 3's cooperative mode.
If Sony wants to top that, at least the PlayStation purveyor has plenty of options up its sleeve. The company is getting ready to launch the PlayStation Vita in Japan later this year (with European and North American releases to follow in 2012), but focusing on new hardware is just one way to make a splash. The company also has a big holiday lineup for the PlayStation 3 to show off, spearheaded by Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and Resistance 3.
Video of the complete briefing is available here.
[10:04] The conference hasn't started just yet but should be under way shortly.
[10:05] Have you got your Sony conference bingo card to hand? We're looking for PS Vita release dates here, plus Move and 3D stuff for the win.
[10:07] John Riccitiello and Peter Moore sit to our left, in the second row.
[10:08] The executives are fresh from their own press conference, in which EA announced the return of FIFA Street, a release date for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and more.
[10:12] A voice comes booming over the loudspeaker apologizing for the delay and saying it will be a few minutes before the conference gets under way.
[10:13] There's still time to get popcorn! (There is no popcorn here.)
[10:18] Sony's music fades out, and the voice asks everyone to switch their mobile phones to silent before the music cranks back up, louder than before.
[10:19] It doesn't last long, as the music fades again, and a trailer package rolls featuring Batman, Assassin's Creed, the Move controller, and more.
[10:20] The B-roll montage also includes Journey, Uncharted, Resistance, more Move, PSP EyePet, PlayStation Store, ah, and there's the PS Vita.
[10:21] Andrew House, SCEE president, takes the stage. "It's great to be back here at Gamescom."
[10:21] "As you all know, the European market is incredibly important to the PlayStation business."
[10:22] "We've set an ambitious goal for ourselves… to take the muses of the imagination and make them real." That's poetry.
[10:23] "Connected devices will define our heritage and be the key to our future." He's talking about the PlayStation Network.
[10:24] He's touting the PlayStation's various online media services. Now: "We've continued to evolve the gaming experiences." Ah, there's 3D!
[10:25] Sony is "committed to giving consumers the ultimate in choice… with the option of interoperability and individualisation."
[10:26] "As you know, I will be leaving for Tokyo," House says, of his upcoming new role. But here's the new Sony Computer Entertainment Europe bigwig (president and CEO), Jim Ryan. It's a passing of the baton.
[10:28] Ryan replaces House onstage. And he's straight into the PS Vita, talking up the analog sticks, OLED screen, multitouch screen and multitouch pad, Sixaxis motion sensing, and front and rear cameras for augmented-reality experiences.
[10:29] He wants to share some "social applications" with us. Like Near: "Find out what games friends are playing, based on your location." Party: enables voice chat and text chat with your friends. LiveArea: check the latest news, receive the latest gaming updates from your friends.
[10:30] Also, Social Essentials: Facebook, Skype, and Twitter on PS Vita, and also Foursquare integration.
[10:30] "Trophy wins are uploaded to PSN." "Send a message to users on PSN."
[10:31] And there's the Internet browser, too. "Stay constantly connected with your PlayStation life," says Ryan. "Let's take a look at this in action." Roll the trailer!
[10:32] It's one of those lifestyle-type trailers. Young people playing on Vitas, using all the utilities we've just been told about. "Join the Social Gaming Revolution," it says.
[10:33] "But at its core, PS Vita is a gaming machine," he says. He brings on Michael Denny, senior vice president of Worldwide Studios Europe, to talk about it.
[10:34] Denny calls Vita "a developer's dream." So, he likes it. It will also have the strongest launch lineup ever on a PS platform, he predicts.
[10:35] "Today, I'm going to show you four games." Up first: Resistance: Burning Skies.
[10:36] The game "explores a new aspect of the Resistance story," says Denny, then ushers on the devs to talk about it.
[10:37] Ellis Island, 1951, says the Vita. Our hero is waking up in a makeshift morgue, where the army is researching Chimera technology. He's a firefighter, destined to become a hero of the resistance forces.
[10:38] He's slashing away with a fireaxe, controlled by tapping an icon on the touch screen. And now he's got a CFG (cluster fire gun), iron-sight-shooting some Chimera drones.
[10:38] The alternate fire modes are based on Vita's fancy bits--tap on the screen to tag up a bunch of targets, in the case of the CFG.
[10:39] Now he's got a carbine and is out in the city. There's the Statue of Liberty off in the distance.
[10:39] Use the Sixaxis control to take cover--tilt the Vita to duck and pop up.
[10:41] And here, the Chimera chaingun. Tearing up Chimera infantry with it, up on some rooftops. Our hero destroys a water tower, demo ends.
[10:42] Game two is Little Big Planet for the PS Vita, here in the shape of a trailer.
[10:42] "What will you create?" asks the trailer. Then: "Where will you create?"
[10:43] Because now you can make LBP stuff while hanging out in skate parks and cafes, like in the trailer.
[10:44] It emphasises using the Vita's camera to create in-game items. Trailer ends.
[10:44] Those cameras are also ripe for augmented reality applications, they say. "Imagine engaging with your real environment while immersed in your game environment."
[10:45] Game three is Reality Fighters. "Add yourself to the game, and create your own personal fighter." You can transform any real-world location into your in-game fighting environment, they say. Ready for a demo? Here's a demo.
[10:47] "You can play as anyone, anywhere." They've set up Jim Ryan and Andrew House avatars. Decent likenesses. House has a mallet.
[10:47] They're fighting in a circular arena projected via the Vita cameras onto the Sony press conference stage.
[10:48] (Andy "The Hammer" House wins.)
[10:48] Game four: Escape Plan, another new one for the Vita. Let's watch!
[10:49] Two black vinyl-looking characters, Laarg (fat) and Lil (small), appear onscreen.
[10:49] "Help Laarg and Lil escape by any means," says the screen.
[10:50] It's a side-scrolling, black-and-white puzzle platformer, it looks like.
[10:51] Both are getting killed a lot, popping like gooey balloons.
[10:52] It's time to bring on the third-party developers! Assassin's Creed is among the six PS Vita titles in the works at Ubisoft.
[10:52] Also, FIFA is coming in early 2012 to the PS Vita.
[10:53] And on to the PSP. Remember that thing?
[10:53] He's talking up the EU 9.99 PSP Essentials, the line of budget PSP games.
[10:54] And now: it's a brand-new, 99-euro-priced PSP.
[10:54] Moving swiftly on, here's the PS3.
[10:55] Along with PlayStation Move, naturally. Before we get back to Michael Denny, an announcement: Full Move functionality on FIFA 13. 13!
[10:56] That's the FIFA after FIFA 12.
[10:56] Denny takes the spotlight to talk about motion gaming some more. He's talking about exercise and fun personal training. We sense a fitness game coming on…
[10:56] And here we go! It's called Move Fitness, and here's a trailer.
[10:57] Basketball, jumping jacks, shadow boxing, "over 25 fun exercises."
[10:58] Slicing plates with ninja swords. This lady is shadow boxing in a field. Where's her PS3?
[11:00] Denny reminds us that the Move is used in Resistance 3 and the Little Big Planet Move pack, and prompts a Move montage video.
[11:02] More people using Move controllers outdoors. Where are their PS3s?
[11:03] DanceStar Party now, and it includes all the original songs' videos. It also has a dance creator mode, letting you "become the ultimate choreographer." The "perfect Saturday night entertainment," apparently.
[11:03] The trailer promises 40 tracks with videos, the ability to record performances, and a workout mode.
[11:03] Don't freak out, OK, but there's a dance troupe onstage now.
[11:05] It's Diversity. Jigging in black and red suits. The chief dude had Move controllers but has thrown them away now.
[11:07] (Like Tron, but with more baseball caps and dancing.)
[11:08] Sorry, where we were? Oh right, the PlayStation stuff. Here's Resistance 3 now, with a trailer inspired by that box art that everyone loved.
[11:09] It is similarly black, white, and reddish-orange. Silhouettes, husky voice-over.
[11:10] That's coming on September 7, they remind us.
[11:11] And now a short trailer for a Sucker Punch game. Hello, what's this then? Pyre Night says a sign over a ransacked, burning city. Dead people? And then it's over.
[11:12] "Vampires swarm the city… Cole has been attacked and bitten… [he has] one night to kill the head vampire."
[11:12] Infamous 2: Festival of Blood, the game is called. Infamous with vampires, OK?
[11:13] And finally, it's an Uncharted 3 demo.
[11:15] Drake's up on a rooftop with Elena, looking out over an airfield with a cargo plane being loaded in it.
[11:15] Now Drake has scaled the fence into the airfield, and he's not letting Elena follow him. "Take that Jeep over there and get the hell out of there," he says.
[11:16] He has been spotted by searchlights, and the plane's getting ready to take off.
[11:16] Killing henchmen on top of shipping containers now, and hotfooting it along the runway after the plane.
[11:18] It's Elena with the Jeep now, here to drive Drake up to the plane's landing gear. Jump for it! (He jumps for it.)
[11:19] Crawling through vents inside the plane. Then seized by a burly henchman, who's trying to throw him off the landing ramp into the desert.
[11:19] Wait. We've seen that desert before. We think we know how this flight ends.
[11:20] Crates knock Drake out the plane as it upends. Could it crash? Could it?
[11:20] (Demo ends.)
[11:21] Here's another peek at that small 3D Sony television we first saw at E3. SimulView (catchy) is the tech that lets you use a 3D screen to play two-player games on a full-sized display, with no need for split-screen.
[11:22] Closing the show with a PS3 price announcement with immediate effect. Global price drop: €249, $249, or ¥24,980.
[UPDATE]: A Sony representative has confirmed to GameSpot that the PS3 will be cut to £199 in the UK.
[11:24] So that's a cheaper PSP (€99) and a cheaper PS3 (€249). Have a great show and good-night, they say. Boom! Sony conference over. Stick with us on GameSpot for more from Gamescom and a closer look at what we've heard about here today.