Last of Us brutalizes Sony's E3 conference

E3 2012: Sony shows off Quantic Dream's Beyond, God of War: Ascension, Assassin's Creed III and Liberation, Far Cry 3 co-op, and the Harry Potter Wonderbook for PlayStation Move.

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What's the skinny?
--As was rumored, Quantic Dream's new game is called Beyond. It features the voice and likeness of Ellen Page (Juno, Inception) as the mysterious young woman Jodie Holmes.

--The God of War franchise has now shipped 21 million units worldwide, with the original God of War the top performer at close to 5.2 million units.

--PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is getting two new playable characters: Nathan Drake and Big Daddy.

--Assassin's Creed: Liberation confirmed for the PlayStation Vita. It features the franchise's first female protagonist and is set in New Orleans.

--Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified was formally announced, but no gameplay was shown, and no further information was made available.

--Four-play co-op confirmed for Far Cry 3!

--Sony teams with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling for Wonderbook Book of Spells, due out this holiday.

--God of War: Ascension arrives on March 12, 2013, and features big elephant-man enemies!

--Naughty Dog's The Last of Us shown off in a new gameplay demo featuring some seriously brutal action.

The full blow-by-blow

LOS ANGELES--The first full day of the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo concludes this evening with Sony's media briefing. The PlayStation 3 maker is holding its presentation at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, a famous venue. Sony will use the event to talk up all things PlayStation, and with no news of the PlayStation 4 planned, expect the company to focus on the aging PS3 and its portable newcomer, the PlayStation Vita.

What surprises might Sony have up its sleeve?
What surprises might Sony have up its sleeve?

Unlike past years, when significant information leaked ahead of its briefing (Kaz Hirai called the PSP Go the "worst-kept secret of E3" 2010), Sony has remained largely tight-lipped regarding the news it plans to share tonight. Despite this, there have been some indications regarding what Sony might divulge. Heavy Rain studio Quantic Dream is expected to reveal its new project during Sony's briefing, with studio founder David Cage reportedly taking to the stage to unveil the game.

What else might be talked about? Naughty Dog's new postapocalyptic survival game The Last Of Us is more than likely to make an appearance, as is Sony Santa Monica's newest action game, God of War: Ascension. Another project looming large on the horizon is the mystery PS Vita Call of Duty game. Revealed back when the PS Vita was called the NGP, Sony has said this new game will be in stores this fall. With that window rapidly closing in, an E3 announcement seems probable.

Sony's E3 2012 media briefing kicks off at 6 p.m. PDT tonight. In addition to a liveblog of the event, GameSpot will be streaming the event.

[5:46] Sony has a video montage going right now that is simultaneously streaming audio from Uncharted 3 and MLB The Show. It's pretty hilarious.

[5:46] The Los Angeles Memorial Arena is filling up, with just about 15 minutes to go before Sony's media briefing.

[5:49] Did you know several boxing bouts during the 1984 Summer Olympics were held here? That's true.

[5:49] Currently playing on the big screen here is a video montage of several Sony properties, like Uncharted 3 and MLB: The Show.

[5:49] "Pretty well hit down the left field line!" "[Iconic Nathan Drake grunt as he leaps from ledge to ledge]"

[5:55] On the way in spotted Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford and Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter. So clearly, Pitchford + Pachter + Sony = Crazy Awesome Amazing Thing.

[5:55] Or something like that. But in all seriousness, Pitchford and Pachter are in attendance this evening.

[5:56] And now the voice from the sky says the show will commence in five minutes! All cell phones are to be turned off, says the woman with the English accent.

[5:57] Plenty of people still filing in; looks like the arena will be packed full for Sony's presentation this evening.

[5:59] Now the voice returns, saying the show will kick off in two minutes. You heard it on GameSpot first!

[6:02] We're seeing a gameplay montage to start things off. God of War: Ascension paints the room red with blood.

Sony presser is under way!
Sony presser is under way!

[6:02] The montage shifts to Tomb Raider, a turret sequence, and Sorcery, and pans out to a massive screen with many games.

[6:03] Also shown off in the montage is a PlayStation Plus, the PS Vita, and Uncharted 3.

[6:03] Transformers, Assassin's Creed, Madden NFL, and Hitman are also shown. The PS3 plays a lot of games, doesn't it?

[6:05] The montage continues with looks at BioShock Infinite and a slew of other titles.

[6:05] SCEA CEO and president Jack Tretton comes to the stage.

[6:06] Tretton says Sony has the most passionate customers in the world, and a number of them are in the audience applauding.

[6:06] He says this is the Super Bowl for those of us in the game industry. Every word that is said will be scrutinized for years to come.

[6:07] It's been 17 years since the industry formed E3. This year, Sony wants to pay tribute to the gamers, which draws a smattering of applause.

[6:08] The players' loyalty and support have driven the industry forward, he says.

[6:08] He introduces Kaz Hirai, Sony's president and CEO. Hirai takes a bow from the crowd, and Tretton goes on with the presentation.

[6:09] He says Sony wants to meet every need gamers have wherever and whenever they play.

[6:09] He's introducing the new IP from Quantic Dream, maker of Heavy Rain.

[6:09] The wait is over, Tretton says, as he introduces David Cage to the stage.

[6:10] Cage says Quantic Dream has been making games based on emotions for the last 15 years. Today he's announcing the studio's next PS3 title, Beyond.

[6:10] There appears to be a subtitle, "Two Souls."

[6:10] Cage says death is the biggest mystery, and what's on the other side of it remains unknown.

[6:11] He talks about Jodie Holmes, a woman who has always felt a link with some entity living between our world and the other side.

[6:11] Beyond tells Jodie's story over 15 years, and how she discovers more about "what's Beyond."

[6:11] Cage says players will grow with Jodie through that journey and understand better who she is.

[6:12] He's talking about the actress playing Jodie Holmes, and it's Ellen Page.

[6:12] Yes, Ellen Page of Juno and Super fame.

[6:12] Cage now shows off the first scene from Beyond.

[6:13] It's a police officer questioning Jodie. He asks if she speaks English. No response.

[6:13] He brought her a cup of coffee, but she does not take it. Jodie sits in her chair, the police officer sits in his.

[6:13] He stares her down, says he found her by the side of the road. He asks, "Was there an accident?" She does not respond, and the officer sighs.

Quantic Dream's new game, Beyond.
Quantic Dream's new game, Beyond.

[6:14] He says he wants to help her, but only if she in turn helps him. He asks for a name, someone he can contact. And yet she still does not respond. The coffee mug on the table shakes, but nothing comes of it.

[6:14] Jodie sits there, motionless and silent. A storm is brewing outside, and the officer notices a scar on her head.

[6:15] The coffee mug hits the wall and shatters. The officer is puzzled; he leaves the room.

[6:15] Jodie still sits; she does not speak. But now she blinks.

[6:15] She now speaks. She says, "I know. They're coming."

[6:16] The trailer then switches to a SWAT team invading the station. The SWAT leader asks, "Where is she?"

[6:16] They are prepared to breach the door, but do not do so immediately.

[6:17] The officer opens the door first, peers in, and then backs off.

[6:17] Tense music fills the air and the screen cuts to black.

[6:17] Now we're shown a trailer depicting lots of action and guns. Flipping cars, too.

[6:18] Jodie stares up at the sky as the rain falls. She limps out of the shot.

[6:19] The crowd offers a resounding applause. Cage is back talking, promising the gaming will be emotional, mature, and unique. He wants to create moments that players will remember for a long time. If players make the right decisions, they may discover what lies beyond, Cage teases.

[6:19] Now Tretton is back onstage. He says the PS3, in its sixth year, continues to shatter expectations. He claims only PlayStation gamers will find unique characters like Jodie Holmes from Beyond.

[6:20] Tretton is now talking about Michael--the "gamer" from the PlayStation TV campaign.

[6:20] He says this advertisement landed 10 million views in its first week. Now Tretton is talking about PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.

[6:21] We're seeing a trailer now with Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal and Fat Princess. Sly Cooper, Killzone, and Parappa are also shown here.

[6:21] The trailer ends, and six developers on the project walk out. Some are holding PS3 controllers, some PS Vitas.

[6:21] Is All-Stars coming to the Vita? It is. And it will be cross-compatible with the PS3 version.

[6:22] Now developers are demonstrating the cross-platform gameplay. It's two players on the PS3 and two players on the Vita.

[6:23] The match shown here will be the Metropolis zone from Ratchet & Clank. Now we're shown gameplay, and it very much looks like Smash Bros. But you already knew that.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale gameplay.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale gameplay.

[6:23] Sweet Tooth is kicking butt in the demo so far, punching Fat Princess in the face and whipping Kratos.

[6:24] The developer explains that the game's "Super" levels allow for players to enact powerful moves to dispatch their foes.

[6:24] The background of the zone is dynamic. It moves along as players duke it out in the foreground.

[6:25] Sweet Tooth just enabled his level-three Super, and his firepower increased.

[6:25] Sly Cooper is attempting his level-two Super, but it wasn't very effective, the developer explains.

[6:26] With 15 seconds left, this match is almost up. A winner will soon be declared.

[6:26] And the winner is….wait for it…Fat Princess with 8!

[6:26] And that's a wrap for the All-Stars demo. The developers invite gamers to try out the game at Sony's booth.

[6:27] The first new playable character confirmed tonight is Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series.

[6:27] And the second is a Big Daddy from BioShock.

[6:27] No gameplay was shown, unfortunately.

[6:28] Tretton back onstage now, explaining why All-Stars on the PS3 and Vita is an exciting opportunity for players.

[6:28] All-Stars for the PS Vita and PS3 is coming this holiday season. No more specific date was revealed.

[6:29] Next Tretton talks about cross-controller DLC for Little Big Planet 2, which lets players use the Vita as well as a Dual Shock. It will offer a new story mode, costumes, stickers, and objects.

[6:30] More than 80 percent of PS Vitas and PS3s are connected to PSN, Tretton claims. There are over 1,500 downloadable titles on PSN, he says.

[6:30] Indie games are also a big focus for PSN, he says. Games like Journey, he specifically calls out as the PSN's best-selling game of all time.

[6:30] He also calls out Papo & Yo and The Unfinished Swan.

[6:31] More than 200 games coming to PSN this year, Tretton says.

Sony showing off some Vita stats.
Sony showing off some Vita stats.

[6:31] Now Tretton is talking about PlayStation Plus. He praises its success for its first two years.

[6:31] PS Plus will add a string of new games, 12 this month.

[6:32] Little Big Planet 2, Saints Row 2, and Infamous 2 will be available starting tomorrow.

[6:32] He reminds users PS Plus is "just" $5 per month.

[6:32] All members in the audience tonight will receive one year of PlayStation Plus. The crowd appears to love this news.

[6:32] Not to worry, those outside North America are good for the deal, too.

[6:33] PSOne classics now confirmed for the PS Vita beginning this summer.

[6:33] Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy VII the first two confirmed titles.

[6:34] Others include Twisted Metal 2, Jet Moto, Arc the Lad, Cool Boarders 2, and Wild Arms. Presumably this means all PSN PSOne Classics would be playable on the PS Vita.

[6:34] Tretton now talking about other apps available on PSN, including Amazon Instant Video, Cinema Now, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Facebook, and more.

[6:34] Tretton says Hulu Plus and Crackle are coming to the PS Vita "soon."

[6:35] Tretton says PlayStation Network is expanding every day. Can you handle it?

[6:35] Now Tretton is speaking about Activision. Specifically Call of Duty for the PlayStation Vita.

[6:36] Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is the name, and it will launch this holiday season.

[6:36] Tretton says the Vita's capabilities truly shine with games developed specifically for the system.

[6:37] Assassin's Creed for the PS Vita is being shown now. The game will be set in New Orleans, as was reported. Interestingly, the gameplay video is being shown with a white PS Vita surrounding it.

[6:37] The game will be led by a female protagonist, who wields guns, stabs bad guys, and leaps from ledge to ledge. Assassin's Creed III: Liberation is due out on October 30, right next to the console games.

[6:38] Tretton says Liberation will link with the PS3 version of Assassin's Creed III.

[6:38] Doing so unlocks a range of features.

Assassin's Creed III: Liberation for the Vita, with a female assassin!
Assassin's Creed III: Liberation for the Vita, with a female assassin!

[6:38] A special PS Vita bundle will include ACIII: Liberation, a new crystal white Vita, and a 4GB memory card.

[6:39] Assassin's Creed III creative director Alex Hutchinson and another dev now take the stage to talk up ACIII.

[6:39] Hutchinson is now showing off a gameplay demo that is set in the Caribbean Sea.

[6:40] A ship with workers on the deck is shown.

[6:40] Hutchinson says the weather systems from the time period have been re-created here.

[6:40] The captain takes the reins, piloting the ship in between rocks and through the water.

[6:41] The fight for the revolution will hit the high seas, Hutchinson says. The ship is now under attack, with cannons being fired between ships.

[6:42] The enemy ship is destroyed, sinking to the bottom of the ocean in the process. Now the captain is chasing down another ship, this time farther out at sea.

[6:42] He fires from long distance, but his shots aren't very effective.

[6:42] Now a third ship appears, and the captain readjusts his course. The water is choppy and the rain is falling down at a great clip.

[6:43] Now the ships are right next to each other, and the enemy vessel is hammered with cannon fire. It is sunk, with its sails draped into the water.

Assassin's Creed, now with ships!
Assassin's Creed, now with ships!

[6:43] The captain may not be out of the woods just yet, as the other ship remains afloat.

[6:43] They pull up alongside it and draw swords. Prepare to board!

[6:44] They fire shots at each other, and the clip ends with Connor about to murder the other captain.

[6:44] Tretton now returns to the stage and says Assassin's Creed III looks "amazing" on the PS3.

[6:45] An Assassin's Creed PS3 bundle is launching on October 30. Includes the game, a console, and DLC.

[6:45] Now the Far Cry 3 team takes the stage to talk about Ubisoft's new island-set shooter.

[6:45] The developer explains, "We didn't just build one game; we built two."

[6:46] Far Cry 3 will feature four-player co-op. It will be drop-in, drop-out, he says.

[6:46] The team is shown invading an enemy camp and clearing it of enemies.

[6:47] The developers aren't having much trouble clearing the camp, running and gunning their way through with little significant resistance.

[6:47] Now the demo is moving across a bridge, but first there are more enemies to dispatch.

[6:47] Now one character is placing a bomb.

Far Cry 3 with four-player co-op.
Far Cry 3 with four-player co-op.

[6:47] The team of players moves across the bridge, killing more and more bad guys in the process.

[6:48] Teamwork is at play here, as all four developers onstage are hollering commands at each other.

[6:48] The bridge is not yet cleared, as more enemies appear. Now the bridge is about to blow. And boom! There it goes.

[6:48] The bridge collapses, falling to the ground in a fiery explosion.

[6:49] That's the end of that gameplay demo.

[6:49] Far Cry 3 will have a single-player game, multiplayer, and a map editor, the developer says.

[6:50] PS3 gamers will receive exclusive DLC for Far Cry 3, but Tretton did not specify what it would entail.

[6:50] Now Tretton is talking about the PS Move. He says the Move has offered a diverse gaming experience.

[6:50] More than 250 games have launched with Move support, and many are planned, too, like BioShock: Infinite.

[6:50] Tretton calls the Move an "additive" experience.

[6:51] Now Tretton brings out Sony's Andy House to the stage.

[6:51] He begins by thanking PlayStation fans, saying fans are the reasons Sony does what it does.

[6:51] Now he says the PlayStation platform is all about innovation.

[6:52] He says Sony has been hard at work on a completely new experience, one he says will be innovative.

[6:52] A little boy asks, "What if a book could come to life? And I could play with the stories?"

[6:52] "What if I could explore different worlds?"

[6:53] The new service is called Wonderbook, and it's for the PlayStation 3.

[6:53] Wonderbook will use augmented reality technology using the PlayStation Eye.

[6:53] Traditional reading experiences will take on a whole new meaning, he says.

[6:54] Education and scientific experiences are planned, he says. Moonbot Studios is working on a new tale, he says.

[6:54] This company is working on Diggs Nightcrawler, a new detective story.

[6:54] House says Sony has been working with Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling.

[6:55] Wonderbook Book of Spells will be the first released for Wonderbook.

[6:55] It will feature new and exclusive writing from JK Rowling.

Sony's Wonderbook.
Sony's Wonderbook.

[6:55] The PS Move will become your magic wand, House says.

[6:56] Now House brings out a Wonderbook developer to talk more about Book of Spells.

[6:56] He says he's surprised Sony was able to keep Wonderbook a secret.

[6:56] He calls Wonderbook the "reinvention of the story book."

[6:56] Spell descriptions and stories from the wizarding world will be a part of Wonderbook, he says.

[6:57] Book of Spells is "no ordinary book," he says.

[6:57] Players will discover spells, learn to cast them, and try them out in puzzles and challenges.

[6:57] A sequence from Wonderbook is shown on the screen, with players using the PS Move controller to navigate the page.

[6:58] A dragon leaps from the screen and breathes fire down onto the book.

[6:59] Another aspect of the book is a virtual pop-up book. Specifically, players are shown discovering the franchise's iconic levitation spell.

[6:59] Now the demo players are learning the fire-making spell.

[7:01] Players are shown using the PS Move controller to draw a range of symbols in the air. Now players are learning the gesture to cast the spell. Players are told to make a zigzag shape in the air with their wands.

[7:01] Well that seemed quite easy! The book provides a safe environment to practice spells in, the developer says.

[7:02] Players will use the fire-making spell to burn away nasty creatures crawling on the ground. The creatures are no match for fire!

[7:02] The creatures are no match for fire! Players will earn five "house points" for killing the bugs.

[7:03] Now a fire-breathing dragon pops up. Fight fire with fire? OK! Five more house points, for a total of 15. Hooray!

[7:03] The crowd applauds somewhat in a tame fashion.

The Harry Potter Wonderbook demonstration using the Move.
The Harry Potter Wonderbook demonstration using the Move.

[7:03] Each chapter will teach aspiring wizards a new magical lesson.

[7:04] Book of Spells was not given any kind of release date or pricing information.

[7:04] Now House is back onstage, and a message from JK Rowling appears on the screen. Turns out it's a fall 2012 release, by the way.

[7:05] Or this holiday, if you prefer. House says there are more ways to play games now than ever before.

[7:05] Now House is talking PlayStation Suite.

[7:06] House says many new developers are working on PlayStation-certified games. Many new certified phones are coming during the year, House promises.

[7:06] House now says HTC will be the first non-Sony partner.

[7:07] House is holding an HTC device and is praising the "ground-breaking partnership" between HTC and Sony.

[7:07] PlayStation Suite has now been renamed PlayStation Mobile, as of RIGHT THIS SECOND.

[7:07] House says Sony is always thinking about the future, in how content is delivered to the consumer.

[7:08] House thanks the crowd for attending, and departs the stage. With that, Tretton is back…again!

[7:08] Tretton now talking about God of War: Ascension.

[7:09] He encourages players to try out the game at Sony's booth at the show.

[7:09] Sony Santa Monica's Todd Pappy is now onstage to talk about the new God of War game.

[7:09] He has a controller in hand and is demoing a level from the game.

[7:10] Kratos is seen running on a dock. He meets an unlucky soul with a massive sword in his back.

[7:10] A nasty creature approaches Kratos…make that a host of nasty creatures! Kratos dispatches his foes with great ease and quickness.

[7:10] They are no match for the god-slayer.

[7:10] Kratos rips the head off a foe, sending blood splattering in all directions.

[7:11] Kratos now faces off against a hulking enemy, who wields a massive sword.

God of War: Ascension.
God of War: Ascension.

[7:11] Kratos cuts him up, landing hit after hit. But this baddie does not go down so easily!

[7:11] Or maybe he does…Kratos finally vanquishes his enemy, and the scene pans out to the ocean.

[7:12] A Kraken-creature has destroyed a ship, tossing it at Kratos along the way.

[7:12] Kratos now uses an ability to reshape the destroyed surroundings to his advantage.

[7:12] He climbs up the trestle, a large wooden creation.

[7:13] More bad guys are on the way, tossing spears at more unlucky passersby.

[7:13] Kratos wields his fiery staff, working his way through the enemies.

[7:13] Now the mighty sea creature is upon Kratos. But Kratos just keeps fighting.

[7:14] With that, the scene switches to a new enemy. This one wields a mighty hammer.

[7:14] The enemy's not the quickest, and Kratos is able to get around him and bring an end to him. Kratos continues up the hill, now shown leaping from ledge to ledge like Nathan Drake.

[7:15] A mighty elephant-like creature is now upon Kratos.

[7:15] This elephant wields a heavy-looking mace, but Kratos is not afraid.

[7:16] Kratos rolls around the level, but the elephant picks him up and squeezes blood from him.

[7:16] Kratos is quick to respond, driving his dagger through the creature's brain, with blood spitting everywhere. The crowd seems to love this, as applause rings out.

[7:17] The final scene of the demo has Kratos leaping into the water at the creature. God of War: Ascension is due March 12, 2013.

[7:17] The screen goes dark again. Something is brewing. It sounds like the jungle.

[7:18] I'm actually a little scared. Birds are heard flying by, a thunderstorm brews at a distance. Something is heard running through the scene.

[7:18] It's The Last of Us! A new trailer for the game is currently on display, with the two survivors making their way through a destroyed landscape.

[7:19] This is Naughty Dog's new game, and it very much resembles the studio's Uncharted franchise.

[7:19] The two survivors are now moving through a destroyed hotel, "before it all went to s***."

[7:20] No enemies are on them at the moment. The scene seems quiet. Perhaps too quiet, as they say.

[7:20] Now Joel walks up some stairs, which have seen better days, to be clear.

[7:20] Now some voices are heard. There are more survivors, it appears.

[7:20] A gun logo pops up. We may be in for some shooting!

[7:21] Joel takes down his enemy by choking him, leaving him for dead on the ground and looting his body.

Last of Us gameplay demo.
Last of Us gameplay demo.

[7:21] Joel now runs through the building, firing on enemies as they pop out from behind turned-over couches. Ellie asks, "Are you OK?"

[7:23] It's cover-based shooting action as Joel fends off the other scavengers. Then one pops out from cover with a pipe, and a scuffle ensues.

[7:23] Joel holds the man as a human shield and moves out to take care of his buddy.

[7:24] Joel and Ellie team up to savagely put an end to one of their adversaries. The crowd loves this, as applause rings out.

[7:25] Joel and Ellie move to a new room, and an inventory screen pops up. Joel tosses a Molotov cocktail, and it lights the room on fire, literally. Joel wrestles a shotgun-wielding bad guy in close quarters and is victorious. At least for the time being. The trailer ends with Joel blasting the face off a bad guy. And the crowd sings out in praise of this.

[7:25] Violence!

[7:25] Tretton now back onstage, saying The Last of Us is a "mind-blowing" example of Naughty Dog's talent. The crowd laughs at the joke.

[7:26] Tretton says his one wish is that gamers "never stop playing." Tretton says the journey thus far has been fun, but the best is yet to come. With that, the presentation comes to an end.

[7:26] That's a wrap on the first day of media briefings! Check back tomorrow morning for Nintendo's presentation.

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