Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Better Than St George's Day By Far

Today is Sony Europe's PlayStation Day in London, and here I am to give you a bit of a roundup of the news coming out of the show. First of all though, remember that this is not a massive event such as E3, TGS or GDC, so there's a lot of updates on games rather than announcements of new ones. Also, bear in mind that the show is only a Sony Europe event, so a lot of the news is Euro-centric. Don't worry if you're elsewhere in the world though, there'll be another Sony event in Tokyo next week and it's likely that America will see something similar in the near future.


I guess it's only right to start with our favouritest game ever (and we haven't even played it yet), LittleBigPlanet. There wasn't much new on the game during the press conference, but it was playable on the floor of the show, and PS3 Fanboy has their impressions up here. The build on display apparently felt more refined than previous hands-on sessions, and there were a few new additions. Levels are picked by navigating a globe, and PS3F noted that there were already dozens of levels on the map, showing Media Molecule's commitment to making sure there is lots of content on the disk for those who don't want to get involved with the creating/sharing aspect of the game (morons). Sackboys dressed as the Helghast from Killzone 2 appeared in the presentation, along with tons of other characters and outfits. Also announced: a new October 2008 release date.

Moving on to Resistance 2. Ted Price (head of Insomniac Games) jumped on stage to talk about the four main pillars of the game: Community, Campaign, Co-Op, and Competitive. Community-wise, he talked about expanding the massive online community surrounding the first game, mentioning things like redesigning MyResistance.net, making it more like Facebook (*sigh*) and adding website-based matchmaking. He said he couldn't talk about the campaign mode yet but that it would center on Nathan Hale's return to the US. He also mentioned R2's 8-player co-operative mode, which has a separate story with different characters to the solo game. Then it got to the real meat of the presentation: the Competitive mode. 60-player online matches had already been announced for the game, and Price talked about the "battles within battles" that would make up the online game. With so many players in one match, they are split into five different squads with different dynamic objectives, and each squad is pitched against a rival squad on the other team with the same objectives. You will be able to play as both the humans and the Chimera in the multiplayer, however this wasn't shown in the video at the event. Release in fall 2008 (October/November).

The other big shooter in the works is Killzone 2 (a game I have much more interest in having now nearly completed the original game on PS2). Very little was said about the game, but a new video was shown, and journalists got to have time to play the game at the event, so expect hands-ons from other gaming sites. The release of the game was also announced for February 2009 (yes, next year).

It wasn't just shooters up Sony's sleeve though. They brought out the first gameplay footage of Motorstorm: Pacific Rift, the sequel to last March's successful racer. As well as the usual graphical upgrades, Motorstorm: PR changes the setting to an island inspired by Hawaii, adding new cars, twice the number of tracks of the original game, water, vegetation, more destruction, monster trucks and, most importantly, split-screen multiplayer for up to 4 players. Thank god! Motorstorm: Pacific Rift should be out about the same time as Resistance 2 this autumn.

The next game to be shown was Mirror's Edge, a brand new game from DICE and EA. It is played entirely in the first person and the story is about a courier called Faith. Oh and some kind of conspiracy, naturally. I wont talk much here, as Mirror's Edge is a game I'm very much looking forward to, so will probably be going on about it sometime in the near future anyway. The best bit of the game to be shown so far? The colour. There is blue, and red, and green and white, and sunshine! Happiness! No dull browns here *cough*Killzone 2*cough*. Mirror's Edge should be out in late 2008 (although I wouldn't be surprised to see it put back to next year), and the very first gameplay footage can be seen here.

Sony, as usual, took time to talk about their social gaming products as well as the big hitters. On top of sales numbers for games like Buzz and Singstar, the PS3 versions of these games were shown. Singstar came out in Europe earlier this year, and adds HD music videos, a new sleek interface, the SingStore (for downloading new tracks to your collection), and My SingStar - a social networking tool that connects the worldwide community, with the ability to upload performances captured using the PlayStation Eye that others can then watch and rate. Also shown were new features including a duet mode for two players and Remote Play compatibility which will be added in an imminent update. The PS3 version of Buzz, called Buzz! Quiz TV, was also included in the presentation, which showed not only the new game modes, but the social tools that allow you to write your own questions and then upload and share your quizzes with other players. Singstar for PS3 is out now in Europe (and coming soon to the US), with a track pack disk called Volume 2 out in the not too distant future. Buzz! Quiz TV will be out in May.

Another part of the presentation was dedicated to the Go! peripherals for PSP (what is Sony's obsession with unnecessary exclamation marks?). They briefly mentioned the Go! Cam that was released last year, tying it into the release of Go! Messenger that happened this spring. Messenger allows you to communicate with other PSP and PC users using text, voice (with a headset or the camera) and video (with the camera, duh). They then hyped up the imminent European release of Go! Explore, the GPS add-on, before moving onto a new service called Go! View. Go! View!!!! (sorry, lost it a little there) was announced last year and enables you to download Sky TV shows (that's stuff like Lost, Battlestar Galactica and the new Gladiators) to your PSP via a PC. Shows will be available on a subscription or pay-per-show basis and the service will launch on June 30th. As for a similar service on PS3, Sony Europe president David Reeves said to "watch this space". I am, right now. It's kind of teal.

Other snippets from the event: PlayTV (the PS3 Freeview add-on) has been announced for a September release for 99 Euros, Sony is developing an indie music show for the PSN called "Movement" coming this summer, the next Siren game will be an episodic title called Blood Curse which will start in the Summer, the Gran Turismo Racing Academy will see if players can race as well in real life as they can in the game (vids will start hitting the PSN May 23rd), full PSP UMD games will soon be added to the EU Playstation Store for PC as in the US, and we finally have a description of PixelJunk Eden, the next game from the team behind Racers and Monsters: "Leap and swing between lush alien vegetation in a truly innovative platform game which constantly evolves over time as you move through the perfectly realised undergrowth, hunting treasures and smashing enemies from his path" (from a press release, not the presentation).

Remember that hands-on reports will going up on other site very soon, so check them out.



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