Liveblogging Sonys Pre E3 Media Briefing

Here we go!

6:51 PM: Begin Live-Blogging

7:08 PM: Sony theater is still filling.

7:15 PM: Lines are seriously F**ked up! Kojima (MGS) is even stuck in line!

7:24: Line still sucks. Weather is nice though!

7:30: Looks like Sony isn’t just good at delaying consoles…

7:41: It’s about to start…maybe…

7:47: Hmm…This is seriously dull…

7:50: Rounding up on 8 o’ clock…I’m getting a drink!

7:52: My people are in. 2 Ps3’s sit on a podium.

7:53: Kaz Hirai (Sony personality) Is on Stage!

7:55: Hirai is talking about how we want to be entertained in new and unique ways, and how PS3 is an “arsenal of media compatibility” bringing people together, connecting to the net and downloading stuff. “Make no mistake – PS3 is the most ambitious project we at SCE have ever undertaken.”

7:56:”We’re not interested in gimmicks, clever rhetoric or conventional thinking.” “The next generation doesn’t start until we say it does.” “Today� the future becomes reality.” Hirai mentions the November launch, but doesn’t specify exactly when.

7:58: Boastful sale stats.

8:00: “SCE will be supporting PS2� for many many more years to come.”Lists PS2 booth titles – 18 including Guitar Hero 2, FFXII, new SOCOM and others.

8:02: Hirai finishes with PS2 and is now throwing around PSP bluster. “At its core, PSP delivers unsurpassed gaming experiences in a portable system rivalling PS2.” Plays up the multimedia side, including digital delivery. Now it’s sales figures – Japan/Asia 4.7m, NA 6.39m, Europe 5.94, 17.03m overall. “No signs of slowing down.” They forecast shipping another 12 million. Software sales are 47.3m – 10m Jap/A, 22m NA, 15.3m Euro.

8:04 :PSP videos. A trailer reel featuring Killzone, World Tour Soccer 2, Ape Academy 2, LocoRoco, B-Boy and others plays. Also mentions PlanetPSP – some sort of digital guide. Lengthier videos including Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror and Gangs of London play. TalkMan too. Nothing massively new.

8:05: PSP “Greatest Hits” – budget titles, basically. Ape Escape On the Loose, ATV offroad Fury, Hot Shots Golf, Twisted Metal, Wipeout Pure. Coming to North America.

8:05: They’re not ditching PSP, is what he’s saying – reeling out stats to support the idea that movie UMDs and others are popular. Now he’s pointing out how the PSP’s had new functions added in the last year.

8:06: Later in the year we plan to add RSS video, voice over IP, camera and GPS peripherals, says Hirai.

8:08: Video of People talking about PS3. It’s all propoganda.

8:12: Hard disk is removable, but is there to begin with – just in case anyone was still debating that one. No sign of ducks yet incidentally. Back catalogue compatibility – over 15,000 titles, PSP “interoperability with PS3 via network, USB, Memory Stick”. Hirai turns to Blu-ray. “Five of the six studios that represent 80% of all Hollywood content are backing Blu-ray.”

8:14: “That’s right – every PS3 will ship with a hard disk drive.” Download content and network, and HDD can serve game performance, with game saves and caching etc. “Simultaneously throughout the world this November,” he says about release date.

8:16: Clear black unit in all territories at launch, says Hirai. More than 10k dev systems to 208 devs in 11 countries. Final kits shipping now, 6 months prior to release.

8:18: Playable PS3 games confirmed on Sony’s E3 booth. “Despite what you may have heard.” And now Phil Harrison [Sony’s worldwide studios boss] is on his way to the stage.

8:19: Kazunori Yamauchi is on stage. He’s going to show us a GT prototype – Gran Turismo HD – for E3. At 1920x1080p resolution. He’s holding a normal Dual Shock pad. (Where is Dualshock 3?) Four tracks. Tokyo R246, Nordschleife, others. 7 cars and 3 bikes. Racing and commercial “down to scooters”.

8:22: It’s very sharp. Apparently it’s reusing old assets, but the resolution is what it sounds like. The frame-rate’s certainly what he says – 60 frames per second.

8:22: As a reference point, the average broadcast TV HD is a third as good as this, apparently. The difference between this and GT4 PS2 is 12 times. No, we’re not sure how exactly you measure that either. Some kind of special ruler, probably.

8:24: Other tracks are Circuit de la Sarthel and Grand Canyon. The load-times will be lower than GT4’s 10-15 seconds. 2-3 seconds, he says.

8:34: (PC screwed up) Next demo of something to be revealed at E3, says Harrison. Card battling, power of PS3, and EyeToy. “The Eye of Judgement” – developed by SCEI You place cards with your actual hands (as in, the ones attached to your arms), from which monsters then appear on on-screen. They then fight. Harrison adds a card. A duck materialises. Inevitably. And breathes fire on a two-headed demon. It’ll be playable at E3 he says.

8:36:It’s back to Kaz Hirai, who’s smiling even more broadly than he was earlier. Online network strategy’s the next topic. More than three million US registered users he says, right now. He says there are no lines between online and off in gamers’ minds.
8:38: Account management, friends list, profiles, voice and text messaging, video chat, rankings, and latest info as basic services – i.e. free of charge, he adds. Games, music, movies or whatever will be digi-downloadable. For PS3 and PSP owners. E-distribution coming later this year, as said in Tokyo He pulls out a PSP running one of the first PSone titles released years ago. He flicks to the Game menu, Memory Stick, then clicks “PlayStation”.

8:40: The old PS logo screen appears. And then there’s the Space Invaders loading screen. It’s Ridge Racer. It’s 4:3 in the middle of the screen – not stretched. You can change the screen size by hitting Select, it looks like – zooming in a bit if you want. More online stuff – microtransactions. Including a pre-pay PlayStation Card. With exclusive info for people who sign up for that And now Harrison rejoins us.

8:43: The shop interface shows content for sale for WarHawk. Stuff’s listed with prices. Highest is $6.95 for Arid Wasteland, a map – this is all presumably placeholder stuff, though. He’s showing SingStar PS3 – you can download songs, with videos in HD too. You’ll be able to try SingStar on PS2 and PS3 at the Sony booth. Browse catalogues in SingStar – Pop, Rock, etc. You select a song, confirm and download. There’s a wallet system, spending limits. No word on prices for songs.

8:45: “My SingStar” community. Profile, scores, customisation, details on who’s playing. You can add your video performance, snapshots and golden moments for friends to see.

8:46: Genji 2 is here. And will be at E3. Game Republic’s Bill Rich is demoing it. It looks like a PS2 game in ultra high res. Real-time weapon and character changes in-game. Lots of battles in the background.

8:53: F1 game for PS3 shown. And there’s a gimmick – your PSP can act as a wing mirror, synchronised with what’s going on in the main race. There’s free software for that, which you upload to the PSP via USB.

All these are being played real time by the way. Heavenly Sword shown. And this looks very, very cool. God of War fans will love the look of it.

8:55: There’s a Prince of Persia style glow to the dancing female swords-lady dicing up enemies in a coliseum. Chains them, slams them and slices their nuts. It’ll be playable at E3, as will the others. The camera snaps to different angles to frame awesome moves. Swinging men around, spiral spin slices, dual swords… The combat is incredibly fast, creatively shot, and full of exotic moves – now there’s a Fahrenheit style button presses sequence in mid-air for the final boss.

8:56: A video of games “a bit further out”. Factor 5’s dragon-riding, mid-air battling, Shadow of the Colossus meets Panzer Dragoon looking “Lair” to start.

8:56: Next video! A street in what looks like Amsterdam. Cars zoom past. People stroll along. The camera pulls back to within a house. A man with a gun is there – he’s just shot someone. It’s another Getaway.

8:59: A game from one of Sony’s Japanese studios next. An African horizon; a giant, astonishingly detailed and organic rhino on a plain; a giraffe appears, nibbles some trees. Now zebras and wildebeests mingle next to an oasis. Now it’s sunset. Very pretty but not clear what it’s about. Called Afrika – working title.

9:00: Hot Shots Golf/Everybody’s Golf – still cute and stylised, but with lots more draw distance and resolution. Very loud and bouncy.

Next up, a crazy surreal foreign land, pixies dancing (I’m not making this up), a bloke with a dodgy blue tattoo. Oh, it’s Monster Kingdom – from Game Republic.

9:02:Two new games now, says Phil. London Studio’s Eight Days looks like a third-person shooter with driving. Set in Arizona; we see gunplay outside a diner – it looks ridiculously detailed, like CG. Who knows, eh? A guy leaps over a bonnet, dives through a window, dodges an exploding tanker. If it’s real, it’s astonishing.

9:04: Next! Detailed jungles, treasure maps, platform-jumping in jungle ruins. The animation is astonishing, facially as well as general behaviour. Imagine Prince of Persia meets Far Cry. From Naughty Dog.

9:05: Of all the demos so far, the last two were the only really suspect ones, graphics wise. Now Ted Price from Insomniac is on-stage talking about Resistance.

9:06: Back to Ted and his Resistance game. It looks a bit like a Call of Duty FPS, certainly some sort of high-end PC fare. He’s really playing it though, fighting aliens in ruined English streets. Sniping, throwing grenades that spit out crazy barbed spikes. “Press L1 to fire both barrels” his gun says. Ok Mr Gun.

9:10:It’ll have 32-player online multiplay too, and will be on the booth at E3. Harrison says thank you and wanders off. Kaz is back. Beaming as usual.

9:12: “What about third parties?” says Hirai. Assassin’s Creed video, Mobile Suit Gundam, Coded Arms Assault, Ridge Racer 7…

9:16: Still going! Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway, Tekken 6 (looking like DOA4 did, honestly), Sonic the Hedgehog (3D, Adventure in ninja res), Virtua Tennis 3, Virtua Fighter 5 (lots of swinging legs)�

9:17:John Woo’s Stranglehold, Fatal Inertia (“Available at launch”), Bladestorm: Hundred Years War, Armored Core 4. That’s the trailer reel done with.

Larry “I run EA” Probst is on-stage. Talks about a “special partnership” between Sony and EA. Two brief demos, he says. NBA Live 07’s been beaming at us from the left of the stage for an hour, so it’s not surprising the first is that.

9:20:He demonstrates what he calls “procedural awareness,” showing how the player’s eyes and body follow a ball cursor believably. He compares this with the PS2 – which, he says, couldn’t do that. He talks about importance of footplanting for PS3 animation. “No matter what the sport, footwork plays a huge role.” Freedom of movement is fully 360 degrees.

9:21: We see two players playing in a gym, with impressive movement – there’s only the odd graphical glitch on the bouncing of the ball. “This is not a video you are watching folks. This is running live on the PlayStation 3.” NBA will be athletes’ delight, EA reckons.

9:24: Now they’re doing a demonstration of their PS3 facial modelling and animation system, which was built using motion-captured faces. Tiger Woods’ face, to be specific – it’s an amazing facsimile – the smile’s unmistakable, and Tiger’s reactions and vocalisations look very believable. “This demo wasn’t a movie, this was Tiger running live on PS3.”

9:25: EA plans to support PS3 “with more than 10 titles” including Army of Two, MOH Airborne, Madden NFL 07 and others. We’ll be able to play Madden PS3 on EA’s booth.

“Kutaragi-san, thank you for your leadership and vision – you can count on EA’s support every step of the way,” says Probst, who now wanders off.

9:29: Now an EA trailer reel – Madden, Need For Speed: Carbon (that’s new), MOH Airborne (shades of Killzone�).

Hirai’s back. Another sneak peak. From Square Enix. Final Fantasy XIII on PlayStation 3 – multiple versions inc. FFXIII and FF Versus XIII. Both of these were announced earlier today at Square Enix’ own conference up the road in Hollywood, so it’s not new stuff.

The CG is well, let’s say they’re getting quite good at this. In-game is still very impressive – the main character is jumping around firing guns, switching to swords. Now we’re in a giant fantasy forest, on a train above a dark city, fighting robots.

9:30: Hirai’s back again again. “Please give your attention to Metal Gear Solid 4 on PlayStation 3.” We’ll see what we can do, Kaz.

9:31: Old Snake is rambling again – war has changed, it’s become a business transaction. ID-tagged soldiers with nanomachine enhancements. He’s not a fan apparently.

9:32: It’s all very similar to what we saw in the Tokyo Game Show demos, except a bit more back to reality perhaps. There’s a showreel of familiar characters – Naomi Hunter, Colonel Campbell, Meryl (!). “We are the new FOXHOUND.” Otacon’s on now. And, yes, Raiden. Liquid. Ocelot. “Old Snake” is their term, by the way. Raiden had a Darth Vader motif going on – a face mask peeled back very sinisterly. “It’s my turn to protect you Snake.” Old Snakesays he has one thing to do. He puts a gun in his mouth. As the screen goes black, the trigger’s pulled. “Coming 2007.” (Great, death to old people!)

9:33: Hirai: “It wouldn’t be a proper E3 without introducing the man known in some circles as ‘The Father of PlayStation’.” Ken Kutaragi’s on. He asks if we’re enjoyed ourselves. Americans yelp.

9:34: “I have one more big thing that we have kept secret from you.” Back in 1994, he says, the controller shape was quite unique. The new controller is out. It’s a Dual Shock 2, or so it looks – but it’s not, with a little Xbox-guide-style button in the centre.

Phil Harrison’s brought out with the controller, which has new technology inside it too, he says.

“It’s not what it looks like, it’s what it does.” A box appears on screen saying “Not to be opened until E3”. (WOOOOOOOOO)

9:36: He’s put the pad down. A pad is on screen. He picks it up, the one on screen flies. Has six degrees or freedom built in as standard with no external sensor required, says Harrison.
This’ll come with every PlayStation 3, says Harrison. Fluid movement in games is completely possible, he says. Imagine leaning into corners, basically.

And now Harrison’s moving a duck around by moving his hands, without pressing any buttons. He says the new controller’s lighter than the PS2 version. It’ll ship with every PS3 he says. (HOW DARE THEY!)

9:38: Thank you, Kutaragi says, leaving the stage. Harrison’s still up there. “Finally, I have to make a slight confession” he says. They’ve modified a game to take advantage, having known about the controller for “a couple of weeks”, he says – it’s WarHawk.

9:39: Dylan from Incognito comes on and he’s controlling a plane on-screen by wiggling the pad with his hands, using the buttons to fire and nothing else. It looks like one of those dodgy virtual reality film concepts, except, er, he’s doing it.

Unleashes rockets, Panzer Dragoon/Rez-style at ships, which he dodges past using deft hand gestures.

9:40: Dylan Jobe: “It’s incredibly exhilarating.” The sensitivity, the weight “is what we were hoping for the PlayStation 3”. “Very kinetic control mechanics” possible, he adds.

9:41:”Ladies and gentleman, thank you very much – don’t you just love surprises?” says a clearly enthusiastic Harrison. Kaz Hirai is back. The sun is basically shining out of his face at this point. (Can you say Killzone??)

9:43: (Guess Not)We’re nearly at the end apparently. “Today we’re pleased to announce the global PS3 launch plan. Two configuration plans for launch – one with 60GB HDD, one with 20GB.

Japan: November 11th. 20GB: 59,800 yen. 60GB will have open price retailers will set.

America: Nov 17th. 20GB: USD 499, 60GB: USD 599.

Europe: Nov 17th. 20GB: EUR 499. 60GB: EUR 599. (600 dollars! Holy Shit!)

9:46: It’s over. Thanks for reading! Same thing for Nintendo And Microsoft tomorrow. And thanks to my source Eurogamer.net!

KLind.

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