Sony has had a pretty impressive show at this year’s Gamescom. New titles were announced, services were expanded, and the beleaguered Playstation Vita received the attention that was so sorely missed at E3. With the wealth of new ideas on display, Sony looks to have plenty of steam left, even as we head into the last year of the current console generation.
The Vita’s Revival
Some major new titles and features have been announced, greatly enhancing the appeal of the scrappy little handheld. For games we have: Little Big Planet, the LBP you know and love only now with PS Vita capabilities; Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation, which looks like an interesting portrayal of Revolutionary era New Orleans (and more importantly has alligator wrestling – I can’t recall the last game that let me fight an amphibious sauropod). Although, the “touch to kill” feature advertised better not be exactly what it sounds like. The combat of Assassin’s Creed is easy enough thank you. Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, which now has the additional characters of Sackboy, Spike from Ape Escape and Dante (emo variant folks, try not to be too disappointed). Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified which is pretty much what you can expect from a Call of Duty game, and two newly announced titles: Tearaway and Killzone: Mercenary.
Tearaway seems to be an interesting little 3D platformer set in a fanciful world made out of paper. Players will be able to interact with the world using the Vita’s various touch controls. Blowing on the screen to make your paper hero fly (clever and appropriate…but it’ll ensure you look like an idiot on your daily communutes). Grabbing obstacles with a touch of the screen. Defeating enemies by punching holes through their paper world with the press of a finger. Considering the maker is Media Molecule, the minds behind LittleBigPlanet, I’ll say this game should be a winner.
Killzone: Mercenary is a first person shooter that seems to have heavy use of touch screen controls. Melee attacks seem to rely on touch screen quick time events (oh joy!). Interestingly enough, and playing into the title and plot of the game, each enemy you kill seems to earn you cash rewards, calling back to the days where points mattered more than achievements.
Finally, in addition to the upcoming titles for the Vita, there were a number of other features and services on hand. Bundles for LBP and COD, Playstation Plus supporting Vita, PSOne Classics available soon, Playstation Mobile on Vita, PS3 and Android Playstation Devices and finally, last but not least, Sony’s new Cross Buy initiative. For certain games, if you purchase the Playstation 3 version, you will get a free copy for the Vita (bargain hunters and penny pinchers rejoice!). So far, games that support this are: Playstation All-Stars, Ratchet and Clank Q-Force and Sly Cooper 4.
Of course there were a number of major announcements for the Playstation 3 as well. Assassin’s Creed 3 will feature exclusive Playstation only missions, totalling an hour’s worth of gameplay. DLC is coming for LittleBigPlanet 2 which lets players use the Vita as a controller, granting special gameplay elements as a result (a controller with a second screen that has touchpad capabilities? How revolutionary!). Playstation Plus will get even more support; with 1 GB of Cloud Storage for subscribers, more games and Red Dead Redemption as September’s free game of the month (if there is a finer Western in the gaming world, I’ve not yet seen it).
Sony was also rather keen to reassure us of the value of the Playstation Move controller, advertising a rather unconvincing line up (Sports Champions 2? Really?) before moving onto the more interesting titles. They demonstrated the Wonderbook line that was announced earlier at E3 with the Harry Potter inspired Book of Spells, the noirish detective story Digg’s Nightcrawler and BBC’s educational Walking with Dinosaurs. Disney was also announced a partner for the Wonderbook series, with their own titles coming in the future. Definitely something for those gamers with kids, or young relatives to keep an eye on (I am neither thankfully).
EA also got a chance to demonstrate FIFA 13 being played with Move controllers. With targeting cursors on screen, you could mark attacking players, chart paths for your own players, and shoot the ball with precision. Certainly a novel way of playing FIFA (is there actually much correlation between Move owners and FIFA fans?)
Interestingly enough, one of the new titles announced by Sony was a Move compatible game. Until Dawn, an atmospheric first person horror game set in a snowy forest as seven teenagers are being hunted by something (silly teenagers, when will you learn that the great outdoors are never a good place for your amorous shenanigans? Camp Crystal Lake made that abundantly clear). Considering that the major horror titles all seem to be taking a turn for the action packed (to the not inconsiderable disgust of many of their original fans) a nice new atmospheric horror game may be just what the doctor ordered.
Get Some New IP’s In Ya
Along with this were two rather unique and artistic platformers by Studio Japan. Rain a PSN title where you play an invisible boy who can only be seen in the downpour or by the splashes his footsteps make, and Puppeteer, an incredibly vivid platformer set in a world of puppet theatre, where you character can swap heads for different effects and wields a pair of magical scissors.
…If anything the storyline is even more trippy, featuring a demon bear as the villain.
Rounding it all off was a pair of trailers. The Last of Us, looking as glorious as ever with it’s portrayal of strangely beautiful and utterly brutal post apocalyptic society, all set to some deeply solemn music to add gravitas (I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad, all the dreams in which I’m dying, are the best I’ve ever had … Heh) in this case being Alone and Forsaken by Hank Williams Sr. Finishing off the press conference was a trailer for Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified. I won’t spoil it for you … But … Oh what the hell. Stuff blows up.
My sarcastic irreverance aside, the Sony conference was actually pretty impressive, with a bevy of titles and features that ensure that the future looks rather bright for Playstation fans.