E3 '09: Sony Media Briefing

After Microsoft blew everyone away with their news of Project Natal and Milo, the remaining contenders for top press conference of E3 2009 had a high bar to reach. Sony's press conference easily bested Nintendo's in every way, with a multitude of exclusive titles sure to set the Sony fanboys alight.

Leading the way was Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, who began the press conference by reciting a few stats about the company line, and their continued support of the PS2 as a viable gaming platform that they will support as long as it turns a profit.

The conversation quickly stopped on the Playstation Network and its 24 million worldwide accounts, before moving onto the first demo of the conference: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

Uncharted 2 introduces players to Drake's new sidekick Chloe Frazer, voiced by Claudia Black of Stargate SG-1 and Farscape fame, who alone is enough of a draw to have me interested in the title. Players can already jump into the multiplayer beta of the game, but the full title will allow players to dive back into Drake's treasure-hunting world on his quest to uncover the truth about Marco Polo's lost fleet.

Next up was MAG, a game many hardcore FPS fans have been obsessing over since last year's E3. The game's demo ran in real time, with a full 256 player live battle showing off the game's capabilities. Each player has a different role in battles, and can affect all other players with their actions, regardless of which side they are currently playing for.

After summarily wowing the crowd with Uncharted 2's amazing graphics and MAG's incredible depth, the mood of the conference slowed a bit, as the focus shifted from the PS3 to the PSP, with the official announcement of the PSP Go! (no shockers here, as information about the system leaked a few days prior to the show).

The PSP Go! will not replace the current models of PSPs; rather, they will complement the line by offering 16GB of internal memory, a MemoryStick Micro port, built in Wi-Fi, and a slide-out control panel - all in all a more advanced and streamlined version of the PSP experience for gamers willing to shell out the hefty $250 price tag at launch (October 21st in North America).

New hardware wasn't the only PSP announcement up Sony's sleeves however, as two new programs, Media Go and Sense Me, were also announced. The former will replace the PSP's media manager, while Sense Me will allow users to enjoy their music through pre-generated playlists befitting their current mood or activity.

In keeping with the PSP news, we were given a look at Gran Turismo PSP, which will support up to four player multiplayer, hundreds of cars, and the ability to trade those cars with others.

Hideo Kojima then took the stage to entice the crowd with a trailer for Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, the true PSP sequel to MGS3, set in the 1970's.

We were then treated to a video of upcoming titles for the PSP, due out throughout the rest of 2009, which included titles in the LittleBigPlanet, Jak and Daxter, and Rock Band franchises, among many others.

Another change of pace, as the conference returns to the topic of PSN and Playstation Home, the largest announcement from this section of the conference being the release of FFVII on the Playstation Store, which is already available to download.

Online talk out of the way, the rest of the conference was devoted to the biggest PS3 titles due out in the coming months, and at Sony’s next stab into the motion-controlled arena.

Assassin's Creed 2 was finally shown off in all of its glory, allowing players to take in the new Italian Renaissance theme in all of its blood-filled glory. Assassin's Creed 2 makes multiple nods at the work of Leonardo Da Vinci who supplies new tools for your character to use, which are just some of the 30 new weapons at your disposal.

Next was a brief look at Final Fantasy XIII, which has a scheduled release window of Spring 2010, and one of the only truly shocking announcements of the show – Final Fantasy XIV Online, which will be coming exclusively to the PS3, also in 2010.

Not to be left out of the now incredibly advanced motion-controller field, Sony played a few cards of their own by introducing viewers to a new controller that includes internal motion sensors, and a glowing sphere that Playstation Eye can detect. The controller is held like a bat or sword, and can be used to control such objects, as well as paint and write, use a bow and arrow, shield yourself from oncoming attacks, lay out dominos in patterns that you can then destroy and so on.

Continuing with the user generated experience is Mod Nation Racers, a Mario Kart style racer that allows players to create their own intricate race tracks and environments from scratch, a la the level designer in LittleBigPlanet. Not only can players choose the type of road to lay (asphalt, dirt, etc.) and the overall shape of the track, but they can also fully trick out the surrounding environment with small villages, lacks, mountains, grassy plains, and even grazing sheep. The game is due out sometime in 2010.

Perhaps the biggest thrill from Sony's show however came with the trailer for The Last Guardian. From the team behind Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian continues in the incredibly cinematic look and feel of its predecessors by exploring the relationship between a young lad and a gigantic hybrid creature containing both dog and bird-like elements. With the trailer already being this gorgeous, I can only eagerly anticipate what the full title will offer.

To end the conference, a trailer of Gran Turismo 5 showed of the game's new elements (the inclusion of NASCAR, for one), and an intense stage demo of God of War III made sure the show ended on a high note, by displaying the game's technical prowess with a multitude of different actions taking place on screen at once, along with the series' expected fast-paced gameplay and overdose of gore.

With that, the big three press conferences of E3 2009 had come to a close, leaving gamers everywhere counting their pennies for all of the great games expected during the rest of this year and beyond.

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