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Sony Press Conference

PSP Go, Motion controller, Agent and more

Microsoft basically owned yesterday's E3, and while Nintendo couldn't pull anything better out of the bag Sony certainly gave Microsoft some food for thought in their E3 briefing. As with last year, US chief Jack Tretton was hosting, the big cheese assuring that 2009 will be the best year ever for Sony.

Tretton is keen to point out that - despite media reports to the contrary - Sony is doing better than ever, with three hit platforms seeing Sony take an impressive thirty percent market share last year. The PSN continues to grow, with even the PS2 still thriving, evidenced by the 100 games expected out for the format this year.

Sony are also rolling out there products in South America, Tretton noting the impressive growth statistics so far achieved in the region.

Still, this show is, nay should be, all about the games, and Naughty Dog VP Evan Wells takes to the stage to confirm that the Uncharted 2 multiplayer beta test will kick off at midnight tonight. Wells also showed off some lovely new in-game action from Nathan Drake's latest, and we were treated to a segment set on the rooftops of some exotic locale - our hero and his British side-kick pursued by a helicopter gunship.

Next up was a surprise focussed on the number '256', Zipper Interactive bringing us real-time action from MAG, the first-person shooter that will support the previously mentioned total in multiplayer mode. Tactics will be important in a title supporting this number of players, and Tretton was eager to point out that the game simply wouldn't be possible on any other system.

Moving onto the PSP, and we hear word that Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines will be released for the handheld on November 10th, before Kaz Hirai ushers in "E3's worst kept secret": the PSP Go. Digital delivery will be the focus, while the fifty percent smaller and lighter device will drop the UMD in favour of PSN access via WiFi. 16Gb of internal storage will be used, and the system sports a sliding-screen design.

The handheld's memory will be upgradeable, and this model will run alongside the older SKUs, future games set for release via both UMD and online. A Western release will occur on November 1st, the PSP Go costing 249 USD / Euro in North America and Europe.

The PSP action was far from done, however, Polyphony's Kazunori Yamauchi telling us that Gran Turismo PSP is on its way back - and will land on October 1st worldwide. Online support will be included, with 800 cars and 35 tracks promised. Then there's the 'true' sequel to Metal Gear Solid on the handheld, Hideo Kojima unveiling Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. A full Solid Snake adventure is planned, the story to be set at the height of the Cold War in the 1970s. If this wasn't enough, we're also told that Capcom will deliver Resident Evil: Portable in 2010.

One for the fans was next on the agenda, Tretton revealing that Final Fantasy VII will hit the PSN Store this very week - just one of fifty PSone titles being released this year. The exec went on to talk up the significance of the PSN and the PS3's online services, exemplified by Home which is apparently going from strength to strength.

The Xbox 360 may have exclusive GTA IV DLC, but the PS3 could be going one better - Sony announcing that the console will be getting a whole new Rockstar game exclusively: Agent. Agent promises to be a 2010 action title set in the political gloom of the 1970s. Details are scant, but this has to go down as good news for Sony.

Perhaps the biggest news from Sony followed, however, Tretton letting slip that Final Fantasy XIV: Online will be a PS3 only title which will be released next year following the the multi-platform XIII. A lush new trailer was shown to gasps from the audience. At least something was kept off Twitter, it would seem.

We were then treated to a sneak peak at the PS3's motion control system - which will use a light-operated 'wand' of sorts, and promises to pick up full 3D movement in some detail. A technology demonstration was the order of the day, featuring various sports and weapons in the main. These tasters were impressive (as impressive as Microsoft's? - Ed), and we were also shown some first-person style interaction - Sony's representatives assuring that a button is required for some game types.

Our hosts were also able to 'move' items within a virtual world, while an impressive crossbow also worked well, as did a new painting tool. The PS3's unnamed motion sensing technology will land in spring 2010.

This demo - which saw Sony tick what now seems to be an essential box, was followed by something rather different, ModNation Racers from United Front Games. Following in LBP's cutesy footsteps this game is all about user-generated content, players creating cars, racers and tracks for playing and sharing online. Gameplay seems to take its cues from Mario Kart, although the track editor was most impressive - players drawing the route by driving before adding detail airbrush-style.

Tretton highlighted big name 2009 releases on the console next, revealing that God of War 3 will land in March 2010, and we played out with a a trailer for The Last Guardian - the third title from Sony's ICO team. Cinematic, grandiose and utterly enthralling, we're desperate to see more on this game. Sooner rather than later, preferably.

Sony's conference concluded in style then, and while the PSP Go news may have been leaked beforehand it's fair to say that this briefing didn't fall far short of the ridiculously high standards set by Microsoft yesterday. Celebrities may have been in short supply, but Agent from Rockstar is a coup and the motion technology that was demonstrated could yet see Nintendo breaking into a sweat as well. Sony has some catching up to do, but this wasn't a poor showing by any means.