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E3 2010: Sony Press Conference

They only talked about everything

Last but certainly not least of the first-party media briefings, Sony's annual E3 press conference saw the company doubling-down on 3D gaming and PlayStation Move, new instalments of blockbuster franchises, and interesting announcements related to PSP. While the company's handheld efforts raise just as many questions as answers, it's clear that Sony's console strategy is set for success.

"We're just beginning to hit our stride," proclaimed a confident Jack Tretton, president and CEO. With a console redesign and a string of hits boosting the fortunes of PS3, support for 3D visuals and motion control via PlayStation Move are intended to push the console's limits.

Gran Turismo 5, MotorStorm: Apocalypse, The Sly Collection, Crysis 2, Mortal Kombat, Tron: Evolution, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, and MLB 10: The Show will all support 3D. Of course, it's Killzone 3 that headlines Sony's 3D gaming and Guerilla Games's Herman Hulst introduced a spectacular 3D demo. Set in the arctic zone on the planet Helghan, the 3D visuals were impressive; however, it was the intense action that truly stunned. Along with 3D, Killzone 3 will support PlayStation Move when it comes out in February.

While Hulst didn't explain the ways in which Killzone 3 would utilise PlayStation Move, Sony was eager to share details on how other games will be taking advantage of the motion controller set. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, for instance, will be getting a free update adding PlayStation Move support when the controller ships this autumn. Surprise new title Heroes on the Move will also leverage PlayStation Move as it brings noted characters Sly Cooper, Ratchet and Clank, and Jak and Daxter for competitive platform-action.

Also revealed was Sorcery, a motion-controlled action game specifically designed around PlayStation Move that puts you in control of a young sorcerer casting magical spells against an army of dark creatures. Flicks of the PlayStation Move wand sends forth magical attacks, while twirling the controller instigates a whirlwind attack. Naturally, a range of magical attacks are promised, all executed via gestures. Sorcery is slated for a spring 2011 release. Other new titles revealed for PlayStation Move include a new instalment of Namco Bandai's light gun game Time Crisis: Raging Storm and sequel echochrome II.

"Motion control is the one feature casual PS3 gamers are asking for," offered Peter Dille, Sony's vice president of marketing. While the decision to craft original games specific to PlayStation Move is a wise one that will likely improve the controller's chances with both hardcore and casual gamers, the price may end up being a sticking point. When PlayStation Move arrives in stores on September 15 in Europe and September 19 in US, you can pick up the primary wand for $49.99. It'll cost you another $29.99 for the Sub-Controller. Two bundles will be offered as well, the first packing a copy of Sports Champions with a PlayStation Move and Sub-Controller for $99.99. The second bundle packs in a PS3, PlayStation Eye camera, copy of Sports Champions, and PlayStation Move for $399.99.

Segueing from PS3 to PSP, Tretton trumpeted a range of hardcore titles as representative of the handheld's strength. "PSP is the portable platform for gaming," he claimed. God of War: Ghost of Sparta and Invizimals were touted, along with a new marketing campaign. How a new marketing push will reenergise a platform that has been in decline in Europe and the US is unclear. Sarcastic reference to iPhone and iPod touch gaming in the new advertisements only served to highlight how badly Sony is getting beat in the handheld space by its rivals.

Moving away from the trouble PSP, Tretton revealed that PlayStation Network has accumulated more than 50 million registered users. Free access to the network will continue, although a new premium service called PlayStation Plus is being introduced later this month for an annual $49.99 subscription fee or for three months at a $17.99 fee. Exclusive access to betas, automatic downloads for demos and firmware updates, access to Qore digital magazine, and discounts on PlayStation Network games will be provided.

Far more exciting than PlayStation Plus was Portal 2 confirmed for PS3. Gabe Newell admitted his outspokenness about PS3, though insisted that Valve will be working hard to make the PS3 version of Portal 2 the definitive one when it ships sometime in 2011. The wait is shorter for Gran Turismo 5, which has been given a definitive release date: November 2. Unfortunately, that's for the US. Europe will have to wait.

The big surprise, though, was an official reveal for Twisted Metal. Director David Jaffe was joined by two other members of the development teams in showing the game's 16-player online deathmatch mode. A new mode entitled Nuke was also detailed that emphasises cooperative play via factions. The maps looked enormous and packed with destructive elements ideal for take outs.

With so much excitement generated by titles such as Twisted Metal, Portal 2, and Killzone 3, it's evident that Sony has momentum with PS3. How the company hopes to build momentum with PSP is unclear, but at this year's E3 it's definitely all about PS3.

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