GC 2010: Sony Press Event
Beyond predictably rolling out big hitters such as Halo: Reach and Fable III, Microsoft's 'Play Day' pre-Gamescom press event strived to focus the attention of gathered journalists on the much-vaunted promise of Kinect (which is coming to Europe on Nov. 10). Other than that, the American software titan's presentation was a distinctly by-the-numbers and surprise-free zone.
However, while Move will likely play a major role in Sony's looming press event, the company arrives at Gamescom trailing a number of rumbling rumours in its wake.
For, example, having last year used Cologne's inaugural videogames trade fair to officially whip the covers off the PS3 Slim, it is believed Sony will today formally unveil a 'PSP Phone' device that has been developed in conjunction with Swedish partner Ericsson.
Sony is also expected to confirm the imminent arrival of the same 160GB and 320GB PS3 Slims that were launched in Japan not too long ago. As for the existing 120GB and 250GB models, they'll reportedly have their price points slashed as Sony works to phase them out of circulation.
And, from a software perspective, a number of online reports suggest Gamescom 2010 will also go down in gaming history as the platform used by Sony to formally welcome BioWare's acclaimed Mass Effect series into the PlayStation 3 portfolio.
Ever expectant and hoping for at least one 'knee-trembling' announcement between all the corporate backslapping and fiscal pie-charts these press events usually throw up, we're here outside E Werk (a popular Cologne nightspot), waiting for Sony to open the doors and lift the curtain on its Gamescom presentation.
So, off we go...
Hold on, after more than an hour braving Cologne's ominous summer rain clouds, it transpires that Sony's press conference is actually little more than 'Play Days' in disguise. Where last year there was a large auditorium and a stage (the normal conference set up), this time we're met with partitioned rooms peppered with lazy chairs, wide-screen LCD televisions, individual Gran Turismo 5 driving pods, and a whole host of 'come and play me' gaming stations. Granted, there's also a broadcast balcony and a modest stage that's as-yet empty, but the venue is very much geared towards hands-on play as opposed to dull corporate rambling. We'll take this over Jack Tretton any day.
Unsurprisingly, there are Move controllers pretty much everywhere you look (unchained and unguarded), but Sony's motion controller is hardly the focal point. Moreover, a brief perusal of the playable gaming pods reveals the likes of FIFA 11, LittleBigPlanet 2, inFamous 2, Motorstorm: Apocalypse, DC Universe Online, and many more. There's also a smattering of PSN titles like Dead Nation, Pixel Junk Shooter 2, Eat Them!, and a pod covering upcoming PlayStation minis.
The PSP pods, which certainly don't contain any newfangled hardware, offer up the likes of God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Valkyria Chronicles 2, and the really quite beautiful Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
A little hands-on time with Ghost of Sparta reveals a spray soaked and visually arresting battle against giant tentacles clasped around the ruined deck of a spider-infested ship. Controls are pleasingly fluid and reliable - much like any other God of War title - as Kratos dodges successive lashes while ripping arachnids apart left, right and centre. It's impressive. Yet, while there's no denying the slick presentation and the welcome familiarity, we can't help but wonder whether excitement for Kratos is beginning to fade... not least because not many attendees are gravitating towards the pod.
Put it this way: Birth by Sleep delivers similar - if not somewhat cuter - third-person action. But the presentation is fresh and lively, and the mixture of Square Enix's franchise heroes and classic Disney characters is so far removed from Sony's incessantly growling Spartan warrior covered in the ashy residue of his victims. There's a fresh-faced appeal in attendance that's likely to grab a wider slice of the PSP demographic, which is probably why we were shuffled off the Birth by Sleep pod in a matter of minutes by other eager punters.
On the Move front, there are playable versions of an action-packed Time Crisis: Razing Storm (complete with snazzy Move-based gun peripheral), which we'll be covering in detail during Gamescom proper. There's also Socom Special Forces, Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition, Ratchet & Clank: Heroes on the Move, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2011, all of which are attracting a fair amount of journalistic interest.