THE SONY PRE-E3 PRESS CONFERENCE
 

I've been a pro journalist for many, many years. Through those years I have had my favorites, switched alliances, switched back....it's part of who I am and it's part of the business. I'm not one of those guys who sticks with a hockey team because they represent my home town. If they can't play, I'm gone. I'll go with a winning team thanks. Call me fickle, call me selfish, call me whatever, but don't expect me to stick around on a sinking ship. That's crazy.

Anyone who knows me, my co-workers, friends, family, longtime girlfriend, know that I used to be the biggest Nintendo fan in the world. Then the N64 came out and I went "Cartridges in the CD-ROM age is like bringing a shoe to a glove party." And I dropped them. Not that the N64 didn't have it's moments (Super Mario 64, GoldenEye and Ocarina of Time) but three games don't cut it. I turned tail to Sony and the PSone and I drank deep of their cutting edge revolutionary products and hardcore gamer philosophy.

When the PS2 launched I was all over it. Then I realized it wasn't all that great and started noticing some horrible technical problems this once lauded super computer (so said George Lucas!) couldn't do without trouble. Through the year 2000 and most of 2001 I was an Xbox hater. Until I played it. Then I was all over Bill's black box like snow white on dwarves. And have been ever since.

I watched the MTV unveiling of the Xbox 360 in horror. They blew it. I think the only people that loved that colossal joke was The Killers and their manager. Their press conference was slightly more fleshed out than the MTV special and didn't pack any punch at all. I was devestated after it. I wanted it to kick ass. I wanted it to blow me away. In reality, I just wanted the press conference to convince me that I had to have this Xbox 360 when it launched. And it failed.

I went to Sony's Press Conference a sad man. I didn't really care about the PS3, because of how disappointed I was in the PS2 performance. But I had to go anyway, because that's what I do. I go to these things and write about them. So I went.

Then something funny happened. The Press Conference got underway in the Sony Picture Studios and all of the hurt went away. Sony is going to deliver my friends. What I saw take place in that theater instantly revitalized my love for gaming.

Sony didn't need a Hobbit to get me excited or some alternative rock band,. it didn't need a shitload of cheerleaders telling me to get excited or hiphop stars talking smack to prove that it's a cool machine. Sony just had to show some actual ingame footage of their games and that's all it took. Simple, but a million times more effective than the circus Microsoft put on.

Sony's Kaz Hirzai took a few jabs at Microsoft's revelation that the Xbox 360 was going to be an entertainment hub, because let's face it, Sony went that route with the PS2 back in 2000. Sure the 360 will do more, allowing functionality between iPods, PC, TV etc, but is that even probabe? How many people want to screw around with all of that? Some of us, just want to play games. And the PS3 will play some kick ass games.

Of course the PS3 will be very techno savvy too. Through the Network, PS3 owners will be able to purchase new content for their games, trade and share user-created content and characters, and even communicate via a peer-to-peer connections. Video chat/conferencing will also be supported, just one of several functions for the Eye Toy.

When Epic wandered onto the stage to show their demo, that's when it became crystal clear that the PS3 had some serious hardware under the hood. No junk in the trunk for this bad boy. The demo was using the Unreal Engine 3 and it displayed a dude going against something akin to a Terminator robot. Huge explosions rocked the screen, flames flying everywhere and the battle culminated in a drop out of a building that went down and down and down for a few stories. Sure it looked good, but what CG doesn't look great? Just as I was thinking that, they paused the demo, swung the camera around in midbattle and showed the stunned crowd that none of what we were witnessing was rendered. This was ALL gameplay in realtime. My voice let out a squeak. I'm not even kidding because the the UK reporterd chick beside me looked over and laughed at me and gave me a look like "You stupid pathetic nerd". I could hardly blame her. I was fanboy geeking out like that Star Wars Kid. When Epic revealed that they got this demo up and running within two months of receiving their PS3 dev kits it was obvious that Sony learned a valuable lesson about making a system that was easy to develop for after the more difficult to code for PS2.

The design of the system as you've seen is pretty cool, and looks like a spirtual successor to the PS2. It's about the same thickness although the rounded edges make it a tad thicker. We were all surprised that the bizarre controller didn't make an appearance. We assume it's being retooled and the designer of that abomination has been left in a landfill somewhere. The Dual Shock works. Sony, you've got the best controller in the biz, don't mess with it. That's like McDonalds getting rid of their Big Mac in favor of the Big Baloney Sandwich.

The various demos were beautful of Visual Gran Turismo, Killzone 2, Red Dead Revolver 2 (untitled) and Motor Storm, but it wasn't entirely clear what was CG and what was realtime gameplay. I have my hopes after seeing the Epic demo that's for sure. I can't wait to get my hands on some of these titles on Wednesday at the show.

Unfortunately Sony didn't mention a price or a launch date and to be quite honest with you, I fully expect the PS3 to launch a year from now - yes, even after the next E3 show. Sony's got the upperhand for the moment. They've got the show buzz, they've got the third party support and technically speaking, they've got the most advanced gaming system. I'm going to assume that they pretty much feel that they don't need to rush things along at this point in time. Which I don't have to tell you, is bad news for those dying to play the PS3.

By StewXX