Ah, the Sony after party. What's not to love? Open bars, scantily clad women, live musical performances, scantily clad women, tons of celebrities to meet… did I mention the scantily clad women? Oh wait, you wanna hear about the games! Oh, right, ok.
Well, the spread was pretty interesting. Strangely, most of the games were titles that they didn't show during the conference. Street Fighter X Tekken and Final Fantasy XIII-2 were two welcome surprises that had decent crowds around them, as was Twisted Metal, which wasn't even mentioned in the conference regardless of what a huge selling point it was last year. The big headliners were also there, including Resistance 3, Uncharted 3, and of course a huge spread of NGP … sorry Vita titles, which easily had the biggest lines of all (unfortunately, they were a little too long for me).
My night started with Resistance 3, and while the game itself was impressive, the demo was very cut and dry. You were put into the middle of a battle and were tasked with basically defending your troop against an alien attack. Though you started taking on nothing more than grunts, the battle eventually escalated and called for you to shoot alien spacecraft out of the sky. This was probably the hardest demo of the night, and I did not see one person manage to beat it. Yes, I just said it was the hardest game there, and I got to play Ninja Gaiden.
Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One was the most pleasant surprise of the conference. Two of my friends, one random stranger, and I all joined up to play its two available demo stages. It did just about everything right, and really made me rethink co-operative action games. The screen doesn't pull out too far so as to hinder your view of the characters, every character can "tether" to another to immediately catch up with the party, you can revive downed characters, pick up characters and throw them, and even toss items from one character to another. I didn't feel any slowdown from a lagging teammate, which is rare in co-op action games. Biggest surprise of the show, hands down.
Starhawk was the next game I played, and I was impressed enough. The biggest reveal was just how you gain "rift energy" that you use to build structures and alter the terrain. You gain rift energy by staying inside your base, completing gameplay objectives (such as capturing a flag), or killing an enemy. You retain your rift energy when you die, so you can, in fact, save up for a very powerful building such as an auto turret or a hangar. It naturally balances out the game, if your teammates play intelligently. Plus, you get to do cool things like drive an ATV at your opponents, jump out in mid-drive, kill most of them with the out-of-control vehicle, and pick off the rest with a sniper rifle.
Uncharted 3 was my next pit stop, but unfortunately all they were showing was the multiplayer. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially because we got to play the awesome cinematic airplane stage, where one team starts inside the hangar of a plane and the other starts in the bed of trucks chasing a train. Still, lots of what makes the multiplayer of Uncharted 3 fun was locked down, including the load outs and special medal powers. So all we really had were slightly loose controls that were defaulted to inverted axes for some strange reason. It was fun, but it didn't give us the greatest look at the future of the game.
The next two titles I played were my favorites of the show. Street Fighter X Tekken was just an absolute joy to play, even though I had to use a control pad and not an arcade stick. Every character has Light, Medium, and Hard chain combos, and by double tapping Hard, you perform a launcher that doubles as a tag attack. If you chain multiple combos like this together, you can build up massive damage simply by tagging your characters in and out. If there is anything bad about the game, it's that it's too easy to tag. If you are used to chain combos, you'll find yourself accidentally tagging and extending your combos, and while this does give you extra damage, it may make a low health character come in at an inopportune time, and if one character bites it, then you lose the match. P.S. Hwoarang is an absolute beast.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 was a game I was skeptical about coming in to E3, but after playing it I feel cautiously optimistic. The battle system is pretty much identical to Final Fantasy XIII's, but you can now learn skills from enemies, and even capture them in order to put them in your party. Maps were much larger and more open-ended and in the middle of the dungeon I was given a dialogue choice that effected how the story played out. I was able to take on a boss straight on, or wander through an even deeper dungeon in order to find an item to weaken it. It felt like an old school JRPG with mazelike dungeons and all. And guess what? Moogles are back!!!
Time was running out as I got to try my last two titles. Ninja Gaiden was … well, it was hard. It was faster than other Ninja Gaidens I have played. It had more enemies that other Ninja Gaidens I have played. It felt like dragging my face over a bed of nails. I still can't believe that people like titles that are this hard.
Because Twisted Metal was the last title I played, I unfortunately had the least amount of time with it. I can say this though: it really did feel like the Twisted Metals of old. I was addicted at first play, as I was easily plugging my opponents with missiles. I have a feeling this will bring back the car combat fanatics in all of us.
Overall, I think Sony did an amazing job of showing just what makes their console strong: third-party developers. The lineup was so diverse and so interesting, it was obvious that Sony is pretty much banking on its third-party support. Combine this with the PS Move, PlayStation 3D, the PS Vita, and tons of PlayStation-exclusive content in upcoming titles, and I'd say that the Sony after party and press conference were huge successes. The open bar didn't hurt either.
By Angelo D'Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*