Sony's big gaming announcements

E3 2008

Blu-ray may have won the HD wars, but Sony has a lot to prove this year at E3. After all, you load up a pricey console with a BD-drive and a Cell processor CPU, you have to create software to show it off. Sony Computer Entertainment's Jack Tretton says that like it was with the PS One and PS2, the PS3 has a 10 year plan. It makes sense. The PS One was a handy CD-player. The PS2 brought DVDs to every home.

So, what are we getting with the PS3? Glad you asked.

Sony at E3

The first, and most obvious are the games. In a dizzying display, SCEA showed off a number of hotly anticipated titles. And when I say dizzyingly, I'm not joking. No less than 60 monitors of various shapes and sizes, all stacked together camped out on the stage at the Shrine auditorium. So much for subtle -- or "green." But enough about that absurdity. You ask me, Little Big Planet is the big news for the show. Maybe they should call this Big Planet, because this beautiful - and simple game - is speaking to a much larger audience. An audience that can build its own games. Simply create your own levels in a cutesy 2D platform game is an obvious hook. And, when it comes this October, look for a game trip through the PC World's offices. I'm working on that one.

Sony at E3

Partnering with Sony Online Entertainment (which is coming under the SCEA fold) they are bringing a number of games to not only the PC, but obviously, the PS3. The free-to-play Free Realms, The spy-themed shooter, The Agency and The DC Universe online that'll allow you to interact with some of the most famous characters in comicdom. I'm so ready to create my new guy, The Dork Knight.

Now, speaking of superheroes, here's a big title that I think has the potential to be a standout game for the PS3: Infamous. With a mysterious explosion that rips through a city, you're the only survivor and strange powers are awakening inside. What do you do with your newfound abilities, for either good or bad? That's up to you. Now how about an online action game of massive proportions? Up to 256 players can jump into an online war in MAG (that stands for Massive Action Game) by Zipper Interactive. Join 8-person squads and advance your online career in what seems like has some potential. But it also seems to remind me of the classic Sci-Fi shooter, Planetside, but recast with more modern military gear. The problems for Planetside back when it shipped were online connectivity and stability. Technical issues that one assumes will be tackled before the game releases sometime in 2009.

Sony at E3

Ah, the family games. Buzz, the gameshow game for the PS2 gets a little company this year: a PSP version and a PS3 version. Same goes for SingStar. Makes perfect sense for trying to cater to families, right? That's why you can buy a PS2 for about $129.

The Playstation Network is another big cornerstone for the growth of the PS3. 180 million pieces of content have been downloaded for the PS3 since its 2006 launch, but what else do they have in store? Episodic games. To be specific, Ratchet and Clank Future: Quest for Booty (which picks up where the last retail PS3 game, Tools of Destruction, left off). It will launch this summer for $14.99.

Sony at E3

Apparently more are on the way. A couple: Crash Commando, a classic 2D shooting game. PixelJunk's Eden looks hypnotic. Pain Amusement Park is really a crash test dummy game - meets - jackass. A horror survival game called Siren: Blood Curse. And - get this - a game called Flower. I'm not quite sure what the deal is on this one (stay tuned!) but this trippy little experiment might actually have you control the growth of a flower.

Now here's something that I can get behind: an additional reason to fire up Gran Turismo 5: Prologue. The GTTV feature is actually going to give players an ongoing look at the game's development as you get to see video test drives of the newest rides and partnering auto shows to be "broadcast" onto your PS3. My personal fave is the UK show, TopGear, which will be viewable shortly.

Sony at E3

Now, we've been hearing about the Second Life-like Home for some time now, but what is the deal? Umm, no news, I'm sorry to report. They showed off a couple game-specific Home lounges. It's a nice enough touch seeing on-screen trophies and quick launches into games...but we already knew that. A launch date would be nice, wouldn't it?

Partnering with Sony Pictures is obvious, but the PSN's video delivery service will include MGM, Lionsgate, Warner, Disney, and Fox Pictures from day one. Just go to the revamped PS Store and a new tab at the top lets you toggle between Game downloads and Video. Why, I see an empty space up there on the screen that could allow for Music. C'mon, you know it's going to happen at some point. The sample movie, the SD version of Walk Hard, cost $2.99. Takes about a minute to load and then you could start streaming the whole movie. Want to buy the movie ($14.99) or get the HD version ($3.99)? No problem.

Sony at E3

It's doable and here's the part that I think is extra-smart: continuing the connectivity with the PSP. Plug in the portable and you can transfer the movie to your PSP. This particular move is huge. How long do you have to wait to see what new movies they are adding? Wait a couple hours. Tonight, the movie service goes live so, expect to see a couple head-to-head tests on video downloads and quality.

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Darren Gladstone

PC World (US online)

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