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Making the grade: Sony's E3 presentation

Jared Rea

Thanks to their presentation at last years E3 conference, Sony became the laughing stock of the entire industry. From an array of embarrassing demos to the unbelievable price of the PlayStation 3, "Riiiiiidge Racer!" became the battle cry of a company that was painfully out of touch with reality.

At their GDC presentation earlier this year, Sony had turned over a new leaf. With more of a focus on showing us the goods than crunching the numbers, they introduced us to some exciting new properties and showed a glimmer of what made them they most powerful entity in the past decade of the console wars to begin with.

The final part of our making the grade series for E3 2007 features a company not only trying to roll with the punches, but to get some momentum going with each swing. Don't call it a comeback: here's Sony.

The Games
Much like their GDC presentation, Sony's E3 showing featured some exceptional, original titles. Little Big Planet and Pain were back for more, but Infamous and Echochrome were all people seemed to talk about after the show. We've been curious as to what Sucker Punch (Sly Cooper) has been up to since their PS2 days and it's safe to say they haven't been slacking off. The typical array of sequels were in full force including Killzone, Wipeout, SOCOM and Gran Turismo -- all of which were looking as well as could be expected. Compared to Nintendo and Microsoft, however, just how many of these games are coming out this year is difficult to determine.

Sony's third party segment did feel a bit silly as we had already seen all of titles featured at the Microsoft event. Were it Microsoft in this situation we'd be railing on them all the same.

Sony also regulated a good chunk of their time to the PlayStation Portable. And while we didn't see much of anything new outside of the hardware (we're getting there ...), the next year features some fantastic games. God of War looks fabulous on the PSP, doesn't it?

The Tone
Constantly on point, this was the same style that Phil Harrison showed during his GDC presentation. Light on the number crunching and heavy on the games, one could put up a good argument that Sony doesn't have many favoring statistics at the moment. Regardless, it's an immeasurable improvement from just one year ago. Sony came in and did what they needed to do: showed video games and lots of them. There may not have been a moment where we felt the need to run screaming out of the theatre to buy a PlayStation 3, but there wasn't anything cringe worthy either. Uh, except Chewbacca, of course.

The Announcements
First and foremost, the new PSP. We all knew it was coming and while we're not disappointed, we're not exactly thrilled either. We'll have to wait for the real world tests to figure out if it's high time to ditch our older units.

Sony didn't have any "exclusive megatons" per say, but their deal with NCSoft could produce some very compelling results. Especially in instances where the creators of City of Heroes, Cryptic, could have their game released on the PS3 while Microsoft has their other title, Marvel Ultimate Universe, on the Xbox 360. Personally, we're just hoping for Guild Wars.

Unreal Tournament III and Haze have been locked down as timed exclusives for Sony and while that's nice and all, neither of them are going to change the tide of a console race considering the state that Sony is in. With announcements like this, it's becoming increasingly clear why Sony's focus has been on their own first party developments.

The Presentation
We nailed both Nintendo and Microsoft for having hardly any live demos of their upcoming games. Sony, on the other hand, had not a single one just one: Killzone 2. It was trailer after trailer and even featured the king of the trailers, Metal Gear Solid 4. Hey, Kojima. Stop working so hard on the Xbox 360 version and get a playable demo going for us, will ya? Ah, Tokyo Game Show should be sweet.

It was cute to see Sony use Home so much during their presentation without it being the focus. It's not exactly a game to begin with and the manner in which they used it made it seem, well, interesting.

The Fluff
Think about it. Were Sony to have Chewbacca at E3 a year ago, it would have made an already bad situation so much more ridiculous that we probably wouldn't even be talking about the PlayStation 3 today. Well, it's still mildly embarrassing, yet oddly charming at the same time.

As for the comedic stylings of SCEA CEO Jack Tretton ... he shouldn't quit his day job anytime soon, but he definitely made up for the whole "PS3 is still dominant" fiasco with this burn-

[Jack Tretton, in Home, approaches a PSP playing Kaz Hirai]
Tretton: "Hey, Kaz! What are you doing here?! Are you going to show us Riiiidge Racer?

The Grade
This years E3 presentations will be graded using our brand-new, highly scientific, Mega Man Rating System, in which all three are given titles based upon their performance. Sony's final grade is ...

You've had it rough as of late
but now you've bounced back with a new attitude
and things are actually looking up for a change!
You may not be the best, but hey, it's a start!

[Update - Hey, you're right! They did play Killzone! Someone was too busy watching the pre-recorded stuff.]

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