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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 6, 2011 at 5:15 PM

E3: Sony apologizes, touts PS3 exclusives, a TV and PS Vita

LOS ANGELES — Jack Tretton, president and chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment America, started out Sony’s E3 press conference by acknowledging the elephant in the room.

That would be the massive outage and security attack on the PlayStation Network. Tretton apologized to consumers and industry partners and said the network is now more than 90 percent restored.

Then, the action began with a long demonstration of “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception,” the third episode of the movie-like adventure game that’s one of the best exclusives for the PlayStation 3.

Just as Sony struggled to get through the network attack, the character Drake wobbled on a flooded cruise ship, battled with bad guys and found himselft nearly drowned below deck on the listing ship.

A public beta of the game’s online multiplayer aspect begins June 20, and in October Sony and Subway are running a promotion giving winners early access to the multiplayer before the game goes on sale in November.

That was followed by another PS3 exclusive, sci-fi action shooter “Resistance 3,” which launches Sept. 6.

A 3-D sequence shown was set in circa 1951 St. Louis in a rainstorm, with raindrops coming down and splattering the player’s visor as he clambered over urban wreckage, battling invading aliens.

“Our commitment to 3-D is unwavering and we’re adding new content all the time,” Tretton said, then announced “remastered” older games such as “God of War” in 3-D in September.

We’re going to break the mold on pricing for 3D this year.

Two new 3-D hardware products available, including a PS3-branded 3D TV with a 24-inch screen and the ability for two players to see different images on the screen while playing simultaneously.

“You’re no longer faced with splitting the screen in half with other players,” he said.

Sony also is going to start selling a lower-priced pair of PlayStation-branded glasses that will cost $69..

A bundle with the monitor, glasses, an HDMI cable and “Resistance 3” will be sold for $499 this fall.

Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant came on stage to help 2K Sports demonstrate its new NBA2K12 game, which uses Sony’s Move motion controller to add a new way to control a new version of the basketball franchise coming out in Oct. 12. You point an aiming reticle at the players to whom you’d like to pass on offense, or to steal or block in defense, and pull the Move wand’s trigger to execute the move.

During the demo, Bryant played as himself against the Miami Heat.

“This is the Lake show’s house. Give me the remote, let me show you,” Bryant said, later adding “this game looks a little too real.”

Tretton talked up “inFamous 2,” the action superhero game from Bellevue’s Sucker Punch Productions, which goes on sale Tuesday. Tretton said a new feature will be added in the fall that lets players create their own levels with the Move controller.

Icelandic company CCP was brought on stage to demonstrate “Dust,” an online multiplayer shooting game that’s being released in 2012. Its signature accomplishment is cross-platform play between the PS3, PC and Sony’s NGP handheld. The game was pitched as the first with this capability (now that Sony’s killed “The Agency,” a cross-platform, online multiplayer spy game it was developing in Bellevue).

Ken Levine, Irrational Games creative director, came on stage to discuss “Bioshock Infinite.” He started out explaining how he’d been critical of the PS3 Move and then received a call from Sony, trying to convince him of the controller’s capabilities.

Levine said he ended up convinced by Sony’s pitch that the controller lowers the barrier to entry to the game, so “Bioshock Infinite” will be Move-enabled. Levine also drew whoops when he held up one of Sony’s new NGP handheld player, which Sony hasn’t discussed yet on stage.

There hasn’t been a “Star Wars” demo yet, but Tretton gave an early peak at a “Star Trek” game using the Move controller that Paramount will release next year simultaneously with a new “Star Trek” movie.

Tretten mentioned that EA is providing a few Sony exclusives for its multi-console games, such as a special Mount Fuji level of the SSX snowboarding game, and extra “Battlefield 3” content on a Blu-ray disc.

Finally, Kaz Hirai, chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment, came on stage to talk about the successor to the PlayStation Portable handheld. But first he put in a plug for a new logo program called PlayStation Suite that enables certified Google Android devices to play mobile PlayStation games.

The new handheld player is called the PlayStation Vita, named for the Latin word for “life.”

It has the same basic shape of the PSP portable that debuted in 2005 but has dual cameras, a 5-inch OLED touchscreen, a rear touch-control panel and front and rear cameras that enable augmented reality games (such as those that appeared on Nintendo’s 3DS handheld).

The device has 3G wireless connectivity provided by AT&T (which drew groans and chuckles) plus WiFi. Hirai said pricing of wireless plans and overseas carriers will be announced soon. A WiFi-only version will cost $249 and the 3G-WiFi version will cost $299; both will go on sale this holiday season.

Hirai said the device “breaks traditional boundaries of entertainment with new ways to control the device.” He briefly previewed a new social network and friend messaging system called “Near” that’s coming to the device.

Scott Rohde, vice president of Sony’s game studios, came on stage to demonstrate “Uncharted: Golden Abyss” on the device.

“We believe this device will change how people think about portable gaming,” Rohde said.

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