Sony E3 2012 Highlights: Book of Spells, God of War: Ascension, The Last of Us and More

Sony had the last E3 conference of the night, putting them right in the middle of the “Big Three” competitors. This gave them the difficult task of trying to upstage Microsoft’s earlier showing and working to ensure that Nintendo doesn’t do the same to them tomorrow. With an impressive lineup of games and some new ways to use the Move and Vita, most people would agree that they accomplished the former. Whether this will hold up against Nintendo’s conference tomorrow remains to be seen. Again, Ron brings us the details straight from LA:

As we set up for Sony’s E3 2012 Press Briefing, it is clear that they will be heavily focused on the Vita and the Move. Already on stage are 5 people sporting blue Sony shirts – four playing Vita games and one playing Sorcery on the Move. With the press all settled into the very-warm arena, it is time to get started.

First up, some video from the various franchises coming to all of Sony’s platforms in rapidfire format. God of War: Ascension, Sorcery, Sly Cooper, Jet Set Radio, Far Cry 3, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, Hitmman, Madden 13, Lollipop Chainsaw, Tekken, Assassin’s Creed III, Spider-Man, and many other titles grace the screen to warm up the crowd. This showcase clearly demonstrates that there is always something to enjoy on a Sony platform – their slogan “Never Stop Playing” becomes clear.

Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, takes the stage to kick off their press conference. After talking about how gamers are the fuel that drives events like E3, Jack tips his hat to Kaz Harai as one of the reasons behind the success of Sony’s PlayStation brand. Sony kicks things off with Quantic Dream, maker of Heavy Rain. David Cage comes to the stage to tell us exactly what that new IP will be.

The new title from Quantic Dream is called “Beyond: Two Souls“. It will focus on what happens after we die, and the mystery of it. Main character Jodie Holmes knows that something lives between our world and something beyond. We will see her learning, growing, and discovering what is beyond – from the artwork displayed it is clear that it will take place in the time span from her childhood to potentially her death. Ellen Page will play Jodie Holmes when Beyond: Two Souls is released. The demonstration kicks off with something that looks even more realisitic than what we’ve seen in Heavy Rain. A cop is sitting with a heavily tattered Jodie – her head shaved and her clothes ripped, she sits sullen and quiet. The cop asks her for any information that might be able to help get her to her parents, friends, or someone that could help. As she quietly sits there, she seems to psychokinetically move the coffee cup he presented, but when he inquires about the recent scar on her head, the cup flies across the room and into the wall. A very nervous cop heads back to his desk, leaving Jodie to quietly sit. Jodie remarks “I know… they’re coming” just before S.W.A.T. officers burst into the station. Clearing the station, they prepare to breach the door to the interrogation room. The scene cuts to various portions from the game, ending with her walking away from the burning wreckage of a downed helicopter, the S.W.A.T. commander being warned that the next time he comes to bother Jodie she will kill every one of them.

Another new PlayStation IP coming this Fall is “PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale“. Sly Cooper, Kratos, Parappa, Fat Princess, Sweet Tooth, and many more iconic game characters will battle it out. 5 players from SuperBot Entertainment come out of (perhaps too much) smoke to show that the game will indeed ship for the Vita, and will also feature cross-play between the Vita and the PS3! You can also use cross-save to play on the Vita and then pick it up on the PS3. Similar to other titles, the 3 minute match is about earning the most amount of points, with the highest score winning at the end. Each of the characters in the game use their signature moves to build their Super Attacks. For instance, Sweet Tooth can lay mines, Sly Cooper can use invisibility and steal, Kratos can summon the three Hydras in the background to attack for him. Fat Princess can summon a chubby chicken as her super, or use a rocket launcher at her lower level. Sweet Tooth unleashes his Super Mecha Tooth by turning into a huge mech that eradicates the enemy. Two new characters get unveiled forE3 – Nathan Drake and the Big Daddy from Bioshock.

The PS3 and PS Vita will join forces later this Fall for Little Big Planet 2 giving players “Cross-Controller” play. This means that both platforms will be alowed to play at the same time.

Jack demonstrates their support for the PSN by promising over 200 new titles to that platform before the end of the year. To that end, Plus will get a push to give 12 new games to subscribers including Little Big Planet 2, Saint’s Row 2, and inFAMOUS 2. PS1 classics will also be coming to PSN, including the Vita. This includes Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy VII, Wild Arms, Jet Moto and more. To that end, Sony isworking hard to bring many of the same services that power the PS3 to the portable platform. This includes Youtube, Crackle, Vudu, and Hulu Plus, in addition the their recently released Music service.

Moving on to third-party support, Jack introduces Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified, coming this holiday season. Beyond that title, we get to see the very impressive looking Assassin’s Creed title for the Vita – Assassin’s Creed III Liberation, hitting October 30th, 2012. It’ll feature fully open world gameplay, and will also share items between the two platforms. There will even be an Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation bundle to celebrate the title.

To give us another look at Assassin’s Creed III, team Ubisoft takes the stage. In this demo we get to see some of the naval battles that will occur in the title. With dynamic weather and beautiful vistas, Ubisoft has worked to recreate the seas of the early 1800s. In this section, you’ll have Connor control the ship, as well as the cannons as you battle against other naval vessels. The ship steers realistically as the crew barks orders and runs to load and reposition cannons for your next volley. As we head further out to sea, the choppy waves began to toss the ship heavily – unfortunate timing, as an English ship began to close on our position. Gunning down the English vessel using chainshot cannonballs, our ship gives chase to the final enemy vessel left in the channel. Running next to her broadside, the ship’s crew throws lines and prepares to board. As Connor leaps, Tomahawk in hand, to the adjacent ship, our demo closes. Jack retakes the stage to announce the PS3 Hardware bundle including the game, the hardware, and some exclusive DLC.

The team behind Far Cry 3 take the stage to talk about the open-world of the newest Far Cry title. For the first time in the franchise history, we get to see 4 player co-operative play. It’s hard to describe everything going on as there is awesome gameplay in all directions. The four players work cooperatively, giving special boosts (like increased health regeneration) to their friends to support their assault. Pressing forward to destroy a bridge, one player carries the heavy explosives to the center of the bridge – unable to fire due to the size (and danger) of the explosive. As the team regroups, a second player grabs another set of explosives as a “heavy” NPC moves in fron the other side of the bridge. As the heavy crosses the bridge, the team blows it up, killing the heavy and ending the demonstration. The whole island will be available in competitive multiplayer, but will also feature immersive cooperative multiplayer gameplay, as well as the map editor included right in the box. Picking it up on the PS3 gives players a slice of exclusive DLC as well.

Jack moves the conversation to the PlayStation Move, talking about the over 250 titles that support that system. To give us more on the direction of the platform, President and Group CEO Andy House gives us his time. To this end, Andy talks about how a new product innovates on one of the oldest platforms in existence – a book. A trailer shows how a book can become a completely immersive experience with creatures that come to life, and stories that can be changed with the choices you make. This new product is called “Wonderbook“. This physical book creates an augmented reality and the PlayStation Eye system to bring stories and traditional reading to life. Educational and scientific uses are obvious, and on the gaming side, we have a title from Moonbot Studios – Digg’s Nightcrawler. A stylized film-noire style title that we’ll learn more about later. J.K. Rowling also gets the nod with”Wonderbook: Book of Spells”. This title will the first “book” published on this new product, linking the Pottermore website with the writing of Rowling herself. To provide a demonstration, we have Dave Ranyard.


Opening the Book of Spells gives you additional stories, the spells, and a group of poems that unlock at the end of every chapter to give readers values that every good witch or wizard should have. A previous student has put a warning in the book to avoid a dragon. Using the Move, we cast the Fire -Making spell, bringing the dragon to life on the page. It then comes to life, flys around the screen, and sets fire to the book! Fanning the fire out with your hands and then rubbing away the soot cleans off the book – we’ve not learned any water skills yet. A paper theater complete with papercraft marionettes demonstrate the Wingardium Leviosa spell. It’s the pop-up and pull-tab books we had as kids, brought to life in a whole new way. Casting the unlocking spell on the book, we give our wand a swish and a flick to open the book – tilting it towards the PlayStation Eye camera allows you to see the Incendio spell. Creating a Z in the air, the player is able to obtain this new skill. Using your new Incendio spell we go inside the book and burn the papercraft critters, earning five house points. There is no doubt that this is a fantastic title to bring new readers to the Hogwarts world – I personally cannot wait to see this product evolve. We’ll see it launch this holiday season.

Soon the PlayStation Suite will be brought to the Android and IOS tablets, courtesy of the PlayStation-certified phone system. HTC will join the Suite platform – the first non-Sony platform to becoming a partner. The PlayStation Suite will now be renamed as PlayStation Mobile to reflect the more open and inclusive nature of the platform.

The next title is one of the most anticipated titles in the PlayStation stable – God of War: Ascension. Opening the game, we see a younger, and unchained Kratos battling vicious goatmen on a pier. Using a combination of his chains and a sword he found stuck into a nearby victim, we see Kratos dispatch the lesser enemies. Ripping their heads off via their horns, spinning the larger enemy like a pinwheel, and eventually executing an enemy with a fatal quicktime sequence just kicks things off. It’s the Kraken that emerges that prompts something entirely new. As the dock is destroyed, Kratos uses some object to reverse time, allowing us to climb the once-destroyed platforms. Grabbing a spear thrown at him, Kratos stabs, kicks, punshes, and eradicates another set of goatmen. The Kraken attacks Kratos directly, giving us an opportunity to spear and then ride one of the tenticles. As we land, some mystical creature that looks like a Centurion with fire at his core emerges from a nearby wall space. Taking his massive maul from him, we dispatch him as quickly as he arrived. Ascending what looks to be an early build of a Colossus statue we arrive at the top only to be met with a new horror. Some sort of bipedal elephant creature marauds through friend and foe alike. Kraatos unleashes some unholy fire attack that causes incredble damage to the beast, but it isn’t until we chain him and drag him to the grorund that we are given the chance to drive our weapons into his skull, ripping it open to reveal the creature’s brain. Rushing forward and attacking the Kraken directly ends the demonstration – it is clear that March 12th, 2013 will be an awesome day for Kratos fans.

The much-anticipated title The Last of Us takes the stage next. Making our way through the flooded and wrecked city, the father and daughter team enter what appears to be the remants of a hotel. Water moves realistically under our feet as we ascend the dangerous staircases onto the roof of the building. At this point we hear what appear to be looters. As they rummage through various cabinets, we sneak up behind one and choke him out. Picking up the pistol from our now sleeping friend, we are unfortunately discovered by his fellow burglars, prompting an immediate firefight. Details abound in this scene. Clothing hangers clink together as our back hits against an armoire. Taking a bat-wielding assailant hostage, we take out another shooter before our ammo runs light. Our female companion distracts the last assailant giving us an opportunity to face-smash him into a nearby table. Prepping a Molotov cocktail from our backpack, we give the reinforcements some very painful and  firey reasons not to pursue us. Ambushing another unfortunate victim with a shotgun, we make light work of him only to be man-handled by a much larger opponent. While our daughter stabs the guy in the back, we disarm him, and the demo ends as we finish the last looter with a shotgun blast to the face. Naughty Dog has outdone themselves, and it provides an excellent end to a very successful Sony E3 press briefing.

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Breanna has been gaming since infancy, if gnawing on an unattended controller counts as playing a game. One of the younger members of the Gaming Trend family, she dabbled in PC games as a kid but wasn't fully consumed by the hobby until the sixth generation of consoles. Now an avid PC and console gamer, she looks forward to the day when she can scape together enough cash to join the next gen club.

In the last week of middle school, a math teacher taught her how to program a calculator; she was pretty much hooked then and there. Currently working towards a degree in Computer Science and Applied Math, Breanna hope to someday make games instead of just writing about them. Other hobbies include playing guitar, binge-watching Netflix, and cooking delicious food.

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