I've known it's been coming for some time, but am only just starting to get that pang of excitement for the event and all its impending announcements. A lot of gamers describe E3 as their equivalent of Christmas, and it really does feel that way. But I also sense the tide has been changing for some years. While the spectacle of E3 is still unmatched, I feel like the event itself spans much longer than the three-four day set-period. Announcements have been flowing all month, from Sony's Starhawk through to SEGA's House Of The Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut. I prefer it that way. While it's nice to get a big chunk of announcements and surprises at the show itself, a lot of the time the news gets buried by even bigger news, so I think it's smart to spread the love.
As a PlayStation faithful, much of my anticipation towards this year's show is aimed directly at Sony's NGP. I'm expecting Sony to utilise its press conference as a means of outlining the system's launch plans. Of course, that depends on the assumption that the system is getting a Western release first. Personally, I think there's every possibility NGP will launch in North America this year, with Japan and Europe following in 2012. That launch window is ultimately going to adapt what Sony announce at E3 in a fortnight though. If the device really is releasing in North America first, I believe Sony will show us everything at E3; from launch window games, to release dates and possibly prices.
North America is arguably the most important market for Sony to capture, with the system presumably selling itself in Japan and leveraging the strength of the brand in Europe. Sony really can't afford to let the Nintendo 3DS have an entire Christmas without competition in North America, regardless of whether Nintendo's system is failing to resonate or not. Obviously some kind of worldwide launch would be preferable, but with the recent earthquake in Japan that's looking very unlikely.
With the console due out this year (whichever region), I've spent the last couple of weeks mulling over a potential launch line-up for the system. Recent console launch line-ups have been fairly poor, with the 3DS' subliminally weak offering emphasising that. But I feel like the NGP could have a very strong launch line-up based on the rumours we already know. I think Sony's going to go for big names: Call Of Duty, Uncharted and Mortal Kombat. All of which are franchises I expect to see at the system's launch. They're core franchises with big popularity amongst the PlayStation faithful, and I think that's where Sony's going to focus its attention. Make no mistake, NGP is going to be an expensive device, and it's the core gamers they need to win over to get the system off to a strong start.
So let's get the speculation rolling. I've included my launch line-up prediction after the jump. It's based on speculation, rumours and common-sense. There's perhaps a little bit of wishful thinking in there too, but ultimately I think it's a very viable and realistic list.
Uncharted NGP (Sony Bend, Sony)
Perhaps the only dead certain title on this list: Uncharted NGP will definitely launch alongside the NGP. Not only is this Sony's biggest franchise at the moment, it also gives the platform holder the opportunity to showcase everything that's important about the system: visual clarity and multiple control inputs. I can't think of a better show-piece for a new system than an Uncharted game, and coming from Sony Bend it has every opportunity of living up to its home console siblings. A lot of folks are keen to discredit Sony Bend as a "B-team" developer, but they are wrong. Anyone that's played the Syphon Filter or Resistance titles on PSP will know that Sony Bend are a quality studio.
Wipeout 2048 (Studio Liverpool, Sony)
Back in 2005, Sony sold me a PSP with one title: Wipeout Pure. While relegated in importance next to Uncharted, Wipeout is still an important franchise in any PlayStation line-up. The game's unlikely to showcase many of the NGP's unique features, but as a pure core racing experience will add diversity to Sony's first-party launch offering. We expect some solid multiplayer and social features, as well as optional tilt controls. Wipeout will be a great showcase of the NGP's visual potential as well. While ModNation Racers is touted to be an NGP launch title too, I'm fully expecting Sony to opt for Wipeout at launch, with a ModNation Racers release due outside of the launch window. I doubt Sony would put out two first-party racing games — no matter how different — at launch.
Little Deviants (BigBig Studios, Sony)
Little Deviants is the game that forced Sony into including the NGP's rear touch-pad, and as such will be an essential cog in the NGP's launch line-up. It's not yet clear how much of a game Little Deviants is — it always looked like a tech demo to me — and that's going to depict what Sony decides to do with it. If it's evolved into a full game, then we expect it on shelves alongside Uncharted, if not then there's a good chance this might be packaged alongside the system as a value added bonus. Either way, this is going to be an important game from a marketing perspective as it really differentiates the system from everything else available.
Call Of Duty (Unknown developer, Activision)
Potentially the biggest and most important title for Sony to have at launch, Call Of Duty could be a very lucrative product for both Activision and Sony if it's marketed correctly. Exactly what guise Call Of Duty will take on the NGP is unclear; it could be a basic port of Modern Warfare 3, or it could be an entirely new property in the series. We're leaning towards the latter. While a Modern Warfare 3 port would undoubtedly command attention, both Activision and Sony know they could draw more interest with a unique property in the popular series. What's important about Call Of Duty on the NGP is that it should represent the first-time an FPS has worked fully on a portable console. While PSP promised a console experience in the hand, it never succeeded because of the system's poor controls. NGP will overcome that problem, and there's no better brand to showcase the improvement than Call Of Duty.
Lumines NGP (Q Entertainment, Ubisoft)
One of the stand out titles for the original PSP's launch, Q Entertainment has already hinted at an NGP title in the Lumines series. I'm anticipating plenty of rhythm puzzle insanity, making full use of the NGP's touch and motion features.
Sonic Generations (Sonic Team, SEGA)
Sonic Generations is coming out on PlayStation 3 this year, so why not port it directly over to the NGP? I'm expecting SEGA to bring across the PS3 game largely untouched, but include some flourishes such as touch-pad mini-games and social features. From what I've seen of Sonic Generations, it would make a perfect fit on NGP too, regardless of whether it's a straight port or not. While I'm sure Sony will be keen to discourage ports early into the NGP's life, Sonic Generations just makes too much sense to me.
Mortal Kombat (NetherRealm Studios, Warner Bros)
NetherRealm Studios was one of the first developers to acknowledge the NGP's existence, and as such have clearly been working on a Mortal Kombat title for the system for some time. I'm expecting Mortal Kombat NGP to be largely based upon the PlayStation 3 title earlier in the year, boasting robust online multiplayer and social interactions. Similarly to Sonic Generations, I'm anticipating Mortal Kombat will include a series of touch-pad and motion controlled mini-games to appeal to the system's unique feature-set.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (Traveller's Tales, Warner Bros)
Traveller's Tales has already announced that it's developing LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 for NGP, and I fully expect it to be ready in time for the system's launch. This will likely be one of the few child friendly titles in the NGP's launch line-up (though obviously the LEGO games appeal to adults too) and will presumably be a fairly straight-forward port of the PlayStation 3 version. As with other ports, I'm expecting Traveller's Tales to toy around with the NGP's motion and touch controls, but these probably won't be a fundamental part of the experience.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 (Konami, Konami)
Let's face it, there's going to be a Pro Evolution Soccer game available at the launch of the NGP. I'm expecting a fairly straightforward port of the PlayStation 3 version with full online multiplayer.
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (Capcom, Capcom)
Capcom loves getting away with releasing its games multiple times, and after the success of Super Street Fighter IV on the Nintendo 3DS, I'm fully expecting a port on the NGP. The only thing that makes me question Street Fighter's appearance in the NGP's launch line-up is the inevitable appearance of Mortal Kombat. Two similar titles going up against each other seems unlikely. At the very least we'd expect both games to appear within the launch window.
F1 2011 (Codemasters Birmingham, Codemasters)
Another game we know is definitely coming to the NGP. With the home console version of F1 2011 due out on the PlayStation 3 towards the end of Summer, we don't think it would take much for Codemasters to have a straight-port of the racer prepared for the NGP's launch. It would also fill a gap left by a lack of serious racers, with a Ridge Racer title looking unlikely at launch.
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If even half of that line-up turned out to be the final thing, I'd be thrilled. I think it looks like a very strong array of content — potentially too strong. If Sony really did have all these titles prepared for launch, I wouldn't be surprised to see them hold a few back to ease the dry period that typically follows any hardware launch.
But I'm curious what you valued readers think? Would this line-up excite you? If not, why not? Let me know in the comments, I'm genuinely curious.
Its rumoured that Twiggy has spent the past several months touring with avant-garde dance troupe Cirque Du Soleil. The anonymous PushSquare columnist is still on the run from the British monarchy on account of treason. Twiggy was last sighted eating an Asda branded ham and cheese sandwich in Grimsby.