Feature: The Highs and Lows of PlayStation 3 at E3
Posted by Robert Ramsey
Third time lucky
With the PlayStation 4 set to dominate the industry's attention over the coming week, we thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to look back on some of the highest highs and cringe-inducing lows from the PlayStation 3's time at E3. We’ve been astounded by gameplay demonstrations, shocked by surprise announcements, and reduced to disappointed, broken husks after witnessing disastrous presentations. Join us as we root through the press conference archives, and offer a reminder of just why the Los Angeles show is considered the most memorable event on the gaming calendar.
The Good Memories
LittleBigPlanet Sales Presentation – E3 2008
First on our list is Sony’s ingenious method of relaying sales figures and stats during its 2008 E3 keynote. Usually when it comes to discussing the business side of gaming, we’ve come to expect a boring slideshow of tables, graphs, and bullet points – but not this time. With Media Molecule’s Alex Evans on stage to assist the ever-enthusiastic Jack Tretton, we were guided through the typically mundane portion of the presser in style, as the developer directed Sackboy through an extremely well made LittleBigPlanet level in which the math was brought to life. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this was the fact that it all went swimmingly – there were no glitches or awkward physics in sight, and it was a brilliant method of demonstrating the flexibility of the first-party release.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Gameplay Demonstration – E3 2009
Naughty Dog’s awe-inspiring Uncharted 2: Among Thieves gameplay demonstration was easily the highlight of Sony’s 2009 conference, giving gamers around the globe a reason to scream about the soon-to-be blockbuster. Treating us to the gloriously chaotic helicopter chase in which protagonist Nathan Drake finds himself avoiding certain death, this particular showing was largely responsible for setting a new benchmark in terms of cinematic gameplay. It was the moment when many realised just what the developer was capable of, and epitomised the publisher’s renewed focus on core software. But above all, it’s a scenario that was, and still is, simply amazing to watch.
Kevin Butler’s Speech – E3 2010
Sony’s immensely popular and charismatic advertising mascot took to the stage during its 2010 presser, reinvigorating the show with a superbly executed speech that solidified his place in the gaming hall of fame. Actor Jerry Lambert’s rousing monologue was a sight to behold, as he delivered every line with confidence and flair, demanding the audience’s attention for over five minutes. But despite upstaging some of the Japanese giant’s most important executives, Butler’s PlayStation Move push didn’t quite have the effect that the company was hoping for – although no one can dismiss this outstanding performance.
Gabe Newell’s Surprise Appearance – E3 2010
Before this particular event, Valve co-founder and game development guru Gabe Newell wasn’t shy when it came to expressing his opinion about the PlayStation 3 – once stating that the console was “a waste of everyone’s time”. However, in what was to become a landmark moment in Sony’s 2010 conference, Newell took to the stage to announce that the hugely anticipated Portal 2 was to make an appearance on the hardware. Not only that, but he stressed that the PlayStation 3 version would be the best found on any console thanks to its integration with Valve’s own Steam service. It was a drastic change of heart from a man that had been so outspoken when it came to the Japanese giant's machine, and was no doubt a massive statement of intent from the company to strike a deal with such a well-known figure within the industry.
The Last of Us Gameplay Demonstration – E3 2012
After Naughty Dog’s mind-blowing Uncharted 2: Among Thieves demo back in 2009, it was hard to imagine how the American developer could ever top its own output. But at last year’s E3 presser, Sony opted to finish up the show with a live showcase of The Last of Us – and it was absolutely stunning. We’ve never seen an audience so large kept enthralled by sheer tension alone. Watching main character Joel cautiously round each corner in an abandoned building made for an incredibly gripping spectacle, and every unforgivably brutal melee attack was met with gasps of disbelief. The clincher, though, was how it all ended, with a bandit pleading for his life as Joel steadied a shotgun aimed squarely at his head – and then pulled the trigger.
The Bad Memories
“599 US Dollars” – E3 2006
A phrase that has garnered legendary status since it was casually declared by Kaz Hirai during Sony’s E3 2006 conference, it was the low point of the company’s rather embarrassing display that year. After the unprecedented success of the PlayStation 2, the electronics behemoth had every right to be confident in its newest machine – but with the announcement of such an expensive price tag, it was clear that its confidence had turned into arrogance. This costly sum would also contribute to the PlayStation 3’s troubled launch, as many potential buyers simply weren’t ready to hand over such a large amount of cash for the device.
The 3D Push – E3 2011
This wasn’t so much an embarrassing moment as it was an arduous ordeal. At its 2011 E3 presser, Sony pushed 3D integration into just about every announcement that it made. For example, Resistance 3 had to settle for a short stint of gameplay footage topped off by the news of a 3D display bundle. While there was nothing inherently wrong with this, many argued that the market just wasn't ready to adopt the technology – especially since high definition televisions had only recently become the standard within most households. Given that the third dimension has all but dropped off the map when it comes to mainstream gaming, this particular tech push looks even worse in hindsight.
Kobe Bryant Plays NBA 2K12 Using PlayStation Move - E3 2011
Inviting celebrities on stage to show off their skills in a particular title is never a good idea – the sheer amount of embarrassing moments that spawn from these scenarios are proof enough of that. Unfortunately for Sony, NBA legend Kobe Bryant's gaming prowess wasn't quite as refined as his on-court presence, and he struggled to get to grips with the PlayStation Move during the company's 2011 keynote, resulting in an embarrassing showing from the sports personality.
"Great Job, Jeremy" - E3 2011
The PlayStation Move played a large role during Sony's 2011 E3 presser, which, rather unsurprisingly, led to a lot of awkward gameplay demonstrations met with moans and groans from the audience. Perhaps the most cringe-inducing of these was the showing of Medieval Moves: Deadmund's Quest. While the game itself didn't look entirely terrible, it was the on-stage developer's commentary that made this difficult to watch. With almost every arrow fired, every sword swung, and every puzzle solved, we were treated to the phrase, "Great job, Jeremy," which promptly started to grate.
Wonderbook: Book of Spells Live Demonstration – E3 2012
Sony undoubtedly had a good E3 in 2012 – there was a steady stream of exclusives on show, with God of War: Ascension and The Last of Us headlining an overall solid conference. There was, however, one low point that unsurprisingly sucked away much of the event’s positivity – the demonstration of Wonderbook: Book of Spells. While the accessory itself was indeed quite clever, its drawn-out presence put a substantial dampener on an otherwise briskly paced presser. The camera-heavy nature of the software also presented the perfect opportunity for something to go wrong, as the sorry souls on stage learned the hard way when the game refused to acknowledge the PlayStation Move's inputs.
Did we miss any of your personal favourite high or low points? What do you think will be the best and worst moments from this year's press conference? Let us know in the comments section below.