Like most press conferences Sony made us suffer through bunch of boring crap before closing the event with a bang. Up until the last minute of the show I have to admit I was really disappointed with the press conference experience. Then Sony gave us the release date of November 11th for Japan and November 17th for the US and Europe and I perked up a bit.
Sony then followed that up by announcing their pricing strategy. $499 for a PS3 with a 20GB hard drive and $599 for a PS3 with a 60GB hard drive. They conveniently didn’t mention that the 20GB PS3 (let’s call it the Core version for the sake of yuks) will not ship with a SD/CF/or memory stick reader, it won’t have the built in wireless, and worse of all it won’t come with HDMI output which may mean that the device will not be able to play Blu-Ray movies as the copyright protection for Blu Ray is being handled by the output. They may get around it at some level (as Microsoft appears to be doing with their HD DVD player) but not mentioning these items in the press conference left a really sour taste in my mouth. Sure I thought the Core edition of the Xbox 360 was a bad idea but at least you could upgrade the Core edition into a Pro version by purchasing a hard drive and wireless controller but unless they announce separate add-ons for the PS3 if you buy the lower version you are kind of hosed.
After getting the information Sony showed off the new PS3 controller, which surprising looked a lot like the old PS3 controller except with out the wire and with some kind of gyroscope in side that would allow for six degrees of movement. We then got a good demo of this in action as they showed a demo of the new version of Warhawk with the new controller. It was actually pretty cool but after looking at the developer playing the game I think that between this and the Wii controller that we are all going to look kind of odd(er?) as we play the next generation of games.
The new controller does beg the question of why they included the features this late in the development cycle of the console and if there will be any other games that take advantage of the new degrees of motion. It does feel a bit tacked on to me and a bit of a shot at the Wii but unlike the Wii it is not baked in to the core of the gameplay.
All in all it wasn’t necessarily a bad press conference, it just wasn’t’ a very good one. Sony showed off a lot of cool technology demonstrations and a lot of potential but none of the games really made much of an impression on me outside of Heavenly Blade and Assassins Creed. The fact that I’m not a Final Fantasy fan or a Metal Gear Solid fan impacts that but there really wasn’t anything that really got the blood moving at the show.
The entire Sony experience has had a lot of rough edges this year for some reason but since the proof is in the pudding I guess I’ll hold off judgment until I play the units at the show this week.
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