E3 2007: Sony Takes a Knee

Russ Pitts | 12 Jul 2007 07:07
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After the wookie, it was all downhill. Phil Harrison took the stage to introduce a few more features of the Playstation network and Sony's Home service, the most intriguing of which is the promised ability to launch any PS3 game from within the service. Meaning you can meet up with friends in the virtual space and then all head off to play the same game together without leaving the interface. Pretty sweet. As was the demonstrated ability to snap a picture with a cell phone and upload it nearly instantaneously to your personal Home space. I have no idea why this would be of use, or if it will sell a $600 machine, but it was neat.

But the coolest thing on display on Sony's stage wasn't a giant game, a giant Blu disc, or a gigantically expensive black console. It was a little black and white game based on Escher-like optical illusions called Echochrome. The goal of Echochrome is to maneuver a tiny stick man across various puzzle mazes, constructed of M.C. Escher-esque impossible structures. Stairways that rise to meet their beginnings, curves that turn inside out with both sides joining, etc. But the trick with Echochrome is you can rotate the structure so that the logical fallacies align with the possible. Turn it just so and that gap from where you are and where you want to be is hidden behind an obstacle. And if you can't see it, it isn't there and you can walk right over it. The mechanic is cool, and I can see how it would easily fill hours of time.

Then there was Pain (a Jackass-like injury simulator), Warhawk (battle royale), Socom Confrontation (high octane testosterone replacement), and Haze (Halo meets Motorstorm meets Socom meets FarCry) but that pretty much exhausted the list of exclusives for this year without going anywhere near what I'd consider a system seller.

Matching Microsoft's deal with Epic to optimize the Unreal engine for Windows Live, Harrison announced that he and the house that Cliffy built were teaming up to optimize the Unreal engine for PS3 development. In the hopes, one would assume, of reducing the exorbitant cost of developing for the platform and luring back some of their turntail third party developers. For a clue as to how well that's expected to work out, see: Dreamcast.

The event did end on a high note, however, with Tretton all but acknowledging that the company had been a pain in the ass for the past year, and desperately needed to appear apologetic.

"We know all of our accomplishments bring no guarantee for the future," he said. But there's a wide gulf between knowing and doing. With the Playstation star diminishing, and no immediate hope in sight, it will be very interesting to see what Sony has planned for the Tokyo Game Show and beyond.

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