What do Sony and books have to do with each other? No, they're not releasing another eReader. Instead, Sony brought to the stage of their press event something that felt a little rushed. The company has teamed up with J.K. Rowling to produce Book of Spells, which is a game based on the Wonderbook platform that they also announced at the event.
What is Wonderbook? It's actually a great little augmented reality piece of hardware and software. Using your PlayStation Eye camera and a special book you must purchase, kind of like the AR Cards from the 3DS, will make several different games and images appear on the screen. When you place the waterproof book on your floor, the book then shows up on the TV, where it animates to life. The images that appear have that Harry Potter feel to them and objects will randomly come out at you in 3D. You can also pick up the book, move it and do whatever you want, and then image on screen will follow suit. The good news is you'll only need one Wonderbook for all future titles so you won't have to buy any new "hardware."
However, while all seems well on the surface and the idea is great, there's a couple of problems that showed up when they presented us Book of Spells, the launch title for the Wonderbook. What's the issue? We'll talk about it all after the break.
During Sony's E3 2012 Press Conference they decided to mention PlayStation Suite, seemingly because they felt like they had to. Over the 2 minutes and 32 seconds they dedicated to it there were two important announcements. The first was that PlayStation Suite has been renamed to PlayStation Mobile. For those of you who are unfamiliar, PlayStation Mobile is Sony reaching out to 3rd party game developers on any "open platform" in an attempt to bring the best of gaming to mobile phones and tablets.
The second important announcement is that HTC will be the first third party manufacturer to work with Sony in producing "PlayStation Certified" devices that will bring the best gaming experience to the masses. Now, if Sony is going to blow over a major topic and leave fans with more questions than answers, like they did, they at least know to take a subtle dig at Apple to help smooth things over. This is why they made it a point to emphasize that they are supporting an open platforms.
Check out the Sony press release after the break and watch the Sony E3 Press Conference segment about PlayStation Mobile as well.
Sony's press conference was a little bit mixed. While they showed off exclusive games, played catch-up with media partners and made it clear that they were still relevant at least for one more year, the company is putting a lot on their new Vita and the Assassin's Creed upcoming titles.
Yes, I said titles because not only are the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles getting some love with Assassin's Creed III but the Vita is also getting Assassin's Creed III: Liberation. This Vita-only title hits stores in October and should really add some value to the mobile game system.
One thing we were all looking forward to this year at E3 was SimCity. We've been following it for a while and got to listen in on a Producer Broadcast with SimCity lead producer Kip Katsarelis. We got to hear 30 minutes of questions and answers, along with insight on several aspects of the game, including the sim engine, look and feel and some gameplay aspects.
Of course, we will dive right into the details after the break and will even have a feed of the broadcast for you. Join us, won't you?
One of the first questions Kip was asked was, "Why did Maxis and EA bring back SimCity?" He said that with this game, they wanted to bring back the possibilities of creating a world on PCs that can now handle the engine they wanted to create. The new game is a complete reboot of the franchise and Maxis looked at every feature from top to bottom to reinvent the game to make it the best ever. There is a new simulation engine in place, which we knew about, called the GlassBox engine. With GlassBox, every Sim has a place to live, work, and shop.
Glassbox is huge and is the foundation for the simulation. It allows everything you see in the world to be simulated. Crime happens in real-time, traffic is amazing, every Sim is actively tracked and managed. If work is close, they will walk or take rail or bus stops, or they may even drive. You can then act on that (those problems) and see the impact of the changes you make.
A big enhancement in the street realm is curvy roads, allowing city planning to be more different than ever before. You also get things like new roads, avenues, and even avenues with light rails. SimCity is "doubling down" in the area of transportation.
GlassBox also helps with things as small as brake lights. Cars have headlights, traffic signals actually work with a simulation that realistically and logically controls all actions happening on the roads. We were told that the things we saw in the trailer were all "real and possible" in the game.
The game also features a new multiplayer so you city-plan with friends and connect friends and cities together in a region so every choice you make has a rippling effect across the region. When players create a game, you can create a region or city either public or private, so you do also have the ability to play by yourself. You can play as one city, multiple cities, or multiple regions if you want. You can even select "Quickplay" and be randomly inserted into a random game with other players and get started right away.
The idea is that everyone is playing in different cities and you can even control multiple cities in the region. Players collaborate in the region but still have individual goals, allowing you to make unique cities. They made the example that they are showing off both a tourism city and a dirty industrial city on the show floor at the convention. Players still need to work together to achieve common goals as well with projects like Great Works, which are big airports or museums that need to be worked on collaboratively to build, and then they benefit the entire region.
Inside those cities you can now control each building, including unlocks and customizables, using the editor from the Spore game to make them look and behave differently. You can automate the buildings after customizing them or fine-tune the settings and have full control.
Zoning was also stressed as still a very important piece of SimCity. Certain things you plop down around the zones influence the zones. The difference is that now there is only one type of zone and the traffic and roads will influence the density of the zone. The impact is dependent on what you plop down.
On ploppable things, this year the developers wanted to offer lots of power options. Coal, oil, wind, solar and nuclear are all available in the game but there are trade-offs that exist with each one. For example, there is an actual wind map, due to having the GlassBox engine, so placing a windmill may not work in the area you want. There are also now resources in the game, so things like a coal power plant actually require coal and you need to acquire the resource to make it function.
All your shops require goods from your factories, too. If you don't have factories, the shops will go out of business. You need shoppers to shop at your stores and your delivery trucks in your factories will ship goods to those stores and other ploppable buildings. You can also work with your friends to deliver goods to your city or even build unique "factory cities" or whatever you can imagine in order to provide those goods to the region.
New attractions have been added as well like a large sports arena and a small civic center. Landmarks are now interactive and provide Sims with jobs and attract them to the area. Casinos now also provide work and fun for the Sims in and out of the city. You will have to "peak inside the buildings" to see what's going on in them.
There's a lot of storytelling also added in SimCity with things like special characters. Robbers and arsonists, for instance, are in the game and need to be combated with the proper law enforcement or fire department in the right place. It's all in the game to capture the humor of Maxis, which hasn't left this game even after 12 years.
All in all, some very exciting stuff coming out of the SimCity camp. I cannot wait to start an F5 region and set fire to Jon's city!
Seemingly everyone on the planet knows who the Navy Seals are but did you know that most militarized nations have a "tier 1" elite squad? If you had no idea, then Medal of Honor: Warfighter is here to enlighten you. Danger Close, the studio behind this new title, will be bringing together the best of the best - 12 elite squadrons from 10 nations, to play in a modern, realistic shooter.
Unlike other modern shooters, this one takes all of its scenes and scenarios from real-life events and situations. In multiplayer mode, you are given the ability to choose which country, and by default, which unit you want to play as. Then, you are partnered with another player on your team to form a 2-man "fireteam." These pairs are given special abilities, such as the ability to see each other on the map at any time from any distance. You also have the ability to revive a fallen partner by killing his killer. If that doesn't happen, you serve as a mobile respawn point for your partner.
This pairing concept adds an interesting dynamic to the already existing teamwork foundation for any multiplayer. That isn't the only reason to give the game a chance though. Hit the break for more details.
EA SPORTS Madden 13 Senior Designer Josh Looman took the stage at ADEA'ss press event to tell us something very profound:
Franchise mode is dead. Online franchise mode is dead. Superstar mode is dead. It's really the first true sports RPG.
For the first time in four years, I am actually excited about Madden and, for the first time in three years, it may end up in my game collection. How? From the presentation, to the gameplay, to the mechanics, to the audio, to Madden's new Connected Careers, Ultimate Team rehaul and Madden Social, this year's football franchise could be the best one yet.