by John Constantine

It doesn’t matter how many times Jack Tretton says that 2008 was a banner year, full of momentum and good times, for the Playstation family. There’s no escaping the truth: times are tough for Sony. The PSP continues to sell while its software continues to stagnate. The Playstation 2 enjoyed an Indian summer when its priced dropped, but the system has undeniably entered its twilight. And the Playstation3? Well, growing your audience by forty percent is all well and good but that audience is still very small compared to those of your competitors. Sony needed a big show at E3 2009 and, while the actual show dragged here and there, they had a giant one. Here’s the breakdown.

The Big Demos

Sony’s conference was bookended by spectacular single-player demos of “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” and “God of War III”. Naughty Dog’s made themselves a looker with “Uncharted 2”, which is no surprise, but the action shown in a demo of an early level easily outdid the graphics. Nate Drake and his new AI companion Chloe Frazer had to scramble down a crumbling baddie-infested hotel being dismantled by an assault helicopter. The level was full of the death-defying leaps, shooting, and witty banter that made the original “Uncharted” such a treat, but packed into a dense and dramatic sequence that rarely took control out of the demoer’s hands. “God of War III”’s opening level was classic stuff for the series, with Kratos mauling his way through a city under siege by a giant lava covered Titan. What was new play-wise was Kratos’ new crowd control moves (enemies will dogpile Kratos and he has to throw them off), the new lion-headed gauntlet weapons, and Harpy platforming. (Hop on a harpy, stab it in the wings, leap to the next one. Wholesome family fun, truly.) The demo had two big confrontations against a centaur and a chimera that ended with grisly disembowelings. The game looks like what it needs to be: big, gorgeous “God of War”. There were also demos of “Assassin’s Creed 2”, “MAG”, and the new user-generated-content-driven kart racer “ModNation Racing”, but none of them impressed like “Uncharted” and “God of War”.

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