Last week, Sony invited four Kotaku readers (and a friend each) to an exclusive PlayStation event in Sydney eastern suburbs. The same day Sony had announced its PlayStation Video Store at the very same house, pictured (although it definitely wasn’t that sunny on the day).
Sony decked out the house with huge screens in every room, allowing the attendees to check out everything from the Video Store and VidZone to PlayStation Move and 3D gaming on the PS3. We asked the four Kotaku readers who were there to write up their impressions of the night.
Here’s what they said.
At a mansion in south Coogee, at a party DJ’d by Kid Kenobi, Playstation Australia celebrated the launch of the Playstation Network Video Store. Also invited were hands-on demos of 3D games – both racing titles (Wipeout and Motorstorm), and making its first appearance in Australian public, the Playstation Move.
My highlight was the brief hands-on time I had with the Move. Of two demos, one was a terrible PS2 Playstation Eye style mini-game, but the other was the ‘Move’ equivalent of a Wii Sports suite of games, including a battle-fighter, archery, bowls, and table tennis. These simple titles looked great and behaved equally well. The games had a noticeable learning curve – waggling gets you nowhere here. However, the Move control itself feels fantastic in hand, its shape and weight is an ergonomic masterpiece. And finally, the real-time position tracking in these games is very good – better than I expected. The system tracks well even with rapid movement. I am looking forward to seeing more soon.
Oh, and the 3D games were what you’d expect- not great. I found the 3D dizzying and more difficult to play, as the 3D isn’t good, the background and periphery doesn’t have the same 3D effect as the foreground, which makes it look ghosted, as if you’d crossed your eyes. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to play an arcade racer with your eyes crossed, but I have. Or at least I’ve had the experience.
And now there’s movies and TV on the PSN.
Driving somewhere through the rain-pelted back-streets of residential Coogee, seated in the front of a busload of Sony’s guests, my friend remarked to me ‘Heh, I bet we’re just going to some guy’s house’. I make to reply, and as I do… the bus stopped; neither a warehouse nor office in sight. We exchange glances before being ushered out for a quick dash through the rain before we came upon what may be the swankest (also only) PR event I’ve ever been to.
When we arrived (in truth it was more like a castle than a house, perched right on the ocean’s edge) we hurried inside through the driveway, past the ModNation Racers booths (complete with blank wooden car; ‘PENIS’ was already scrawled on the dashboard as a testament to the gamers’ maturity), past champagne-touting waiters to the living room. After a short presentation, detailing the launch of PlayStation’s new movie service and general PR blather, we were then set free to roam amongst the carefully designed PlayStation booths and caterers carrying the tiniest hamburgers ever known, DJ Kid Kenobi manning the mix tables. Downstairs, a room was set up to demonstrate the new movie store (a non-Sony microwave surreptitiously turned around on a shelf).
I only spent a few moments with the Move controller, and not having a working knowledge of the Wii’s hardware it’s difficult to compare the two beyond the fact that they work very similarly. And while I’m typically very sceptical of anything branded by the new 3D, the extra dimension really did make a difference to a revamped Wipeout HD, albeit at the cost of some graphics power. I might even recommend it – if you happen to already have a sizeable, 3D enabled home theatre. For the rest of us, I can’t help but see this technology remaining a superfluous, unobtainable frill for some time to come.
Overall it was a great night, which ended all too quickly. I may not be entirely sold on Sony’s new products, but I certainly don’t lack confidence in their PR department.
If you have a PS3 or a PSP and high-speed broadband connection, then no doubt you have stumbled across the PSN Video Store. Sony has done a great job in rounding up some of the best movies currently on the shelf, by offering up to 600 movies for rent or or buy-to-own in both HD and SD, and that’s just from the launch. The pricing is a bit steep for me – $24.99 for an SD movie – if it comes with no extras and can only be shared across my PS3/PSP, I donʼt think I will be downloading any time soon. Sony is obviously trying to tackle the iTunes / movie pirating market, they really have their work cut out for them.
Now onto more exciting news. 3D gaming is the way of the future, no matter how many times people say that it will be a gimmick and it may not catch on, if developers take the time to really implement 3D into their video games, we may see some pretty innovative games being pumped out. With Killzone 3 being released in 3D, this is Sonyʼs real chance to show what their tech can do. The 3D tech itself is pretty solid, the goggles are annoying as hell as they squeeze your head and shorten your peripheral vision. This may not sound like a big deal when you are staring at a T.V., but with the HUD bouncing off the screen, I sometimes found myself having to sort of turn my head or shift my eyes to check how fast I was going. It gets annoying, believe me.
As a Wii enthusiast, the Move is a piece of technology I am very skeptical about. I understand it may be more accurate than the Wii, but whether that means it has more uses is yet to be seen. If you have been following the Move you will know of the game Gladiator. The game is great, awesome graphics and really fun gameplay, yet something I noticed is that while other people playing the demo were jumping into the air to attack or performing a stabbing motion very enthusiastically, you can still waggle the Move remote and get the same effects, sometimes more efficiently.
It will be interesting to see if 3D technology and the Move will integrate itself among an audience of hardcore gamers. Sony really needs to weed-out the gimmicky side of both of these new techs: 3D needs to be incorporated properly into gameplay and the Move needs to somehow keep the hardcore gamer interested. I know itʼs all still in pre-Alpha stage, but I truly cannot wait to see how these two great pieces of technology will change the video game industry, or if they are even able to. Good luck Sony.
And finally, Tomasz Swierczynski reviews the event in typical Kotaku style…
“Bringing you Life with Playstation in 2010”
The strangely named event which (with the Wildgoose’s blessing) I was lucky enough to score an invite to, was held by Sony on the 18th of May, with a grand insight into Playstation’s near future showcased for our viewing pleasure.
Venue: The whole event was set up in the sophisticatedly abstract, and fondly labelled, ‘Playstation House’ in Coogee. Horrible weather proved to be a non-issue with everything set up inside, and while some areas were more crowded than others, overall the venue proved a good choice.
ModNation Section: Upon entering the house through the garage, we were greeted by the ModNation Racers section, where a number of stations were set up to test the game along the walls. In addition, a small table was set up where blank white “Mods” were available for us to draw, mark and paint to our hearts content. Finally, smack in the middle of the room, we were provided with a ModNation Kart which we were free to “customise” (read: vandalise with internet memes)
Video Store: I’ve got mixed opinions on the Video Store, the supposed highlight of the event. Released last Thursday with over 600 movies working their way onto the store over the next few weeks, the store allows people to pay for and download (to rent or keep) a film from its selection. Unfortunately, with most in Australia still stuck with internet that caps monthly at 30 gigs, not too many may even want take the chance. Whilst not looking too shabby, I personally still prefer hard copies.
Playstation Move: Packed to the brim for the entire night, I only had a brief opportunity to try out the Move, but from my brief experience, I feel safe in saying that the Move really is nothing more than Wii Motion Plus with a lolly-pop controller. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it thoroughly, as did most people crammed in there for the night.
Food: It has to be said, I actually gasped when I saw those little mini-hamburgers with the baby pickle on top. Needless to say I was well fed by the end of the night with top-notch grub.
Goodie Bag: Lots of crap, but a few gems in the goodie bags provided at the end of the night. Among my faves were a slick looking Playstation bottle and beach towel, as well as some cute UP pencil case and Toy Story 3 Notebook that my youngest cousin loved.
3D Games: I was fairly disappointed with the 3D games on the 3D TVs, personally. Games available to try on the night were Wipeout HD, Motorstorm: Pacific Rift and Super Stardust HD. The 3D didn’t seem to work half the time, and while it did look nice with a bit more depth, it didn’t seem all that big a deal; nothing to throw a few thousand dollars at any time soon, in my opinion. (Apparently Super Stardust wasn’t too bad, but I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to try it, so I wouldn’t know.)
Goodie Bag: Apart from the few gems, among the crap were an UP notebook with a 2010 planner (given halfway through 2010…), a Twilight 1 gig USB lanyard, Twilight collector’s cards (I think?) and that candy popcorn you always get at Christmas. I hate candy popcorn.
All in all though, it proved to be a fantastic night, and a nice insight into what’s coming with Sony and Playstation in the coming year.