As promised in our last Diary, we will now discuss the games that were shown at Gamers' Day 2002. Sony is working on at least one title for virtually every genre. Their lineup shows a great deal of variety--something I was not anticipating to see. While some of these games were early in development and appeared to be a little rough, every single First Party title has the potential to be a best seller.
Since there were a quite a few members of the press covering the event, Sony divided us into three groups. They broke up their titles into three different rooms and throughout the day, we spent the same amount of time in each room. Afterwards, Sony had an arcade lounge setup with each of these titles present so we could get our hands on them. The one title I really wanted to play in the arcade time was Rise to Honor--staring Jet Li. Sony showed off a demo of this title during their press conference. While most of us were hoping the Bruce Lee title on the Xbox would satisfy our "Hong Kong" action craving, the title really stunk. However, Rise to Honor has a lot of potential. There are still several rough spots but the game does not ship until the Fall of 2003. We will be hearing more about this title in the comings months...
Now we will take a look at the titles Sony was showing in the individual rooms
In room number one, Sony showed Sly Cooper, SOCOM, Ratchet & Clank, The Getaway, and Primal. All four of these titles look absolutely stunning. Sly Cooper was shown off first and the developer on hand gave us some insight to the graphical effects they were trying to create in the title. This game is cel-shaded but it is not like other cel-shaded titles. When you take a look at a normal cel-shaded title, you will notice that the characters and environment look flat. In Sly Coopers, everything has a little depth to it. A new level was shown off at the show and it was even more stunning than what we have already seen before. While the release is still a few months off, I can't wait to get my hands on the final version.
Next up, we have SOCOM. Personally, I haven't spent much time with SOCOM before. And although the game is only available to broadband users due to the headset, this looks like it will be the premier online console game. Ratchet & Clank and The Getaway were also shown. There wasn't any new information on Ratchet & Clank given out. However, this is not a bad thing. The title looks great and should sell phenomenally well when it is released. The Getaway also was looking great. The second level was shown off and it shows how much variety is included within the title. In the level, your character has to set a building on fire where a lot of his old gang buddies are located. He has to do this or his kid will be killed. Your first job is to drive down the streets of London, locate the building, set it on fire, and get out alive.
In room number two, Sony showed off all of their 989 Sports titles. These include NFL GameDay 2003, NBA ShootOut 2003, NHL FaceOff 2003, and NCAA Final Four. Okay, so I was not very excited about seeing the 989 Sports lineup. Every title they have produced lately (with the exception of MLB on the PS one) has been an absolute failure. They have taken a year off most of their titles, tripled the size of their development teams, and come up with a new campaign for this year--"We're Back in the Game." All of their titles are greatly improved and you can see that there is great attention to detail. 989 Sports is on the right track and is poised to return to its role as a dominant player in the sports world. The most impressive new feature is found in GameDay. This game is built for online play and is the first and only 989 Sports game to go online this year. While Madden and NFL 2K3 also are online, only GameDay 2003 allows you to chat during a game. It even supports a USB keyboard to make things easier. Another impressive feature of GameDay 2003 is that the players look just like the real thing. I was completely impressed to see how detailed the faces were. This is true in all of their sports titles this year.
Also, those eager to see 989 put out a baseball title on the PlayStation will be pleased to know it will release this spring. Unfortunately no other information was given about specific features. They also did not show us any screenshots or video of the pending MLB game.
In the final room, the third room, Sony showed Jet X2O, ATV Offroad Fury 2, War of the Monsters, and Frequency 2--which was shown for the first time. Out of these four titles, I was impressed the most with War of the Monsters. This is a 3D fighter similar to what Sega has done with the Virtua On series. However, the game features a variety of monsters that appear to look like characters in Rampage and older Godzilla movies. The game features 10 different monsters, each with 4 different costumes to choose from, and a two player mode. The game takes place in a city and everything in the world can be destroyed. Players can knock over buildings, throw cars and trucks, as they attempt to destroy the other monster. The most impressive feature in War of the Monsters is the two player mode. Once a two player game begins, the screen is split down the middle. When both players get close to each other, the split screen goes away and both characters are seen on a single screen. If, at any time, you get off the single screen, it will automatically split again. This is the best way I have seen to do a 3D fighter. Expect this to be copied a lot in the future.
I learned that Jet X2O was inspired by SSX. The developers felt the watercraft racing genre was very dull and boring--so they decided to add a little spice to it. Just like in SSX, you can perform a multitude of tricks.
ATV Offroad Fury 2 continues to look like a winner. However, nothing new was shown. But Frequency 2 was shown for the first time at Gamers' Day. Sony is bringing this title online and plans to include at least 27 songs. Also, there will be a greater variety of music than just techno. The online features allow you to customize your FreQ by equipping him with items you have won from challenges. Frequency 2 will be shipping in March of 2003.
SCEA Gamers' Day 2002 was a great event. Talking with several members of the PR team and fellow journalists, it looks like Sony may try and have a Gamers' Day every year in San Francisco. Sony is a great company, with a great product, and they know how to host an event. As Gamers' Day 2002 came to a close, I spoke with many, many members of the press, we all were saying the same thing: "Long live the PlayStation!"