Sony at E3 2011: NGP becomes PlayStation Vita

7th Jun 2011 | 02:26

Sony at E3 2011: NGP becomes PlayStation Vita

New PlayStation handheld out this Christmas

PSVita on the way this Christmas

The hardcore PlayStation fans that stayed up late to catch Sony's E3 2011 conference were treated to loads of new game announcements, alongside the final reveal of the name and details on Sony's new handheld, to be called PlayStation Vita.

Plus, in addition to a finalised name for what was previously known as the 'Next Generation Portable' (NGP) Sony also focused heavily on stereoscopic 3D gaming – with everybody at the event handed 3D glasses on the way in – and previewing lots of new experiences for PlayStation Move.

While a stunning demo of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception in 3D stole the show for many, there were so many other highlights from Sony's E3 2011 conference, which kicked off with a medley of massive games on the big screens – including titles such as inFamous 2, Uncharted 3, Mortal Kombat and others – before Sony's Jack Tretton wandered on stage to start the proceedings.

PSN security lapse apology

With 6000 eager journalists and industry folk in the audience and many more watching online across the world, Tretton tackled the difficult problem of the recent PSN outage immediately, offering a personal apology for the massive security lapse.

"It is you that both causes us to be humble and amazed by the amount of dedication and support you give to the PlayStation brand," said the SCEA boss, before confirming that the network was almost back online across most of the world.

Moving swiftly on, Tretton then discussed various PlayStation content partners, noting that, in the US, 30 per cent of all Netflix viewing was done via the PlayStation 3. An impressive figure, for sure, but what about the games?

A trailer of Naughty Dog's forthcoming Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception indicates that the action has now begun, with the developer's Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra both on stage to introduce and demo what is clearly the biggest PlayStation game of 2011.

As protagonist Nathan Drake sneaks and clambers around a pirate ship, taking out enemies with melee combat and good old-fashioned guns and grenades, he is then forced to dive into the sea, swimming underwater to escape. The game looks, as is to be expected, utterly beautiful – and we expect that the demo will be one of the most-played, most talked-about titles on the show floor at E3 2011 throughout the week.

3D TV: Resistance is futile

The stereoscopic 3D gaming theme continued with the next demo of Insomniac's forthcoming Resistance 3 - another perennial PlayStation favourite, which also looked synapse-snappingly good in 3D on the big screen.

Following that, Sony announced plans for two HD 3D collections of some of the best-loved PlayStation games of recent times - a God of War Originscollection and Team Ico classics.

At which point, a hardware surprise was announced in the shape of a 24-inch PlayStation branded 3D display, capable of letting two gamers view a different image on the same screen. Tretton announced that the display would cost $499, including a copy of Resistance 3 and 3D glasses (with extra pairs of glasses set to cost $70). Expect further UK pricing and release details on this to follow soon.

Shoot and Move

That 3D PS TV surprise really was not expected, and we will be sure to find out a lot more about that new hardware later in the week on the showfloor. For now, Sony is quick to move onto PS Move, showcasing games such as NBA 2K12, which promises to be "the best NBA simulation experience", ever. The Brits in the audience look nonplussed at this point.

The second new PS Move title on show (due out later in 2011) is called Medieval Moves: Dead Man's Quest, which features bows and arrows, swordplay and some interesting looking melee combat gameplay.

Tretton then noted that core games such as LittleBigPlanet 2 and inFamous 2 will both be updated with PS Move support later in 2011, with lots more motion-control friendly content promised for the PlayStation.

Next up, game demos such as Starhawk and Insomniac's new Sly Cooper Thieves in Time (due later 2012), and CCP's Dust 514were shown as further evidence that PlayStation 3 exclusives with Move support are at the heart of Sony's PS3 strategy.

Back to more familiar ground, a new BioShock: Infinite trailer was shown off, with developer Ken Levine bigging up the PS Move integration into his new game. There is also a teased mention of a new game from Levine's Irrational studio which is set to arrive on Sony's new NGP handheld at some point soon.

Set PS phaser to stun

Discussing key partnerships with the likes of EA and THQ, one of the more interesting new peripherals that is on the way later next year is a Star Trek phaser gun for PS Move, to accompany the new Star Trek game based on the JJ Abrams film.

Mention of the NGP was clearly a tactical move to shift the focus away from all the PS3 exclusives mentioned above, with Sony's Kaz Hirai taking to the stage to finally unveil Sony's new handheld.

Hirai also talks up the new Android-friendly PlayStation Suite, before adding that Sony "continues to have very high expectations for PSP in the years to come."

Hirai brings PSVita to the party

That said, the NGP is then demonstrated, with dual cameras, motion-sensors, OLED screen and all the other tech specs that we are all already aware of.

"So, I'm very proud to showcase for the first time in North America, the successor to the PlayStation Portable," says Hirai. "PlayStation Vita. Or PSVITA for short."

"AT&T will be the exclusive carrier for PlayStation Vita in the United States," the Sony boss adds, with pricing and availability for the UK to be announced very soon.

PSVita has a "party" mode to allow users to chat with friends using the system. And an interesting-looking location-based service called Near, which shows you friends and "discoveries" in your vicinity.

Sony's Scott Rohde, VP of Worldwide Studios Product Development, then takes to the stage to demo the PSVita, with new levels from the forthcoming Uncharted: Golden Abyss from the developers at Sony Bend really showing off the HD graphics and touchscreen motion-control capability of Sony's new handheld.

Another new PSVita title, an action-RPG fantasy called Ruin, from Idleminds and Sony San Diego is then demonstrated, which will also be available on PS3 – with the ability to switch seamlessly between the game on your handheld or on your home console.

ModNation Racers for PS Vita looks cutesy and fun, with some interesting features, such as being able to draw your in-game racetracks by tracing your finger on the PSVita's touchscreen.

Cross-platform play between your PS3 and PSVita on titles such as Wipeout HD and LittleBigPlanet is clearly going to be a big deal for Sony over the coming year. Plus, it's not all about the first-party titles on the new handheld, with games such as Capcom's Street Fighter x Tekken shown off.

PSVita will be available this coming Christmas, priced at $249 in the US (for the Wi-Fi only model), with UK pricing still 'tbc' – but expect it to be at least £200 when it arrives in stores later this year.

NGP Next Generation Portable Sony PlayStation E3 E3 2011
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