Special: Sony displayed a bunch of brand-new PS2 and PSP games on the showfloor and we show give you the rundown of them all in our Sony Booth Tour.
PlayStation 2 Games
Jak X: Combat Racing
Just when you thought Jak and Daxter were due for retirement, the duo returns in style, pulling up to the PS2 in their very own vehicular combat racing title. The game handles a lot like the driving levels found in Jak 3 and contains a rather quirky story. It seems as if the two heroes and all of their friends have been poisoned and the only way to obtain the antidote is to win the Kras City Grand Championship. Whether or not the plot seems enticing in summary, Naughty Dog will no doubt find a way to build interest through the 45 minutes of story scenes set to appear in the final game.
In addition to introducing Jak to a genre other than platforming, Jak X is also the first game in the series to go online, supporting up to 6 players at once. There'll also be an offline 2-player option. A Naughty Dog rep. said that while the company wants to support 4 players through split-screen, it may not be possible in the end due to frame rate issues. Either way the game's off to a solid start with modes of the circuit race, death match, turbo dash, artifact race, and sport hunt, just to name a few playable on the E3 showfloor. The ability to completely customize your car and the fact that upcoming Daxter for PSP will sync up for unlockable secrets should also rev for engines for the game's fourth quarter release.
Ratchet: Deadlocked is the fourth installment of the Ratchet & Clank platform series and the first to feature co-operative play. Unlike the other first-party duo above, these two platform heroes are forced
to participate in their sporting games after being captured by Gleeman Vox. This media mogul is using them for his reality combat show and they must survive to win while trying to break free at the same time. Along with co-op play through the non-linear campaign and multiplayer modes, Deadlocked also features new squad-based mechanics through the use of bots. Players can either allow their bots to automatically run around or independently command them with the D-Pad. Once again, weapon mods return, and you can expect thousands of combinations when the game hits store shelves in fourth quarter.
Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves
Sly 3, Sucker Punch's latest cel-shaded platform game, is host to a whole lot of improvements, the first being that certain levels literally pop out at you while wearing with those cheap red and blue 3D glasses. It's definitely one of the cooler gimmicks I saw on the E3 showfloor. And, the advancements don't stop there. New playable characters include Carmelita Fox, Dimitri the lounge lizard and a quirky Shaman that can morph into organic objects. Sly, Bentley and Murray are still the stars of the gang and come with all-new moves themselves. Since Bentley is in a wheel-chair due to circumstances stemming from the last game, expect him to have a tricked-out wheel-chair with all sorts of hi-tech equipment. Besides 3D levels seen through 3D glasses, there'll also be 2-player missions that take the form of cops and robbers on foot and biplane dogfights in the air. Be sure to check back for a full hands-on preview of Sly 3 as its fourth quarter release date nears.
SOCOM 3: U.S. Navy SEALs
SOCOM was the first online title for the PlayStation 2 when it shipped with the online adapter, and it became an instant roaring success. As the most played online game on the system, this popular squad-based shooter is now seeing a third run for Sony's money this summer. AI, one of the franchise's main annoyances in the past two releases, is being tweaked this time so both enemies and allies will think and act like they would in real life. Enemies will know to take cover, fire blind shots at the player, and even organize attack teams just as if they were you, but evil. Your squad of three men following your commander SEAL's lead this time will also be more attentive to your tactics. If you stop for cover, they'll do the same. And this time, you can actually tell those fools where to go instead of just heading in a vague and general area.
Other new implementations come from an easier-to-access in-game menu (no more overbearing pause screen), a wide range of customizable weapon modifications (with 31 guns, 21 attachments, and more than 900 variants in which to alter guns), and now mobilization over land or water, too. SEALs players will be able to hop in a truck, a tank, an attack craft over riverbeds, and can unload bullets upon terrorists as they fly by. Multiplayer is also getting bigger and better, as the size of players has increased to double the normal. A total of 32 players can now participate in maps online all at once, maps in which can be tweaked individually by player hosts themselves. If they want to enlarge the map to a great beyond, they can. If they want to shrink it down to a closeness where all 32 players are almost touching one another, that's another possibility. Redesigned character models makes for new animations in the game, and weather conditions (like blinding sandstorms) makes for what is looking to be the most visually appealing SOCOM game yet. With all the new tweaks and improvements coming along, SOCOM 3: U.S. Navy SEALs could very well be the finest SOCOM iteration yet. We'll see by the end of this summer.
Shadow of the Colossus
From the makers of the magnanimous and overlooked 2001 PlayStation 2 title, ICO, comes Sony's next stunning adventure opus, Shadow of the Colossus. Formerly known as Wanda and the Colossus, Shadow follows a mysterious young man as he sets out to defeat an army of 16 total colossi in order to resurrect his deceased girlfriend. What this new game will be able to do for players are to give them an imaginary world set within a vast, mystical valley. Traveling by horseback, the hero uses a sword that when held up gleams in the sunlight. When done so, this tactic will point him in the right direction as his guide to locate these massive stone golems. This sun dialing beam is also used to shine upon a colossus' architecture and discover its weak point. Basically, players will fish out these beasts in this spacious land, and once found will have to climb on top of them and destroy them.
The trick though will be to actually figure out how you're going to climb on top of these towering giants, as not only will these guys be constantly on the move, but they'll also be trying to crush you if you're like some ant finding a way to the top of the ant hill. Colossi will also appear in various formations -- from humanoid, to flying, and even sea creatures. So there'll exist a unique challenge in dropping all 16 of these beasties. Like ICO before it, Shadow will also feature a marvelous and inspiring beauty to its graphical touch. Covered in shaggy grass, stone, and many textures, the colossi will represent an artistic creativity that is of a captivating essence. The hero and the world both look fantastic, as plenty of photo realistic lighting is used to capture the magic of the game. From what I can tell you, Shadow of the Colossus is definitively going to be one of the year's best when its release comes around this fall.
Genji: Dawn of the Samurai
Capcom's Onimusha was of course one of the earliest and best titles in general for the PlayStation 2. With very few games to play on the market in the system's early days, Onimusha was the samurai being, demon death dealing game everyone was raving about. Now that you know that game was great and the people who made it had to be too, you should also be aware that Genji: Dawn of the Samurai comes from some of the former Capcom team that brought you that game within the newly formed company Gamer Republic (including producer Yoshiki Okamoto). If this has you thinking Genji plays like an instant hit?I would say not to expect that sort of effect. Genji, however, is looking to be so far a game that'll hold its own stability factor in the action/adventure universe it's set in. Genji's direction points in running around third-person trails where piles of samurai enemies, called Heishi, appear and try to bring you down in their terrorizing rampage of a current political feud. As part of the Genji clan, you're their enemy. One of the main appealing parts to Genji is that it has a real-time combat system where you can enter into a special focus mode that helps to slaughter enemies easier (a.k.a. one-hit kill style). Speaking of which, another cool aspect is that enemies will get their heads cut off and their bodies shredded in half for some bloody cool death animations. But that's not all. Your side of the story involves draws the path of two distinct characters?and so, you'll be able to endure various fight sequences as different people with different attributes over time. At one point you'll become a slender, quicker prince with a sword named Yoshitsune. Next up, you become a giant fighter with a giant Japanese mace named Benkei. Battles in the game have been choreographed by real-life swordsmen, so Genji is also not a bad game to look at either -- in its forestry, ancient Japanese setting and characters, and of course all the bloody kills. Coming this fall, if you like your swordplay extra Japanese style, then you might want to check out Genji: Dawn of the Samurai.
Daxter finally receives a starring role, as he comes to the PSP armed with ?the big guns? ?a fly swatter and a can of bug spray. ?Hey, what's the big idea,? I could see him rudely remarking while looking at his arsenal. Daxter bridges the two-year gap between the first and second Jak game when, apparently, our orange and furry friend became an exterminator. Players will explore Haven City in animal form with a control scheme that's not unlike the other Jak games. Besides attacking with the can of spray, its green substance can also be used as propulsion for a jetpack-like boost off of the ground. This is convenient for reaching high place. And, because Daxter is tiny, he can also squeeze into tight spaces by crouching. As mentioned in the Jak X preview above, this game can sync up to the PS2 title for unlockable secrets in both.
SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo
SOCOM is moving in on Sony's new handheld system and while it won't be the first online game for the portable (as was the case for PS2), it'll surely be a hot seller. Although the PSP buttons were designed to resemble the PS2 Dual-Shock Controller, it only contains one analog stick. So, the camera in Fireteam Bravo moves automatically in its place. The entire scheme feels a bit different, but works as soon as you get used to the changes. In addition to control alterations, the single-player campaign only features one teammate, which helps reduce the confusion by reducing the team size. To bring more players into the game, you can always go online through WiFi, though details remain scarce on how many.
The Con is an interesting fighting game for many reasons. Players create their own custom fighter and participate in street boxing, kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do, Jeet Kune Do and Wrestling. The con element comes into play when betting for or against your own boxer. Throw fake punches and take dives, but don't make it obvious or it won't pay off in the end. Something else I found unique is that the camera stays behind the head of your boxer, almost as if it's a third-person action game meshed with the fighting genre. This usually doesn't work for console titles because players must share a screen when battling it out, but the WiFi-enabled PSP solves that problem. You can be The Con release date will fall sometime during month of October.