Michelle Does E3 – Sony gives up the PS3 411!!! Plus, Sony doesn’t tell the entire truth about the stripped down PS3!!!

After dealing with hotel issues, equipment failures, and spotty internet connections E3 is finally upon us. I won’t complain about the crappy lack of television channels, or how the Cab driver ripped me off, or how I can’t watch the Veronica Mars or Smallville season finales because there’s no UPN or WB. No, you don’t want to hear me whine about those things. I’m really happy to be at my 9th Electronic Entertainment Expo better known as E3. The biggest, bestest and funnest trade show in the whole wide world. Wii!!!

For those that don’t know there really are two different E3s, three if you count all the nighttime activities and four if you count all of the private super secret briefings that all of the companies have for the elite industry analysts. But for my purposes I’m going to talk about the 1st phase of E3 which is the big three pre-show press conferences where Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft smooze us media folks.

On that score no one smoozes better than Sony, sure they are extremely difficult to deal with, but once you are in their good graces they spare no expense on you. Their big press conference was held at Sony Studios and was “tony” to say the least. Amidst the food and drink there was real business to get done. It started with Sony telling every one to bring their PSPs for “exclusive” downloadable content. So I packed up my PSP and brought it cross country so I can see this in action. There were various PSP hot spots where you could download pre conference press kit stuff. I grabbed a Corona with lime and a couple of those bread covered hot dog things – very tasty.

Sat down and hooked my PSP up to the Sony Vaio and after 20 minutes of trying the Sony Assistant and I realized the laptop was broken, we switched to another one and the download worked fine.

Sony surprised everyone at their Press conference by giving a lot of bombshell PS3 announcements that included more Playstation 3 details than anyone expected. According to Sony, the next generation doesn’t start until they say it does. Not to mention the welcome news that yes the PS3 will be available and playable on the show floor. Sony’s PR people did a masterful job of getting misinformation out in the weeks leading up to the big briefing.

We found out that the Playstation 3 will launch in the U.S. on November 17th in two different versions – one that has a 20 gig hard drive and will retail for $499 and a 60 gig module that will retail for $599. What Sony didn’t say was that the $499 model that the hard drive size wasn’t going to be the only difference between the two machines. On Tuesday rumors quickly started spreading that the $499 version would be stripped down and missing key features like wi-fi capabilities, extra HDMI ports, and more. Hopefully, Wed we’ll be able to get a confirmation on exactly what will be missing. But this move from Sony has a lot of people upset, as we were blatantly misled.

As far as games go, Sony showcased a special E3 version of Grand Turismo HD which looked very nice, but didn’t wow me. It looked about the same as the 360 version of PGR 3 or Burnout Revenge – beautiful, but not truly “next gen.” I didn’t feel like it was the major leap that we were all expecting. We also saw an amazing sword game called Heavenly Sword, a weird card battle game called Eye of Judgment that will work with the PS3 Eye Toy, a really cool dragon game called L.A.I.R., and a weird video for a “game” called Afrika.

Sony used a lot of smoke and mirrors during their conference, where they showed some playables titles (like Heavenly Sword and GT HD) that while impressive, had a luke warm response from the audience, mixed in with more video that was hard to tell if it was real or target videos again. There was one Miami Vice like game called Eight Days that was amazing, but how much of it can you trust? The developer of Residences Fall of Man took us through a demo of that title, which contained graphics that matched the 360’s amazing Call of Duty 2 – it didn’t surpass it.

The other major announcement from Sony came when they unveiled the PS3’s final controller which, not surprisingly, is the PS2 dual shock controller that we all know and love, but with a twist. Taking a page from Nintendo’s playbook, the new PS3 controller will include motion sensitive technology, just like the Wii’s. So the game will respond to the movement of the controller.

This was demonstrated when the developer of Warhawk came onto the stage and took us through a demo. The man looked like he was having fits twisting, turning and flailing his arms all about to control his airplane. While I think the idea of motion sensitive controllers have potential, I just think that they are too much work. Sure in the first few minutes it’s really cool and amazing, but I can see my arms getting tired after about ten minutes of play. As someone from Nintendo’s briefing said “where a loose shirt” so that we can enjoy their Tennis game, that statement alone explains why I’m not a believer in the Wii’s and PS3 controller. Maybe that opinion will change once I get my hands on them later this week.

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