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Controller Freak

Chad Sapieha leads you deep into the world of games, covering gaming trends

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E3: Sony to remain focused on "PlayStation family" Add to ...

According to Sony, it's all about the family. The Sony hardware family, that is. In a chat with Sony Computer Entertainment Canada's Matt Levitan shortly after the Japanese company's E3 press conference in Los Angeles Tuesday afternoon, I was told that Sony is focused on delivering content not just for the headline grabbing PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable platforms, but also the aging PlayStation 2, the library of which will grow by some 130 games in 2008.

Indeed, so pumped remains Mr. Levitan about the eight-year old console that one of the first things he excitedly talked about was a new PS2 bundle that will sell for $149.99 and include a game and a movie. A good deal, if you're into old game hardware. And a key facet of Sony Computer Entertainment's business, no doubt. But it's not exactly the sort of announcement Sony's fans were dreaming about prior to E3 2008.

Thankfully, a few current generation topics were on Sony's agenda as well.

PlayStation 3 titles showcased at the event were composed mostly of games the existence of which PlayStation fans have long been aware. An impressive new video for Resistance 2-long anticipated sequel to the PS3's flagship launch game, Resistance: Fall of Man-was unveiled that shows, among other things, a 300-foot tall creature called a Leviathan wreaking havoc in downtown Chicago and city-sized spaceships laying waste to San Francisco. Resistance 2 is set for a fall release.

Mr. Levitan said that new footage of LittleBigPlanet, another long awaited Sony exclusive, also went over well with event attendees. This strange looking platform game, which has been the subject of media attention for more than a year, will purportedly provide players with an unprecedented level of customization options, including the ability to create their own textile-inspired environments and share them with other players. "We expect hundreds-if not thousands-of user levels to be created in the first few weeks," said Mr. Levitan.

However, he admitted that he's having a difficult time figuring out how to promote such an offbeat game. "It's suitable for ages 6 to 60," he said, adding that the game's peculiar brand of play will prove extraordinary accessible among all demographics. "But you don't really get it until you sit down and spend some time with it. It's creating some unique marketing challenges for me."

Other Sony exclusives shown at the event included InFAMOUS, an anti-superhero game from Sucker Punch studios that will let players choose whether to destroy or save a city in chaos, and MAG, a new online shooter from Zipper Interactive (the studio behind Sony's SOCOM games) that will purportedly feature enormous maps capable of supporting up to 256 players (!) working in discrete teams of eight. Sony also showed new gameplay video for 2009's Killzone 2 and a teaser trailer for God of War 3.

On the PlayStation Portable front, Sony announced sequels to two of its most popular music-based games, LocoRoco and Patapon, as well as a small screen version of Resistance called Resistance: Retribution that will apparently swap first-person action for an over-the-shoulder perspective.

I asked about Home, Sony's long gestating community service that will function as a virtual world in which players can create unique avatars, develop their own virtual living spaces, and get together with one another to play games, but Mr. Levitan said that there wasn't much revealed about it on Tuesday, save that the previously announced large-scale public beta is still in the works.   

With the pre-show press events concluded, all that's left is for the official show to open Wednesday morning. I'll have more on some of the multi-platform software unveiled by various studios over the next couple of days.

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