Video Games

Sony pushes Vita, publishers prepare for holiday season

In the absence of Microsoft and Nintendo, Sony was given a clear stage to impress with the generous PlayStation Plus subscription service and handheld Vita at this year’s Gamescom in Cologne, Germany.

Old favorite LittleBigPlanet, new touch-based title Tearaway, and shooters Killzone: Mercenary and Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified amply demonstrated Sony’s plan to present Vita’s games line-up as a combination of innovative, exclusive ideas, and traditional action fare.

The subscription-based PlayStation Plus scheme was expanded to encompass the Vita, and the Cross Buy program that bundles Vita versions with PlayStation 3 games was fleshed out.

There were decent showings from the big third-party publishers such as Ubisoft and Electronic Arts.

Ubisoft continued to intruige with the Wii U survival game ZombiU and free-to-play iterations in the historical city building series Anno, the Battleship-writ-large of Silent Hunter Online, and fantasy franchise Might & Magic. Just Dance 4 was on the show floor, Rayman Legends was slick as ever, but Ubi’s star player was Assassin’s Creed III, with some visitors willing to queue up to five hours for a go on the October release.

Electronic Arts‘s Need for Speed: Most Wanted looked like a solid bet for some end-of-year motoring entertainment this November, SimCity‘s shaping up nicely for February 2013, and there are a good number of shooters in the works and on display: Medal of Honor: Warfighter for October, then Dead Space 3, Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel and Crysis 3 in 2013. And then there were this year’s sports titles in FIFA 13 and NHL 13, both of which have a considerable number of European teams.

Prominent no-shows during Gamescom week were the Wii U and a new Monster Hunter game, at a time when even the supposedly absent Microsoft managed to sneak in for the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 multiplayer reveal.

Though Nintendo wasn’t present, rumors had indicated it would ambush the event with a price and release date for the Wii U that would spark a rush of pre-orders. That information may now come during its annual media briefing held near the Tokyo Games Show, September 20-23.

Likewise, an enthusiastic pre-show update from the Capcom blog had led many to believe that a new Monster Hunter title was about to be announced — further news has now been promised before the end of 2012.

PlayStation’s Gamescom presentation: youtu.be/4bBaSYPP2jk
EA’s Gamescom site: ea.com/gamescom
Select Ubisoft Gamescom trailers: Just Dance 4 (youtu.be/xV4WakL2n3s), ZombiU (youtu.be/EAz48VvPAmM), Anno Online (youtu.be/KE_OqFIrhGA), Rayman Legends (youtu.be/FKGXtm02zBE)