Editor’s note: John Gaudiosi covers the interactive game industry for numerous publications. He also writes the Gaming Guru blog for WRAL.com.
CULVER CITY, Calif. — Sony Computer Entertainment held its annual E3 press conference at Sony Pictures lot, just a few sound stages away from where "Las Vegas" is filmed. With the recently announced hardware price swaps already outof the way (Sony’s 60GB PS3 is now $500 and a new 80GB PS3 ships next month for $600 and comes with a free Motorstorm game), Sony focused on exclusive games for its PS3, PSP and PS2 platforms.
One of the games that will be available exclusively for PlayStation 3 this fall is Midway Games and Epic Games "Unreal Tournament 3."
Sony showed a short video clip of the game during its press conference on four giant, high-definition movie screens.
The announcement was the second major one for Epic, which is based in Raleigh, at the E3 show. On Tuesday night, Epic unveiled plans for a PC version of its hot-selling “Gears of War.”
As part of the deal with Sony, Epic is working with the company to enable "Unreal Engine 3" technology to harness the full power of the PS3 processor. According to Mark Rein, vice president and co-founder of Epic Games, the deal closed just 10 minutes before Jack Tretton, president of Sony Computer Entertainment America, took the stage.
Rein told me that a PC game will ship this fall as well, but that console makers don’t consider PC a platform. In addition, he said Epic will release an Xbox 360 version of the game some time next year.
The feature Rein’s most excited about with the PS3 "Unreal Tournament 3" is its introduction of mods to console games.
“’Unreal Tournament 3′ modifications, or ‘mods,’ will be compatible between PC and PS3, which has never been done before,” said Rein. “PC mods are much more powerful than anything you can do on a console, and now PS3 gamers will be able to have access to all of this free content.”
Rein said the team at Epic has had success working with the new Sony console. Two years ago, "Unreal Tournament 3" was the first-ever live demo running on PS3 at E3.
“We had the benefit of working on PS3 very early,” said Rein. “The more powerful the system the more complex it is to develop for it.”
Rein said "Unreal Tournament 3" will allow between 12 and 24 players to go online and battle. The levels Epic has designed were made with this number in mind. In addition, Rein said the game will offer a much more robust story line for the single-player experience this time around. The franchise, which debuted in 1999, has always focused more on multiplayer content.
Speaking at Midway Games’ E3 suite at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica, Rein said he had time to check out two other games powered by the "Unreal Engine 3" — "John Woo Presents Stranglehold," which ships for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 next month, and "Blacksite: Area 51," which ships for PS3 and Xbox 360 in September.
Rein was at the Microsoft Games for Windows party at the Viceroy Hotel later that evening, after E3 closed, playing the PC version of "Gears of War" for the first time with a mouse and keyboard. He ended up switching back to the Xbox 360 controller, which also can be used on PC games. Microsoft had eight PCs set up for multiplayer action at its event — the most PCs dedicated to any one game.