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Leading the pack: Sony E3 press conference review

Wonder Book wows onlookers, but Sony's grand illusion hides other struggles

Sony showed something for everyone, but at the cost of making you feel a little less special.

On the surface, PS3 is alive and well, with some of the most exciting software in its history. Yet for all Sony's smoke and mirrors, there's a truth that not even David Copperfield could hide - that this ageing console is entering its family friendly twilight, where the focus is on attracting new customers, without alienating the hardcore.

Show opener Beyond Two Souls is, at worst, interesting and brave. Ellen Page's much trumpeted virtual acting debut might have consisted of two minutes of sitting still in total silence, but the supernatural edge threatens to elevate this over Heavy Rain. If producer David Cage can retain the emotional appeal, branching narrative and consequence of his contentious crime thriller, this could be Sony's last great PS3 game. As it stands, it's 'merely' rich with promise, yet light on flashes of real gameplay.

The show's climax, The Last of Us, was the highlight. Naughty Dog's ability to relate dynamic, real time, banter with rich environments and subtle pacing, is juxtaposed with *brutal* combat.

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With no regenerating health, and Ethan panting audibly after each encounter, there's a tangible sense of menace. Earlier in the day, I'd sat through a COD: Black Ops demo where the whole world explodes in near catatonic tedium, but at the climax of The Last of Us, a sudden camera jolt and attack from a lone, shotgun-wielding, psycho was enough to make me physically jolt in my seat. Third person cover based shooters are the *other* genre dominating E3 - bar the ubiquitous FPS - but Naughty Dog are its undoubted masters.

The elephants in the room varied from the metaphorical to the digital. Was no one else astonished by the lack of innovation in display in God Of War Ascension? Even the collective 'whoop' when Kratos mashed his blade into a bipedal elephant's brain felt cliched.

However slickly produced, Kratos' prequel felt jaundiced and even lacks its usual, console-defying, spectacle. Nothing about it challenged your preconceptions of what PS3 can achieve, and when violence is your trump card, this is the wrong E3 to play it. Will it be a good game? No question. Just potentially an overly familiar one, that should trade in shocks.

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