Ryan Chartrand

Is the world coming to an end? Before E3 I was worried that Sony might not pull into first place in the console wars, but now analysts are forecasting third, behind the cult lover box known as the Nintendo Wii. Thankfully, however, I haven’t listened to analysts ever since the unbeatable quote “video games will be extinct by the year 2000.”

Yet something inside me still feels some truth behind this latest forecast. While no one can predict how many people will actually throw down a miniscule $600 for a slick 7-pound waffle maker from Japan. It’s very well possible that Microsoft and Nintendo could have a holly-jolly Christmas while Sony sits on a curb crying about the glory days of “Final Fantasy VII.” On the other hand, Sony’s plan for world domination with the ultimate next-gen system that serves as your own personal HAL-at-home could also be fulfilled.

Instead of bringing up the fact that Sony supposedly didn’t pay their taxes this year, let’s look on the bright side; no, not the blinding radiance of the Wii. Let’s look at what it will all come down to for the survival of the PS3, no matter the price tag: the games. More specifically, the only games that will be available on the PS3.

“Final Fantasy XIII” – A slightly darker continuation of the most loved Playstation series, “Final Fantasy XII” is hands-down one of the main reasons many will be forced to buy a PS3. Not much info on the game, but that’s not what matters at this point. If Sony has any plans on winning the casual gamers crowd, relying solely on “Final Fantasy” games, which probably won’t be released for quite some time, won’t cut it. Let’s not forget that Microsoft has already had a taste of “Final Fantasy” with “FFXI” on the Xbox 360 and Nintendo still has “Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.” I’m afraid Sony is no longer the sole owner of the secret weapon.

“Metal Gear Solid 4”: Guns of the Patriots – If you were to ask anyone planning to buy a PS3 why they would do so, it’s as simple as three letters; MGS. The “Metal Gear Solid” series, much like the “Final Fantasy” series, has given Sony hope time and time again. If a title like “MGS4” makes it way to the PS3 early on, Sony will have the running start that they so desperately need to not end up in third place. I’d go as far as to say this is the most crucial title the PS3 will see in its first year.

“Killzone” – The world is still shaking over Killzone’s mesmerizing E3 2005 trailer, which also sparked controversy over how accurate the visuals truly were. But let’s not forget that E3 2006 brought no new information about this supposed powerhouse of a game. I’m afraid this angel from next-gen heaven might end up a late 2007 release that will make you regret you ever dreamed about it.

“Assassin’s Creed” – Ubisoft is finally taking a break from “Prince of Persia” and putting their next-gen teams to work on a “Prince of Persia” meets “Hitman” meets “GRAW” title (somehow that’s possible). The game’s trailer, shown at E3, served as some impressive eye candy to keep PS3 fans onboard the $600 train. Anyone who had a chance to play “Assassin’s Creed” behind closed doors at E3 will tell you that the gameplay is highly original, free-moving and full of brilliant AI. One word of advice to those in love with the trailer: it’s Ubisoft’s first PS3 title. Their first PS2 title was “Conflict Zone,” a terrible game. Sure, they’ve grown, but they’re still learning their PS3 ropes. This won’t be sufficient reason to buy a PS3 instantly.

“Heavy Rain” – If “Indigo Prophecy,” one of last year’s greatest “Wake up gamers, games really are art and this is one of the best you’ll experience” titles, is any indication that developer Quantic Dream knows how to blend great storytelling, extremely realistic visuals and exciting gameplay into one package, then their next title for the PS3 will be a gift. The demo released at E3 was actually an in-game virtual casting for the game where a woman gives an amazing (yet horribly spoken) soliloquy that ends with a gun pointed at your forehead. As long as “Heavy Rain” doesn’t step in a few puddles along the way, my forecast is promising.

Other than these few, which were hard enough to truly call “must-haves,” Sony is looking slim next to Microsoft’s wave of new games coming this Christmas. The PS3 boomerang controller might be gone, but don’t think the new, pointless sensor they’ve installed in the controller is reason enough to call the PS3 a “Wii included!” system.

When you really think about it, Sony is unbelievably wise with its ridiculous price tag; we’re all going to be at their feet come November 17th whether we like it or not. Somehow and someway we’ll come up with $600 and our PS2s will make their defeated march into their fateful closet coffins. Then, once Sony has had its fun with us, a new price tag that the non-diehard fans can afford will arrive. I hate you Sony. I love you Sony. I need $600.

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