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PlayStation Experience 2008: Mumbai coverage

The long awaited 2008 edition of PlayStation Experience got underway in Mumbai on Saturday. Held at the InOrbit Mall premises in the city’s Malad suburb, the two day event seemed slightly smaller in area space than last year’s event, but we were told that that wasn’t the case, but that it was the layout that made it seem that way. There was no shortage of great games however, and in fact, this year’s line-up far surpassed last year’s with several yet to be released titles on show for everyone to try. For those in Mumbai who couldn’t make it to the event, here’s what you missed, and for those eagerly awaiting the Bangalore and Delhi legs, here’s what you can look forward to.

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The event began an hour behind schedule with a press conference, where Atindriya Bose, Country Manager, Sony Computer Entertainment India, besides announcing some new game launches, informed us that the 80GB PlayStation 3, bundled with a DUALSHOCK 3 controller, would be available in India in December, replacing the current 40GB console. The 40GB console, while stocks last, will now be sold with a free copy of either Resistance: Fall of Man or MotorStorm. Bose also announced that the new PlayStation Portable (PSP 3000), which was originally slated to hit stores in October, will now reach retail by the end of November. There was no mention of a PSN launch, but I did manage to catch up with Atin later on, where he did give us a deadline before which the service would be available here. He also hinted at the price of the new 80GB PS3. We’ll have the interview up soon.

Similar to last year, the show floor at PlayStation Experience 2008 has been split up into zones. The first zone near the entrance was the Shooting Zone and the games in this zone were Resistance: Fall of Man, Resistance 2, Dead Space, and as we predicted, Killzone 2. Guerilla’s much delayed first-person shooter stole the show as people lined up to get their hands on the game. Despite being a three-month old beta build from the Leipzig Games Convention, it put Resistance 2, which was a review code, to shame. It looks like the wait for this one is definitely going to be worth it.

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Next up was the Racing Zone. Here, visitors could get their hands on MotorStorm: Pacific Rift and Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, running on two stations each, Ridge Racer 7, and an incomplete but apparently “reviewable” code of Need For Speed: Undercover. MotorStorm Pacific Rift looked outstanding and many of us who had criticised its visuals in the past were pleasantly surprised. NFS Undercover, on the other hand, was less than impressive. Although an improvement on the build we tried out at GCA in Singapore, frame rates were still inconsistent, controls were floaty, and visually it could barely compete with Ridge Racer 7, a PS3 launch title.

Next was the PSP section, a café-like seating area with 4-5 PSPs on each table for visitors to sit back and enjoy. Adjacent to the PSP section was the EA Sports Zone. It was designed to look like a locker room, but I wouldn’t have known it had someone not told me. The lockers looked more like closets to me, but thanks to two stations running FIFA 09 and one each running Cricket 07, Facebreaker, NBA Live 09 and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09, this was one of the more popular zones at the show.

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The Action Zone consisted of Mirror’s Edge, Siren: Blood Curse, God of War II, Heavenly Sword, and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Mirror’s Edge had many people curious, oohing and aahing every time Faith leaped from rooftop to rooftop. It’s also fascinating to see that even after all these years God of War II is still a crowd-puller.

The last of the zones was the Family Zone. Featuring a living room like setting, it showcased the PS3’s Blu-Ray playback features as well as LittleBigPlanet and Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty. After being forced to sit on everything from sacks of cement (Shooting Zone) to dirty rubber tires (Racing Zone) to wooden tables (Sports Zone), the soft leather sofas in the Family Zone came as a welcome change. In the middle of the show floor was the stage where SingStar Bollywod and FIFA 09 one-on-one competitions took place. Surrounding the stage were the PlayStation 2 party games, which included the SingStar, Buzz and EyeToy titles.

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Whether or not this year’s event was smaller in scale, the fact is there is no other gaming event in India that even remotely matches the scale of PlayStation Experience, and the fact that they’ve managed to expand it to three cities in only its second year is commendable indeed. Let’s just hope that next year we see participation from other publishers as well.

Next stop: Bangalore.

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