Sony, you couldn’t have hosted your new-era announcement event on a less convenient day for me. We just finished bagging up our robot yesterday, I had two meetings and a birthday party to attend, and all I get through your live event are less-than-enthusiastic texts from my GameStop co-workers.
I’m currently just finishing watching this hyped press release. Here it is, everyone — the PS4. By the way, I love how they opened with the original PS1 chime. Thanks, Sony; us retros appreciate it.
“The release of the PS4 presents an enormous opportunity to dramatically amplify the game play industry.”
The system, which never made its visual debut at the event (what the hell, Sony), certainly packs a potentially unnecessary punch. We think we’re looking at Jaguar core, which means the CPU is extremely strong; it’s eight cores heavy, but 1.6GHz weak. It’s very, very power efficient, but being somewhat critiqued by tech nerds for its mediocre quality for a next gen. Then again, how do we balance the price tag?
In general, the specs are beautiful and, well, decent. Sony officially announced an X86 CPU coupled with an enhanced PC GPU (hopefully a 7850-grade, which is eons beyond current gen), 8 GB of GDDR5 memory, a local storage drive and a secondary piece for downloading.
There are some neat additions and innovative concepts that will be built into the PS4 and it’s supporting hardware and OS. The DualShock 4 has increased motion sensors in analog and I guess an updated rumble feature (never knew that was an issue…), plus a bit of redesign to make room for additional features, which I will elaborate on in a moment. Probably the concept I found most intriguing was the PS4’s suspend and resume feature. Instead of completely shutting down the system if you’re leaving for a few hours, the system can fall into a low-power hibernation mode until the user returns, where the system picks up right where it left off in — allegedly — a few seconds. It’s not just the concept itself — it’s Sony’s focus on reducing the system boot time.
The system times on the PS3 are really, really annoying. Boot up, yeah yeah beautiful sequence, wait a few moments for the UI to launch; left, left, down, X. System needs to update to play my game. Fantastic. Even better, when MGS4 started acting up on me, my reinstall took 10 minutes. Which, for the graphic output, is just a minor complaint, but it’s still the point of it.
I don’t really care if Sony can deliver their hope of “game while you download” with their secondary drive. I’m simply happy that they are focusing at least a bit of effort into reducing launch time. Maybe it’s a small improvement, but one I can appreciate.
When I write my posts for events like this, E3 or CES, I blog while I’m watching. Typically, it’s presented in a way where I can make my judgment on it while I’m being fed specs and demos. In this case, it was a bit different. The DualShock 4 controller was presented as a lede before they broke down the architecture of it. Its features include a Vita-esque touch pad in the middle vertical, heightening the controller hold a bit; an audio jack; and a share button. Ahem, excuse me — a share button. Yeah. Here are my original thoughts on it before Sony’s elaboration:
“Share button? Really? I get social media — trust me, I manage far more accounts for clients and organizations than I should be. It took a while to convince me that PS3/Vita syncs were a good idea; the PS4 Facebook game isn’t going to go over well, my friends.”
But, as Sony usually does, they’ve convinced me otherwise. While the share button is corny and is going to spam up my Facebook wall, it’s very neat for non-13-year-old gamers. Users can export their game play into compressed files to upload to social media (and more than likely their online PSN account, which I expect to handle a bit like Facebook), and even query their friends online to take control of their game to help in a certain area they are struggling in.
Now that is cool.
Of course, social media is going to be very heavily integrated into the PS4. The PSN friend system seems to be going to an Xbox LIVE layout with additional information on the player and will sync with Facebook friends. On that note, can we switch over to a gamerscore too instead of displaying invisible trophies on my wall? That’d be great.
Still, I can’t help but feel like these additions don’t warrant the next generation. Then again, what would?
Of course, what’s a gaming conference without game announcements and their seven-minute minimum game footage? By the way, guys, can you please stop with the extensive game play demos? We get it — your engine is really, really pretty. We’ll watch your trailers another time. Can we get back to our new system, please?
I’m only kind of joking with that. But anyway, there were several announcements of PS4 exclusives: Guerilla’s Killzone: Shadow Fall, Sucker Punch’s Infamous: Second Son, Capcom’s Deep Down, and a few others. These guys all look beautiful, but I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t be released on PS3. In fact, most are releasing their titles for both the PS3 and PS4. In that case, what’s the point, almost?
Most developers are excited for the PS4 because it gives them an excuse to design an updated engine. Developers are able to work with an enhanced 3D depth of field, extensive polygon work, realistic skin shading and adaptive lighting.
“We are proud to usher in a new era of entertainment,” said Yoshinori Ono for Capcom, who presented a (thankfully semi-short) demo for their Panta Rhei engine, which they refer to as an evolutionary step from their original framework. By the way, Ono, my dear, thank you for mentioning Devil May Cry.
Developers are elaborating on being able to convey amazing stories without concerning themselves on whether the system has the horsepower to do so; studios are now unlimited by imagination. Another embarking title that looks absolutely stunning is Bungie’s 10-year endeavor, Destiny, which made its re-reveal tonight following Bungie’s conference last week.
“How can we take a genre that we know and love, the first person shooter, and turn its on its head? Bungie’s answer is Destiny,” Jason Jones from Bungie said. He followed that by calling the PS4 “great piece of gear.” We’ll see about that.
The PlayStation Move is also making its miserable return, though with a much brighter light in concept. Alex Evans for developer Media Molecule (known for LittleBigPlanet) calls the PS4 with the Move integration a “creative console,” and their project to create 3D sculptures in realtime looks somewhat promising.
“The single most powerful, accurate device was right under our noses — the Move controller,” Evans said, elaborating that the sculpting tool allows developers, and users, to stop thinking about pixels and just start creating.
He continued on to say that their goal is to change “making” in every way, whether it is music, gaming or story telling. Media Molecule provided a demo of, literally, a personally full-model, high-quality developed landscape. This is like, ‘build your own game and levels’ type quality. A bit hesitant on where this is going…
Anyway, Watchdogs, developed by Ubisoft, looks incredible too. But I’ve been intrigued by this one for a while now. It’s an interesting concept and a Heavy Rain style game play, but it’s going to scare the shit out of everyone. Honestly. You think media blames crime on gaming already? Now the hackers are at risk, too. Can’t wait.
Let’s end on a bad note. I’m not happy about this one. I’m not a WoWian, but I do love my PC games. I might have had a bit of beef with Blizzard before, but now it’s not funny anymore.
“Blizzard and Sony have entered a strategic partnership through which we will take over the world.” Chris Metzen of Blizzard Entertainment said, after announcing a port of Diablo III to the PS4 and PS3.
No, please. You guys, I— c’mon. We know this is a bad idea. Yes, it will be “very very cool,” Metzen, but Diablo isn’t Diablo without my Nostromo and slamming my DeathAdder on the table everytime I lag out in the middle of a fight.
All in all, it was a happy announcement for Sony. GameStop managers and employees are pissed, journalists are watchful, and gamers will never be appeased anyway. Watch for the system at an unofficial but expected ~$400 price tag this holiday season.
Your move, Microsoft.
System specs: X86 CPU – Enhanced PC GPU — 8 GB memory on a GDDR5 card — Local Storage Hard Drive
Release date: Holiday 2013