Editorials

Sony’s PS4 Announcement – The Good, The Bad, The ‘We’re Watching Everything You Do’

February 21, 2013, Author: Matt Parker

It happened. Sony’s ‘event’ occurred last night and no matter what you think of what went down, we can be grateful for this. No more jokes about them announcing a new Vita design. No more jokes about them announcing an update to Playstation Home. No. More. Jokes.

For the most part, it was fairly positive, though it wasn’t all plain sailing though. There were a few things that made me worried alongside a few things that made me excited. Here are those things that my ‘it’s 1:30am’ mind could put in to words.

Let’s get the good out of the way. I liked that they addressed the development issues that surrounded the PS3. The lead system architect came out and (surprisingly) said all of the right things. The new console will use a system that’s familiar to most developers out there. It’ll be powerful (duh), basing its hardware on current high-end PCs. They’ve also done well to keep the controller a good blend of old and new. It doesn’t look that different, but they’ve crammed in a few new features. A headphone jack, touchpad and a light on the top. Nothing major, but new features nonetheless. Not to bore you with details, but the hardware specs touted sound pretty good and put the PS4 in the company of current high(ish)-end PCs.

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In a piece I wrote, one of my lofty ideas was that every PS1, 2 and 3 game would be streamable. I wrote that as something of a joke. It appears to be happening, which is just insane. Thanks to Gaikai, this mad vision looks like a reality, with games that you purchase available to download and play instantly. So, whilst you’re playing the first level, the others are still being downloaded. A neat idea. Heck, they’ve got an entire processor dedicated to running and manging downloads and software updates so they don’t interrupt your game playing.

They’re also aiming at making the console go into a ‘standby’ state when you turn it off, meaning an instant reboot is possible. No more saving – just turn it off and when you want to carry on, flip the switch to start where you left off. Assuming, that is, that the console will have something as low-tech as switches on it. The console itself didn’t make an appearance.

One thing that got annoying about these features is the assumption that I want to share what I’m doing. That I want a ‘friend’ the other side of the world to ‘take over’ my controller and finish a hard level for me. There was also this idea that the PS4 records everything you do. What games you’re playing, what you’re friends are up to – It’s all very ‘Activity Stream’ and ‘Look at my wall and poke me’.

broadcast

Now the world can see how bad you are at Dark Souls.

 From this? Well, it’ll ‘learn’ what you like and then ‘provide you with content you’ll enjoy’. That sounds like targeted advertising and a very creepy beginning of some serious user details being gathered by Sony. Top that off with the camera that comes with the console and Sony’s Big Brother plan is underway. Christ knows what the camera does, mind. Most likely an ‘Eyetoy / Kinect’ type thing. Thankfully, it was glossed over and never spoken of again. Expect arm flailing and hand waving this E3. For a change…

If the reels seen are to be believed, this console will produce some stunning visuals. New engines were shown, a demonstration of a million objects on screen. You know, the tried and tested ‘this is new hardware’ demo reel kind of stuff.

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There was also another playthrough of Watch_Dogs, which is still looking like a GTA game where you play as a hacker with a conscience. That sounds a tad flippant for a game that I’m seriously looking forward to.

 

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A few things I wasn’t keen on. The other games, for a start. Nothing really grabbed my imagination. Cars were shown, a new Killzone that looked like old Killzone and of course a man from Square Enix came out and confirmed that a new Final Fantasy was being made. Like it was ever in doubt. The Media Molocule stuff looked ‘fun’, but then so was the original EyeToy for about 30 minutes. I hope there’s some substance to what they’re planning on putting out.

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David Cage irked me. The man talked about how games need to connect with the player ‘emotionally’ and the proceeded to show a graph(!) about the number of polygons(!!) in the characters of his ‘emotional’(!!!) games. Jonathan Blow came out and showed of a version of Myst that belongs on the Wii.

Don’t get me wrong. Cage can aim high and Blow can make his game (I’m still interested in it) but Sony needs to realise that these events need huge talking points. Huge positive talking points. These two men did not do that for me.

 

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That’s what was truly missing. Nothing really took centre-stage and nothing was the headliner. It’s not as if the console itself ‘stole the show’, we didn’t even see it.

All last night really did was confirm a bunch of rumours that have been floating around the internet for a while. Which was nice, but I wanted more. I wanted a blast from the past to re-introduce itself. I wanted an exciting new IP. I wanted a big finish.

‘Coming Holiday 2013′ isn’t a big finish. It’s the end of a sales pitch…

The. End.

The. End.

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