Written by Eric Layman
Category: News and Other Musings
Published: 20 February 2013
Like 500,000+ others, most of us at Digital Chumps spent two hours glued to our chairs watching Sony's PlayStation 4 reveal. What follows doesn't represent the opinion of Digital Chumps as a whole, but rather my haphazard, rambling speculation based on my relatively informed opinion. This guarantees you, the reader, that after reading my opinion you'll feel at least 20-25% more informed than you would at our competing sites.
I'm kidding. Probably. The big thing to remember is that we still basically know nothing, and armchair criticism is all we've got until real people starting getting hands on with some of Sony's impressive tech. Here we go!
Seeing Sony immediately pawn off the Vita by acknowledging its assumed importance and then literally nothing else seemed like a brief admission of a global failure, honestly (especially after that Vita specific event earlier this week failed to announce anything of remote importance). It felt like a nervous laugh, a warm-up joke before the big reveal. It did make an appearance later when it was shown working in tandem with the PlayStation 4, but I'll get to that a bit later.
And yeah, hats off to Sony for going with their gut and titling their machine, "PlayStation 4." That wide font P S 4 logo looked slick as hell, and the very act of seeing it in an official capacity actually gave me goose bumps. Gone is completely baseless speculation, and seeing that text on screen gave the remaining two hours an air of legitimacy I hadn't considered beforehand. Finally, it started feeling real.
Mark Cerny out on stage was great, as was the name drop for Marble Madness. His resume speaks for itself, and allowed him to speak with a believable air of authority on the PlayStation 3's architecture. In the past we've always heard the PlayStation 3 (and to a lesser extent, PlayStation 2) were relative hell to develop for. Cerny's messaging repeatedly telegraphed the PS4 would be more of a traditional, developer-friendly experience for small and large teams alike. Announcing that the PS4 would be packing 8gigs of memory was perhaps a more impressive announcement, or at least that's what systematically detonated my Twitter feed.
The DualShock 4 was leaked by Destructoid nearly a week ago, but it was still need to see in three dimensions. The glowy bits at the top were sort of assumed to be a Move controller, but the bigger surprise in terms of motion technology was Sony's Kinec...ah, ahem, I mean stereo camera motion sensing device. They pulled the curtain on that thing almost as soon as they brought it out, so hopefully we'll get more information on it later in the year. In any case the remolded analog buttons look more comfy, and the elongated form factor (hopefully) won't matter very much.
Knack, Cerny's project, looked alright. In the absence (and relative stagnation) of Ratchet and Clank, it certainly captured that cutesy feel of latter day PlayStation platformers. It didn't look dramatically different than what we're seeing on our current gen consoles, however the amount of activity on screen were vaguely impressive.
Suspending and resuming play sessions sounds simple, but it felt huge. I've always held an appreciation for sleep modes in portable devices, and it's a fantastic feature to include in consoles. I do wonder, however, whether it will persevere through unexpected power outages. Along similar lines, titles being playable while they're downloading is a great idea - and hey maybe it'll be fast enough for buyer's remorse not to set in when we all effortlessly blow $180 downloading three retail games at the same time.
Video compression and constant streaming sounds incredible. That was actually a small feature of Just Cause 2, a game particularly prone to outrageous hyjinx, and personally I think I wound up with a ton of YouTube videos because of it. If there's true live streaming through a reliable and accessible web interface then that might actually earn the overwrought "gamechanger" title, earning the Dual Shock 4's "share" button as perhaps the PS4's secret best feature.
They mentioned this a couple of times, but taking over your friend's games via Gaikai's cloud service sounds absolutely insane. Do you have to both own the game, or just your buddy? Do you earn trophies, or does he/she? Is there a time limit on how long you can assume control. Like anything else it raised more questions than answers, but the potential and intrigue it left behind are both tantalizing.
Declaring that games would be preloaded on your system after Sony's network "learns" your tastes sounded like a fancy way of saying, "Hey prepare for a ton of ads so we can sell you things you didn't even know you wanted." After undergoing an insufferable bombardment of focus-group demo'd content every time I turn on my Xbox 360 I can firmly say both, "ugh" and "no thanks" to that feature. Perhaps I don't speak for gaming as I whole, but I certainly know what I want, and that's not it.
Gaikai appears primed to break out. Instantly being able to play any demo is a huge get for Sony, though it was disappointing to hear that their backwards compatibility solution had yet to be realized. I'm personally skeptical, cloud based gaming just seems too unreliable, but Sony's huge financial investment in Gaikai surely means they're on to something. Right? Guys?
Remote play to the Vita was expected, but if it's anything like remote play from the PS3 to the PSP or Vita, count me out. Lag is a serious issue, and it renders almost every game that supports that feature thoroughly worse than its console counterpart. If Sony and Gaikai can figure that out, as they implied with that "closer response time" (paraphrasing) slide, then it might pose a significant challenge to the Wii U, but I wouldn't get my hopes up.
Killzone: Shadow Fall certainly looked pretty. It was great to see bright, beautiful colors in a world that's usually drenched in muted colors. Too bad it seemed to play like every other shooter out there.
Driveclub was a surprise. I always assumed Evolution Studios would focus on racing games, but the social, car porn territory they've decided to enter always seemed like Gran Turismo's territory. Either GT6 won't be coming for a very, very longtime, or Driveclub is going to be something else entirely.
Infamous: Second Son didn't show actual gameplay, but it looked intriguing. Could have done without the oppressed white dude talking about how bad police are, but hey at least the concept looked interesting. If we're lucky Cole and crew won't have a major role, as I thought that storyline went out with a whimper at the end of Infamous 2.
Getting Jonathan blow out on stage represented the first and only time I said, "holy shit" in my chair. Something of a tortured genius, his annoyance and criticism of the console space is well known to people who follow his work. The Witness, Blow's game, sounded interesting when he was talking about it, but when it came to footage it looked like a Myst homage with puzzles from an iPhone game. That, and 30+ hours with, quote, "no filler," is a bold claim. Hopefully this will be one of those times where I'm intensely wrong about an observation; I loved Braid so very much and I've been dying to see and play his next creation. He said it would be exclusive to the PS4 at launch, which means we'll play it on other devices sooner or later.
I can respect David Cage's passion, but I refuse to believe anything he actually says. It was weird for him, of all people, to be touting the technical prowess of the PS4, but hey that real time render of David Carradine's head was sort of neat.
I love Media Molecule, but I have no idea what their presentation was about. That sculpting tech demo is fuel for a million penises, and its follow-up demo produced flashbacks to Wii Music. Not a good place to go, but little of what they showed was from an actual game, so we'll have to wait and see with them.
Capcom's Yoshinori Ono is one of my favorite human beings and I was tickled to death (almost literally) when he came out on stage. He immediately said he wasn't going to be talking about Street Fighter, which was a drag, but hey at least he was honest. Their CG target render for Deep Down (probably Dragon's Dogma 2) looked okay, but after the Killzone 2 fiasco it's best to not believe any of those until they start hitting in-game footage.
On that same note, Square-Enix had the worst showing of the evening. They brought a year old trailer and seemed to imply it was PS4 footage, which seemed disingenuous. They actually had me on the edge of my seat when I thought they were finally going to announce Final Fantasy Versus XIII, but instead all we got was the promise of something Final Fantasy related at E3. I'm glad Square was there, honestly, but given their in-house development on PS3 has been a massive letdown, it's hard to expect much.
Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs continues to look neat. The new demo featured a more traditional (and realistic looking) chase sequence, but absent was most of the future-tech that made 2012's demo so intriguing. Still, that's a small slice of what's in store - and the potential of the game, how far it goes to let the player explore its take on Chicago, is what'll reel me in. If it's a heavily scripted affair then count me in as disappointed.
Blizzard was huge. The words, "strategic partnership" were huge. Diablo 3 on PS3 and PS4; probably not a huge, but definitely a step in the right direction.
Along similar lines, public footage, exclusive content, and a tangible commitment from Activision and Bungie for Destiny was perhaps the biggest statement of the night. I've never considered Bungie or the Halo games to be extraordinary, but Destiny looks primed to take over the world. I'll take ambition over iteration any day, and that's exactly what it looks like Destiny is prepared to embrace.
And there you have it, a brain barfed analysis and observation of the PlayStation 4 reveal. Of all that we now know, remember that there's quite a bit we don't. Missing details include:
- Used game strategies
- Whether or not games will hit retail and digital day and date
- What the damn thing looks like
- How much of that amazing social content will be locked behind a pay gate
- The fate of PlayStation Plus
- A solid answer on backwards compatibility
- How much of that hardware will be in the box
- The Last Guardian
- The Last Guardian
- The Last Guardian
(that's like Beetle Juice, right?) Four months until E3.