Sony Reveals Playstation 4 (Sort of)

22 Feb
It's here. Sort of.

It’s here. Sort of.

Has it really been 10 years since the PS3 came out? I remember watching the E3 announcements for the big three consoles with such a sense of excitement. Hi def! Blu-ray! Wireless controllers that don’t suck!

Would the PS3 make me switch from Microsoft to Sony? Would I be so blown away with the PlayStation 3 that I’d turn in my Xbox and never look back? Though I ended up with both a PS3 and a 360, I have to say I used the 360 far, far more. The PS3’s multi-player ecosystem just didn’t seem as good as Xbox live (which says a lot, since XBL wasn’t all that good 10 years ago), load times on the PS3 were atrocious, and I just could. not. stand. that controller. The PS3 made for an excellent Blu-ray player, though, and some of the exclusive titles made owning the console worthwhile (Uncharted 2 especially).

Cut to present day. Sony has finally unveiled the PlayStation 4. Sort of. We got vague information on the internals (x86 processor, 8GB GDDR5 RAM – though it sounds like the specs have not been finalized) and no shots of the console itself. We did get game-play footage, a few trailers, a tech demo (using the move to sculpt was probably the most impressive part of the announcement), and saw the controller. So, how does it look?

I’ll admit, I audibly groaned when I saw the controller. I like my analog sticks offset – like they are for the Xbox. The triggers look a little small, and I’m not sure about that touch-pad yet. That said, if the controller has more heft and is less prone to squirting out of my hands at the wrong time, I might tolerate it. Letting third-party companies develop Xbox-like controllers for people like me from the get-go would definitely go a long way here. By the time I found a controller I liked for the PS3 it was too late – I’d already given the nod to the 360.

From this angle, it looks like the Bat Cylon...

From this angle, the controller looks like the the love-child of Batman and a Cylon raider…

I really like how Sony has gone out of its way (seemingly) to be more developer-friendly this time around. Game companies should have an easier time hitting the ground running because of this, and the first waves of PS4 games should take advantage of the hardware significantly more than those first generation titles did for the PS3.

The game demos were impressive, but what you’d expect from a console with the graphics power of modern gaming PC’s. Watchdog looks to have the most potential of the group, provided it’s as open-ended as the developers claim. Blizzard returning to the console is intriguing news, though a new title would have been preferable to Diablo III – a game most fans would have already played.

The social aspects of the console are probably going to be of the love it or hate it variety. On one end, the ability to upload and share game-play footage, or have someone come into your game to help, seems like fun. I’ll be interested to see what bandwidth will be required for some of the features they announced, however. And I can easily see this becoming a privacy issue or yet another source of annoying notification spam – especially with Facebook integration.

In the end, we were treated to some in-game footage, nebulous specs, and a distinct lack of the console itself – not to mention pricing. I’m sure more details will be forthcoming soon. In fact, if Sony really has turned more developer-friendly, I imagine we’ll hear a bunch more from them around the GDC (Game Developer’s Conference) in March.

With no pricing, no details, and Microsoft’s next-gen console announcement on the horizon, it’s hard to get a handle yet on the PS4. I think they’re heading in the right direction, but time will tell…

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