On Wednesday Sony took center stage in New York City to make their first big reveal of the Playstation 4. Now a few days removed from the big event our staff took some time to jot down their initial impressions of the big reveal.
Sony absolutely nailed the level of excitement that they need prior to the event. Its the first time in a while that a press event has garnered so much attention from both enthusiast and mainstream press. At just short of 3 million viewers watching, there’s no doubt in my mind that their decision to debut before MS was the right move. Introducing Mark Cerny as the lead hardware architect for PS4 is a huge transition for the brand; bringing Western and developer-friendly sensibilities to the hardware. He’s the perfect choice to finally bridge East and West, as evidenced by his new game Knack, developed in collaboration with Sony’s Japan Studio. Cerny outright said the Cell architecture was a mistake, and PS4’s new PC-like architecture should make the platform open for developers. The biggest surprise was the inclusion of 8 GB of GDDR5 ram, which brings technology that isn’t even available to the mass market yet. The prospect of playing while downloading a game, stopping/starting play at any time, and the share feature all sound like true next-generation functionality. David Perry’s breakdown of the potential Gaikai brings to PS4 was intriguing, but didn’t sound like anything we’ll see for a while. Right off the bat, my issues with the PS3 were immediately addressed by bringing power, fast functionality, and accessible development tools to the table.
Surprisingly enough, things started to slow down when actual games were shown, mostly due to some strange tech demos from David Cage and Media Molecule. Square Enix in particular really had no reason to even be on stage since they revealed practically nothing. A strong lineup of first party games consisting of Killzone: Shadow Fall, Drive Club, Knack, and Infamous Second Son got me excited about actual, tangible next generation games that seemed like real games that we could see fairly soon. Deep Down from Capcom in particular looked like a noticeable step forward, which has me a bit skeptical as to if it will actually look as good as it did. While we didn’t get to see the actual box or price, Sony revealed just enough to whet my appetite for what’s to come at E3. All of a sudden I find myself really excited about the next generation of consoles, and if Sony can deliver on the promises they laid out at an affordable price, I’ll be there day one.
As cool as it was to see all of the neat hardware and internet things going into the PS4, my excitement died down pretty immediately as… we were shown sequels to the exact games we’d been complaining about getting tired about this generation. I mean, what’s the point of even bothering to revise the hardware if there’s going to be no gameplay innovation? Can we really call games art if they’re so reliant on technology but then don’t use it to actually drive themselves forward? Isn’t that the most important part of a platform evolution? What’s the point in going out and spending so much money if it’s just better looking? It’s how people get burned out on gaming. It winds up being a continuation of games chasing movies instead of focusing on what makes video games a unique medium. And that’s not at all what I’m here to play games for.
If it’s what you’re here for, though, then Sony is courting third parties like never before, and it’s impressive. They’re working hard to have GAMES, which is something that Nintendo seems to have completely forgotten about when it came to releasing their new system. While all sorts of social integration and video stuff is cool, they need to have a steady stream of games and eventual innovation in these genres. Otherwise, I just can’t find myself interested in bothering to buy.
Where was this Sony in 2005? Watching the father of Marble Madness espouse the PlayStation 4's design philosophy and its emphasis on play is a noticeable reversal from the media heavy "We can be better than Xbox" machine as designed by Sony's marketing boys. Sony's new direction is an exciting one and it was difficult not to get wrapped up in the technological possibilities of Gaikai integration and a slick looking UI.
I was pleased that the Vita got some (desperately needed) attention as an attack on the Wii U's remote play setup but wonder if that will invigorate the handheld. I found it very disconcerting that the machine won't natively support PS3 games and Perry's promise of a "solution" wasn't enough to assuage my concerns. As for the games on display? The tech demos were exciting but let's not forget what those are: non-final projections based on ideal development circumstances. Who, apart from Square Enix, UbiSoft and Activision, will take the time to develop games that look as good as those tech demos? With the exception of Watch_Dogs and Infamous Second Son, I don't want to get excited about anything too soon. That said, I definitely want to get my hands on the PlayStation 4 and see what it can do.
I’m not really a Sony guy. I’ve never been a fan of the controller and I’ve always drawn issue with Sony’s not-so-quiet pretentiousness. Honestly, Sony’s hubris at the beginning of our current generation was so off-putting that I can’t deny that I found some enjoyment in seeing the company squirm. But that’s the Sony of the Playstation 2 and 3. That’s not the Sony that was on display Wednesday night. That was a new Sony. A Sony that has learned from its mistakes. A company that seems humble and ready to adapt to other companies rather than forcing them to adapt to Sony. But more importantly, after my years of petitioning, they finally made a controller that looks comfortable to play with.
While it seems odd that they didn't talk about Playstation Plus or give any actual information about the hardware specs and I wish they showed more than sequels to existing franchises, this is truly the first time I’ve been even the slightest bit excited about a Sony platform. And I genuinely am excited. Long live play. Long live play, indeed.
To be completely honest I went into the Playstation conference with a rather dismissive attitude, expecting very little out of Sony who seemed to be copying Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear, their consoles were always about ‘POWER’ and little else. I came out rethinking what I will buy in the coming year as I was impressed by what I saw. To me the PS4 appears to be all about convenience. Yes it can show some dazzling graphics, that is what you come to expect from the next generation. If it can do what they say, allowing for save states within games so when you turn it off and turn it back on you can continue from where you were playing immediately, offering automatic downloads for content you like, sharing video of your gameplay as basic functionality and allowing people to jump into what you are doing if you need help.
All of this sounds amazing if they can pull it off. To some all of these things might be small in the long run, but small things can make a big difference. Remember before tabs were used in web browsing and you had to have multiple windows open? It was a pain right? Small things. In the bigger picture, a strong lineup of games (hopefully launch games) were shown, including two of Sony’s big hitters from this generation Killzone: Shadow Fall and Infamous Second Son. Watch Dogs was also finally confirmed as a next gen game. All in all, it was a good showing that hopefully will build up a lot of anticipation for E3 whilst also raising the stakes for Microsofts reveal sometime this year.
My first thought is – “Finally! New hardware!” I’m glad that Sony elected to take gaming in the direction that it has gone for most of its history, and that is – building faster and more powerful hardware, and counting on developers to take advantage of it by coming up with new gaming experiences. My second thought is – “Yayyy, games are going to be in color again?” Even Killzone 4 looks like it’s going to be colorful.
Does this signal the end of the industry’s seven year brown and gray plague? Finally, Sony’s conference underscored to me what a catastrophe the WiiU is shaping up to be. It launched with minimal fanfare to an unexcited, confused market, and it probably won’t run the next generation’s third party games. Sony, on the other hand, showed a handful of games -- reasons why you are going to want to own this thing.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments. Also make sure to check out our recap of the event and Episode #67 of the DarkCast which are our initial impressions recorded right after the event.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.