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Sony brought into next-gen with PS4

By Nick Plessas
On February 26, 2013

  • Ubisoft, the company best known for the Assassin’s Creed series, annouced its game for the PS4, Watch Dogs, during Sony’s reveal of the PS4 Wednesday, Feb. 20. Watch Dogs was just one of several new franchises, as well as series titles, announced at the PS4 event. Courtesy of gamersyde.com

While the video game industry was officially brought into the "next generation" of the console cycle by Nintendo's recently released Wii U, many considered the starting gates closed until the major competitors, Sony and Microsoft, threw their hats into the ring. 

This past week, Sony held an event to officially announce the production of the PlayStation 4 (PS4), accompanied by several debuts we can expect to see for the system in coming months.

Sony kicked off the presentation with an amusing montage exhibiting its influence on gaming culture up to that point. It was properly executed and, even more appropriately, not dwelled on, as Sony has an infamous tendency to take its time getting to the point. Shortly after this display, the PlayStation 4 was officially announced, complemented by an image of the new logo.

Specifications of the console's core technology were divulged at the beginning of the conference.  Sony representatives described the transition from the previous systems cell processor to an infrastructure more compatible with high end PC technology. 

This will provide a more familiar and accessible format for developers to work with. For example, the console will run with 8 GB of RAM, something developers have long asked for in the console market.

The controller form was the next notable element. It is easily the largest deviation from the basic format to date, as all past controller iterations have been almost identical in structure. This form factor makes slight alterations to the design of core input features such as the analog sticks and back trigger buttons. It gives the impression of tighter control and a greater compatibility of handling. 

The two most intriguing additions to the controller are the new share button, allowing instant interfacing with a wide selection of data management and networking features, and the front touch pad, providing more unique avenues of input.

While the tech is important, a console is nothing without the games to support it. Over the previous console generations, Sony has done an effective job of establishing critically acclaimed titles for its system. While one or two announcements missed the high notes, there was a well-rounded supply of both returning popular franchises and new, intriguing developments.

The plethora of game debuts was kicked off with the reveal of the next installment in the Killzone franchise, Killzone: Shadow Fall. Implementing a vibrant new color pallet and staggeringly impressive visuals, it looks to be shaping up as a top tier shooter, and may be the game to bring the franchise from the realms of good to great.

Next up was Infamous: Second Son. Rumors of a third Infamous installment made this a predictable appearance, but no less welcome. 

More information would have been nice considering what we were graced with amounted to little more than a teaser trailer, but the simple fact that it was officially in the works was a pleasant affirmation, and the insight into the character and setting didn't hurt either.

The final two games worthy of mention were Deep Down and Watch Dogs. Deep Down came out of nowhere, distinguishing itself as some sort of dark fantasy RPG along the lines of Dragons Dogma or Dark Souls with mind-blowing visuals. The attention-grabbing, cryptic on-screen message toward the end suggested the game was some form of asymmetric multiplayer. 

Ubisoft'sWatch Dogs was probably the most impressive showing at the event. While the game looks great, this is unfortunate in the sense that it's not a PlayStation exclusive. I hoped something of Sony's own design would steal the show, but there is no denying this is a stellar-looking game, combining mechanics of the Assassin's Creed series, Grand Theft Auto series and more. This is by no means the entirety of games announced at the event, but is a small list of those that made the greatest impact.

No Sony event would be complete without its fair share of disappointments. A common trend throughout the night was using event time for presentations already shown earlier in the year, with the worst offender being Square Enix. With fans clamoring like hunting dogs for information on Final Fantasy Versus XIII, Square Enix still chose to show a tech demo it released at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) conference. 

Finally, the most glaring disappointment of all was the lack of an actual PS4. This was as strange as it sounds: A press release to announce hardware while the hardware itself is conspicuously absent? 

It was an unfortunate decision on Sony's part for obvious reasons. A legitmate product reveal would have done a lot to liven up the lackluster conclusion to the demonstration. 

While there were many missteps and the event raised as many questions as it answered, the PS4 reveal still served to whet the appetite of the video game community. We can only hope this year's E3 conference, which will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center June 11 to 13, will answer all the questions raised by the PS4 event.

 

nples1@brockport.edu


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