Impressions on PlayStation Meeting 2013

PlayStation Meeting 2013 has officially come and gone, delivering exactly what we all had expected and hoped for – the announcement of the PS4. Undoubtedly, you have already watched all the reveals so we won’t be doing a sentence-by-sentence here, instead, we’ll give you our take-aways.

You’ll want to grab some nuts (or another snack) and sit right down because there is plenty to talk about and some of it is reasons to be impressed. As some of you know, we have never hesitated to call out Sony on all the dumb shit they’ve pulled over the years but that was not the case on February 20th, 2013. On this day, Sony were the fucking Texas Ranger. They looked like they knew what they were doing, for once, and also gave a damn! The conference started right on time (!) and the stuff said gave the impression that Sony had been keeping their eyes and ears tuned, like a suspicious psycho girlfriend. Sure, it wasn’t all perfect; admittedly, we slept in shifts through the first half-an-hour or so, as speakers ranged from boring to creepy…

Seems nice but do NOT look directly into his eyes!

But soon, it became quite clear that Sony were there to do damage. They kept things relevant and they even made sense, considering the trends. They have noticed the ever-growing popularity of social networking, for example. Every newly announced concept seemed to keep in mind the fact that we are all incredibly lonely. Dualshock 4 will actually have a ‘Share’ button right on it, which will automagically spray your gameplay across the world, or something. One thing was clear: PSN is becoming a gaming ‘facebook’, which is probably making Microsoft conduct an emergency brainstorming session on how to justify continuing to charge for Xbox Live. It’s clear that Sony wants us to mingle and they will make it incredibly easy. We had a session of our own on this and we all agreed that sure, why not.

We did enjoy the fake comments. Who the fuck talks like that?

Another thing of note was Gaikai. Everyone expected it to make an appearance but we found it interesting that it was being discussed alongside some always-on downloading/uploading setup, with its’ own dedicated piece of hardware. It was either all just fancy talk for “Gaikai requires an extra chip in the system,” or Gaikai is really going to freely upload and download stuff onto your system, possibly eliminating delay issues from cloud-based gaming. We suspect some hybrid system, which would enable direct streaming, while downloads take place, which in turn implies a different end-user experience (i.e. using Gaikai will be noticeably different (worse) from playing stuff off the disk). Again, though, this means that somebody has been hearing all the complaints about install times on PS3.

Apart from the fact that it looks like there won’t be backward compatibility, we are still not sure what it all means in terms of used games. Will we be able to activate the PS3 games on Gaikai by using our own CD’s, at least? It isn’t clear at this point. Nobody even mentioned whether the system will accept any CD’s at all. We didn’t even see the fucking thing; only the controller.

Thank the Lord that’s not a small screen, by the way.

Speaking of which, we are extremely pleased that there is very little Wii U about the system so far. Sony decided that a combination of PS4 and Vita will have ripping Nintendo off covered, simply as a “me too” bonus feature and that was smart. To be honest, Wii U is yet to prove that it really is anything more than a nice bonus. So far, the controller screen is just a supplemental gimmick that no developer wants to bother with. Hopefully, this will change but it has not, at the time of this writing. PS4 noted and it is going with its’ own thing, and it’s looking strong for it.

Possibly most importantly, Sony is ditching ‘the Cell’. By doing so, they are both admitting that it was a bad idea in the first place, and providing further evidence that they have been listening and want to make the system easier to develop for. X86 CPU’s have been around for a long time and represents one of the most well known and familiar architectures in existence, being based on a processor powering the original IBM PC (we’re talking late 70’s, early 80’s here). Although, we have no idea just what processor it will be, specifically.

This is not the most detailed spec sheet, we’ve ever seen.

Honestly, if you are going to say “it will have an enhanced GPU and a hard drive” why even bother? The only thing that is somewhat specific up there is the 8GB of memory. That may not sound like a lot, since it’s common for a good modern gaming PC’s to have twice that amount but keep in mind that this is a console, which is not made for playing games while listening to music and watching porn, with porn being downloaded in the background. Consoles don’t need that much RAM. PS3 has only 256mb system memory and 256mb video memory. Do the math!

It makes stuff like this possible. Yay, blue shit!

Of course, it’s all great but we don’t buy consoles for any of those features. They are all supplemental to the main purpose of a PlayStation: playing kickass games. In that regard, we are both excited and not. On the one hand, Sony did not pull a Microsoft and spend time on ESPN partnerships, child actors and retarded cameos, but kept everything more or less gaming-related. On the other hand, they kept repeating that today’s gamer supposedly wants to play games differently. They seem to be convinced that we no longer want to simply pop a game in and play away; our main concern is apparently being able to share, take games on the go, integrate our devices and… no. We’d argue that gamers don’t really give a fuck about the way they play. A gamepad and a console are just fine. We want to play deeper, more complex games that are not just bland old experiences with new layers of polish.

This is where our impressions are mixed on this conference. Don’t get us wrong, we love great graphics and some stuff announced looked downright beautiful:

Our jaws dropped not just because this is so pretty but because this is a Killzone game in color!

Admittedly, like most other reveals, Killzone: Shadow Fall looked absolutely amazing. There was also plenty of new and unexpected stuff for the Killzone series, but the gameplay was all too familiar for a first person shooter, despite things like non-hostile NPC’s and a new type of enemy, probably titled Diabetus Helghast.

These three must be related.

Whatever it was that Capcom showed off and even the independent title, from the creator of Braid, was all quite impressive, but apart from the social bells and whistles, nothing screamed “advanced gameplay”… except for, surprisingly, Watch Dogs. That game had looked alright before but it blew us all away today, purely because of the gameplay elements it displayed. Getting a little backstory on every NPC is interesting in itself but using the hacking abilities to fuck shit up looked impressive as hell! The level of complexity and gameplay possibilities were finally fresh there and that was the stuff we all wanted to see more of.

David Cage seemed to get it, and his monologue was on point. At first. He started talking about emotion and how games should invoke those and touch people… great so far… and then he went ahead and explained what it meant to him:

Poly count = size of emotion.

In something like the Drive Club, it makes sense. Cars in full detail and thousands of polygons? Fuck yes. That game looked fucking insane and that’s the way we like a racer but looking pretty is perhaps not as important as something like character interactivity, in some games, and we aren’t sure that we saw stuff of that sort yet.

Another highlight was of course the bald ‘Alex Jones’ announcing the next Infamous. It still isn’t clear whether there was any in-game video there, but whatever, we won’t fight a new announcement. Bungie was there too and gave us all Halo vibes with their small gameplay glimpses of Destiny, and Blizzard made a surprising appearance, as well. We almost blew our tops when we thought it was a brand new Blizzard game but George Michael’s american twin brother only came out to say that Diablo 3 was finally coming to consoles.

‘Eyyy back at you, guy. Glad to see you guys are expending your resources on fixing the game, as promised…

Overall, it was a decent enough presentation. Seeing how this is not E3 yet, we expected a lot less, in terms of stuff like reveals and what matters to gamers. Thankfully, motion gaming reared its’ ugly head for only a moment, in form of a Sony Kinect and Move but everything else went on like it never happened. Good job. We are not blown away by everything we saw but Sony seem to have their shit together and that’s fine by us.

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