In a long-anticipated press conference, Sony has unveiled the PlayStation 4… Well, sort of. All of the machine’s substantial architecture and DualShock 4 controller were revealed, along with multiple developer presentations of games and software demos, but the console itself remained hidden. However, it’s clear that Sony have taken a completely different approach with the PlayStation 4.
The process of creating the new console has been a collaborative effort between Sony and multiple developers around the world. It has put a clear focus on gaming; with powerful software to make it easier for developers to make games with a very high graphical fidelity, and a new set-up for consumers to gain quicker and easier access to their games. Sony also wants to make the PS4 the home for indie developers, with the option for self-publishing on the PlayStation Network.
The console’s impressive, largely PC components-based, architecture will consist of an 8-core AMD CPU and an advanced AMD GPU (with an approximate peak performance of 1.84 TFLOPS), which will both be on a single-chip APU. It will also have a large system memory at 8GB of RAM, and will have the usual Blu-Ray compatible disk drive.
Whether you understand the computer terminology or not, this is a powerful set-up that has been created with the developer and player in mind. One phrase that sticks out from the launch is that the PS4 is a machine built by gamers for gamers. Its a strong design ethos that is surely what console owners have been waiting for; no longer is the focus on a console being a multimedia hub, and while we may all enjoy the perks of watching Netflix or Blu-Rays on a console, they are gaming machines at their core and Sony have stuck with what’s important. In fact, when you download a game on the PS4, it will be playable within seconds of the first bits of loading.
The DualShock 4 controller has been given several upgrades from its predecessor; the main additions are a touchpad on the front of the controller, a light bar for motion control (aided by a gyroscope and accelerometer), an improved rumble and a headphone socket (for in-game chats). The triggers and analogue sticks have also been redesigned to be more responsive to the players’ touch. However, perhaps the most prominent change of all is the share button; fairly self-explanatory, it allows players to share recent game footage online or via social networks. Though it’s hard to know if this will be welcome and helpful addition, or if it will just flood the internet with COD pro headshots and troll videos. Either way, it’s clear Sony has changed its game and is willing to share more with the gaming community..
While this all sounds like a heartening tale of the big bad corporation finding a new lease of life, some things don’t change… The games themselves. There was the FPS Killzone Shadowfall, which looks like any other FPS on the current market; Infamous: Second Son title from Sucker Punch, another instalment to an existing franchise; a PS4 port of Diablo III from Blizzard, which will no doubt have been bought already by anyone that wished to play it and Knack, a cartoony brawler, which was the first game to be previewed at the launch and seemed somewhat underwhelming. David Cage from Quantic Dream (Heavy Rain) gave the same pitch about emotions in gaming, and put it all down to the polygon counts, which allow for greater detail and richer facial expressions. Media Molecule also made an appearance, and as the creators of LittleBigPlanet there were hopes for a game that would finally capture our imagination, but the team didn’t have a specific title to show; instead, they presented a sculpting software that used the PlayStation Move controller, which was impressive and presumably very technically sophisticated.
Still, it was a strong presentation by Sony, and we will have to wait till E3 to receive more details about the console. Now, however, it’s just a matter of time before Microsoft responds with its announcement of the new Xbox.