PS4 Livestream Roundup
Sony announced the PlayStation 4 tonight with a bang, but as the two hours went on, things started to go a little off the rails.
Read on for our rundown and opinions on what was shown.
They came out strong, with lots of nitty-gritty details. The creator of Marble Madness and architect of the PS4, Mark Cerny, told us the PS4 has 8GB of GDDR5 unified RAM - that's a huge deal, and it really shows a commitment to what many studios said was the biggest downside of the last generation, which was crippling lack of RAM. He talked about x86 CPUs and GPUs, and went technical, and then showed us the controller and how it works.
Then Dave Perry told us about the next PSN which, in contrast with the slowness of the connectivity on PS3, will be blazing fast. You can share screenshots and videos right from the console, stream, invite someone to take over and play what you're playing, and have other people watch as you play, all on the console and possibly on smartphone and tablet devices, too. Partial downloads allow you to start playing a game before the full download's complete, while Gaikai technology does for PS4 what Onlive did for PC games, where you play the game as it's streamed directly to you from online servers. This tech also runs on your PS4 as well and will allow you to play a PS4 game on your PS Vita, doing for games what the Wii U gamepad does. (Whether this works on all games, or only some, remains to be seen.)
This is around the time I expected to get a glimpse of the console itself, but it did. Not. Happen. Over two hours I kept expecting Sony to bust out a look at the machine, but apparently they just weren't ready to show anything. (They also didn't announce a price, but as I've said here and on Twitter more than a few times, I think that's probably best off being announced at E3.)
They launched into first-party titles like Killzone: Shadowfall, the new inFAMOUS, and MediaMolecule's delightfully bizarre thing with marionettes and something akin to Wii Music, but they left out a few big things, like what Sony Santa Monica, Polyphony Digital, or Naughty Dog are doing. Driveclub from Evolution Studios (creators of Motorstorm) wasn't exactly a revelation for anyone expecting next-gen Gran Turismo and who has even basic knowledge of how this game's biggest gimmick, the club-based challenges, has already mostly been done in other racing franchises.
Onto third parties. Watch_Dogs got a new, great-looking demo, and it's now a next-gen game but is also coming to current-gen, PC, and Wii U as well. Blizzard finally announced Diablo III for both PS3 and PS4, and Capcom showed us a bull-shotty trailer for a medieval game that I just don't know what to think of yet since it seemed a lot like pre-rendered footage made to look like gameplay. Square Enix showed us a tech demo they already showed at E3 last year, basically mentioned Final Fantasy is coming to PS4, and bounced. Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid, was Sony's impressive poster child for their continued support for independent developers - and Blow announced that at least when it comes to consoles, his next game, The Witness, will be a PS4 timed exclusive.
I was hoping that at the end of this press conference, Sony would finally show us Team ICO's Last Guardian or bring us some kind of huge megaton game announcement, but it petered out.
The most interesting thing about this press conference boils down to the connectivity and the tech stuff. The game announcements weren't really up to par (although Killzone Shadowfall looked pretty amazing), but I like that Sony at least came out swinging with tech stuff. There was still a lot of hyperbolic language talking about imagination being their only limitations, the word "magical" was mentioned, and more silliness that is used to try and put under a spell and give them that wide-eyed wonder that Sony is really hoping to entrance people with.
Don't be entranced. Sony delivered fairly well, but there's still a lot missing.