Words: John Cartwright
Sony recently announced their new console, the PlayStation 4 (PS4), which will be released around Christmas this year.
Oddly enough, Sony didn’t show what the console itself looks like, instead focusing on the console’s internals, services and games.
Unlike earlier consoles, the PS4 is designed like a normal computer. Rather than creating a whole new processor design, they’re using an off-the-shelf processor and graphics processor (albeit heavily tweaked). The reason for this change, Sony says, is to make it easier for developers.
The console also comes with 8GB of RAM. This is significant as the PS3 only has 256MB, meaning more stuff can happen in the background.
A secondary chip downloads updates while the console is off. As one of the more painful aspects of the PS3 is the arduous update system, this is a welcome addition.
However, it cannot play PS3 games, but Sony is working on a way to stream them to the console.
The new console also comes with a new controller; the DualShock 4. It has a touchpad on the front in the middle and a light on the top which acts as a player indicator and as a point of reference for the new Move camera.
To make the console more immediate than the current crop, Sony is employing the help of their recently-acquired cloud gaming company Gaikai. Game demos can be played without having to be downloaded and full games can be played while they’re still being downloaded.
For those of you who own a PS Vita, using Remote Play you can play PS4 games on it wherever you are (providing you have access to a decent enough internet connection and your PS4 is on).
You can also use your phone or tablet to act as a second screen, showing game information like maps and inventory much like the Wii U’s controller does.
Not many actual games were announced at this event, with one developer (Square Enix) openly saying to wait until E3 for a game demonstration (Final Fantasy, if you’re interested). Here’s a selection of what was shown off:
DriveClub – This is a driving game from Evolution Studios, the people behind the MotorStorm series. With a huge focus on social, it has you set challenges and complete ones other people have thrown down.
InFamous: Second Son – Not much about this was revealed, but it does seem to riff off the worries we have about total surveillance and is a continuation of the InFamous franchise.
Knack – This is about a disassembling robot called Knack, and the man behind it also worked on Crash Bandicoot and Ratchet and Clank. The next-gen graphics makes it look a lot like a CGI film.
Killzone: Shadow Fall – Its official; Killzone is now a franchise running over three console generations. While the visuals shown off are very impressive, this game doesn’t really scream “next-gen.”
Watch Dogs – This game, on the other hand, does. Previously shown off at E3 by Ubisoft last year, people assumed it was running on next-gen hardware. You have complete control over the electronics of Chicago and know everything about everyone instantly. Little is known of the plot, but its a safe bet it’ll be an open world game.