SONY’s Upcoming Video Game System Revealed: PS4 Announced in NY

Sony_PS4 Knuckle Dragger magazineWith pencil-tight spotlights and wall-to-wall projection in a packed but surprisingly docile amphitheater, Sony unveiled their much-anticipated PS4 today – without ever showing the actual console.  What attendees and millions of streaming viewers were treated to, however, was pretty damn cool.

Limitations of streaming video made it difficult to ascertain just how much improved the graphical capabilities are, but the gameplay of ‘Killzone’ looked as intense and visceral as ever.  ‘Driveclub’ by Evolution Studios promised the marriage of sim-racing and almost-massively online multiplayer, with support for hundreds of racers and cars modeled nearly perfectly after factory originals. Sony finished with ‘InFAMOUS: Second Son’, set in a future Seattle locked down under martial law, and moved on to third-party offerings including game engines from Square Enix and Capcom, and Ubisoft’s ‘Watch Dogs’ was confirmed for PS4.

Epic Games gave a real-time demonstration of the Unreal Engine 4, and Quantic Dream founder David Cage showed us a glimpse of the new level of realism and emotion that can be achieved by tapping into the power of this next-gen console. Cage confided that new technology will more than double the amount of polygonal density achieved in 2010’s critically acclaimed ‘Heavy Rain’, taking realism to levels formerly reserved for CG films. His presentation concludes with the modeled bust of a white-haired old man, his glassy, sable framed eyes showing remarkable depth and emotion, set beneath a wrinkled brow made so realistic with translucent subtleties and definition, you’d swear it could be video.

Some features were tangible, like the revamped DualShock 4 controller replete with touch controls where the start button used to be, and a color-coded light bar across the top that allows for ‘player number’ identification as well as movement-based  interaction with the upgraded PlayStation Eye peripheral. Last but not least, a new ‘Share’ button on the controller’s face will allow players to post screenshots and videos of their sickest moments in gaming seamlessly, with one simple push.

Others were more conceptual, sharing the mantra for the new PlayStation Experience.   An animation-laced video featuring interviews with PS4 development heads and renowned developers like Double Fine’s Tim Schafer and Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford delved into the evolution of Sony’s philosophy for the next-gen console’s design.

Inauspicious reference to the difficulties faced in adapting to the PS3’s proprietary architecture was quieted as developers showed obvious surprise that Sony had approached them to help PS4 hardware engineers create the platform best suited to game-development. Novel idea, isn’t it?  The video on this collaboration brings to bear some buzz-word rich fruit, indoctrinating us with the core concepts of PS4’s ‘Promise’ :

Simple means an X86 APU architecture and 8GB of GDDR5 RAM that give developers a new ceiling to shoot for in the world of console gaming.

Personalized means building an OS and a PSN experience that understands you based on what you play, and helps to deliver content that matches your interests.

Immediate begins to delve into a few topics, such as an ‘always on’ standby function coupled with downloadable games (and we’re led to believe this means AAA titles at launch) that can be demoed, purchased and downloaded without missing a beat.

Integrated attempts to answer a challenge of ‘everything, everywhere’ posed to Sony’s $380M purchase, cloud computing company Gaikai.  Enjoy gaming on-the-go with your VITA and potentially more devices, says CEO of Gaikai, Dave Perry, who also hints at the possibility of cloud-based backward compatibility all the way back to PSOne.

Social is more than just the share button mentioned earlier. With new spectating options and even remote control of your character from a friend’s controller as built-in functions of the network, PS4 promises to bring gamers together in ‘wouldn’t it be cool?’ ways we’ve been dreaming about since we were kids.

Check the videos here, and tell me: If the price is right, does this system have a shot at dethroning XBOX?

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