Friday, 22 February 2013
Failure To Launch
There was absolutely nothing that told me I was looking at the next generation of gaming. All of the tech demos that were shown looked pretty much like graphics look now, on the current generation. Granted, games on the PS3 and Xbox 360 still look pretty stunning and I'm not really sure how they can be improved (the improvements are most likely to come in the shape of larger game worlds etc), but I was expecting a lot more. One game shown (and it was rumoured to be actual game footage up on the big screen, rather than a mock-up), titled Knack, looked no better than anything I've played on the current generation, yet there were gasps from the audience. Did I miss something? Here, look:
See what I mean. The rest of the stuff shown just looked like rendered mock-ups (and not very impressive ones, either), although the Capcom demo of a new IP called Deep Down piqued my interest, if only because it featured an armour-clad knight fighting a dragon, and I can dig that shit. Elsewhere, I was left completey stunned by the complete lack of any hardware on show - where was the console, Sony? Sure, they showed off the damned controller (which is basically a Dual Shock with a 'share' button and a coloured light on top) and also a bit of the social media-type stuff that the console will support, but what we really wanted (and I think I speak for most people interested in this shit) was a glimpse of the goddamned hardware. When I think 'PS2' I see the black oblong and blue highlights; when I think Wii I see the little white box up on it's side; and when I think N64 I visualize the bizarre art-deco stylings....but when I think PS4, I don't really have an image of the thing because nobody knows what it looks like! Sure, Sony probably want to keep their final design away from the prying eyes of Microsoft, and that's quite probably the reason they didn't reveal any technical specifications either...but this was billed as a 'reveal,' and surely these are the important things that people who are interested in this kind of thing need and want to know.
So what do we know about the PS4 after the event? Well, there are a few franchises that will continue on the new platform (Kill Zone for example), along with a few new ones (Driveclub was one, but it instantly conjured up images of Driving Emotion Type-S from the PS2 launch), and the joypad will have a share button. Oh, and social media will be high on the priority list and you'll be able to use your PS Vita (who even owns one of those?) as a sort of Wii U knock-off controller. Er...and apart from that, not a great deal to be honest.
Speaking of the Wii U, I almost bought one a few weeks ago, even after my complete destruction of the thing in a previous post. But then I looked at the games available for it and also the release schedule for the next few months. I kept my money in my pocket. Just a little side note for you. I almost-but-didn't buy a PS Vita for the exact same reason: no games.
It'll be interesting to see what Microsoft offer up in the form of a reaction, but I can't help but think that Sony jumped the gun a bit in order to just be 'FIRST!' when it came to showing off their next-gen machinations. On the subject of the next Xbox (or whatever they end up calling it), there are quite a few hideous rumours floating around the net at the moment, and I hope for their sake they turn out to be just that - rumours. The most worrying of these is that the new machine will not allow used games to run, so that would effectively kill the second hand games market. And as a gamer who primarily buys used games (as they're y'know, cheaper) I'd have to think long and hard about whether I was prepared to pay £50 for a new game every time I wanted to play something else. Actually, no I wouldn't - I simply would not buy the console in the first place. Think about that for a moment. Every single time you got bored of a game, you had to go and buy a brand new game to replace it. No more trade-ins, no more selling your old games on Ebay or giving them away to friends or family. A game would be locked to the first console it was used in. How fucking shit would that be?!
Another rumour is that it will need to be connected to the internet at all times, and come with a Kinect as standard, that needed to be plugged in at all times too. Now, I'm no crackpot conspiracy theorist (allegedly), but doesn't that sound a bit creepy? An 'always on' console, with a camera peering into your living room? George Orwell, eat your heart out. Fair enough, if you've got nothing to hide, then why would you have an issue with that? Well, maybe you wouldn't...but what about if the camera could identify how many people were watching a rented movie or something, and block it from playing until the allotted number of people only were in the room? That's the scary shit right there. Our own technology telling us how we get to use it. Who is playing who, exactly?! OK, so that's a bit far fetched, and I only heard about it listening to a gaming podcast, but it's a real possibility that this kind of limitation could be introduced to our next generation of games consoles. And if they do, I think I'm going to have to either find a new hobby, or just go back to playing my Dreamcast and wondering about what could have been. Hmm.