Saturday, March 2, 2013

PS4 Announcement


It has seemed like decades since the PS2 and original Xbox became surpassed by the current crop of console offerings. In reality, it's only been 7 and 8 years respectively, if you count by Christmases like Sony and Microsoft do! Unless you were living under a rock last week, you heard Sony has debuted the PlayStation 4. Kind of. They unveiled some gameplay and trailers, but they didn't give us a look at the actual machine. The picture above is concept art.

In order to be completely honest, I'll cop to owning an Xbox 360. However, I'm not a raging fanboy. Not being able to play God of War any more is killing me! When people ask me for advice, as a young girl at Best Buy did just last week, I tell them to ignore the Blu Ray player. You can buy an off-brand Blu Ray player for fifty bucks and a Sony for ninety. It's no reason to choose a console considering the fact that you're going to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on games over the life of the purchase. There are two main factors to consider when choosing whether to go with Sony or Microsoft. Wii is for families and doesn't compete much in the hardcore gamer market so we'll ignore them for now. The first and most important factor to consider when choosing which system to purchase is what your gaming friends play. You'll want to play online some, even if you aren't a big Call of Duty multiplayer addict. The only way to play with friends is to have the same brand console. The second and less important, but still pronounced differentiation between the PS4 and the new Xbox are the exclusive titles. Most games come out on both so it isn't a huge issue, but you should consider if you're more of a Halo/Gears of War type player or if you like Metal Gear, God of War, and Gran Turismo instead. Other than these two factors, there isn't much that should persuade you one way or the other, in my humble opinion. They are far and away the most important pieces of your console purchasing decision.

ps4 dual shock 4 controller

The only piece of actual hardware that was debuted was the new controller. They have added a touchpad that is clearly visible in the picture above. It boasts a microphone and headphone jack so you can catch every last highly offensive word the 8-year-olds are throwing at you on Call of Duty. There is also a new "share" button that allows you to intrude further into the lives of people you knew 17 years ago on Facebook. Hopefully that "friends" list is limited to those on the PlayStation Network. I really don't want social media news feed updates about how a former high school teammate is doing in Gran Turismo 6. I wouldn't mind updates within the Sony Network, but taking it to social media is a bit of a stretch unless you have a purely gaming identity there, separate from your main profile page.

the firepower

Leaks coming out of CES say that the PS4 is going to use an AMD Jaguar 8-core chip to churn through software like butter. There are also several articles saying the 4 will boast 8 Gig of DDR5 RAM (one article I read said this would actually be 4 Gig of DDR3). What this means to you, if you don't speak fluent nerd, is that Sony hopes to have the ability for their PS4 to be turned off in the middle of a game, then picked up hours later and started within seconds. No more 60 second boot times and returning back to your last save point. It's like having a non-stop autosave feature and a machine you no longer have to turn off...EVER! I mean, technically it's "off", but when it will start up and return to play in under 5 seconds, what's the difference? 

The graphics processing unit is equivalent to an AMD Radeon 8750. I currently have a Radeon 8750 in my home tower, so this isn't a great leap forward. It's the combination of this quality chip with the other components that will allow this unit to make a big improvement in graphic capabilities. Besides, consoles are easier to program for than CPU games. I feel somewhat sorry for PC game programmers because they're writing for a massive array of computer types. They want to make the best game possible while keeping the system requirements low enough that the highest number of systems can handle the game. Think of the original Crysis. There were four total computers in the US that could run that game at the highest graphic settings. It was supposedly the best-looking game ever on a CPU, but nobody could play it because the system requirements were so high. They essentially programmed their way out of profits.

Console programmers, on the other hand, know exactly what processor, RAM capabilities, graphics card, and hard drive limitations for which they're writing. There is no need to write code so that older machines can handle the workload. As with most generations, the early games won't maximize the console's abilities  As programmers get used to what a machine can do, graphics improve for a period of time, then hit a wall and can't really get better beyond that point. Black Ops 2 (2012) was a massive improvement over Medal of Honor: Airborne (2007). Dead Space 1 (2008) and Dead Space 3 (2013) showed similar improvement in graphics. However, anyone that has played Fallout 3 (2008) and New Vegas (2010) didn't see a massive improvement in graphics between the two. Same goes for Borderlands 1(2009) and 2 (2012). It was pretty much the same gameplay and look with a different environment for those sequels.  

the ps4 eye

One of the most obvious additions is the PS4 "Eye". To call this a copy of the Kinect would be a statement of the obvious so pointless I can't believe I'm typing it right now. Eye-ready games will be controllable using body movements and voice commands. It will be able to take video of players and insert them into the game. It will use two 1280 x 800 resolution (essentially 720p), 85% wide angle cameras and be able to differentiate between players in the foreground and background. While none of this is new to Kinect users, it will bring an even playing field to Sony and Microsoft in the ever-growing motion capture game market. This was a no-brainer to those who follow the console market closely.

i'm psyched!!!

Like I said before, it seems like a long time since we got a console generation upgrade. The Xbox 720, or whatever they're going to call it (the current "secret" project name is Durango), is scheduled to be announced on April 26th. Both consoles should be available for Christmas this year. Let the console wars continue! I'll probably stick with Microsoft since 90% of my friends and family own Xboxes, but that is in no way an endorsement. Ask your friends what they have, then review the exclusive titles and make your own decision. And by the way, is there anybody out there that will let me come over and play God of War: Ascension? That game looks sick!