Feature: PS4 – The Next Generation – Part 2

In Part 2 of our PS4 reveal feature, Matt Reynolds delves into what we all wanted to see and talks games…

With the much-anticipated description of the new console out-of-the-way it was time for journalists and public alike to get a glimpse into what true, next generation gaming was going to look like. First up were Guerilla Studios with Killzone: Shadow Fall. Setting a trend that would continue throughout the event, and most probably the whole generation; the Killzone sequel shied away from a numerical fixture and instead made use of a subtitle. Developers are seemingly keen to emphasise that this is the start of a brand new era in gaming; leaving behind the trilogies of the last gen. The game looks absolutely stunning; to see it in motion is to see the future of console graphics power. A gameplay walkthrough that started on a dropship flying through an enormous city before settling on a rooftop, witnessing a terrorist attack and then enduring a hectic shootout; the game is pure orgasm for the eyeballs. The only worry stems from the hard fact that this is still just a generic FPS and graphics aside it brings nothing new to the table. We still haven’t forgotten the Killzone debacle from a few years back either – will the finished article actually look this good? Time will tell.

No denying, Killzone: Shadowfall is a beauty.

No denying it, Killzone: Shadowfall is a beauty.

Bald

Evolution Studios’ new racer Drive Club was next. A game ten years in the making; this racer is all about team-based racing. You form clubs with other real-life players and set about competing against other clubs. The point was made that the game isn’t necessarily so much focused on racing, but challenges. We can’t help feel that of everything shown, there wasn’t anything that can’t already be done in current gen racers. Oh, apart from putting on your seatbelt. Truly cutting edge.

Following that dazzling display of imagination; a nondescript bald guy wandered onstage. ‘In 1999, I was tear-gassed by the police’ was his opening gambit. Huh? He went on to describe dramatically all the infringements on our liberty by security cameras and “Big Brother” in the world today; backed up with some melodramatic statistics. ‘What if into this world were born people with superhuman powers?’ he asked. Okaaay…After a video that didn’t make it clear whether we were looking at pre-rendered or in-game footage, we realised we were looking at Infamous: Second Son. Another next-gen sequel with a subtitle; another sure-fire hit for Sony and Sucker Punch; another game seemingly lacking in imagination. Hmm.

Intense. Emotional. This man talked super-powered humans.

Intense. Emotional. This man talked super-powered humans.

Blow

In what was surely the most bizarre and unexpected scheduling of the event; indie darling Jonathan Blow emerged to talk about his long-awaited follow-up to the critically successful Braid – open world, first person puzzle game The Witness. Bringing out one of the indie scene’s most famous figureheads was a bold move by Sony; allowing them to reiterate their already strong position as the indie developer’s console manufacturer of choice. Blow opened with a gentle jab at all the bombastic action that had preceded his appearance. The key points to take from his speech – The Witness is 25 hours long; it provides an open world that is designed to be as compact as possible so that you are never more than twenty seconds’ walk from a new and interesting experience; and it is to be a timed exclusive for Playstation 4. The in-game footage looked mysterious and beautiful; an intriguing proposition.

The Witness certainly stood out from the action-heavy crowd.

The Witness certainly stood out from the action-heavy crowd.

Quantic Dream’s extremely hyperbolic and extremely French creator of Heavy Rain, David Cage, soon emerged and in a move that surprised exactly nobody, took precisely five seconds to mention the word emotion. Rather than show an actual game; Cage demonstrated that he still doesn’t understand that games and cinema are different mediums by banging on about the two in comparison. After entering a rapturous state talking about how many polygons will be in Beyond: 2 Souls compared to his previous games (and was that little mention to be taken as meaning Beyond is a PS4 game?) we saw a demonstration of the graphical capabilities of the Playstation 4 in relation to emotive, realistic character models. A disembodied octogenarian head emerged; looking like the bastard offspring of the late BBC ‘child-cuddler’ Jimmy Saville and Richard Wilson’s character in Merlin. It was certainly impressive; a game would have been nice though. He ended with the hilarious claim that he will be able to ‘make us feel emotions that we’ve never felt in real life’. We’d certainly like to know how he proposes to invent new human emotions!

Alex Evans from LittleBigPlanet devs Media Molecule appeared and in a bit of scheduling bordering on genius (or slapstick!) proceeded to talk about ‘the Tyranny of the Polygon’. Coming hot on the heels of Cage’s orgasmic reverence for polygons it was clear that the people in charge of the conference scheduling were either inept, geniuses, or just drunk. We’re not entirely sure what we saw in the following video, but we know that we loved it. A really charming display of creativity utilising the much-maligned Move motion controller; we saw people creating clay-like sculptures using a wave of their hands followed by a Move manipulated puppet show rock band. Is it a game, or merely a new technology to allow the creation and sharing of mammoth, veiny Goliath-cocks? Who knows.

The House Wins

Andrew House was back to tell us about all the other studios currently working on games for Playstation 4. A screen filled with well over 50 logos appeared containing virtually every third-party studio you could think of. It wasn’t surprising to see the names, but it was reassuring. We can’t wait to see what they come up with. More guest speakers from some of the largest third-party companies followed. Capcom’s Yoshonori Ono was first up; serving us an English introduction (and mention he wouldn’t be talking about Street Fighter) followed by some words for the benefit of Japanese viewers, accompanied by a translator. With yet another tedious retrospective; this time of Capcom’s work on the Playstation brand; Ono presented Deep Down – a next generation swords-and-dragons RPG that despite being billed as ‘a brand new IP’ looked suspiciously like Dragon’s Dogma 2. Utilising a new engine called Panta Rhei, it looks excellent and being big RPG fans is near the top of LFG’s most wanted list.

Is this really Dragon's Dogma 2? We think so.

Is this really Dragon’s Dogma 2? We think so.

Square Enix’s Yoshihisa Hashimoto was called up next to talk about the JRPG giant’s latest work. In what was surely the laziest and most disappointing presentation of the conference; all they showed us was the Agni’s Philosophy tech demo from last year’s E3 before announcing ‘there will be a new Final Fantasy game on Playstation 4’ – does this really pass for news these days?

CEO of the mighty Ubisoft Yves Guillemot made an appearance to show a substantial new section of what, for many, was the game of E3 last year and now the game of Playstation Meeting – Watch_Dogs. He introduced the man simultaneously winning Creepiest Dude and Most Enthusiastic Presenter awards – Jonathan Morin. Sporting a matching T-shirt and phone cover, after yet another long; tiresome; waffling speech about the media; security; freedom – blah blah blah – Morin showed us a brand new gameplay walkthrough. The game really is stunning – but it’s very obvious that its running on the Assassin’s Creed AnvilNext engine, and may have actually been an AC game at one stage. Many of the animations are lifted straight from AC3, with elements of the HUD clearly Animus-inspired. Free running appears to be in, and stealth will surely play a big part.

We've said it before but we think this will be 'the SHIT!"

We’ve said it before but we think this will be ‘the SHIT!”

One of the biggest announcements of the event, if not the most surprising, was the emergence of Blizzard Senior Vice President of Story and Franchise Development Chris Metzen. He announced that ‘Blizzard and Sony have entered into a strategic partnership, with which ‘we will take over the world’. Bold words indeed but not entirely unimaginable despite the tongue in cheek nature of the claim. Could this possibly be the long wished-for announcement that MMORPG leviathan World Of Warcraft would be coming to console? Sadly not; it was last year’s PC smash Diablo 3. Slightly disappointing maybe, but a console version has been long in the works so no one was at all surprised, especially upon hearing it would also be coming to PS3. Is it a Sony exclusive though? Like so many other questions raised by the event, we will have to be patient.

Squib

After wondering whether the people in charge of scheduling were losing their shit earlier, we received confirmation that they were indeed pretty inept when the final ‘reveal’ of the show went to Bungie and their always-online multiplayer shooter Destiny. Whilst it cannot be denied that it is a big event to have the former Xbox 360-exclusive developer going multiplatform; the fact that they held their own reveal event for the game earlier on in the week went no small way to undermining the intended grandiosity of being show-closer. Four key members of Bungie then shuffled awkwardly onstage looking like they didn’t know what to do with their hands. Looking like fresh-off-the-production-line smart-casual automatons; only one spoke briefly about their excitement to be working on Playstation 4 before awkwardly shuffling offstage once more. A damp squib of a show-closer indeed.

The final piece of information to flash onscreen told us that the Playstation 4 will be available ‘Holiday 2013’. This puts it at around the October/November mark most likely – but is this just for North America or will we see a simultaneous worldwide release? Let’s hope so.

Is it 'Holiday 2013' in Europe too? Sony aren't saying.

Is it ‘Holiday 2013’ in Europe too? Sony aren’t saying.

And with that, the show ended. A mixed bag to say the least; but overall Sony got it right. It was one of the best gaming conferences in recent memory; focusing on the developers that make our hobby a possibility. Several companies were noticeable by their absence – where were EA, Bethesda and Bioware? It was also interesting to see some major franchises like Uncharted fail to appear, but no doubt this year’s E3 will see many more familiar faces back in action. There was a refreshing lack of superficial bombast to proceedings; not too many soulless businessmen; and best of all – no fucking Usher. We have had our first taste of the next generation, and damn if it doesn’t taste just great. We’ve already pre-ordered our Playstation 4 and frankly, we can’t wait.

So…whaddya got, Microsoft?

– Matt Reynolds. Give him a follow on Twitter @thelostmoment

So that was the PS4 reveal – you know our thoughts, we want yours. Follow us on Twitter @lowfatgaming or like our Facebook page (search for Low Fat Gaming) and tell us how you felt the PS4 reveal went down.

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