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Friday, February 22, 2013

Sony Announced the PS4, But We Don't Get To See It (Yet)



By Kailey Rynne

On Wednesday, Sony officially announced the PS4, and the internet exploded.

During the two-hour extravaganza (streaming live all over the web) we learned everything from detailed specs and interface upgrades to the lineup of PS4 games and how developers are using the technology to launch the next stage of gaming evolution.

The only thing we didn't get to see was the actual console.

Huh.

Presumably Sony is saving that unveiling for this year's E3 event, scheduled for June 11-13. Until then, we'll just have to satisfy ourselves with more fantasy mock-ups of what the PS4 might look like—but probably won't.

The good news is that Sony has set the PS4 release date for "Holiday 2013," so we'll be seeing the PS4 on the shelves by November or December. There is still no official word yet about how much the PS4 will cost.

If you somehow missed the announcement (I don't know how; live updates have been plastered all over Facebook and Twitter for the past 48 hours), keep reading for The Sonic Saber's recap.



THE SPECS

As expected, the PS4 will unleash unprecedented computing power upon the console gaming world. It's really more of a disguised PC than a console. In fact, Sony representatives at Wednesday's event referred to the hardware as "supercharged PC architecture."

The Sonic Saber reported rumors last month that the PS4 would feature only 4GB of memory, half as much as the Xbox 720's supposed 8GB, but yesterday's unveiling confirmed that the PS4 also boasts a full 8GB. The GDDR5 memory ensures 177GB per second of bandwidth, Sony said.

Here's a rundown of the specs released by Sony, which you can read in full here:



THE CONTROLLER


The new Dualshock 4 features enhanced rumble capabilities, a touchpad input, a "share" button for instant video uploads or livestreaming, a headphone jack and speaker, and a colored light bar for simpler player identification.

The upgraded PlayStation Eye camera is able to track the position of each PS4 controller individually via the light bar. It also serves as a regular camera for taking video, and can log you into your PS4 using face recognition. Sweet!

I for one was glad to see that the overall design of the good ol' Dualshock hasn't changed much. The curves appear to be smoother, closer in design to the Xbox controller, but otherwise it's the same hunk of plastic we know and love.

I'm super excited about the new "share" feature, which I'll talk about a little later—after we take a look at some of the incredible games coming to the PS4 platform.


USED GAMES AND OLD GAMES

For those of you worried that the PS4 will block used games, have no fear! An IGN report confirmed that Sony executives say these rumors are false.

The PS4 will not block used games, but this is only true of used games for the PS4. The PS4 console does not feature backward compatibility with games from the PS1, PS2, or PS3.

That's right. Best hold on to your PS3, or be prepared for your PlayStation disk collection to start gathering dust. Even digital games downloaded from the PlayStation Store aren't natively compatible with the PS4. Damn.

Supposedly the PS4 might allow players to use an emulator or cloud service to play older games via the PlayStation Store, but nothing has been confirmed, and it's still unclear whether we'll be able to play old disks we already own.


NEW GAMES

A slew of new games have been announced for the PS4. I can't possibly talk about them all, but here are some of the highlights. Click on an image to see trailers and game footage from Wednesday's event.

Knack
A playfully animated action adventure game from one of the creators of "Crash Bandicoot." (Studios Japan)


Killzone: Shadow Fall
A new title in the acclaimed FPS franchise, "Shadow Fall" is set in a world resembling post-WWII Berlin. Oh yeah, and the graphics are gorgeous. (Guerrilla Games)


The Witness
A "Myst"-like puzzle game with an emphasis on exploration. (Thekla, Inc.)


Watch Dogs
This much-anticipated game, set in a cyberpunk future Chicago, features gameplay that appears to be a lovechild of "Assassin's Creed" and "Grand Theft Auto." (UbiSoft Montreal)


Infamous: Second Son
This game feels like a cautionary tale similar to "X-Men." Set in the fictional Empire City, "Second Son" is sequel to "Infamous 2" but features a new protagonist. This game is a PS4 exclusive. (Sucker Punch)


Diablo III
Blizzard surprised everyone yesterday with their announcement that "Diablo III" will be coming to both the PS3 and the PS4. (And some fans aren't too happy about it.) (Blizzard Entertainment)



Square Enix also announced that a new "Final Fantasy" title will be coming to the PS4. "Halo" creator Bungie is developing a brand new FPS series called "Destiny," which will be released on the PS3, PS4, and Xbox 360. "DriveClub," a new racing game from Evolution Studios, will also debut on the PS4. Finally, Capcom is working on a new project tentatively titled "Deep Down." Judging by the announcement trailer, it looks like a medieval dungeon-delving game that could be promising.


THE NETWORK


The redesigned Playstation Network encourages real-name identification over gamer tags, with optional Facebook integration. With the "share" feature, you'll be able to upload streaming video automatically via services like uStream, allowing your friends to spectate or join you in-game. You can even let one of your friends take over your controller remotely to help you through a difficult stage.

Sony's trying hard to show that it understands what players expect from a next-gen gaming experience. This "gamer-focused" concept is sure to appeal to many diehard console gamers.

Anti-social gamers will be happy to know that the PS4 does not require an online connectioneven if it's what Sony would prefer.

In the age of smart phones and tablets, Sony has also recognized that gamers want to be able to take their games with them wherever they go. That's where the PS4's "remote play" function comes in. With cloud gaming from Gaikai, players can easily transition their game from the PS4 to the PlayStation Vita handheld device. Eventually, Sony hopes to make all PS4 games compatible with the Vita.



THE STORE

Some big changes are coming to the PlayStation Store as well. With the PS4, you'll be able to demo any game in the store before purchasing. Over time, the store will "learn" your gaming preferences and recommend games based on past purchases and what your friends are buying. Sony said it also wants to enhance support for indie developers and make it easier to get published on the PS4.

Sound familiar, anyone? It seems like PlayStation is finally taking cues from the success of PC gaming's Steam platform by Valve.

With the PS4's high-end processor, players can finally download PlayStation games in the background instead of waiting for the download to finish. Sony claims you'll even be able to start playing a new game before it's finished downloading.


THE FUTURE

Guest devs at Wednesday's announcement brought some tantalizing demos of what the future technology of the PS4 can achieve. Take a look:



Were you impressed with Sony's presentation of the PS4? Let us know in the comments!

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