So we heard about the PS4 officially last night, with heard being the appropriate word since the thing was being kept out back somewhere. Not that it really matters at the end of the day since it'll look good regardless since it's an electronic device from Japan, and even if it didn't, for someone to genuinely refuse to buy a console based on how it looks would be so inane and retarded that they don't deserve nice things anyway. As long as the thing isn't made out of sun dried dung or has corners quite as sharp as the original design of the PS3 (yes that thing hurts like hell if you ever manage to get low enough to hit your head on the thing), then it's fine as far as I'm concerned.
The only thing that actually worries me is the reasoning for not showing, whether a joke or not I can't quite tell, has been stated by the Sony Worldwide commander in chief Shuhei Yoshida, that they need “something new for later”. Although the fact that the presentation focused solely on the network applications and some brief glimpses of software was nice, I am worried if they're running so low on content that wheeling out what is essentially a metal box is the next great reveal is slightly disturbing.
Sony presentations are already so chock full of blue and black colours and shapes whizzing there way across the screen to electronic pips, at times even during a short interview with a developer, as if they're own false excitement about how unlimited the potential of this new console, which will be replaced in several years, isn't enough to get you excited, so they just descend into showing you movement instead, as if the site of a human face is so distracting that you might end up staring into the eyes of another human long enough and away from your screen that you might even begin to question whether any of this is as new or exciting as their promises seem to hint. In fact the only eyes they seem intent on showing you is the face of an old man in a tech demo, a face which was a strange choice because if you ever saw a man who looked like this in the street you'd avoid him and probably call the police and insist on his arrest as a paedophile serial killer, but in the form of a tech demo his face is to be admired as a thing of beauty.
It seems though that some people were still disappointed at not seeing the console itself, even though based on how much Sony have destroyed my attention span through our time together, me and half the audience probably wouldn't even notice it was on the stage unless it was in HD or exploding tits juggling around the studio with intensified jiggle physics. Christ sometimes I drop plates and injure myself by leaving my house through an upstairs window because I don't see the words Havok plastered across the walls to remind me that I'm subject to real time physics, and even then I can't tell I'm injured anyway because of the lack of red shading popping up in the corner of my vision means half the time I can't even tell if I've taken fall damage or not, but instead just feel a pain coursing its way through my body, which I just mistake for a feeling of disappointment that I didn't get to see a metal box last night.
I haven't seen people that disappointed at having something hidden from them ever since the American Government insisted an playing hide and seek with Osama Bin Laden's bloodied corpse. Not that game companies really seem to care about what the actual console looks like anymore. Microsoft haven't even revealed a date when they might be showing it, Sony kept there's hidden, and Nintendo were so damn cryptic about the Wii U during its reveal at last year's E3 that it took me half the conference to work out that they weren't just selling a revamped Udraw with analogue sticks dumped on either side.
But oh well, off the casing and into the mechanics of the machine, and by that I mean all the other stuff that they talked about at the conference. Sony started off with a very tall and excited man spouting off the usual series of displaying the philosophy behind the console. I don't really know why they bother with this because everyone knows that with anything it's simply to sell consoles and creating products on it that people will buy, but instead every marketing idea has to come with short single and inspiring words. The acronym they went with this time was SISIP: Simple; Immediate; Social; Integrated; Personalisation. As you can tell this is neither snappy nor means anything. It's almost as if the Sony team took a survey of the most used words from the vocabulary of a sample of arseholes and then threw darts at them (the words unfortunately) and just listed whatever stuck. But at least this was better than their acronym last year as they awkwardly combined the names of the creators of their cell broadband chip into an unfortunate order as they turned Sony, Toshiba and IBM into STI. But oh well it sucked up a good 30 minutes or so before they could actually bring out what we were all there to see and I must say I was slightly impressed with, saying as if my opinion carries any weight whatsoever.
So they showed the new controller; the Dualshock 4, which looked nice, wasn't a massive redesign at least, which is a good thing because it ain't broke don't fix it. But obviously because it's the future you must put a pretty LED light on it.. The only difference was that it had a big light on it,a share button (which I'll talk about next) and a strange touch pad at the front which is just another big button that may or may not get used, but as long as it doesn't hang off like a rancid piece of skin then that's fine.
But then there was the share button which is basically a way to be more of an exhibitionist to the word by not only recording parts of your game to upload to an online service (which makes sense), but to also broadcast your very face as a live stream so your friends can watch, or obviously not watch, your stupid face as you play a game. They talked about how their would be streaming, and sharing and world peace through let's plays, remote access gaming and an almost twitter-esque service all through the PSN, which if that all works is cool. The speaker then having said how we can now stream our hideous faces across the globe and how our friends can view all our information and library of games from the comfort of our own living rooms, then went on to ironically describe the whole system as protecting anonymity. It's not so much the broadcasting of your face as a principle that annoys me (well it does because but only because twats get to use it. I'm not fundamentally against any technology, even nuclear weapons aside from the fact that yet again, twats get to use them).
So the online service seemed cool. Then we heard the specs and they seem very good, obviously not as good as a PC, but it's a console so all the resources will be for games, and stupid people's faces, and so will look great anyway. There was also mention of a standby mode, which is a thankful and frankly confusing exclusion to the last generation since handhelds and PCs have had it for a while now. There was also a pretty sweet reveal by one developer who claimed the PS4 had “infinite potential”, which was great news since he basically claimed that we would never need to make or purchase any other technology or material ever again since the PS4 by definition had it covered. We can stop all that expensive aid being pumped into Africa because now all we need to do is dump a PS4 somewhere on the continent and it'll have it covered.
Bet they wish the PS4 was in that bag
Then the first PS4 game ever, aside from Watch Dogs, was announced. The lights dimmed, silence fell, the video started and god himself died of cardiac arrest at the realisation that from this point even he couldn't compete with what was about to be revealed. Then a cannon was fired and someone mentioned the word “goblin” and all ounce of shit being given at that point was cast out. The game was Knack, and looked like an alright, although unimaginative action platformer, which resembled Jak and Ratchet and Clank, which as I found out was the previous projects of the director so it stands to reason. The director seemed enthused by it anyway, even showing us a strange early version of the Sony twitter thingy on the PSN in which every entry was about Knack, because it was the only announced game, but came across more as some dark fantasy of his where every one in the world decided Knack was the greatest thing ever and so from holiday 2013 to the end of human civilisation people would spend all their free recreation time tweeting about Knack, thinking about Knack and watching their friend's stupid faces smile gormlessly across the PSN at them while doing a let's play of Knack.
The next generation starts here. You can experience this glory for the small price of just over $300.
What? You're not impressed with HD Goblins?
Well okay how about this....
Well at least on the plus side anything you show afterwards can only look better
It looked nice anyway, at times seeming like an animated film, so it seemed that at least the games would look nice. Still it was a little disappointing since the creator had used the words “limitless” and “infinite potential” several times throughout the talk and so this was a slight let down. But hey I guess by it's very nature, infinite potential must also include not living up to potential as well.
After this initial slog through all the hardware specs and first game, then a salesman from Gaikai turned up. If you don't know, Gaikai is a company that deals in online network distribution, and will be handling everything in relation to the PS4's exciting streaming and cloud services. Some cool details were released that the console would allow streaming of all previous Playstation platforms (cause it's not backwards compatible – which is fine because it's really hard to do okay, and why are you playing old games, eurgh, they're not even in 1080p, Jesus the image is such a jagged blur it's almost like it's shaving my corneas off every time I look at the screen). More interestingly though was that you can now start downloading a game and then start playing it and have it download in the background, which is pretty damn cool. Well unless you don't have good internet access which a lot of the world don't but that's what you get for not being born in the good places.
This is Gaikai Guy. The most ironic salesman in the world due to his lack of charisma or salesmanship
The Guy from Gaikai, or the Gaikai Guy as he shall now be known, came across as a massive dumbass, struggling to see how many times he could fit the word “epic” into every sentence and horrified to learn that one man who he asked to talk about the PS4 used the term “great specs” instead of the word “cool”. To which the man replied very politely in his own head that he doesn't need to because he's actually trying to describe what is actually functionally better about the product compared to other products, I.E a really sleek looking toaster – which may very well also be cool but not have great specs, and also because he's not a fucking idiot. Just to clarify I can use the word cool because at no point did I ever not state that I wasn't a fucking idiot and so this demonstrates no hypocrisy on my side whatsoever.
So then the Gaikai Guy left and on came lots more developers, eerily a majority of them all wearing jackets and jeans. I'm not sure if there's any more of a conspiracy there but I noticed it. Speaking of conspiracies however,a man from Sucker Punch came out and told us very intensely that we were all being watched, there were cameras everywhere – in actual cameras, in your loved ones, your pets and even disolvable cameras in your food so the government can even monitor you from the inside to have surveillance on your very soul. Okay it wasn't quite like that but he was very intense none the less. He then made one of the finest segways into a concept that I've ever heard by saying basically “we are always monitored by the government. But what if there were superheroes”, which is a sentence that you could basically throw onto the end of any setup and it will always sound hilarious and like it was a synopsis straight from the mind of a 13 year old. We then saw a trailer, which I assume was pre rendered, but basically showed a guy killing people while some other people impotently watched behind some cameras. The superhero then went over to a camera and told the viewers “you're not in control” before breaking it, which was a line that was so stupid and yet again sounded like it was written by a teenager who's attempting as hard as he can to be deep in any way that I laughed my ass off.
I suppose what made it funnier was that the world didn't look particularly totalitarian and having known nothing about what's going on, I immediately didn't assume that the government were evil but instead that this guy was just a dumbass with superpowers. Maybe it was because he also had a fringe, was all brooding and what I'm forced to culturally recognise as a cool guy. But in fact because he relentlessly just slaughtered some people, was presented as cool and then said a really gay line, it actually made me realise just how terrifying this game concept is and how clever the developers are. See it's not a story about superheroes taking down a totalitarian Big Brother government but instead an entire allegory about what I mentioned frightens me about technology in the first place. That being it's not the power of the device itself, but the twat that wields it, and here Sucker Punch have brought forward the terrifying idea of not only are there superpowers, but what if these superpowers were gifted to an anarchistic douchebag, mindlessly destroying the foundations of society in order to free us from our confines man. But instead of freeing us from our confines is instead just smashing up an important security network designed to protect it's citizens. Jesus I expect at some point in the future we will develop powers of some kind (cause it's the future and all that) and some arsehole will come and smash my house down in an attempt to free me from my four walled cage, at which point I will inform him that I'm happy in my cage because at least it was solitary, peaceful, warm and had an internet connection, whereas out here all it I have to offer me is coldness and an arsehole that just smashed down my house.
Then what was more shocking than anything is that this lump of shit turned out to be an Infamous sequel named “Infamous: Second Son”, which is a terrible title, but I will with hold further judgement until it comes out because although it looks pretty gay, the brilliance of the other two Infamous titles gives me slight hope.
So then we moved onto Media Molecule, the happy and chirpy company that brought us Little Big Planet, Little Big Planet 2 and Little Big Planet Karting so have clearly drained that franchise dry. What they're releasing thought I still don't understand. The presentation started off badly as the speaker couldn't have overhyped his product more by claiming that they've discovered a way to “record dreams” to which my heart started racing because for a second I was innocent enough that people don't just say any old shite that sounds good and don't actually say what they mean. By recording dreams, it turned out what he actually meant was that you can create sculptures in 3D space using the move, which is a let down, well a massive let down, and has probably made me unable to appreciate the product now, but basically it's another creation tool. What they showed us was a cool demo of some people using marionettes to play instruments in real time using their move controllers, but it seemed so complicated and almost magical that my brain shut down out of pure confusion.
Sony however had seemingly developed the technology to project fears onto their projectors as the Gaikai Guy continued to embarrass himself for a further 20 minutes
We then saw Killzone 4: (something that was supposed to sound menacing but that I forgot because who the hell wants another Killzone game), which looked very pretty, but when it got in motion just looked like another generic first person shooter, which proves to us yet again that increased power in the hands of boring people can still produce boring things. This was yet again cemented by the announcement of DriveClub, a random driving sim that seems to just want an online market that it definitely won't get. The guy directing it was really enthusiastic and talked about how he had copyrighted the name 9 years ago but only now had the technology to produce the eight wonder that is DriveClub. He had grand aspirations though, mostly of a massive online fan base, competitions and universal acclaim that DriveClub might not only be the best online driving sim ever produced but possibly the best thing ever produced and aside from some fancy graphics all I saw was a driving game. If this guy had been aiming high though, that might be an understatement. This guy couldn't get as high as his goals if he attached flubber to the soles of shoes, shorted an ounce of crack and farted rocket fuel out of his arse onto an erupting mega volcano.
Oh and we saw more Watch Dogs which continues to be the most interesting thing coming out on next generation platforms so far.
Oh and the PS4 has a camera which I guess is a hybrid between Eye Toy and Kinect, because everyone is insisting on having these now as standard, which is fine as long as it doesn't cost much extra.
Oh and Jonathan Blow was there, Braid creator and hater of all things fun, who swanned onto the stage and did his old act of slagging off games that involve guns or explosions (namely Killzone 4 which I don't want to buy but at least understand why it has the potential to be fun). He showed us his new game The Witness, which having now witnessed the trailer to it I can report that it looks like an open world puzzler, with one type of puzzle helmed by a pretentious arsehole. Oh and Mr Blow asked us to appreciate the essence of each puzzle we saw, which I'm happy to do now; The essence appeared to be a shitty maze game over and over again.
So all in all there was a lot of rubbish but also some interesting stuff. Now all we have to wait for is E3 where I assume they'll actually reveal the damn thing and hopefully show some more games.