Playstation 4 (PS4) Announced Today!So, the rumours were true and Sony have announced the Playstation 4 at todays live streamed event. Confirmation we have all been waiting for.
I am typing this immediately after the live streamed event so please forgive any poor grammer or rushed, random thoughts...
Sony are incorporating free-to-play into the business model of the PS4 to make it easier for developers to host these types of games - which is great news. The Playstation 3 was criticized early on by developers who found it difficult to create software for, until of course they got used to it and could harness its Cell power easier. Sony have learned from this and are basing the PS4 on "Supercharged" PC x86 architecture giving it 8GB of fast access RAM. This should speed up development time, make it easier for those new to the platform and perhaps make life easier for multiplatform games to get PlayStation versions.
Some of the new features mentioned are the ability to broadcast your gameplay to friends in realtime to show them what you are playing, and even let them take control if you need help. It also looks like you can play games streamed from the PlayStation store before you choose to buy them! This will make use of Sony's acquired Gaikai service and it looks like UStream for the live stuff. There is some very clever download and upload technology built-in so they don't interfere with gameplay and occur completely in the background. This allows the playing of games before they have completely downloaded. Downloading games or uploading videos will result in no stutter or interuption to your games as they are looked after by additional custom hardware. A power suspend mode is a great addition where you can basically pause your session and the PS4 will drop into a low power mode until you choose to resume.
The PS4 controller (pictured above) has a built-in touch pad, a special share button and a 'Move' style glowing light on the back for motion control. The analogue sticks are said to have been improved too, but it still has that comfortable and familiar shape we are all used to.
When it comes to games, self-publishing on the PlayStation Network will remain to help smaller independant game makers distribute their software. Speaking of software, there was some interesting demos displayed during the event including...
This gameplay video showed some amazing cityscapes and action sequences. The particles and lighting looks fantastic:
A first-person racing simulation with the mechanics and physics as close to real life as possible. This looks very sharp and VERY realistic.
An intreaguing and independantly created game where you travel in an open world and solve puzzles. It has been 3 years in the making and has 25 hours of gameplay filled with unique puzzles to solve.
The incredible people behind the Kara demo on the PS3 have come up with an amazing tech demo of facial rendering with emotion, running in real-time on the PS4. Kara was amazing but this is truly incredible and a great example of the power available in the Playstation 4 to make lifelike real-time rendering. As an example, their stated that in 1999 their engine could render characters with 350 polygons. In 2005 this increased to 1500 polygons. For 'Heavy Rain' on the PS3 in 2010 they were using 15,000 polygons per character. For the Kara demo they used 20,000 polygons. Now, their PS4 engine renders 30,000 polygons per character.
The Media Molecule team have been using the Move controller with the Playstation 4 to actually sculpt and create freeform objects in space to aid 3D development and modelling. Then they can animate their creations like puppeteers.
Capcom announced their brand new Panta Rhei engine running a demo of their new game 'Deep Down'. Again, this demonstrated some impressive particle, fire and shading effects.
Another realtime engine demonstration which they say is possible due to the CPU and GPU power of the PS4 with its huge amount of memory. They also announced the development of a new Final Fantasy title for the PS4.
Ubisoft presented "Watch Dogs" - a game involving control and connectivity and between devices, people and whole cities. How the information constantly streamed online can be used by criminals and vigilantes.
Activision and Bungie
Bungie, now teamed up with Activision and working with Sony talked about their new FPS game "Destiny" - described as 'a shared world shooter'. It will contain exclusive content for the PS4.
ConclusionsThe Playstation 4 certainly looks like a beast of a gaming machine. Not only the power of the device but also Sony's ethos around software development and the clever streaming and social aspects. The only disappointment was that we did not actually see what the console will look like, only the controller.
The list of supporting developers is impressive and should definately keep the PlayStation brand going strong into the next generation.
To watch the replay of the event, please go to: