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The Playstation 4 And What It Has To Offer

PlayStation 4 Logo - We Know Gamers
Kaz Hirai may have swiftly responded to the public demand of a PlayStation 4 announcement by saying “Why launch first when other companies can copy our tech and specs?”, but PS4's announcement completely contradicted that last week when Sony finally unveiled to the world what their plans were for the future of their hardware.

As expected, when the consoles specifications were revealed to us all, it had greater memory, a better brain and far superior graphical capabilities to make it one incredibly powerful machine.

You can see the full specs below:
Processor: Single-chip custom x86-64 AMD “Jaguar”, 8 cores.
Graphics Card: 1.84 Teraflops, AMD next-generation Radeon based Graphics Engine
Memory: 8GB of GDDR5 memory
Hard Disk Drive: Built in
Optical Drive (read only): Blu-Ray 6xCAV/ DVD 8xCAV
I/O: Super-Speed USB (USB 3.0), AUX
Communication: Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASET-T)
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR)
AV Output: HDMI
Analog-AV out
Digital Output (optical)

Also worth noting is that Sony have made the PS4 a lot easier to develop for as they’ve heavily focused on creating a developer friendly machine, claiming that games can be made in half the time it took to develop for the PS3. Now, if that’s the case, I’m hoping companies will take more risks again by trying out fresh and experimental ideas to further push their creative vision, seeing as development times will be lowered, meaning less man power is needed, which in turn means less money will be spent on each project.

Check out the long list of current companies supporting the PlayStation 4 below:

During the conference, Sony’s best friend, Alex Evans stepped up on stage with a few somewhat bizarre ideas, as to be expected of Media Molecule. The first thing announced was a new tool that will allow people to create anything from a golf ball, to a house, character or even an environmental set piece using only the Playstation Move. Whether that’ll be something Developers take advantage of, or if they stick with their more traditional methods is something yet to be determined. The second thing Media Molecule demoed was a level/game they had created, most likely using the above tool, which broke out into song, lights and dancing by controlling on screen characters and their respective musical instruments, simply with the Move controller.

This strange game/tech demo may have been fun to watch, but I’m not convinced they had control over the characters instruments as it felt more like a family friendly scripted animation to me. Needless to say, as bizarre the presentation was, it was still an entertaining watch, if slightly gimmicky.

Now, before I move onto the games, I’d like to go into a little detail in regard to the new Dual Shock 4 controller, exclusive to the Playstation 4. Already leaked before the conference, the new controller looked slightly wider than the standard Playstation controllers we’re all used to, now with a new and sleek matte look, wider sausage like grips, curved shoulder buttons, concave analogue sticks, a touch pad and an “Options” and new “Share” button. There’s also a jack at the bottom of the controller which you can hook your headphones to.

The “Share” button is Sony’s key feature for the Dual Shock 4, on the grounds that they wanted this new console to have much better social connectivity, to seamlessly and effortlessly connect gamers to one another all around the globe.

The “Share” button has numerous functions, including the ability to watch your friends’ games, help them out by taking over their game, or dropping handy power ups into their levels to ensure their success. As a hardcore gamer myself, this is a function I will never use and am somewhat insulted Sony had to create such a function, but for people who want their hands held through a title from start to finish, I guess this would be appealing. What I do like however, is that you can now take in-game photos and record several minutes of your gameplay, posting them up to social networking sites such as YouTube and Facebook. This could phase out Capture Cards, but if limited to only a couple of minutes, it’s unlikely.

The PlayStation Store also has new functions, with one in particular being the ability to build up a user profile of yourself, based on your own personal specific tastes in entertainment. Be it the latest Playstation games, music or films, the PS Store learns what you like, collates the necessary data it needs and then only advertises products it feels you’d be interested in. A clever ploy to get more money out of its consumers, that’s for sure. What isn't so clever however, is the confirmed news that the PS4 won’t be supporting backwards compatibility. This includes all products you've purchased on the PS Store previously, as well as your entire collection of PS1, PS2 and PS3 titles.

Regardless, a representative of Gaikai mentioned being able to play PS1-4 games on the move with your Vita handhelds (via streaming methods), so Sony may have something in mind, but for now it’s on the backburner. Personally, I think the best way Sony could bring back Backwards Compatibility is by creating some kind of software that allows you to insert your game into the PS4, at which point the software will read the disk and load your game into some kind of system that could build up a library of games you own, where you could then select from a list, which of your owned titles you’d like to play.

If it had some way to read your disk and differentiate yours from everyone else’s copy, only allowing that disk to work on the one console you insert it into, I think that would be a good thing for Sony to do if they still intend to fight against the pre-owned market, and it’d be a great selling point, but knowing people will buy a game again, what’s not to stop Sony from trying to sell all of the titles back to the public once more?

Corporate centric pessimism aside, it was nice to see that a few games were actually ready to be shown. To me personally, these are the titles that stood out

InFamous: Second Son
Okay, so the room went dim, green lights focused on stage and Nate Fox came out with a cheesy, yet somewhat engaging pitch for the new InFamous title. It was clear that most of the demonstration was just an animated video but it gave us a taste of what the new game has to offer. No doubt we'll see more at E3, but I wonder how fans will take to the news when they realise Cole McGrath won't be returning as the main protagonist.

Killzone: Shadowfall
What was clearly the best looking game (graphically) at the conference. The visuals were shiny, fairly realistic and the demo seemed to feature what looked like actual gameplay footage. The graphics didn't look entirely out of reach in terms of what the PS3 can already achieve but this is a launch title and with the additional abilities to now perform drop down takedowns, where you can jump from ledges to stab an unsuspecting enemy, then follow up with a knife throw into the back of another unsuspecting enemies head was awesome.

Deep Down
Yoshinori Ono hit the stage to announce Capcom’s new IP, Deep Down. Running on a new engine (dubbed the "Panta Rhei"); The tone and cinematic sequences feel very reminiscent of Dark Souls and Deep Down looks to be a promising dark and tense dungeon based adventure, possibly becoming Capcom's next gen answer to their most recent (and brilliant) action RPG, Dragons Dogma. Some of the gameplay looked like it was running in game, but without confirmation, for now we can safely assume it was all pre-rendered.

Yoshinori Ono - Always ensuring his Mascot is present.
There were a couple of other games shown, but no new God of War for the PS4's launch, and the only other game worth mentioning was Final Fantasy, which we'd already seen the trailer for, month's back. Still, the polygon count and 3D models are beautiful and it's nice to be able to imagine the kind of bold and vibrant worlds we’ll be able to immerse ourselves in.

The Sucker Punch (pun intended) to this conference was the fact that although we were shown all of these games, the console specifications, controller design and share button functionality, there was no sign of the PS4 what so ever. This to me suggests that Sony weren't quite ready to show off their new machine, and by the looks of things, most of the companies attending the show would have preferred an E3 announcement. This tells me that the Sony Conference was held to simply say that "Yes! We're Sony and we have the PS4. These are the specs and this is why it'll be awesome!", giving people a reason to talk about the new console, along with giving Sony a head start in the ongoing console war.

Needless to say, it gave everyone a very good reason to tune into E3 this year, following what I felt was a slightly confusing conference. It's clear that Sony have a lot of plans in the pipeline, but exactly how much of this will be readily available from launch?

One thing that I didn't like was the fact that the presenter of Gaikai mentioned cross play for PS1-4 games, stating that titles on these consoles could be cloud streamed across to the Vita wherever you are. This wasn't clearly explained and caused confusion to all. It wasn't until a Backwards Compatible PS4 at launch was shot down, that fans realised Backwards Compatibility wouldn't be one of PS4's major unique selling points. However, keeping that in mind, I feel it's something they may well include later down the line, otherwise why mention it at the conference?

The conference was interesting to say the least and while I have my own thoughts and opinions, here are a few words from other members of the We Know Gamers team regarding Sony and the direction they’re heading with the PlayStation 4:

Chris Locke (Staff Writer) had this to say:
It was good to see some new games in action, especially Watch Dogs, as I've wanted to see more of it ever since it was unveiled at E3 last year. I guess if you're into your graphics, then the PS4 looks incredible, but I'm not so fussed about polygon counts and I'd rather see some new type of gameplay. 

Overall I think the conference was pretty successful and I'm looking forward to seeing more about it at GDC or E3, especially what the machine will look like, not that the shape of the box will be all that important, I'm only interested with what it can do.

Matt Millward (Staff Writer) had this to say:
Sony is getting a lot of criticism for the heavy social networking aspects of the PS4 and while I would agree that gaming is not necessarily about being sociable and a lot of people play games to enjoy the solitary escapism, the ability to watch your friends game in real-time and even join in is going to be a pretty special feature. The only trouble with this is a lot of these features will of course be absolutely redundant unless some of your friends also buy the console. Until then you can still share footage of you playing directly to the internet, making them jealous enough to buy one for themselves.

Our Editor in Chief, Liban Ali also gave his thoughts:
Sony always seems to be at the top of their game when it comes to stepping up the power and technology they use for each generation. Honestly speaking I didn't expect them to go as far as showing actual footage of games in development and now with a bigger emphasis on sharing via the button on the controller, they're allowing gamers to share their moments to the world, while at the same time receiving free marketing for the game that they're playing. E3 will definitely be one to watch as we'll see what the actual console looks like and with the announcement of all those companies working on PS4 titles, we should be seeing a lot more amazing games being demoed with hopefully a few surprises! New Crash Bandicoot game anyone?

Be sure to check back at We Know Gamers for more posts on the PlayStation 4 as updates are released.

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