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Delayed Reactions: The other side of the PS4 Conference

By Rob James | 21 February 2013 | Delayed Reactions, Editorial | , , , , , | 2 Comments   

DS4

So Sony had a big event last night in NYC. We weren’t there (don’t worry, we’re not bitter), but we did get to see the big live show via Ustream along with many other on the interwebs. Overall, the internet’s reaction to the PS4′s ‘coming out’ party has been fairly positive. A lot of people, including yours truly, are very happy Sony’s newest console doesn’t seem to be constructed in a vacuum where the internet doesn’t exist, a problem we’ve seen before with Japanese console companies and software developers (we’re looking at you, Nintendo). Additionally, Sony has gone to great lengths not only to highlight the power of the new console, but also the ease of use on the development side as well as a renewed interest in system-wide inter-connectivity, internal integration, and instant, always on gratification.

However, I have a couple of bones to pick with the event as a whole. While I freely admit most of the news was ‘good news’ and any information after months and months of speculation is an improvement, there are a few points that, to me, shouldn’t be overlooked.

HEAR NO CONSOLE, SEE NO CONSOLE

While it’s not imperative that we see a console, I have to say, seeing lots of pretty visuals (and they are pretty), but not the the actual console, irks me. Maybe it’s just because I’m an ‘object permanence’ skeptic: until I can see a thing and assess what it is and how people will respond to it (like the lines on a concept car, for example), it’s hard to convince myself it exists. Furthermore, seeing games without the hardware to go with it is like hearing that a certain television is fantastic but only viewing it through the lo-fi TV sitting in your living room: it may be an upgrade, but if you don’t see it in person or know what the hell the TV looks like, how would you ever know?

SQUAREENIX: WE’VE GOT NOTHING TO SHOW

Square Enix is a company in need of some serious good will from someone right now. Sure, their published titles are doing quite well, but as far as internally developed games coming out of the studio proper, they’re not capitalizing on a fanbase that loves the hell out of their back catalog of games. Which makes their moment of the PS4 conference that much more baffling. They could have done almost anything more than what they did and fanboys all over the world would have soiled their gym shorts in collective glee. Instead, they showed us the same tech trailer that they trotted out at E3 last year for a game that will probably never exist¬†and followed the whole thing up the extremely disappointing “Our big announcement…will happen at E3. See you then!” And people wonder why Squaresoft fanboys and girls cry themselves to sleep at night.

DAVID CAGE NEEDS TO SPOUT WAY MORE NONSENSE

I don’t think there is anything more boring than hearing a man who loves to hear himself talk speak prophetically about the number of polygons in a virtual replica of Ellen Page. It may make more sense than what David Cage normally talks about, but it’s about as riveting as Vogon poetry and only slightly less painful.

JUST WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS — MORE KILLZONE AND INFAMOUS GAMES

Let me state, for the record, I’m not a hater of either series. However, I find it extremely frustrating that, in both cases, we were given the messaging of a “new” game from trusted studios and in both cases it ended up being the games you already know, done again. So I’m supposed to care about this new console because it can continue to pump out sequels to games that I may not care about anyway? I’ll take two! And the part that really was hard to swallow was the lead in to the new Infamous game was the best part of that segment! The guy’s monologue had me totally hooked from the get go. “Conspiracy Joe” had me following every word. I was stoked. Super powers in a world scared to death of terrorism?¬†Take my damn money. And after all that, it’s another…fucking…inFamous game! Color me all sorts of ‘disappoint’. While there’s nothing wrong with more of the same, I was really hoping to see more “new” in this “new” generation of console gaming. Which brings me to…

SO…….IS LAST GUARDIAN STILL A THING?

It was always a long shot, but I think there were a lot of people hoping, praying, and fondling their lucky rabbits feet that something was still beating in the chest cavity of this long delayed game. It saddens me to no end that there has been nothing, zero, zilch on this game in over a year and I’m starting to get the sense that if there’s any game left at all, it’s E3 or bust. This was the time to put the skeptics to rest. Instead, there’s a good chance that all we’ll ever see of the Last Guardian is that first trailer from way back in 2010.

And last but certainly not least.

BLIZZ BRINGS AUCTION HOUSE FUN TO THE CONSOLE

I have only one thing to say about Diablo III on the console: too bad your first experience of Diablo will be the game with the worst loot system ever devised in the history of the franchise. Furthermore, now you all get to hate the Real Money Auction House as much as the rest of us do. Welcome to the future: same as it ever was.

SAY LITTLE, REAP MUCH

Despite several moments where all I could do was scratch my head in befuddlement, I would say Sony has done an admirable job of drumming up a good bit of hype over a console we still know very little about. We’ve seen a few tech demos, we’ve heard what people want to do with the machine from a developer perspective, but aside from a few nuggets of really good info, I’d say we’re almost as much in the dark about the PS4 now as we were before the conference.

At the same time, I think everything we’ll ever want to know about the console will come, in the words of the SquareEnix exec, at E3. This was never going to be a “reveal all event.” It’s a stop gap show to get us to stop talking about unsubstantiated rumors and talk about something long enough to get the public from PAX East to E3 in one piece with out chewing up the furniture in their houses.

To their credit, I think Sony achieved exactly what they set out to do. Now all they need is to deliver on the idea of a PlayStation for the next generation of gaming. That is a far more difficult task.

2 Comments

  1. Posted by Dave "Boris" Orosz on 22 February 13 at 9:29pm

    You forgot to mention the part where Jonathan Blow described how the game development trends equate to “They suck, we’re awesome”. I really like Jonathan Blow, but even I was taken aback by how pretentious he sounded.

  2. Posted by R.James on 23 February 13 at 3:32am

    I missed most of what he said, but I figured it was pretty pretentious. I’m was more annoyed Sony didn’t talk more about cultivating the indie space on the PS4. This is how they lost Super Meat Boy. Also, they’ve got Ouya and Game Stick nipping at their heels. They can’t ignore indies. It’s just a bad idea.

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