Comeback Machine: Sony’s Playstation 4 at E3

By: James Cooper

I was going to write a bunch of words about how Sony dominated E3 this year, and how Microsoft shit the bed by slapping their fans in the face with a series of restrictions that no one was asking for. Since then, however, Microsoft has heard the outcry from the consumers around the world and has back peddled big time, stripping the system of all the nonsense that had everyone upset in the first place. Will it be enough to put them back in everyone’s good graces? I’m not sure, but Sony, I’m sure, is sitting atop a mountain somewhere, laughing villainously as their arch nemesis flails.

Business-as-usual was the flavour of the day for Sony’s E3 presentation, and while that usually isn’t call for celebration, gamers everywhere were rejoicing that Sony was on their side. Fans wanted more of the same, and Sony is promising it in a big way by delivering new titles in the Infamous and Killzone series, improvements to Playstation Network, and a day-one PS4 game as part of the digital library in Playstation Plus. The show was a solid string of hits, with everything wowing on at least a technical level, if not an innovative one.

The monolith is here.

The monolith is here.

The Playstation 4 was the big news at Sony’s presser, and everyone knew it would be. Despite the unveiling a few weeks back, this was Sony’s opportunity to strip away the mystery and build up the hype. After a slow start with the PS3, Sony wasn’t taking any chances with this next generation. They learned what a force to be reckoned with Microsoft can be on the console market if given the opportunity. This meant offering a beast of a machine capable of everything the PS3 can do and more, alongside a consumer-friendly price point. If there is any telltale sign that Sony has learned from past mistakes, it’s the PS4’s $400 price point.

There are some unknown factors still at play, though. We still don’t quite know what uses the touch panel on the new Dual Shock controller will have. While it could lead to some interesting gameplay elements, it could just as easily be used for gimmicky additions to gameplay no one wants to bother with, or ignored entirely. When was the last time you shook your PS3 controller?

If Sony dropped the ball at all during E3, it was with the distinct lack of focus on the Playstation Vita. After the arguably disastrous performance of the PSP, I really expected Sony to step their game up with the Vita and come ready with some big announcements. Last year brought several great titles for the handheld, but as any Sony fan will tell you, the first year is simply prelude; a taste of what the system can/will be capable of.  Look at the first year of releases for PS2 and PS3, and you’ll see what I mean. This is why I waited with bated breath for some exciting Vita announcements. They never came. They showed off Tearaway again, but we’ve already seen that. They announced a port of Telltale’s year-old The Walking Dead. Big deal.

But what of Sony's little brother, the Vita?

But what of Sony’s little brother, the Vita?

The most impressive games the Vita had going for it at E3 were things we’d already seen. God of War and Jak & Daxter HD collections were announced, but those games will be two generations old by the time they’re released. As two of the best selling franchises on PS2, I doubt there are many gamers left that haven’t gone through both series. We still haven’t seen what the Vita version of Arkham Origins is going to be, but we’re told it is Metroid-like, whatever that means. All-in-all, Sony has done very little to ensure me that my Vita purchase was a wise one. The remote play function is a small silver lining, but if the latency issues that plague PS3 games is any indication of what we’re going to get once the PS4 is released, it will be all but worthless for most titles.

Making Playstation Plus mandatory for online play was inevitable, so I don’t think anyone is very upset about that. I still don’t know anyone that cares about Playstation Eye, despite Sony’s insistence on pushing it on us. All that said, though, Sony hit all the right notes where it really counted: the PS4 hardware and software. The only way Sony could have sold me any further on the system is if they announced Uncharted 4.

You hear me, Sony? I’m waiting.

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