Game On For The Next Generation

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Game On For The Next Generation

The wait is over, folks. Nintendo is now officially in the next generation gaming fray, and with tonight, Sony's hat is now officially in the ring. Though it will be some time before anyone gets to play it, the next generation is ready, and many of the blinders have fallen away. But what's waiting for us in the future? Sony gave some input on that particular point of order with their special event tonight in New York City.

The PlayStation 4 got its official unveiling tonight, and while there will be some time between its first unveiling and its first trip around the dance floor, it's plain that the game is now quite on. Nintendo's fighting to get its Wii U into wider rotation, Microsoft is still silent--at least, for now--but Sony is looking to get started, and Microsoft can't stay quite for long.

Indeed, the new system is looking pretty impressive. Eight gigs of RAM, an x86 CPU, a potent GPU array, and a local storage hard drive add up to be a pretty nicely rounded package. The game system of today is on par to what some desktop PCs were putting out not so long ago, and that means there's a lot of room for big new games to play. The system showed off some very impressive live demos--the Unreal 4 engine, the Havok engine, and more--that make for a bright overall picture.

There were even some game trailers, featuring titles like "Knack", "Driveclub", and "Killzone: Shadow Fall" that showed some significant potential, though the fullest value of these games would only be seen in gameplay.

An improved focus on mobility, a powerful new set of hardware interoperability, faster load times...it's hard to find anything not to like in such a presentation. Perhaps one of the biggest impacts came from the idea of graduated downloads, allowing users to download a game, and play the game while it's downloading. It will bring in the first part of the game, and allow users to play that first part. While users are working their way through the first part, the system is continuing to download the game, meaning that by the time the users get to the end of the first downloaded chunk, the next chunk has already downloaded and is ready for play. That's impressive by any measures.

Plain and simple, Microsoft is going to have its work cut out for it to try and top this. This is a pretty potent setup, and the new Xbox will have to match it and then some to hold on to its top slot.

However, there are some issues that are left somewhat in the dark at this point. While the PS4 will not be able to play PS3 games natively, there was talk about cloud gaming with Gaikai that would make PS3 games available, as well as PS2 games and beyond. There was no talk of the "used game" concept, nor anything that would result in it being removed or encouraged. The actual PS4 did not make an appearance, but the PS4 release date was at least somewhat confirmed: the holiday season, 2013.

Some amazing things were seen tonight that bode very well for the future of gaming indeed. But a lot of this may well boil off in to hype of the highest caliber. Only time will tell how it all comes out, but it should be a very exciting year in gaming.
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