PlayStation 4 and the future of videogames

This week Sony presented the next generation of PlayStation videoconsoles. While not unveiling the physical device as such, some specs are known. It is an AMD based machine, bundled with one of the so famous ATI Radeon graphic cards. An increase of memory, form 512MB to 8GB will easy the data transaction of the new generation of entertainment devices, being this memory of the GDDR5 type.

Amazing?? No, not really. Nothing that a rather not-so-much bunch of bucks cannot buy in the high-end PC market. However it is not the machine itself what attracted my attention to the so expected Sony’s new videoconsole: it was the technical demos and in-progress videogames I could see during the online presentation. Not because these reflect what is coming with the PS4, but because they reflect what is coming in the upcoming years for us, the gamers – the hardcore gamers – and it is absolutely delicious.

First, the tech demo from Quantic Dream showing off the level of quality for character acting. For the first time, I was almost convinced about the humanity of the old man appearing on the screen. It is not that we’ve reached the singularity already – not yet – but we are quite closer now. Looking to the eyes of the character you could almost feel his soul, and that’s quite of an experience. It could be, of course, that all the horsepower of the PS4 was put to work to achieve only that moving head, and that for real production videogames that’s not going to be the true experience, but I was glad to see that we are getting there.

Second, the tech demo from the Unreal team and its Unreal Engine 4. While still a little bit away form photorealism and with some minor issues I could notice (like some unwanted aliasing in some geometry), the demo has such a quality that it could perfectly be just a trailer for an upcoming movie in theaters next month. It is quite impressive, as this is, in my opinion, just the tip of the iceberg. I noticed plenty of particle management – ice, fire, smoke… – and also several film techniques applied to the filming of the scene. It looks as if you had only to watch at the screen, as it really looks like a movie, and not like a game.

And last, but not least, games like Kill Zone 4 with an incredible ala Blade Runner-like city, unbelievable reflections and curved surfaces that made the city real and alive. Also master-pieces – if they are not, they will be – like Watch Dogs, which shows that not only awesome graphics are needed to grab the gamer’s attention, but a good doses of freedom, simulation and AI realism. In this game the gameplay seems unbounded, unlimited and never ending. It is not the most impressive piece of code regarding the graphics area that I’ve seen, but it feels like Deus Ex: Human Revolution to the power of ten in the gameplay area.

Now what? It is obvious: to wait for the counterpart of Sony’s baby, the XBox 720 – or whatever Microsoft wants to call it –. Sincerely I expect Microsoft’s proposal to be even better than PS4. This way we, the gamers, will win a handful of ever-lasting experiences in our minds and our hearts.

Keep on playing!

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