Tag Archives: Watch Dogs

Sony Meeting 2013: Here Comes PS4

For the past several days the internet has been aflutter with anticipation for Sony’s press conference, which promised an announcement to excite the masses. Sony had been pretty outspoken about letting Microsoft take the first step in announcing a next-gen console so when they dropped word that they’d be leading the race, hosting a major reveal event tonight, it came as a happy surprise. I’ve frequented the PS4/Xbox 720 rumor mills over the past couple months and considering they’re slated to hit stores in an estimated 8 – 10 months, I feel like we’re entitled to some cold hard facts and previews to drool over. At 6:00 PM this evening (EST), Sony was kind enough to acquiesce. Here is a recap of the Sony Meeting 2013.

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Defying all expectation, the meeting actually began right on time kicking off with the typical video montage fanfare before our emcee, Sony President Andrew House, took the stage. Taking no time at all for formalities, House immediately began talking about the PS Vita and its mobility and flexibility. He went on to stress the importance of cross-play and being always connected. Following a brief recap of Playstation’s success and failures leading up to present, House indicated that the current state of connectivity and cross-platform interaction demanded a new console. This new console, of course, is the PS4.

At this point I’m feeling a little anxious – talk of mobile gaming and ‘always-on’ systems typically means Facebook integration and the sort of added features that become more irksome peripheral ideas than anything else. Being able to post my new platinum trophy on a friend’s wall is a nice little gimmick, sure, but I don’t want this to be the focus of my Playstation 4. My first impression is one of tentative concern. This could be a positive way of telling us all use of their games requires online connectivity – a verification process that could cause whole experiences to be ruined by a lapsing internet connection.

House then introduced Mark Cerny, the ‘lead system architect’ of the PS4, to talk about the Playstation 4’s inner workings. The Playstation 4 is very definitely a powerful machine, what Cerny described as a ‘super-charged PC’. The specs listed exactly as spoken:

  • CPU: x86
  • 8GB RAM
  • CPU almost 2 Teraflops
  • System memory GDDR5
  • Highly enhanced PC GPU

Shortly after going over the innards of the next Sony console, Cerny revealed the brand new Dualshock controller, which closely matched some concepts that have been floating around the internet recently.

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Photo: playstationgang.com

This is purely an aesthetic nitpicky thing, but I’m not a fan of the new controller. The raised edges on the analog sticks are ugly, as is the touchpad, and anyway I’ve always loved the consistent model for the Dualshock. I’m sure after 4 months of owning one the Dualshock 3 will look like a sad piece of archaic technology, but to fresh eyes this is a visual step down.

Cerny then gave a superficial demonstration of the tech by showing off a real-time demo of the new Unreal engine, which featured two immense demons causing large-scale destruction in a snowy environment. The visuals don’t immediately stand out as a leap forward, but if you know where to look you can tell the graphics are definitely improved.

And shortly after he revealed his next title, a new IP called Knack which, despite its cartoonish, simple visual style showcased an impressive amount of fluid, moving objects (The protagonist himself is made up of several dozen of these).

Cerny continued to talk about the power behind the PS4, mentioning there will be virtually zero time between boot-up and game start. Similarly, downloads, streaming and sharing content will supposedly be nearly instant on the PS4’s system. In fact, Cerney stated demos can be started even before the download is complete.

The kind of speed and power indicated seems far beyond anything I’d expect from a console gaming platform. Beyond what I’m willing to believe as well, until I can see it in action (at least this is what I’m trying to tell myself between squee-ing).

The next speaker brought on stage was Dave Perry, one of the founders of Gaikai. Perry began by saying that Gaikai will be the catalyst for Sony’s new all-encompassing social structure. Facebook and Ustream will be integrated into this system, and additional features will include spectating or even taking control of a friend’s games. Reinforcing the idea of always-on and persistent play, Perry talked about reducing latency between the system and controller, and furthermore between the console and the Vita – that’s right, there will be remote play between the PS4 and the Sony handheld. Perry also revealed that in the future Gaikai will hopefully be used to stream older games, all the way back to the PS1, effectively serving as all backwards compatibility for the PS4.

Some of these social features are actually very cool. The Dualshock 4’s ‘share’ button makes it very easy to record video and share it with the friends, and spectating/joining games is something that has always been looming somewhere in the future of online play. I doubt I’ll ever do much with this stuff, but I think it’s neat, and hopefully it’ll do a lot to strengthen the PS community and brand.

After Cerny left the stage, the game demos began. The first official debut was Killzone: Shadowfall and I think I summarized it pretty well on Facebook while watching it live:

fb killzone

 

Killzone is one of the titles we always see at Playstation announcements and while each game does a fantastic job showcasing the power of the console, the franchise is unavoidably boring. I’ve tried on multiple occasions to try to get into the series and never once enjoyed myself. That being said, despite immense levels of indifference coursing through every fiber of my being, the trailer looks gorgeous.

Next up was Evolution Studios who announced a new driving game called Drive Club. The game looks like it will take full advantage of PS4’s social features to take Need For Speed’s Autolog to a much higher level. Additionally, the amount of detail and care that has supposedly gone into the car models is near Peter-Jackson-Lord-of-the-Rings level stuff. All in all, though I’m not a racing game fan, this looks like a great direction to take the genre.

Following that, Sucker Punch showed the trailer for Infamous: Second Son. Infamous is another series that, for the life of me, I can’t get into. Friends of mine and critics I respect all like this series but I found the first game very generic and never could convince myself to play (Admittedly, I hear it’s far superior to the first one). The intro from Sucker Punch’s speaker sounded intriguing and actually reminded me a lot of Watch Dogs, however the teaser was just a lot of super powered fighting and douchebaggy protagonist mugging in front of the camera. Like Killzone: Shadowfall, the trailer looked great and I’ll probably never play it.

For the sake of length here, I’m going to list some of the other announcements and move on:

  • Jonathan Blow’s new game following Braid. The Witness.
  • David Cage came on stage (My cue to take a break) and showed a tech demo from Quantic Dream.
  • Media Molecule showed off something with PS Move and puppets?
  • Capcom announced they’re working on a new engine and showcased a work in progress, tentatively titled Deep Down. Looks insane.
  • Square Enix showed Agni’s Philosophy and announced a new Final Fantasy game is under development.

Following all of that, Ubisoft took the stage and showed a new trailer for the much anticipated Watch Dogs. This was not explicitly focused on any kind of narrative aspect, as we saw in the initial gameplay reveal in 2012 which featured a shootout outside a nightclub, but rather seemed to be a much smaller, more incidental interaction with some NPCs in the open world. And while I’d say this demo isn’t as exciting as that other one, I think it reveals a lot more about the potential this game has to blow the doors down on the limits we’ve grown accustomed to in video games.

Next, Blizzard made an appearance to announce Diablo III will be ported to PS3 and PS4 in the future, and finally Bungie rounded out the night with a brief look at Destiny, making it clear that now that they’ve achieved their independence from Microsoft, they will support Sony just as strongly as their previous overlords.

With that, we got a closing and a holiday 2013 release and that’s all for the Sony Meeting 2013!

I went into this press conference expecting long-winded PR nonsense interspersed with some mind blowing game previews, and instead I got pretty much the opposite – some really amazing tech was described and shown, Sony made very clear they’ve made a conscious effort to make it easy to develop games on the PS4 (The PS3 was notoriously difficult to work with for developers) and they are still dedicated to making real games rather than peripherals. Meanwhile the games revealed, for the most part, met expectations on the level. Still a mystery? Pricing and what the goddamn thing even looks like.

What do you think about the Sony Meeting and PS4?

GB’s Most Anticipated Video Games of 2013

With the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 almost certainly hitting stores by 2014 and a whopping seven years since the beginning of this console generation, you’d expect Microsoft and Sony to be limping toward the finish line, cranking out shovelware to pad time until their flashier, youthful replacements can take their place. However, 2013 is looking like a banner year for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles, despite the fact that if they were people, the 360 and PS3 would be playing bridge at the community center and forgetting the names of their grandchildren. Against all odds, developers are squeezing amazing potential out of these old machines, doing things we didn’t think were possible with current technology. We’ve only hit mid-February and already been treated this year with games like DmC: Devil May CryNi No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and Dead Space 3, but there is a lot more in store for 2013. We at Grizzly Bomb can’t believe the wealth of upcoming games that are rounding out this almost decade-long run, so here is our list of our most anticipated games for 2013.

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Bioshock Infinite

Daniel Woizinski

Bioshock is often brought up in cases supporting the argument that video games are art. Irrational Games struck gold when they created Rapture, a sorrowful undersea dystopia which succumbed to the hubris of modern science. But the game reached beyond the scope of the world it inhabited, turning gaming conventions on their head to make a pointed commentary on the role of the player in a video game. How much control do you really have in a game, and how easily do you do what you’re told? Nothing had ever challenged us in such a way on this large a scale before. It opened the door for future titles to take their subject matter more seriously and ask even more questions about why we play games. Bioshock Infinite is Irrational Games’s spiritual successor to the first game, replacing the ocean floor with open skies.

As former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, the player is tasked with rescuing a girl named Elizabeth, who has been held captive in Columbia for twelve years. The floating city features its own unique set of aesthetics and steampunk mechanisms, but it is certainly loosely tied to the world of Rapture. The combat seems to be made up of the same general format; vigors replace tonics and a giant eagle-like creature replaces the Big Daddies, but at the end of the day you still have a gun in the right hand and a magic power in the left. Not that that’s a bad thing – if Infinite can capture half the rich atmosphere and frantic gameplay of the previous games it will be leagues ahead of many shooters. Yet the focal point for me rests on the AI partner Elizabeth, who seems more interesting than the NPC companions we’ve come across before. Irrational is quick to mention that she is far from the silent, robotic and frankly useless tagalongs seen in previous games, and everything we’ve seen in demos supports that. Bioshock Infinite just may be the start of smarter, more capable and satisfying AI.

Release date: March 26

Deadpool: The Game

Mitch Neumann

I remember watching an interview with Deadpool: The Game lead designer Terry Spier in October of 2012 and thinking they just might have the savvy to pull this off. He was quoted as saying it will have “Everything you could want in a Deadpool game.”  Considering he’s one of the most intriguing comic book anti-heroes, there is a lot to be said about that statement.

Deadpool: The Game will be a 3rd-person action brawler to include the use of Deadpool’s extensive arsenal. It will be a unique adventure not tied to any previous story line, but rather will be mission based. Spier truly believes they have nailed his personality. That being said, the game should fully deliver the fourth-wall breaking Merc with a mouth that we all love.

Could anyone else go for a chimichanga?

Release date: Unspecified

The Last of Us

Daniel Woizinski

Uncharted is one of the most lauded and beloved series of the past decade, but even before that Naughty Dog was making waves with games like Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter. While the majority of successful games have gone the open-world route and allowed the player to enjoy a build-your-own-adventure playstyle, the studio has been fine-tuning the linear single-player campaign to near perfection. The Last of Us looks to be taking that even further with another third-person action game a la Uncharted, only this time there’s a dedicated focus on emotion, character and story. Joel and Ellie are two survivors trying to find the coast in a wasteland of roving bandits and infected horrors. The violence is brutal, the landscape overgrown, the characters desperate. This is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road with a controller.

I haven’t felt the kind of excitement I have for The Last of Us in an extremely long time. The Uncharted series, particularly Drake’s Deception, achieved an almost effortless sense of character and atmosphere. Its cinematic moments are some of the most breathtaking scenes I’ve come across in all the games I’ve played. All of this is despite the fact that, at its core, the story is fairly hollow and the gameplay is far from special. From everything I’ve seen, The Last of Us looks like it will boast all the same qualities that made Nathan Drake one the most iconic characters in video games, and ground it all on something thrilling, emotional and satisfying.

Release date: June 14

Watch Dogs

Chris Tansuche

What you’re reading is a bunch of games that bring excitement and/or nostalgia to the staffers here at Grizzly Bomb. Video games have come a long way in terms of storytelling and the immersion the gamer has into the new world. Grand Theft Auto III led the way into the non-linear world where you can do as you please and interact with the objects in your environment to aid in whatever you chose to do in the world of Liberty City. Ubisoft, the people behind the Assassin’s Creed series, have helped usher in a revolution in gaming in terms of the control and open world environments. It looks like they are about to up the stakes and expectations in the video game world one more time with Watch Dogs.

I remember watching the 2012 E3 trailer for this game and being blown away. Then I watched the gameplay demo, that I have embedded below, and it completely blows my mind. The idea of ‘Big Brother’ has been along for awhile but never been totally explored in the video game world. At least not in a world where you can play ‘Big Brother’. In this game, as you navigate a beautiful rendering of Chicago, you control all the electronic devices in your area and in the demo, you can hack or control the electronic airwaves. So walking by someone, you can see what their income is, whether they’ve been charged in a crime, or even see if they carry a disease unknown to the public around them. It’s a scary proposition that someone could view this information off of your ‘digital shadow’. Basically, the world is run by a supercomputer that processes all the information in order to safe guard against any attacks and keep things regulated in the world. However, if someone were to gain control of that access, imagine what they could do with that information. I honestly cannot do the game justice explaining it in two paragraphs. Just watch the gameplay trailer below and be amazed. You can thank me later.

Release Date: Unspecified

Grand Theft Auto V

Daniel Woizinski

Rockstar Games is a studio with an almost immaculate track record of late. They’ve had major success with their smaller titles (size is relative here) like Max Payne and L.A. Noire but they are revered and highly esteemed for their work on their flagship series, Grand Theft Auto. GTA V is taking fans back to Los Santos for the first time since San Andreas, and much like they had done with Liberty City in GTA IV, the tri-city area has been redesigned from the ground up. We don’t know all that much about the game’s story but we can expect more of the violence, gunfire and criminal activity that has made the series a favorite target for the mainstream media.

There aren’t many companies I trust as implicitly to deliver a satisfying experience as Rockstar Games. They just make good content. It’s easy in the years between titles to forget that there is more to the Grand Theft Auto series than indulgent sex and violence. The truth is, the sandbox of GTA is great for so much more than that. Racing, hunting hidden items, finding secrets…hell, even walking down the street in Rockstar’s cities is always full of surprising, entertaining moments. It’s also worth mentioning that Grand Theft Auto is one of the best satires of American culture out there today. But what makes me most excited for GTA V is the fact that this will be the first game in the series to come out since Red Dead Redemption, a game that introduced plenty of new innovations to the 3rd person sandbox, and quickly became one of my favorite games. If they implement any of the same ideas into the new Grand Theft Auto, it should be a fantastic next chapter in the series.

Release date: September 17