Ben's Week In Review: February 24
So the PlayStation 4 is coming and nobody can seem to talk about anything else. :)
Sony did what they needed to do with the PS4
I know people think I'm criticizing or complaining when I say the new PlayStation shows mostly evidence of a mainstream/casual influence (which is an absolute fact), but I'm merely making an observation. They're expanding beyond the hardcore and niche gaming crowd because they have to; because it'd be financial suicide if they didn't. We were on the verge of the social media, "always connected," and multiplayer explosion when the PS3 came out, and Sony really had to struggle through that launch. This time, they gave us more accessible hardware, which developers obviously love, and a slew of features that are all about enhancing the "user experience," as had been rumored before the system's unveiling.
Do we not recall the information that said the PS4 would be more about "new play options" rather than futuristic specs? Or the leaked bit about the PS4 focusing on "social features?" I'm not saying the PS4 can't satisfy the hardcore crowd, because it doesn't sacrifice anything previous PlayStation platforms had that catered to the hardcore. What I'm saying is that all it added is based on the changing industry, and the fact that the majority of consumers today are casual gamers. That is clearly reflected in what we saw at the PlayStation Meeting. And I'm fine with that. I still want it and Sony simply adapted to the times. So bravo. And again, I'm not necessarily complaining; I'm just stating the obvious.
Anyone else thinking the Xbox 720 will be remarkably similar to the PS4?
After I saw the PS4 announcement, it really did remind more of a Microsoft position, at least in regards to how they approach the gaming consumer. It was more mainstream-oriented, which is precisely how the Xbox has gotten so big in the US. And although we've heard that the new Xbox will be more about connecting to the mobile gaming market (while Sony chose the social media/cloud gaming route), I'm willing to bet the two systems will be awfully similar. Both in terms of specs and features. And that's also the reason I side with some analysts who believe this will be the last generation of consoles. There may be a drastic change after this next generation, in that we might see one universal all-in-one machine that does gaming and just about every other form of entertainment on the planet. At that point, there will be no need for multiple consoles.
So when that analyst said Microsoft needs to bring their "A-Game," I'm not sure that's true. I'm willing to bet Microsoft knew exactly what Sony was going to do, and the two companies are of the same mind right now. The mass market is the mass market. There may be slightly different ways of interpreting it, but the bottom line is that both Sony and Microsoft have to appeal to the same audience. And now, both are very likely on the same page. So don't expect anything too drastically different when the Xbox 720 is revealed, that's all I'm saying.
Personal gaming update
Crysis 3 was really fun but it was disappointing in a way. It's a blast from start to finish, but it did kinda feel like "Crysis Lite," in that it seemed like it was missing something vital...something almost indefinable that the first two entries boasted. It's partly the lack of a significant challenge, partly a bigger emphasis on flash rather than stealth, and partly a more ambitious storyline that falls flat. It's not that the game is bad; I don't give 8s to bad games. That's hardly what I'm saying. But when it comes to Crysis, I think we all expect something more. That's all.
I'd like to maybe finish Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, because that too is a good game and lots of fun. But for whatever reason, I've gravitated back to one of my favorite guilty pleasures from a couple years ago: NBA Jam. The game is precisely what fans of the old-school games wanted, and how often can we say that this generation? March is big, if you weren't already aware: Tomb Raider, God of War: Ascension, and Bioshock Infinite, to name a few... Get ready! :)
2/23/2013 Ben Dutka