Talking Point: How the PS4 Will Put an End to Some of the PS3's Biggest Issues
Posted by Robert Ramsey
Better, faster, stronger
We love our good old pal the PlayStation 3, but even we can acknowledge that the console is not without fault. Its complex architecture has proved a headache for developers ever since its release almost seven years ago – and it's resulted in some less than desirable ports being published for our favourite machine. But with the more accommodating PlayStation 4 lurking on the horizon, the gripes that we've become accustomed to over the years are on their way out.
Prior to last month's PlayStation Meeting, many correctly predicted that the impending system would actually resemble a high-end gaming PC. That's exactly what system architect Mark Cerny presented, promising an end to the PS3's complex architecture, in favour of a more traditional design. This will allow developers to produce content for the machine much more easily, while the powerful hardware buried deep within the system's currently invisible chassis will once again drive visual innovation forward.
Over the course of the current generation, we've seen a massive leap in both the scale of games, and the ambition of developers. Such aspects will be given the opportunity to evolve all over again with the introduction of new hardware – a welcome asset, seeing as the current generation has struggled to match the aspirations of some studios.
Indeed, as games have started to require more from the PS3, its limitations have become increasingly clear. While first-party studios such as Naughty Dog and Sony Santa Monica have been able to make Sony's third home console sing and dance multiple times, it hasn't always been quite as easy for third-party developers. When it comes to technical performance, one of the console's biggest flaws has been its stunted amount of RAM. This lack of memory has led to numerous titles running poorly on the manufacturer's machine, with issues such as long load times, frame-rate drops, and, worst of all, hard locks, rearing their ugly heads.
Many of the aforementioned issues can be best observed in Bethesda Game Studios' various PS3 releases. Gamers were understandably outraged with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim back when it launched in 2011, prompting slews of vicious remarks due to its tragic performance on Sony's system. But although the title's outdated engine was at the very heart of the controversy, the awkward architecture of the PS3 itself did nothing to alleviate the problem.
And this brings us nicely to the upcoming PS4. Sony's next generation console not only boasts a much more accessible development environment, but also a rather attractive 8GB GDDR5 RAM – an attribute often associated with high-end PCs. With that in mind, the console should see many of the PS3's faults fade away. The impending system will be able to handle much more intensive scenarios than its predecessor, allowing further chaos to unfold on your television screen. More enemies, smarter artificial intelligence, and better visual effects – almost every aspect of gameplay will be enhanced due to the console's increased processing power and the freedom that comes with a far larger pool of memory.
Things that we've grown to accept will soon become a relic of the past with the PS4. Developers will now have the appropriate horsepower to realise their visions, and the less complex architecture will ultimately allow studios to spend more time polishing their titles rather than getting them up and running. And that means that we'll be able to enjoy better games, without needing to worry about whether they'll actually work as intended.
Is there any particular technical gripe that you'll be glad to see the back of on the PS4? What improvements are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments section below.