Feature: Sony's GamesCom 2013 Showcase - Did It Meet Our Expectations?
Posted by Sammy Barker
Looking back on the PS4, PS3, and Vita's presence in Cologne
We’ve had press releases coming out of our ears since Sony’s explosive GamesCom press conference on Tuesday, but having finally had a chance to reflect upon it – and clean up the dirty coffee cups that have been sitting on our desks since the beginning of the week – we’re now ready to talk about whether the Japanese giant’s presence in Germany lived up to our expectations. From release dates to indie games to Andrew House’s immaculate facial hair, we’ve collated a collection of Push Square team members to discuss our thoughts on the big show.
Sammy Barker, Associate Editor
The brilliance of Shuhei Yoshida’s understated opening didn’t really hit me at first. I must admit that I hadn’t thought much about it until I read GameSpot’s analysis piece. Now that I’ve had a chance to ruminate on it, though, I’m really impressed. It’s become customary for console manufacturers – Sony very much included – to want to “sell” their products. They want to make sure that you see every single detail and point out every tiny thing that’s happening on the screen. Sometimes they fake their demonstrations to make the importance of these points even more apparent.
But the Japanese giant didn’t do that on Tuesday. Yoshida didn’t say a word; he just sat with his back to the audience and started messing around with the PlayStation 4’s user interface. And the real beauty was in the imperfections. It was a live demo, and there were minor niggles. The framerate jittered, for example, as the console sifted through the system's hard drive. When he joined a live game of Killzone: Shadow Fall, there was a five-to-ten second loading screen. It was very organic, and representative of the type of experience that you’ll have when the system launches in mid-November.
That the platform holder didn’t feel the need to scream about everything that was happening showed a supreme confidence in the product that it’s created. It didn’t need to tell you how snappy the interface is, how quickly you can stream other people’s gameplay, and how cleanly it all comes together – it was all just evident on the screen. And for that reason – among many others – I really feel like the company just gets it at the moment. I could ramble on about the incredible indie lineup and improvements to the launch games, but, like the aforementioned opening demonstration, there’s really no need. The PlayStation brand is in very, very good health.
Greg Giddens, Reviews Editor
I think that one of the most impressive and exciting things about the next PlayStation console is the variety of games being developed for it. It's a remarkably vast selection of titles that cover every aspect of gaming; every genre and mood. Whatever titles float your boat, the PS4 will have something for you in its launch window, and that's really exciting.
Despite the variety of new properties, though, I must admit that it’s some of the more immediate sequels that are getting me the most excited. My inner-child is really clawing its way to the surface, because, honestly, the two titles that really caught my eye at GamesCom are Lemmings Touch and Skylanders: Swap Force on the PS4.
I adore the Lemmings titles, so the chance to revisit that classic on the PlayStation Vita is going to be wonderful, and while Swap Force is hitting the PlayStation 3 as well as the PS4, the native 1080p and enhanced detail for the latter version has got me giddy.
Another highlight for me was the PS4 release date. Now I know which date to mark on my calendar. It’s a bit like the lead up to Christmas really – albeit a month earlier.
Katy Ellis, Events Correspondent
Wow, Sony sure did keep us busy the other night with all of those awesome indie announcements. It's great to see the manufacturer showing its confidence in the smaller development studios and signing on plenty of new titles, a project fronted by the wonderful Shahid Ahmad.
Tequila Works' RIME looks absolutely stunning, but I'm slightly concerned that it will amount to little more than an ICO clone, drawing on the PS2 title's cult gaming status. The Chinese Room's PS4 offering Everybody's Gone to Rapture was also very intriguing, and if Dear Esther is anything to go by, it's going to be another stunningly surreal experience.
But for me, it was BigFest that stole the show. Yes, you read that right, the music festival management simulation game for the Vita that was announced just before the slew of indie titles. I thought it was an absolutely fantastic idea to use Sony's musical endeavours to create a game which asks players to actively promote smaller bands. Genius.
Ben Potter, Staff Writer
I felt that Sony's press conference was a little basic this year, but in all honesty, that was precisely what was necessary. Most people will have already made up their minds about whether they want to buy a PS4 at launch, so all that Sony really needed to do at Gamescom was give us a release date, show us how the console works, and further flesh out the launch lineup.
Of course, there was other important stuff that came out of the conference – the plethora of indie content aiming to plug the gaps between blockbuster releases, for example, and the Vita’s well-timed price drop. If I had to pick out a few announcements that I'm personally thrilled about, it would be the much-anticipated arrival of the all-conquering Minecraft, Borderlands 2 on the Vita, and the mere fact that RIME exists. Seriously, how gorgeous did RIME look?
Slightly unprofessional Microsoft jab aside, this year's conference played it safe – and with just a few months until the big day, it's definitely time to start filling those piggy banks.
Nathan Michalik, Staff Writer
It was great to see a good amount of attention focused on the Vita and how Sony is working to increase the install base with a price cut and memory discount. These have been two of the most popular complaints since launch, after all.
However, I was disappointed that all of the "big surprises" that Sony had saved for GamesCom were either regarding games that we already knew about or indie games. Don't get me wrong, I love indie games, but I'd have liked to have seen a couple more blockbuster titles in action.
Robert Ramsey, Staff Writer
The reaction to Sony's GamesCom has been a classic example of gamers setting their expectations far too high – expecting a second E3 when, realistically, it was never going to happen. The PS4's launch lineup is set in stone, and big budget titles will be announced in time; it’s best to announce games when they’re ready, rather than long before release.
For me, it was a solid showing. Maybe the first party titles that I wanted to see didn't quite get their time on stage, but the sheer amount of indie support that the company has gathered is almost unprecedented. Games like ResoGun, Helldivers, and RIME all look truly fantastic, and seeing so much Vita support was also reassuring. Releases like Borderlands 2 and Minecraft have finally got me looking into upgrading my puny 4GB memory card, even if they are a little late to the party. Sony is once again investing in the future, and after GamesCom, I think that these really are exciting times for the industry.
What did you make of Sony’s show in Cologne? What were your favourite announcements, and what could you have done without? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.