Rants and raves about all the latest in video games and other forms of mindless entertainment.

July 22, 2005

SONY: 1 - MICROSOFT: 0, Playstation Meeting 2005 impresses, questions still linger

Recently, Sony treated select few members of the press to their future plans regarding the Playstation 3, Playstation 2 and PSP. The most interesting news came in the form of new real-time footage trailers, even some gameplay footage. Probably the most tantalizing of the bunch of trailers was the new teaser for Final Fantasy: Crisis Core, the Final Fantasy VII spin-off that many are expecting to be the PSP's must have killer app, considering the hardware's well is completely dry in the traditional RPG department. The teaser comes in the form of a sequence of anime cut-scenes, which if is indicative of how the story will be told, has me just eccstatic. The game features Zack as the main character, but the trailer also features scenes with Cloud and Sephiroth, and appears to recount the events leading up to the Nibelheim incident (an event prior to FFVII). No telling what the game plays like, but we all know Final Fantasy fanboys won't care either way...it's Final Fantasy, and Seven at that.

But if that wasn't enough Sony decided it was time to pull out some bigger guns and launch a few nuclear salvos at Microsoft. This will come off fanboyish, and I won't hide that because I've already proclaimed my disgust with Microsoft's actions this generation, but Sony has once again proven to us that the Ps3 is still the most powerful console coming to the market, no matter how many false press releases and how many ATi officials Microsoft gets to hype their own video cards. Some interesting trailers to note were the Resident Evil 5 trailer, which I covered much earlier, and the sequel to Genji, a game available in Japan but still awaiting release in the US.

Factor 5 showed it's first trailer for it's new Ps3 development titled "Lair". The trailer featured a bunch of uninteresting scenes picturing flying dragons, but the best thing to note was that Factor 5 has been listening to the gaming community: a large disclaimer reading "This trailer is composed of in-game footage" preceded the video. Look at the picture and see for yourself...

...That's all real-time, and it's looking great. My only concern is how will the game play?

A new RPG announced from Webzen, Endless Saga, was shown in trailer form, but we weren't privy to whether or not it was real-time or not. Disappointing yes, but the visual style looks fairly akin to Final Fantasy XII.

The biggest thing next to Capcom's Resident Evil 5 trailer was the new real-time demo of a new Dynasty Warriors looking game, but even better was the fact that it was running entirely off of Playstation 3 hardware, or at the least Playstation 3 evaluation kits, both scenarios best Microsoft's "Dual G5" setups at E3. While the entire clip was merely a cut-scene, just the fact that it was running on the hardware is reason enough to make special note of it. And while it's still just a play on numbers, it's a good way to gauge just how far this next generation of games is going to advance: In previous Dynasty Warrior games, characters are comprised of a paltry 1000 polygons, compared to 1.5 million in this trailer. Who ever said "take baby steps" obviously never heard of videogames...well that's more than likely true considering the ripeness of the adage.

And while we were still left in the dark about how these games will play, there was a demo played for an audience. The new Gundam Ps3 title was in playable form running on actual development hardware, and it looked exactly as we were shown back at E3. Even though the demo moved at a turtles pace, it proved once and for all that these "trailers" at E3 are more than just plausible, it's going to be easily possible. The game wasn't even using the Havok physics engine yet and was running entirely off of the central core of the Cell processor, completely ignoring the seven SPE's. Watch the demo, with this information in mind, the game is mind bogglingly impressive, not because of the game itself, but just what it's running on and just how little work the Ps3 actually does to run it. Trailers and "in-game" footage isn't enough though. At E3, Microsoft did have playable demos, and you can guarantee they're going to have playable demos at their Nihon-ified unveiling, and more than likely on real hardware. The same will follow at the Tokyo Game Show, which is only months away from the Xbox 360's launch period. Sony needs a playable hardware presence at TGS this year, and if this meeting is any indication, things are moving smoothly.

Sony framed the release of the Ps3 for Spring 2006, which is still in step with their quoted release at E3. Good news to be sure, but it can't come soon enough. All we need now is for Nintendo to come out of hiding and let the consumers educate themselves and make their decision on which console they will purchase first/if at all. While I wouldn't call this years annual Playstation Meeting a nail in any coffin, it proves to Microsoft it takes more than just talk. Sony has proven they can talk the talk and now they can walk the walk, in fact they hit the ground running. So far Microsoft has managed to fumble the talks, I just hope they remember to tie their shoelaces...

Microsoft has it's own unveiling planned in Japan which they claim is an "E3 scale" event. We'll see for ourselves.


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