Hey folks, Valkor here. So show of hands, who stayed up till about 3 am following Sony's big announcement? You better believe I was one em. And when it was actually revealed it was the PSP2. Well I was excited yet hesitant. I think the PSP makes for a great handheld and I bought it on day one because it was an all-round device that was not just a gaming machine, but also a damn good media player capable of handling my music, videos, and photos. With the NGP, they're taking those features to the next level by adding a social twist. Here's a rundown from the press release:
SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT ANNOUNCES ITS NEXT GENERATION PORTABLE ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
Ultimate Portable Entertainment System Makes Its Debut This Year, Further Expanding the PlayStation® Business in the Portable Gaming Market
Tokyo, January 27, 2011– Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) today announced its next generation portable entertainment system (codename: NGP), which delivers the ultimate portable entertainment experience. NGP will make its debut at the end of the year 2011.
NGP is designed to offer unparalleled interactive entertainment that is only possible on PlayStation®. This new system offers a revolutionary combination of rich gaming and social connectivity within a real world context, made possible by leveraging SCE's experience from both PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) and PlayStation®3 (PS3®) entertainment systems.
Deep and immersive gaming is at the core of PlayStation's DNA, and NGP is the latest embodiment of this vision. By having both Wi-Fi and 3G network connectivity, together with various applications, NGP will enable infinite possibilities for users to "encounter," "connect," "discover," "share" and "play" with friends wherever they are. Within the device are a range of features that provide a genuinely cutting-edge, next generation ultimate portable entertainment experience.
・Stunning OLED and Revolutionary User Interface
NGP incorporates a beautiful multi-touch 5-inch organic light emitting display (OLED) as the front display. A high-performance CPU / GPU combined with OLED enables rich, visually striking graphics never seen before on a portable entertainment system, for both games and other digital entertainment content. The new system also incorporates a unique multi-touch pad on the rear, and together with the front touch display, NGP offers new game play allowing users to interact directly with games in three dimension-like motion, through "touch, grab, trace, push and pull" moves of the fingers.
・Super Oval Design and Dual Analog Sticks
While succeeding the basic design philosophy of PSP, NGP adopts the Super Oval Design form factor, created to fit comfortably in users' hands. For the first time, a portable entertainment system will feature two analog sticks, which enable a wider range of game genres to be brought into the portable experience.
Every game title for NGP will be provided with a space called "LiveArea™" where users can share the fun and excitement with other players. Users will have access to the latest information of games provided from SCE and 3rd party developers and publishers through PlayStation®Network. Additionally, NGP users will be able to view an "Activity" log that is constantly updated with accomplishments from users who are playing the same game, which in turn can trigger active real-time communication among users.
SCE will also provide location-based services on NGP as part of the basic features utilizing PlayStation Network. The new application called "Near," developed specifically for this service and the network, will be pre-installed in the system to let users find out what their friends in the vicinity are playing now or what they were playing recently. Users can meet their friends and new players virtually, regardless of what games they are playing, simply by sharing their game information across different dimensions of time and distance.
・New Game Medium
NGP adopts a new game medium, a small flash memory based card, dedicated for NGP software titles. Taking advantage of the flash memory feature, this innovative card can store the full software titles plus add-on game content or the game save data directly on to the card. By adopting flash memory based card, SCE will be able to provide game cards with higher capacity in the future, allowing developers to store more game data to deliver rich and immersive games.
NGP will also come equipped with two cameras on its front and rear, as well as three motion sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer and electronic compass, all of which are designed to enable users to enjoy the world of entertainment that is linked with real life experiences.
PlayStation®Suite (PS Suite), announced today, will also closely coordinate with NGP. The newly developed and released game content for Android™ based portable devices can also be enjoyed on NGP. As a result, users will have access to not only the most leading-edge content, but also some of the more casual experiences that typify the mobile market place.
SCE will vigorously promote NGP towards the launch as the next generation portable entertainment platform and deploy various measures to further expand the portable gaming market.
As far as the design goes, I think it looks hot! I'm glad Sony stuck with the original PSP design (or some variation of it), which works great and makes the device that much easier to hold. I applaud the new screen size – 5 inches! Nice! That with the mix of OLED means no more eye straining and super sharp visuals that are gonna be eye popping. Finally I'm all for the touch-screens and I can't wait to get some hands on time to see how it will all piece together.
But I'm not totally for the whole "social" aspect – mainly "Near". Now I'm all for jumping into the fray with my friends, and sure they can know what I'm playing/doing/whatever, but I don't need my neighbors, who may own the device, to know what I'm doing or playing at any given. And with the way I'm always on teh go - I'm in jersey City one minute and Newark the next, suddenly I have a whole new crew of people scopin out my action. Now if this is something you need to opt in to use, I'm cool with that. If it's also the case where you have to "friend" a person, so they can see what I'm playing and/or doing along with my location, then yes I'm ok with that too. But if its something that's straight out of the box and there's no way out of it (save for turning off wifi/3G), then I'm not with it and I hope this aspect changes.
As far as the software is concerned, well it's too early to tell just what's definitively coming down the pike as the developers present at the event were rather vague on what they were working on, it did appear that the system would be used for "shovelware", which has its pros and cons. Pros – great if I'm able to continue my game where I left off from the console. Who hasn't had to stop mid game because of work, sleep, little jimmy's birthday? If I can continue, right where I left off that make it so. The cons would be that if you already own the game, would you want to buy it again just to play it all over on a handheld? (Actually I did that with Marvel Ultimate Alliance and X-Men Age of Apocalypse II). So that's actually a mix feeling. If the developers include both a digital copy and disc in the same package, then I'm all over this system! But it will be interesting what games are coming down the pike.
Finally it's sad to see UMD's on the outs. I didn't think they were bad, just bad for movies. Wait! Scratch that, the movies were bad, but they were too damn expensive to justify even buying them. I've only owned one UMD film, which was Spider-Man and that came with the bundle.
I'll admit, I'm not "in love" with the NGP as I was with the first PSP, but it could grow on me as more info is released. This year's E3 is gonna be quite interesting I'm sure, as folks converge to uncover everything and anything they can about Sony's latest handheld – and you can include me in the mix. I wanna thanks the folks over at Engadget and Kotaku for making it one hell of night as I followed the covered on both sites simultaneously. And to you folks out there? Stay tuned!