Consoul's Blog Consoul Games: August 2006

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Psst. Want some PS3 info?

Haven't had much time to post recently, so I'll take this opportunity to quickly share some more information on Playstation3. Some of it is common knowledge, some isn't. I've gathered this from a few sources, both online and off, with beer and without. I trust the sources, but haven't confirmed any of it personally, so take it how you like. As the late Jack Palance said, "Believe it...or not".

It's true that PS3 offers nearly 100% backward compatibility with upscaling...unless you want to play games using non-standard controllers. The complete lack of controller ports means that your G-Con45, dance-mat, Beatmania turntables, Guitar Hero guitar, etc. won't be able to plug into the PS3. Of course, Sony's first-party custom controllers (for games like Singstar, Eyetoy and Buzz) will still work as they're USB devices. A third-party solution (adapter) may emerge, but Sony aren't interested in supporting non-Sony controllers.

On the upside, game save files will be transferrable. Despite PS3 not having legacy memory card slots, Sony will provide a method of copying save files from PSone/PS2 memory cards to a "virtual memory card" on the PS3. If only Microsoft would do the same for XBox/XBox360. The hard drives in both the 20GB and 60GB PS3 models are user-replaceable. Gamers can buy higher-capacity standard notebook HDD's off the shelf and drop them in. Technical support will only be offered for the official Sony drives however.

The PS3 online service will indeed be free. Unlike the XBox Live Gold subscription service, Sony are providing online multiplayer, friends lists, automatic skill-based match-ups, Eyetoy integration and multiple gamer accounts free of charge. Your credit card isn't off the hook though, as all manner of dowloadable content will be available to purchase.

A fully-featured web browser is included and mice and keyboards are natively supported, though Sony won't be selling them. Developers are free to implement mouse/keyboard input in games, but supporting the PS3 controller is mandatory. Support of its motion sensing capabilities is being encouraged. Controller vibration is not coming back.

PSP integration is still going ahead, though it may not be ready for launch. You'll be able to use your PSP as a remote control for the PS3 and will be able to see the PS3 screen on your PSP provided both devices are on the same wireless network. Incidentally, PSone emulation on PSP will begin in October via a firmware upgrade. Only a small selection of titles will initially be available for purchase.

PS3 game prices will be comparable to XBox360 titles. Unfortunately, the number of titles in the launch window is shrinking rather than growing. Looks like there will be about fifteen games in the launch lineup, rather than the original target of thirty. Taking advantage of the higher capacity of the Blu-Ray format, the games are massive in terms of actual data. 85% of PS3 games currently in development would not fit on a DVD-ROM. To take an example, launch killer-app, Resistance: Fall of Man, is currently weighing in at 20GB. Forget 5.1 surround, it supports up to 7.1. It sports over a dozen multiplayer modes supporting up to 40 players online.

Killzone is said to be progressing well, but will be kept under wraps until closer to launch. Apparently it will actually live up to the graphical standard of the notorious E3 2005 target render video. For Sony's sake, it would want to. Due in March, Heavenly Sword is reportedly shaping up well too, having undergone significant improvement over the already impressive build seen at E3 2006. The violence and gore factor has also been upped a notch after indications that the earlier build would have attracted an M rating anyway. Gran Turismo HD is a long way from release and will be an entirely new title. GT4 Online for PS2 was developed and is undergoing internal evaluation. It may never be released.

Despite not having HDMI, the 20GB PS3 will actually be capable of 1080p output via component. Nevermind the fact that no currently available TV sets support 1080p component input. A PS3 controller or PSP can be used for Blu-ray movie playback, and an official dedicated remote is also planned.

Expect some official announcements from the Tokyo Game Show in a few weeks.
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The new European PS3 slogan.

While we're on the subject of PS3, stay tuned for a launch report from Tokyo, as I'll be there on November 11.