May 26, 2006
– Jennie Kong, Sony’s UK PR manager spoke on the recent rumor of Sony restricting the sales of used PlayStation 3 games.
“I would like to clarify that this is false speculation and that PlayStation 3 software will not be copy protected to a single machine but will be playable on any PlayStation 3 console.”
May 24, 2006
For many gamers, Final Fantasy VII holds some of the fondest and finest memories of the 20th Century, a tragic love story filled with action magic and racing Chocobos.
Unsurprisingly, after Square Enix showcased a tech demo of the early stages of Final Fantasy VII remade on the PS3 platform, the internet has been saturated with rumours suggesting that the game will be remade in its enirety for the Sony’s new console.
These rumours have recently been upped a notch or ten when American gaming magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly released this comment in their latest issue:
“Last year, Square Enix teased everyone with what was called the “FFVII PS3 demo. Well, what do you know? This test case was really a sneak peek at a next-gen revival of the PS1 role-playing hit.”
However in a rather sour reply to the speculation, Square Enix have released this statement:
“Since the Final Fantasy VII tech demo at E3 2005, there have been a lot of rumours about the presentation hinting at an actual remake. While the June 2006 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly confirms the remake for release in 2007, Square Enix has never stated this.
We have however confirmed that development has begun for Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII on PlayStation 3. These titles are part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis Project which also includes a mobile game titled Final Fantasy Agito XIII.”
So there you have it – Final Fantasy VII will not be released for PS3… Or will it? If you’re one of the many who would like to see the game remade then don’t be too down heartened. Despite not confirming the rumours Square Enix made no attempt to deny them completely either, so speculation is now rife over whether or not this indicates Square are planning on making the game in the coming years.
May 19, 2006
Following several reports that appeared on Bloomberg, GamesIndustry.biz put together a story about Sony’s treatment of PS3 developers so far, and the number of launch titles for their next-gen console. According to Kaz Hirai (Sony Computer Entertainment America boss), around 15 software titles are expected to launch with the PlayStation 3 this November. But while Hirai doesn’t think there will be too much of an issue with regard to software availability at the launch of the system, some people in the industry strongly disagree:
“publisher bosses including Sega of America’s Simon Jeffrey and THQ’s Brian Farrell were both open in their criticism of Sony’s treatment of PS3 developers so far, with Jeffrey telling Bloomberg that “there certainly will not be a lot of titles available” at launch.
According to Jeffrey, “a lot of developers” have not received development kit hardware from Sony yet – although final development hardware is meant to be shipping out this month – while Farrell claimed that THQ is not developing The Sopranos for PS3 because it’s “too risky” due to the lack of final hardware specifications.”
However, there are also those who agree with Sony’s development support strategy to date – such as executives at Activision, EA and Ubisoft – pointing out that Microsoft was also late with sending out the final Xbox 360 dev kits a year ago.
On a vaguely related note, after some controversy regarding Sony’s free PS3 online services, it finally seems that online-play will indeed be free of charge – despite it being omitted from Kaz Hirai’s pre-E3 briefing. According to PS3Land, SCEA’s PR Manager had this to say:
“Please note that online gaming will be free right out of the box.”
All clear now? Well hopefully… At the very least, gamers will be able to play online for free on the PS3 (MMO fees not included), which is not the case with Xbox 360’s free (Silver) Xbox Live service.
May 13, 2006
While Sony didn’t delve deep into the PlayStation 3’s OS or desktop during their conference, there have been a number of interesting sightings of it on the E3 show floor. Most of you PSP owners will immediately recognize the XMB, since it’s virtually the same as what is found on the PSP. So far it’s looking quite sleek and minimalist.
The XMB, from what people have noted so far, includes the following sections and settings:
Users: Allows you to manage profiles for multiple users.
Settings: Misc settings such as language, mouse/keyboard, console-wide preferences for thigns such as music, video playback, etc.
Photo: Allows you to view items from a USB device, HDD, digital camera, Memory Stick/SD card/Compact Flash card, and the ability to create slideshows
Music: Various digital music playback from a variety of source, such as CD, HDD, USB devices, and the various memory cards.
Movie: Playback of BluRay video, DVD video, and video off of the HDD.
Game: Launching games from with the BRD of HDD/removable memory cards. Game saves and various settings.
Network: Network settings as well as internet applications such as the built in web browser.
Friend: A way to maintain a universal friend’s list, send/receive messages, etc.
Click here for images of the browser and the XMB. Note the ability to open multiple windows. Thanks to xbde3’s Flickr photostream for the browser shots, and Impress Game Watch for the XMB details/shots.
May 11, 2006
It came as no surprise that the main focus of the huge Sony stand was PlayStation 3 – the entire central portion of the stand was given over to PS3, but PSP was also given a huge area. With an official price of almost $600, Sony needed to make it perfectly clear that its next gen console would be worth the asking price. Of course you can pay less for a PS3, but for your $499 you only get a 20GB hard disk instead of a 60GB one and HDMI is off the menu.
But it’s not just the hard disk and digital output that get cut on the cheaper PS3. The 60GB version also has a MemoryStick slot (something that the PS2 should have had), but if you’re not a fan of Sony’s memory card format, this PS3 will also accept CompactFlash and SD cards. But the most compelling reason to go for the 60GB unit is that it has integrated WiFi – this is something that the Xbox 360 should have had, but I guess MS wanted to sell those USB WiFi adapters. Of course using a USB adapter or a wireless bridge works, but integrated WiFi is a far more elegant solution.
This was the first time that I’d seen the PS3 up close and it was a lot larger than I had expected. There were silver and black consoles on display, although considering that both iterations of the PS2 were black, I think I prefer the look of the silver one. Also on show was the “new” PS3 controller. Gone is the boomerang shaped unit that debuted with the console last year and in its place is, well, the same old PlayStation controller. OK, to be fair it’s not the same old controller – these ones are wireless and will charge via a mini-USB socket on the front of the controller. The controller should be able to last for around 24 hours on a single charge. There will also be a motion sensor implemented into the controllers to allow basic tilting controls much like the Wii, although the controllers on show didn’t have this feature.
Although the PS3 controller may look almost identical to the older versions, once you grab hold of it and start playing a game you realise that Sony has made some major improvements. Most evident is the sensitivity of the analogue sticks – whereas the analogue sticks on the PS2 controllers felt very clumsy, these ones allow far more subtle movements. The trigger buttons also have a far more tactile feel to them and actually feel more like triggers than before.
There’s no doubt that it was Gran Turismo stealing the show, and it did look very good, especially considering that it’s still in a very early build stage. Sony stated that Gran Turismo was running at 1080p, but it wasn’t clear whether the console was actually outputting a 1080p signal or whether the TV was simply de-interlacing a 1080i signal into a 1080p image. Either way the effect was impressive and the frame rate seemed pretty smooth.
There are surely loads of Gran Turismo addicts out there who can’t wait for this new version to break cover on the PS3, but having played this early version I can’t say that I’ve started counting the days until the PS3 launches because of it.
Also on show was Virtua Tennis 3 which looked beautiful, although it didn’t feel like the gameplay had moved on too much from previous versions. To be fair though, this game isn’t due out for another year so Sega has plenty of time to polish it up. But much as I like Virtua Tennis, the PS3 version doesn’t look any better than the Xbox 360 version, so again there’s little incentive to go down the PS3 route. But this is nothing new, most big games come out on both the PS2 and Xbox, so we can expect the same thing to happen with the PS3 and X360.
Virtua Tennis 3 on the PS3.
Virtua Tennis 3 on the Xbox 360.
Sega was also showing Virtua Fighter 5 on the PS3. I’ve always been a big fan of the Virtua Fighter series – while Tekken has a “thrash the buttons” arcade feel to it, and DOA is, let’s face it, all about the babes, Virtua Fighter has a kind of integrity to it. Sega invented the 3D beat-em-up and has evolved it with each iteration, concentrating on strategy, fluid movement and stunning visuals. After playing a few rounds of VF5 today I’d say that Sega is definitely making the most of the PS3 with this one.
Of course Sony has announced a few titles that I am very excited about. Metal Gear Solid 4 should be great, and knowing Konami’s history with the MGS series, you can expect it to take full advantage of this new hardware. Also, after playing Resident Evil 4 on the GameCube last year, I can’t wait to get hold of RE5, although again this one is due for release on both PS3 and X360. Fans of Dante will also be very keen to get their paws on Devil May Cry 4, which should show off the PS3 to good effect. But sadly the launch line up for the PS3 still hasn’t been confirmed, so it’s hard to tell what games you’ll be able to play after you’ve parted with your hard earned cash in November.
So, I finally got my hands on some PS3 hardware, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by any stretch of the imagination. It’s not to say that the games on the PS3 look bad, but they don’t seem to be any better than what we’re seeing on the Xbox 360 now. After having spent the morning with Nintendo’s Wii, Sony’s PS3 doesn’t seem to be breaking any new ground – yes there are some great visuals on show, but nothing took my breath away like Zelda did.
Sony is, unfortunately a victim of its own success. The original PlayStation was such a massive hit that the PS2 had a tough time living up to that legacy at first, and back then it only had the Sega Dreamcast to compete against. This time around the PS3 will be competing with the Xbox 360, which will be running second generation games by November, while also battling the Nintendo Wii with its innovative control system and far lower price point.
Ultimately though, I’ve no doubt that the PlayStation 3 will be a huge success because there is such a massive loyal PlayStation fan base out there – these people are probably outright refusing to buy an X360 and waiting patiently for the PS3 to hit the streets. Even with such a high price point you can expect to see a buying frenzy in November, even if there aren’t too many great games at launch.
Having already been announced for Xbox 360 and PC, a PlayStation 3 version was strangely absent from the Atari release schedule, but not for any longer. Atari has today announced that Alone in the Dark will be released simultaneously for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.
“The team is having a fantastic time bringing Alone in the Dark to life using the incredible processing power of the PlayStation 3 kits,” commented David Nadal, Game Director, Eden Games. “It’s a very exciting time for us, when we begin to see how the powerful new generation of hardware can help us realize our ideas in a way that hasn’t been possible before.”
Look for more on the game over the next few days.
Peter Moore, Xbox 360’s head honcho and huge tattoo fan, has slammed Sony’s PS3 price point by claiming that it has been forced on gamers thanks to the PS3’s in-built hi-def DVD drive.
Speaking exclusively to CVG at E3 today, Moore also claimed that there isn’t enough of a difference between the quality of Xbox 360 and PS3 games to warrant Sony’s far higher price point: 499 Euro (around 340) for the 20GB model and 599 Euro (around 410) for the 60GB model compared to Xbox 360’s 210 for the Core Pack and 280 for the Premium Pack.
“Xbox 360 isn’t forcing hi-def DVD playback on you, and telling you that it’s going to cost you an extra $200-$300 dollars,” he said, referring to the in-built Blu-ray drive that will come installed in every PS3 when it launches worldwide in November. The Xbox 360’s external hi def DVD drive – which will use the competing HD-DVD format – will be released this Christmas. No price point has been announced.
When asked flat-out if he thought the PS3 was overpriced, Moore responded, “Go ask consumers. That’s where I get my feedback from. I’m very comfortable about our price point for what it delivers, the number of games it has, and the quality of those games. Consumers are going to have to see PlayStation 3 games and ask, ‘can I see $300 pounds of difference in those games.’ I’m not sure that’s the case right now. Sony has some challenges in answering that question.”
And Moore reckons that Sony will really feel the pinch as the next-gen console battle goes into its final stages. “The problem for Sony isn’t this year. This year they’re going to sell what they can deliver. The problem comes two years down the road when you have to catch up with a cost reduction curve when your competition is already there.”