Alright, so now that the official announcement of the PSP2, heretofore referred to as the NGP or Next Generation Portable, is over and done with, it’s time to get to the nitty gritty of it all: what kind of heat is the console packing and what are its capabilities?
While Sony might not have been as forthcoming about a price point, something they are sure to get a lot of flak for, they were pretty open about what makes the NGP the next step in gaming.
[Update: Check out Sony's Official Announcement Video for ALL of the revealed details!]
Beneath the NGP’s OLED screen, a 5-inch OLED screen at that, is some pretty heavy duty processing power. With both a state-of-the-art CPU and GPU, the NGP, as proven by demonstration videos, is capable of delivering visuals and game experiences that are on par with the PS3. To be specific, the NGP is packing a quad-core ARM Cortex A9 processor and a quad-core PowerVR SGX534MP4+ GPU - that might not mean much to a lot of people, but to those who know hardware these are some solid guts. While the tech itself has yet to go through rigorous hands-on fan testing, what was shown at the press conference certainly was impressive.
Now back to the screen. Not only is the OLED screen nearly double the size of a traditional smart phone screen, it also packs the same multi-touch capabilit. Where the NGP really goes above and beyond is with its additional rear touch pad. Making gestures like pushing, pulling, grabbing, and tracing that much more realistic, expect for the combination of dual touchpads to make for some truly immersive experiences - unlike anything we've seen before.
What should be familiar to any gamer are the dual sticks that sit to the right and left of the OLED screen. Yes, the D-pad and the shape and shoulder buttons are also there, but this will be one of the first times that a portable gaming device will be offering the precision of a twin joystick set-up. Essentially, the NGP will have three different ways of executing a game experience.
That third method of control will be through the NGP’s accelerometer. Utilizing the same precise tech seen in the PlayStation Move controller, the NGP will be capable of providing games that require a full range of motion from turning the handheld for driving games - or tilting a la Super Monkey Ball.
Some other great “under the hood” features include the ability to connect to both Wi-Fi or 3G internet (no word on if 3G will cost extra though), an electronic compass that comes into play in one of the console’s new features (more on that later), and of course both a front facing and rear facing camera. These three features really are Sony’s way of keeping pace with the smart phones of today - as most of the best-selling phones already boast the tech. The Internet connectivity will allow gamers to download, game, or browse from anywhere they would like - and the cameras can serve a variety of game-related functions. The NGP really is a well-stocked little machine wrapped in the familiar “super oval” package.
Sony might not have had anything substantial to show, instead demonstrating either the NGP’s ability to run PS3 games or showing off miniature tech demos, but the line-up they have in the cooker is very exciting. Some of the in-development games include Call of Duty, Broken, Gravity Daze, Hot Shots Golf, Hustle Kings, Killzone, LittleBigPlanet, Little Deviants, Reality Fighters, Resistance, Smart As, Uncharted, and WipEout. Many of these titles, some more than others, certainly have the capacity to move a ton of NGPs if they are available on the new flash-based cards at launch.
That’s right folks, UMD is a thing of the past. Replacing the dinosaur of a game storage device will be a flash-based memory card most likely similar in design to something offered for a digital camera. Currently capable of upwards of 128 GBs of storage, these flash cards will not only be able to store the game itself, but save files, DLC content, or anything else that the singular game might need. Imagine a Blu-ray or DVD that was rewriteable. That’s what these new cards can do and if Sony is trying to fit PS3 quality games on them they will certainly need all the space they can get.
When developing a new console like the NGP, Sony was well aware that not only did they have to make a stronger and better device, but they also had to implement features that were specific to that device. The first one, titled “Near,” uses the NGP’s compass and Internet connection to identify not only where the player is, but also where they have been. On top of that, players will be able to see NGP players in their vicinity and check out what they are playing. See that everyone in your area is involved in an intense game of Killzone multiplayer? Then purchase and download your very own copy, right then and join the action. “Near” improves the way in which gamers make friends, who they interact with, and could also create interest in games based purely on whether or not local players are active with them.
The other new feature, dubbed “LiveArea,” is Sony’s NGP answer to the XMB. Delivering all of their central game content, from friend lists to trophies, “LiveArea” is a touch-activated menu meant to be both easy to use and informative. Like the Autolog in Need for Speed, “LiveArea” will also feature an activity log that will keep the user updated on what nearby gamers are up to. It has the addictive nature of the Autolog, but carries the breadth of game possibilities that come only with a console experience.
While there are still plenty of pieces of the NGP puzzle that have yet to be revealed, most specifically a price and a release date, what Sony did choose to reveal makes for a strong contender in the handheld market. Packing some serious tech, both inside and out, and boasting some new and exciting features, NGP is going to give Nintendo, Microsoft, and even Apple a run for their money.
What do you think of the information that Sony revealed about the NGP so far? Anything you were surprised to see? Something that you hope is part of the new console? Share any of your thoughts or concerns in the comments below.
Sony's NGP should hit store shelves before the end of the year.