PS4 News Round Up: Knack Edition

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While I went on at length yesterday about the recently held PS4 press conference, I merely touched on some of the technical and conceptual aspects of the system itself.

Today, I want to talk about what will really define the PS4…the games.

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More specifically Knack, which was the first official title Sony showed off, and one they utilized in expressing some of the cooler tech pros of the PS4 itself.

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Knack looks to be a quaint game in theory, but a beast in execution. Between the movie cinematic shown of the title, which was very Pixar-esque in visuals and definition, and actual in game footage, the game looks to be a great tech demo of what the PS4 has to offer. The main character (Knack) has the ability to explode into hundreds of fragments and rebuild himself, all in real time. This is all while maintaining  a smooth 60 frames per second of gameplay, even in the combat scenario’s on display. The game has a ton of visual quirks, and is a joy to even just look at, given the fluidity of the title itself. Knack looks to be showing off not only the physics capabilities of the PS4, but the lighting, particle effects, and variations on how all of these elements can help bring a game to life, even if it has a cartoony facade.

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While the game looks to be a more straight forward third person action title, the amount of ingenuity in game elements looks to be enticing. In one moment, Knack was city sized, romping though the streets en mass giving way to a rampage of destruction. In another instance, Knack shed all of his extra weight to shrink down, and sneak through a hallway of lasers.

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The dynamic ways of losing all of his pieces when hit, or changing shape and gaining size on the fly was entertaining. All of the shape morphing was to better suit his current situation and looked to be a refreshing take on not only the third person action genre, but in showcasing the PS4’s arsenal of visual tricks. I’m hoping this to be a day one pick up when the PS4 arrives.

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Sony kept hyping key words like quick and integrated, and is following through in proving such with what Knack has to offer, in conjunction with the PS4 tech. They showed someone live streaming Knack on the PS4, with a lobby system involving people who are spectating and chatting while doing so. A mention of any of the players who owned the game, able to jump in and help at any time was also a possibility. 

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After the fact, players could also upload videos and screenshot of their session, which can then be rated on by other users, all within the confines of the PS4 itself. While Knack was used as an example, the way Knack creator (and PS4 lead architect Mark Cerny) talked about the functionality, this may very well be a universal feature on many or all games on the PS4 moving forward.

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Downloading, uploading, streaming, all of this will be handled by background architecture in the system. This will help create a faster and more diverse environment for gaming culture, so as to exist, but not interrupt play. Choose to play the game,  watch others, join others if you’re having fun watching the stream, share screenshots and content for others to rate after wards, and more. Playing has and will always be a central part of any system, but now, the console experience looks to enrich gaming lives by connecting all aspects of gaming culture, for more than those who just like to play.

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Cross platform play also is a pivotal part of Sony’s strategy, with Knack another prime example of the connectivity options. The anecdotal observation was given that someone else takes over the TV while you are fully engaged in a game, but you still want to keep playing. Following up on the seamless integration, the creator Mark, was able to resume play of Knack within a moments time on the Vita. All of this was possible through Sony’s partnership of Gaikai, the online cloud gaming company. The title was available through the power of online streaming, and fully playable on Sony’s handheld. The demo shown of Knack being played on the Vita showed no compromise in quality of game play or visuals in the transference. This may not benefit everyone, as the price for admission (in owning ALL of the tech needed) is high, but very usefully beneficial to anyone who’s invested deeply into the Sony side of system offerings, and wants to further reap reward and correlate their gaming experiences.

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…and that’s just one of many games they showed in the press conference. I felt Knack was a guinea pig for many of the newer prospects of tech being used within the PS4, and felt it needed it’s own post. While some of the other games on hand, like Killzone and The Witness were incredibly interesting, they demoed as more gaming centric experience, not discussing many of their tertiary elements within the PS4’s own infastructure. Not to say, on it’s own merits, I haven’t already resigned myself to a day one purchase of Knack. I’m just thoroughly impressed that even after I’ve played through the game,  Knack really will provide a whole new experience of interaction, just based on what the PS4 is being hyped to accomplish. Quite possibly, a norm for PS4 game’s and the fun potential they will unlock, even beyond the game’s ending.

More PS4 news soon to come.

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