Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Next-Generation Stuff

The Xbox 360 is really starting to look like a good machine. They've unveiled movies of Frame City Killer and Project Gotham Racing 3 and I have to say it looks hot (links courtesy of Gamespot because they have the movies).

Frame City Killer is a Japanese produced cyberpunk hitman game (or at least that is what it seems) based on the Unreal 3 Engine that everyone and their brother is licensing from Epic. It looks pretty cool, although I am interested in what type of a game it is (FPS, 3rd person, etc.). It could be a Shadowrun like game, but of course that game has been rumored to be in the works at FASA (i.e. Microsoft).

The Project Gotham Racing games hold a special place in my heart. Before Forza Motorsports came around, PGR was the best racing games around. I am really excited about PGR3 even with the possibility that it may have to be locked down to 30fps again like PGR2 did. If they can do all the things they've talked about at E3 and beyond (like having hundreds of people watching races in spectator mode on Live) I won't be bothered by the 30fps. The video they unleashed looks awesome and they say it is in-game. If it is I am floored by the city graphics and the car graphics. There are also inside the car views, although that may just be a camera in the passenger side much like NASCAR races have. It would truly be monumental if they allowed a dashboard view with the same smooth fps as a non-dashboard one. It has been a long time since a game had that in it. This is a day one purchase for me when I get my Xbox 360 on release doubt!

Bill over at Dubious Quality has been talking about this a bit, but I agree with him on Ken Kutaragi's craziness. I also agree with him that we probably won't see the PS3 until late next year here in the United States. I just don't see Sony doing a worldwide release of the PS3. They'll release it early to mid 2006 in Japan and mid to late 2006 here.

I know people have been going off on the "it will be expensive" thing that Ken said. I think it will be expensive and I think Sony is betting on people picking it up. Think of it much like buying a Sony TV versus other models. You pay an extra amount for that Sony name even though it might not be the better TV. Sony is betting on people paying extra to keep the Playstation line alive and well. Sony knows it has the Japanese gamers in its back pocket until Microsoft can show something that Japanese gamers will pick up in mass quantities, so why not push the price higher? Sony knows it will have a tough fight in the U.S. and Europe where the Xbox is quite a bit stronger than at home base in Japan.

I think they are going to sell it at $399 or $499 here in the U.S. I think the price depends a lot on how expensive Blu-Ray is to produce at the time the console comes out. It is Sony proprietary hardware, but Blu-Ray may still be in the "hardcore only" category by the time the PS3 comes out over here, which means it will be expensive. Betting on the future is not always the smartest thing to do when you're Sony...remember BetaMAX and MiniDisc. It is unknown at this time how long it will take Blu-Ray players to integrate into the mainstream outside of the PS3 (if people buy it). Microsoft is smart with putting a DVD drive in the 360 with the possibility of a future add-on in the air. For the record I think Micorosft will sell the 360 at either $249 or $299 simply to get market share.

Ken Kutaragi has always had some crazy things to say, but I think ever since he got demoted and a non-Japanese person stepped in as CEO of Sony that he's really flown off the handle. At one time Ken was considered to be a front runner for the CEO position, then the shakeup happened and he ended up being demoted. I am a bit surprised Sony hasn't put a piece of duct tape on his mouth. Maybe the Japanese press and population like hearing about all the cool gadgets and how expensive it is going to be, I really don't know.

It is also weird to think that whichever side controls Square-Enix may once again win the war. Square-Enix is a big company in Japan whose games have a legion of followers both there and here in the U.S. If Microsoft can coax Square-Enix into developing more games for them outside of Final Fantasy XI and make them exclusive to the 360 you will see Microsoft's share of the cake in Japan go way up. Nothing has been announced from Square-Enix beyond Final Fantasy XII and it will be interesting to see where they go with next-generation systems.