Sony has announced its 'Next Generation Portable' - the NGP. Yes, this is it, PSP2 has finally been officially announced. Turns out it looks nothing like any of the mock-up pictures that everyone claimed were leaks. It looks like a bigger PSP. But there's so much more to it than that. Here are the ten most important features of this gorgeous new device and what they'll mean for you.
Above: There it is - PSP2, now known as Sony Next Generation Portable. That codename will change
We knew this was coming - it was the biggest criticism of PSP. Why is a second stick so important? It allows you to move your character with one stick while looking with the other. But that's not going to be the only new method of control...
The screen will be touch sensitive, to allow iPhone-style gameplay and menu browsing. But the unit also features a touch panel on its rear, which is exactly the same size as the main screen, which will reportedly allow for incredibly intuitive use. It will be very interesting to see how developers utilise this new feature.
Above: That rather artistic panel of PlayStation symbols is a touch panel. Touch front and back? Nice
The inclusion of an Organic Light Emitting Display basically means it's going to look fantastic. The 5-in, multitouch screen will have a resolution of 960x544 - superior to the existing PSP by almost four pixels to one. While it isn't quite the HD screen we were expecting, it's better than standard def, so at its diminutive 5-inch screen should look superb. And the extra breathing room from not having to render true HD should help the battery life too.
Sony's Achievements-aping Trophies system will be implemented across NGP games. This is undoubtedly a selling point for a lot of people. But interestingly, with the existing PSP already connecting to the same PSN account as your PS3, this could lend weight to the suggestions that some games could become cross-platform, allowing you to play your PS3 at home, then switch off and continue the same game on NGP. OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast already does this on PS2/PSP so it's not out of the question.
This is the most amazing feature. The mere suggestion that a handheld console could run games that are as good as the current generation of home consoles' finest is out of this world. It's never happened before, but the future is happening now. Or, to be more precise, this Christmas. Woot! If you want to get really technical and care that it has four cores in its CPU, you can read the full spec sheet on Sony's official site.
Above: Uncharted Portable? Uncharted Portable! UNCHARTED PORTABLE!!!
As if to hammer home the point that NGP has PS3-matching innards, several big-name franchises have already been confirmed for the machine, including Uncharted, Call of Duty, Killzone, LittleBigPlanet, WipEout and Resistance. There are also tech demos running Lost Planet and Metal Gear Solid 4. It's like Sony's saying "3DS can do Metal Gear 3? Very nice, but look at this!"
Kojima has suggested that Metal Gear Solid 4 will use the cameras in some way (oh, and the fact that Metal Gear Solid 4 will run on the device 100% confirms its power) and the home screen features a photo option. There's a microphone too, which means pretty much anything the competition has benefited from in recent years is present in NGP.
On top of the usual Wi-Fi connection, NGP will feature 3G connectivity. It's unclear at present whether you'll have to fork out extra for data plans, but it's likely some sort of Xbox Live-style subscription will allow you to connect to mobile phone networks to download data and possibly even play online. The device will also support Bluetooth, as well as a 3DS-style local connectivity service called 'Near'. There will also be a feature called 'LiveArea' in every NGP game, which will allow connectivity with other players' achievements as well as download new content from developers on the fly. There will also be an online store service called 'PS Suite', which will contain Android software for more casual, phone-style games.
The new machine is 182mm long, which is 13mm longer than the PSP-3000. It's not quite in the same league as the Atari Lynx, but it does make the iPhone look positively tiny. At least it doesn't look too fat – it's just that that screen is gorgeous and shown off at an appropriate size for its resolution. Full specs, excluding projections like the twin sticks, are approx. 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm (width x height x depth).
Above: But at least it doesn't look like it's going to be really fat in your hands. Not sure what the blur's about...
UMDs are out, but we are promised another generation of physical media – most likely due to the download-only PSP Go's epic failure. Games will come on flash memory sticks, which Sony promises will evolve with technology, allowing developers to create larger games as storage technology increases. There's no technical reason that massive, data-heavy PS3 titles like Uncharted 2 couldn't be playable on the device.
Yes, I know what you're thinking. But it's actually just part of an impressive motion-control feature set which includes an electronic compass and gyroscope. Basically, anything iPhone 4 can do can be done on NGP, with better graphics and better controls. Forget the Sixaxis white elephant. This is a machine that can handle anything you want to throw at it… except 3D, of course.
Expect lots more on Sony's NGP over the rest of the day. And, potentially, the next 10 years.
27 Jan, 2011