1. Gran Turismo 5 is finally coming
It’s difficult to think of a game that’s been as widely anticipated as Gran Turismo 5, and for so long. After years of delays, however – and assuming everything goes according to plan this time – PS3 owners should finally be able to grab a copy of what’s poised to be the most slavishly realistic racing sim ever this November. (Nov. 2, to be exact.) When that happens, we’ll finally be able to see the insane amounts of detail – including accurate, painstakingly updated recreations of the graffiti that decorates Germany’s Nurburgring track – that took years to create. Oh, and fans will finally be able to destroy their cars (but only certain cars) in realistic ways, a first for a series that never really showed damage on its cars before.
Above: Also, it’ll feature hyper-accurate NASCAR cars and tracks, which we hear some people like
Will it be worth the wait? Does that even matter at this point? GT fans have made the series one of the biggest worldwide bestsellers ever, and we’re sure that – while the long wait and disappointing stopgap release of GT5 Prologue have been frustrating – this one will fly off the shelves and move PS3s like no game before it.
2. Get ready to Move
Yes, Move looks like the strange middle child between Microsoft’s Kinect and the Wii. Yes, we get a sad little sinking feeling every time we look at Sony reps prancing around with their ice-cream-cone-shaped wands, proclaiming how fresh and revolutionary motion control is. And yes, if past precedent (Wii) is anything to go by, Move won’t be anywhere near as cool as it sounds – assuming you even think it sounds cool.
Above: It doesn’t
However, there are two excellent reasons to not count Move out just yet. First, while Kinect seems to be reliant on the same lame party and family games we love to ridicule on Wii, Sony seems to want to make Move matter for the hardcore, too. Nearly all of its new games will support motion control, some of them in ways that don’t seem like Wii-inspired afterthoughts. Sorcery, much as it looks like a glorified tech demo, is a much better showcase for what motion controls can do for gaming than, say, Kinectimals or Kinect Adventures. And it’s telling that one of the biggest Move-enabled games Sony announced is Heroes on the Move, which brings together its three greatest mascots from the PS2 era: Jak, Ratchet and Sly Cooper. While it’s clearly going to start chasing the grandma demographic, it wants gamers to play with Move almost as badly.
Above: We have our doubts, but we’d rather pay $60 for this than Kinect Joy Ride
Second, unlike seemingly every game we’ve seen for Kinect so far, you can play with Move while sitting down. The importance of that – especially during marathon sessions of, oh, pretty much any game that doesn’t involve aerobics – can’t be overstated. Whether that’ll translate to immediate sales has yet to be seen, but Move seems to have a better chance of not being mothballed once the motion-control novelty’s worn off (again).
3. Online’s getting more onlinerer
Earlier this week, Sony’s $50-a-year subscription service, PlayStation Plus, launched on top of PSN (which still remains free). Unlike Xbox Live, which charges the same amount for basic online service, PlayStation Plus is about getting cool stuff, including up to four “free” downloadable games per month (which go away if you terminate your subscription), access to one-hour trials of full games, and assorted themes, avatars and PlayStation Store discounts you wouldn’t ordinarily get. It’ll also automatically download and install updates for your games while the system is idle, meaning you won’t have to sit through the update process when you’re trying to simply play a game.
Above: As so succinctly summed up by our UK brethren
Oh, and while the 360 has the promise of Hulu Plus support floating somewhere on its horizon, PlayStation Plus subscribers get access to the on-demand TV-streaming service now (for $9.99 a month). While a $10 monthly fee on top of what you’re paying for a PlayStation Plus subscription might sound steep, it does mean unrestricted access to Hulu’s entire library, streamed in HD to your TV.
Finally, subscribers also get a digital copy of LittleBigPlanet included with the cost of admission. That’s kind of cool, especially if you didn’t have it already.
4. Plenty more exclusives on the way
Gran Turismo 5 might be Sony’s biggest exclusive this fall, but it’s by no means the only one. LittleBigPlanet 2 is just around the corner as well, and it’ll bring some of the most robust, easy-to-use game-creation tools consoles have ever seen.
Above: Also it’s far more badass than the original
SOCOM 4 is set for a fall release as well, along with Move’s less-impressive launch lineup and the 3D-enabled, HD Sly Collection. The season will also bring a handful of MMOs to the console, including DC Universe Online, The Agency, Free Realms and – most notably – Final Fantasy XIV. You can also expect a few exclusives in multiplayer games, like the HD remake of Medal of Honor: Frontline that’ll be packaged with EA’s MoH reboot in October. Even the PSP is bringing its A-game this fall, with Valkyria Chronicles II, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and God of War: Ghost of Sparta all expected on the handheld in the next several months.
Above: Not a half-bad lineup, really
True, most of the really good stuff – like Killzone 3, Heroes on the Move, Twisted Metal, Journey, InFamous 2 and The Last Guardian – won’t arrive until next year. But even without them, the coming months hold a lot of promise for PS3 owners.