Are we nearly there yet? The first of the ‘next generation’ of games consoles has just been released with two more on the way and a further two still in the realm of speculation. What can we look forward to in the brave new world of gaming and which one deserves your cash? Read on to find out.
Nintendo 3DS The Nintendo 3DS is arguably the first of the Eighth Generation (as the cognoscenti call the ‘Next Gen’) of games consoles and is distinguished by the fact that it is the only one commonly available to play.
The 3DS has a number of innovations compared to earlier DS models including a motion sensor and gyro sensor that can react according to movement and incline, an analog controller and of course the adjustable-depth 3D effect. On their own each of these is fairly unremarkable – being available in other consoles or gadgets like mobile phones or flatscreen TVs. Together, though, they combine to create something potentially very immersive and flexible enough to create some spectacular new games
Sony PlayStation Vita The PlayStation Vita is another convergence of established technologies – capacitive OLED touchscreen, dual-analog sticks, and internet connectivity. The Vita’s USP will be backward-compatibility with existing titles from the PSP, PS1 Classics (as seen on the Playstation 3) and other downloadable content from the PlayStation Network as well as its own games, distributed on the new NVG flash memory format.
The Vita is an extremely powerful device compared to other portable consoles, with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 core processor and a SGX543MP4+ graphics processing unit which should lead to some spectacular games, on a par with some of today’s console efforts. The built-in camera is intended for use in augmented reality games, an area that has only been lightly explored so far.
Wii U The Wii changed everything when it launched with its unique WiiMote controllers, now the Wii U could be set to do it again with its Wii U Controller, which is more like a small tablet computer than a game controller. A built-in touchscreen can be used to play stand-alone games as well as offering fine controls for certain types of game unsuited to the WiiMote motion sensors or D-Pad.
The Wii U is the first Nintendo console to display 1080p HD graphics and Nintendo have promised that the new console will take advantage of its powerful multi-core processor – unlike the Wii, which was rather under-powered compared to its rival consoles.
Xbox 720 and PS4 Right now, both of these consoles are in the realms of fantasy as far as most gamers are concerned. Sources within both Microsoft and Sony have reportedly said that the next-generation PlayStation and Xbox are being developed but for now both companies seem intent on squeezing the last drops of gaming juice from the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Both consoles will no doubt incorporate 3D technology quite heavily (one rumour suggested ‘Avatar like’ graphics for the Xbox 360) and we would expect Microsoft’s Kinect motion tracking technology to feature too, along with some PlayStation equivalent.
As for other features, with neither console expected until 2014 at the earliest, we wouldn’t like to bet what new innovations in graphics or immersive controller tech will come along between now and then.
But which one is best? With the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles not even off the drawing board yet it doesn’t seem fair to include them. Of the remaining three, the Vita seems a bit similar to the PSP for our liking while the 3DS has proven rather less impressive in practice with the 3D effect causing us no end of eyestrain and not really adding that much.
Our money, then, is on the as yet unreleased Wii U. It may surprise us and turn out to be a lemon, but the combination of Nintendo’s reputation with the boost in processing power and the new types of game opened up by the Wii U Controller has us intrigued enough to queue