The PSP2 (codenamed NGP for next generation portable) is the result of what happens when Sony are keen to make up for previous mistakes, mostly the PSP go and listen to the players’ requests. As far as features go, it has everything you could want. Yes, I would probably have preferred a slider form factor, or even a flip, but it’s still got everything else almost any gamer could ask for. Here’s what it has:
- Two analogue sticks, and from what I’ve seen so far, they appear to be actual sticks and not nubs as before, making them hopefully much more usable.
- It’s not download only. This is a big deal. The go was a disaster, not because downloading isn’t the future, it was just implemented terribly and was also before its time. Adapted memory cards will feel familiar to Nintendo players and is the right thing for Sony to be doing now as it keeps them a big firmly placed in retail stores.
- It has a huge 5 inch touch OLED screen, but when you look at it next to the 3000, it doesn’t actually look that big. While it’s not as portable as before in terms of pocketing it, most people would likely put their PSP in their bag anyway so I don’t see it as a problem whatsoever.
- The touch panel on the back I was worried would be too big a part of the product, but I feel that it’s most likely going to be a gimmick like the sixaxis and hardly used. It will be good but will only give additional options to developers, just as the current gimmick started by Apple and now adopted by Nintendo and Sony of sensors and gyroscopes won’t feature in most games.
- It’s casual friendly. The interface looks very Apple inspired. The bubbles on each “home screen” change the formula around from the grid style Apple pioneered, but you can see where they got their inspiration from, especially when you look at the dots at the bottom which indicate what home screen you’re on. The array of sensors and that big touch screen really make this a device that can eventually have mass appeal. Like the 3DS is positioned predominantly to target hardcore gamers at first, Sony are doing the same here, but admittedly with far less chance of broadening the appeal later on. They won’t be too worried about that though as they know their market well.
- They have crammed in everything but the kitchen sink. The device has almost everything you could want. 3G, GPS, quad-core processing and PS3 like graphics as well the obvious things like wi-fi and bluetooth. This makes Nintendo’s SpotPass and StreetPass look very basic by comparison.
- Playstation Network is fully integrated, meaning we’ll probably get to see our online friends, message them, invite them to games, maybe even voice chat. This would all be in addition to trophy support. Even though I don’t chase trophies like I used to, it’s still nice to get them when I’m not trying and it’s a feature that a lot of people want so I’m happy about that too.
That is about all I can think to mention about the system. Normally, after events like these from Sony and other companies, in recent times I’ve often felt disappointed and always left pondering where they could have improved. This time it’s hard to find fault with the NGP.
While it’s essentially the same strategy as the PSP was launched with, of pure power and the promise of console style gaming on a handheld. This time Sony are in a much better position to truly fulfil that premise and give Nintendo a better run for their money.
The only remaining question everyone has is how much it will cost. Of course, all of the great news today could be undone if they announce it at £300 or more, and you could easily see them doing so considering the specs the machine boasts. You just have to hope that they’ve either found a way to produce it fairly cheaply, or are willing to take a hit on the system to make it back on game sales. Perhaps a combination of these is likely.
Another point to bear in mind is that Sony are desperate to put the failure of the PSP go and the PS3 launch price behind them, and therefore they may be considering being aggressive on price straight away to try to avoid damaging their reputation again. They will want to keep things going steadily as they have been with PS3 for the last two to three years.