Friday, January 28, 2011

Sony Unveils NGP, the Next PSP

At its Playstation Meeting 2011, Sony Computer Entertainment unveiled its next portable gaming device this week, codenamed NGP, or Next Generation Portable.

The NGP appears to be a larger Playstation Portable from first glance, but there is more than meets the eye. For one, has a much larger screen; the NGP features a 5'' OLED screen, which not only allows for greater vision of the highly-detailed graphics, but also provides greater color contrast. In terms of medium, Sony has stepped away from UMDs in favor of solid-state SD cards to carry the data for its games. Gone is the single slide pad used on the PSP, and in its place are two thumbsticks which appear on either side of the handheld. It has a camera facing the player and one facing out, allowing for some augmented reality games as well as photo capturing to be done with the device. A microphone is also built into the device for game chatting and other gameplay purposes.

Sony has not missed the bandwagon for touch controls, either. The OLED screen allows for multi-touch inputs, meaning that players can not only poke, but also pinch and pull fingers apart at the screen. The tactile input additions do not stop there; on the back of the NGP is another touchpad, allowing gamers to use those gripping fingers to influence the game world in front of them. To complete the package, the NGP features motion control inputs, too. What else could they have added?

High-end graphics, of course! The NGP makes use of the OLED screen by producing graphics very similar to that of the Playstation 3. In fact, Sony has claimed that porting existing modelwork and engines from current consoles is easy to accomplish with the NGP. On stage, segments from Metal Gear Solid 4, Lost Planet 2, and Yakuza were shown using NGP technology, and Epic Games' Unreal Engine was also demoed.

Not only was the hardware revealed, but specific game software from Sony was introduced at the Meeting. Before showing off the games themselves, however, Sony unveiled the NGP's OS, which replaces the system used for both PS3 and PSP for something more open. Each item available for selection on the NGP appears as a bubble to press, and there are multiple screens to slide through in order to find which game or item to select, like most mobile devices nowadays. Before entering a game, players enter a subspace where they can find downloadable content, trophy data, and message boards specific to the game itself. Other non-game features were shown off using the OS, including Near, a product which maps the movement of the player with a GPS and 3G networking. Near further allows people to gather information on the travels of other NGP owners and friends, similar in some ways to the 3DS's StreetPass.

The first game demoed using the NGP was Hot Shots Golf Next, in which the player showed how moving the handheld around could allow him to see around the landscape of the game before taking a shot. A new game entitled Little Deviants was demoed on stage to show off the need for the new touchpad and touchscreen; pushing a finger into the back of the handheld created bumps in the terrain by which he could move the deviants around the demo level. Another game demonstrated was a new Uncharted title, developed by Sony Bend; the game not only showed how great the graphic prowess was on the NGP, but also how touch screen mechanics could be injected into the game experience Sony gamers currently enjoy on PSP and PS3. Also unveiled at the show were new Killzone, WipEout, LittleBigPlanet, and Resistence titles. Among newer titles shown off were Gravity Daze, Smart As, Broken, and Reality Fighters. A collection of these demos can can be seen at the source link and video posted below.

The NGP is expected to see a release by the end of this year in Japan. Other regions were not specified, nor was price on both it or the games demonstrated. However, word from Sony suggests that there are at least two models in development: one with and without the 3G wireless interface. No third party games were officially announced other than a new Call of Duty, but that was not shown in any form other than a logo. We can certainly expect a big showing from Sony this E3.

NGP Demos (Part 1: Includes Game Reel)

SOURCE: Gamespot / Playstation Blog

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