Phew – we can almost consign 2007 to history, writes Steve Boxer. At least we PS3 owners have now weathered the storm, and we can look forward to finally reaping some benefits in 2008.
Not that it was quite doom and gloom for PS3 owners throughout 2007, as anyone who, in particular, recently purchased and played the mighty Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and the thoroughly excellent Ratchet & Clank will attest. And, of course, that old staple SingStar made the next-gen leap.
So we’re already feeling a bit happier about owning PS3s – but what is on the agenda for 2008? Nothing less than seeing the PS3 finally hitting its stride and leaving the doubters looking like fools.
We reckon it’s best to kick off by singling out the big releases which will garner headlines for the PS3. Which means PS3 exclusives. And we shouldn’t have to wait too long for the return of the revered Kazunori Yamauchi and his developer Polyphony Digital. Yep, it’s not too long now until we’ll get our first proper PS3 fix of Gran Turismo, in the form of Gran Turismo 5: Prologue. It could be with us as early as March 2008, so it will be the PS3’s first big gun of the year. Now, we haven’t yet seen GT5: Prologue, so we can’t give you any detail about what’s in it. Although we can be pretty sure that it will feature Nissan’s awesome new GT-R, since Yamauchi-san, believe it or not, actually had a hand in the design of the car itself, specifically its dashboard.
A little later in the year, we’ll get something which, while not strictly a game, is undoubtedly revolutionary and will transform online console gaming as we know it: Home. This avatar-based system should arrive fairly soon after GT5: Prologue, and once we start populating it, we’ll know what it’s like. It will be up to us to define the experience it provides. If I’m honest, I’ll admit to a little trepidation about Home – will it prove so addictive that it begins to eat into my social life, and will it manage to bypass the one-upmanship that blights conventional social networking? One thing is for sure, though: it will get all of us PS3 owners online, on a regular basis.
From around September or October, the PS3 will move into top gear: that’s when Killzone 2 will arrive, to truly take first-person shooters into the next-gen era. And – more excitingly in my book – when LittleBigPlanet – will arrive. Again, LBP will provide an unknown gameplay experience – firstly, because it is so unlike any other game and, secondly, because it will be up to us to define the gameplay. As the new video of LBP shows, it’s going to look amazing – we’ll get the whole low-down from developer Media Molecule next year (currently, they’ve got their heads down and are cracking on with finishing it).
At about the same time, we’ll be able to play what is already shaping up to be the game of 2008 – and what will certainly be the most talked-about, no doubt generating column inches in the news pages of the papers. We are talking, of course, about Grand Theft Auto IV. OK, GTA IV won’t be a PS3 exclusive – it will come out on the Xbox 360 as well. But who cares about that? We’ve had a sneak preview and GTA IV is only going to enhance the legend. Set in a modern-day take on New York, with you playing a dodgy European, it will be quite different to previous GTAs – you’ll have more of a feel of controlling the day-to-day life of your character, sometimes having several missions on the go at once, and there are countless cute touches, such as the ability to jump into a cab to get somewhere if you can’t be arsed to drive there. No doubt it will also get the Daily Mail frothing at the mouth, which is another thing to look forward to.
We have no idea when it will surface, but another opportunity for PS3 owners to acquire bragging rights will arise when Metal Gear Solid 4 arrives. The first next-gen instalment of Hideo Kojima’s legendary sneak-em-up has had a typically extended development period, and will surely be so desirable that it alone will fuel a surge in PS3 sales.
The PS3 will also continue to expand its already impressive capabilities – early in the year, for example, PlayTV will launch, a piece of USB hardware which effectively turns the console into a Freeview recorder.
But when we look into our crystal ball, what will happen towards the end of 2008 is less clear. Naturally, as the year progresses, we will become aware of new PS3 intellectual properties which are, as yet, being kept under wraps – naturally we’ll bring you the first reports about such things. And there is every possibility that news will emerge of new versions of existing PS3 IPs – we know, for example, that God of War III and a sequel to Uncharted are being worked on but, not, as yet, whether they will arrive in 2008. Plus, of course, we can look forward to new versions of those hardy third-party perennials that are updated every year. You may have felt the pain of 2007 – but it won’t be long before you forget all about that in 2008.