Fan Expo Canada 2013
Next, Next Gen

By Jorge Figueiredo - August 28th, 2013


Nintendo jumped into the pool of next gen with the Wii U last year. Since that time, they have been playing the Nintendo Direct game (for the most part), which has been serving them reasonably well, so their presence at various expos has been a little bit different than it used to be. Microsoft and Sony, however, were out in full force at Fan Expo Canada 2013, offering consumers the chance to play their yet-to-be released Xbox One and Playstation 4. The line-ups were pretty huge; and while I didn’t actually get to play the new systems, I did have a great vantage point to see what they were all about – and I was pretty impressed with what I saw.

I was thinking about how I was going to write this particular article, debating whether or not to make two different sections (one for each console) – I even thought about two different posts! However, there is no point in fanning the flames of a console war (plenty of other people are doing that). Instead, I wanted to talk about my general impressions of both.

New consoles are always an interesting prospect. When they are released, the previous generation is close to end of life (that won’t happen for at least a year or two for the current gen), and developers that have released games during the last-gen consoles’ life-cycles know the systems very well. They can leverage a lot more at the end of a console’s run than they could at the beginning, thanks to years of experience. Even though they have been working with the new systems for a little while, they have not had the same amount of time to figure out all of the tricks and traps hidden within the systems.

Click the pic to see a small gallery of the Xbox One display.

The intersection between these two learning curves leads most people to believe that the leap from last gen to current gen does not really seem as impressive as they would like. Of course, the difference is actually a fairly large one. This new generation of consoles feels like it’s going to be pretty awesome; and even though I was merely an observer, I got a chance to see what will be making us drool in the near future.

Both console booths were pretty straightforward. Microsoft’s was composed of a screening room1 surrounded by gaming stations (with carefully controlled queues). Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome and Killer Instinct were some of the games that I saw – and they all looked fantastic. The Sony booth was set up a little bit differently. There was one queue leading to a room in the middle of the booth that had several stations available for Playstation 4 goodness. From my vantage point, I watched people play Knack and #DRIVECLUB (as well as a few PS3 titles), and they were enjoying themselves immensely. The DualShock 4 controller was a big hit, with some folks explaining how it felt far more natural than any other controller that they had used in the past.

Click on the pic to see what was up at the Sony Playstation booth.

For both systems, the central object animation was good – great, even. Really, though, this was a small leap forward for the most part. As I stated before, there has been so much cumulative effort behind creating and animating the primary object(s) of focus on the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 that the difference in power may not leap up at the viewer right away. To get a true appreciation for how powerful these systems are, I simply turned my attention to the dynamic backgrounds of all of the new titles. It is there that the power of the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 are revealed.

Aside from the visuals and the complexity of the physics engines at play, it was hard to really determine anything else. Audio quality, even with headphones, is usually not impressive in such a venue. Cloud computing and the various extra distinguishing features were not really on display – it was all about the games. From my observations, both of these consoles seem to be on fairly even footing, regardless of the hype in either direction. What this means to me is that both of these systems will hit the ground running, and will be competing for our dollars by creating better content than they would if they had no opposition. At this prospect, I am very, very excited.

To the lucky ones who got to try these systems out: I am jealous. However, I know that it’s only a matter of time before I’ll get to take these innovations for a spin myself.

Other articles from Fan Expo Canada 2013 can be found at this link.

1 – There was a special presentation of Dead Rising 3 playing in the room. More on this later.

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