Official PlayStation Magazine editor Ben Wilson was at Sony's surprise-filled GamesCom 2011 press conference. Here are five things he learned...
1 The price cut changes everything
It's official: as of right now, PS3 is available at your local games store for £199. Forgive the obvious conclusion, but that's colossal news. The one question we're asked most often on OPM is "when the [insert expletive of choice] is the price going to come down?", and now, at last, it's happened. Sony's been producing better exclusives than its rivals for the last two years if not longer, but it hasn't been able to serve up deals as attractive as Microsoft or Nintendo in the shops - and of course that's affected sales. A sub-200 PS3 transforms that landscape, and the competition between all three, particularly with Wii U around the corner, just got fascinatingly toasty.
2 PS Vita's not just a games machine...
Learning the lessons from tablets and androids and all other things that begin with a lower case i, Sony has packed every piece of functionality it can dream up into its new handheld baby. Inevitably some innovations will be more popular among early adopters than others - I'm a little underwhelmed by the Party application, which enables you to chat to pals while playing games, because that functionality has been something of an achilles heel on PS3 - but its come up with a tickbox list of your needs and at least tried to them cram them all in. Check Twitter, Facebook, foursquare? Yup. Show off your trophy collection and blag to mates about it? In. Use PSN, the Store, personal messages, etc, on PS3 one minute, Vita the next? Done. Internet, music, video, all there. It's never going to out-iPad the iPad, but it could develop into a bona fide equivalent for the more serious gamer.
3 ... but the games line-up is impressive
"At its core PlayStation is about games... Vita has games at its heart," said new Sony COO Jim Ryan early in his keynote. And to prove the point, it was announced shortly after that the list of triple-Aers confirmed for Vita - already boasting Uncharted: The Golden Abyss and a new, bespoke Bioshock game - now includes annual heavyweights Assassin's Creed and FIFA too. Even so, LittleBigPlanet PSP was the star of the line-up on this evidence, with a video showcasing the way in which you could take photos of every day objects - leaves, pegs, standard boring everyday things, basically - then transform them into a giant dinosaur-shaped boss and build a platformer-shooter hybrid around him. There's no other format you can do something like that on right now.
4 PSP is not dead, repeat not dead
Jaws dropped - promise you, literally //dropped// in the audience - when Ryan announced that not only was PSP being kept alive even while Vita prepared to launch, but also being redesigned yet again. However, unlike your average breast reduction, this time the cosmetic surgery is something that benefits all parties - because the new model will set you back just 99 Euros. Ryan called it the "perfect entry point" for handheld gaming, and while that's a stretch - anyone who's bought a phone in the last two years already has what he describes - it's certainly a shrewd move, particularly when consider that PSP still shifts big numbers in Japan.
5 Uncharted 3 is the best game on any format right now
I wrote a similar thing for CVG on the back of E3 and was met with inevitably sarcy comments along the lines of, 'Wow! OPM editor unsurprisingly backs Sony's biggest game.' Well let them once more rain down, because I stand by that viewpoint. Until you show me an alternative that does story, gameplay, facial expressions, mo-cap, lighting, dialogue, voice acting and humour all at once to the same astonishing level as demonstrated by today's Drake's On A Plane demo, I'll keep on backing Drake, Elena