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Opinion: Sony reinvents itself to sell a dream - slightly muddled by familiar realities

Sony answered its critics in New York, writes Dan Dawkins...

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Killzone: Shadowfall demonstrated sufficient graphical clout, if not invention, to sate more mass-market tastes, and Drive Club's unique first-person perspective was an ideal excuse to show in-car liveries at absurd resolutions and detail. The white elephant of 4K gaming was, unsurprisingly, absent, and all the game demos suffered for exactly the opposite reason - being streamed live at what looked like 240p, with jaggy, laggy artefacts. Even despite that, it was hard not to impressed at Killzone's city vistas, or all of Watch Dogs: the most-unified demo of next-gen's potential.

The less said about David Cage's 'emotional' ode to polygons the better - although that wizened 3D head did hint at an exciting future project from a polarising, but ambitious, creator - and it was especially fun to note the disastrous scheduling, as Media Molecule declared war on polygons, only minutes after Cage has celebrated them.

Sure, we didn't see hardware, and ranks of assembled photographers sighed, plus price was never going to be up for discussion. The rumoured used games lock out never materialised - not to say it won't - and the lack of backward compatibility assuaged by the promise of cloud gaming. Another detail you almost missed: play anything on the PS Store just by clicking the x button.

Baggy presentation, and lack of a truly defining title aside, this was an impressive showing from a confident, progressive Sony. Hey, it even 'saved' PS Vita and PS Move - both believed to be floundering - by building them into PS4's core functionality. Not in a token way either: the lure of 'throwing' next-gen Battlefield or GTA to your PS Vita from your console to your handheld will surely resonate beyond the core, to which most of this conference was targeted.

Above all, it shows that Sony is not only responding to a world disrupted by Apple, that will only continue to fragment, but is trying to see past it; to carve its own niche. It's no small step that PS4 is being developed out of the west, and not Japan - yet even more surprising to learn that work began on it five years ago.

Many, many questions remain, but Sony answered the biggest one of all: can it adapt to a changing world? The answer was 'yes', to a degree few could have anticipated. Tear past the poor showmanship, and the substance was plentiful.

Sony put its head in the cloud and sold a dream - but we'll have to wait until E3 for its grittier realities. At times like those, it won't do any harm to have the odd Nathan Drake, or shiny hardware shot, to redirect attention.

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