PlayStation 4 unveiled - sort of

Sony highlighted its work with independent developers by showcasing “The Witness,” which will offer 25 hours of puzzles.

Sony offered a peek at the future during its PlayStation Meeting 2013 on Wednesday.

The future is smarter, more attractive and better connected, judging from the features of the PlayStation 4, which was unveiled — sort of — at the event in New York City.

The new console, which is scheduled to be available in time for the holidays, wasn’t actually displayed at the meeting. Instead, a host of features and games were discussed and demonstrated.

Mark Cerny, lead system architect, described a system that offers upgrades in processing power and graphics. David Cage of Quantic Dream — developers of the impressive PS3 title “Heavy Rain” — described a graphics system that can deliver twice as many polygons, which can convey emotion and other subtleties much more effectively than current consoles.

The system will also offer a faster network, enhanced downloading capabilities and greater interactivity with social networks and online applications. With these features, as well as its enhanced “Plus” features on PlayStation Network, Sony is aiming to catch up to Microsoft’s Xbox Live network, whose immense following helped Xbox 360 beat PS3 in the last generation of consoles.

Another feature that propelled the Xbox 360 was its lower price. Although you can now buy a PS3 for $300, it started off at prices ranging from $500 to $600, much higher than the 360 or Nintendo’s Wii. There was no word on pricing, but most rumors suggest PS4 will cost less than the early PS3s.

Wednesday’s presentation offered plenty of impressive animations and action-packed video to show off the capabilities of the new console. However, there really wasn’t a whole lot that looked leaps and bounds beyond what’s available on current consoles. Changes appear to be more evolutionary than revolutionary.

Cerny also introduced the DualShock 4 controller, which looks similar to its predecessors but promises tighter control and less lag. It also has a small touch pad between the joysticks and a light bar that will be tracked by a sensor that looks like a combination between the Xbox Kinect and the Wii sensor bar. The sensor will also interact with the PlayStation Move controller wands, which are impressive but never became popular with game developers.

In another new feature, the PS4 will connect with the PlayStation Vita handheld game system, allowing you to play PS4 games on the Vita.

Developers also trotted out a few games that will be available exclusively on the PS4 when it launches.

“Knack” will feature a robotic creature designed to fight goblins. “Killzone: Shadow Fall” will be a sequel to the sci-fi shooter series. “Driveclub” will offer team-based auto racing. And mutant heroes will take on oppressive government in “inFamous: Second Son.” And “The Witness” will offer 25 hours worth of puzzles.

While this lineup is diverse, it isn’t terribly impressive. Aside from the “inFamous” sequel, none of the titles are likely to make gamers salivate in anticipation. However, third-party developers are already adding bulk to the launch lineup with titles such as Ubisoft’s open-world action game “Watch Dogs,” Blizzard’s dungeon-crawling “Diablo 3” and CD Projekt Red’s fantasy adventure “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.” June’s E3 video game conference will undoubtedly reveal many more.

Sony is the second of the three big console makers to announce an entry into the latest generation of game systems. Nintendo’s Wii U stumbled through its holiday launch, selling fewer consoles than expected and generating little enthusiasm among gamers.

Microsoft is expected to announce a successor to the Xbox 360 sometime between now and E3.

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About the Authors

Brian Bowers is Stars and Stripes’ Assistant Managing Editor for Europe and Mideast and one of its video game reviewers. He joined the newspaper in 1992 in Germany, where he worked on the news desk and the city desk. He has a wife and three children, who are always eager to help him test games.

Sam Laney joined Stars and Stripes in 2007 as a copy/layout editor and slowly convinced upper management to support his video game habit. Since then, he’s added game reviews and previews to his list of duties and moved on to the iPad. When he’s not rocking newbies in “Left4Dead2,” he covers PC and Nintendo systems.

Michael S. Darnell joined Stars and Stripes in 2013 as a reporter and quickly annoyed his bosses into allowing him to write about video games in his spare time. He's a PC gamer at heart whose life goals include building the first gaming PC on Mars.