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The NGP

Feature; Apr. 26, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By David Telfer
Subtypes: Preview
In other words, the PSP2

Overall, the tradition of naming consoles is fairly straightforward. There are a few exceptions; i.e., Nintendo post-SNES – how do you go from Gamecube to Wii? It follows no set pattern. So when Sony announced the next generation of PSP, one automatically thought, “Ah! It must be the PSP2.” But, no, Sony defied all logic and went for "Next Generation Portable” instead. Catchy, right? It's as if Sony's saying to Nintendo, “So yours is in 3-D? Well, ours is the NEXT generation. Beat that.” Silly naming aside, let's take a look at the device.

The NGP

It's what's inside that counts

The device was announced on Jan. 27, and there are claims it will be “as powerful as the PS3,” but this statement has – unsurprisingly and thankfully – been taken back, unless you want 5 minutes of battery life and third degree burns on your ass. However, the device will still pack a punch. It has a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, of which 3 will be used to run applications. It also has an Imagination Technologies PowerVR graphics processing unit offering superior graphics to the current PSP's capabilities. Now, I know very little about GPUs and CPUs, but generally speaking, the flashier the title of the product, the better it is – so I'm expecting great things from the NGP. I'm hoping this means it allows for old PS2 titles to be played on the new device. If this does turn out to be the case, then this is going to be one expensive purchase.

System overhaul

UMDs (Universal Media Discs), which are used by the PSP, are being changed out for an entirely new format called NVG. NVGs are flash cards similar to the cards used in cameras, phones etc., and they will be available in 2 to 4 GB, of which 5 to 10 percent will go toward data, patches, etc. There are also rumors for cards with larger capacities.

Let's play

Plenty of titles have already been announced, including Uncharted Portable, Killzone, Wipeout and Call of Duty. Other games have been demonstrated on the device such as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, which I am particularly pleased about as I haven't had the chance to play it. The NGP also features full backward compatibility with PSP downloadable titles, PSOne Classics etc., which is no great surprise considering Sony's track record of backward compatibility.

How do I look?

The device is stunning, sporting two analog sticks, two cameras, a microphone and sixaxis motion sensing. The two cameras are reported to have face and head detection as well as head tracking capabilities. The screen is also bigger this time around: a 5-inch OLED screen similar to some smart phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S. I have this phone, so I can vouch for the quality of screen; simply put, it's going to look stunning. But perhaps the strangest new aspect is the device's touch-sensitive back. With it, you can control the on-screen action without having to worry about not being able to see under your fingers or having a fingerprint-smeared screen. But this technology may be usable in games as well, which suggests an entirely new dimension of game play. We'll have to wait and see how it works, but the potential is intriguing.

Establishing connection

The NGP seems to have everything you'll need for wireless access - 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, and 3G. GPS will be included, which could lead to games that utilize location as a mechanic for game play. All this connectivity means users will almost always be able to connect with friends wherever they are, utilizing a new feature called "LiveArea." Essentially, it has the same options as the PSP, such as access to the Playstation Network store, trophies, Internet browser, etc. However, it also includes various social networking features via the Playstation Network, which will no doubt be linked to sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. (Fantastic because I really care that friend A has earned X amount of achievements for *insert game here.*)

So far, so good

Just thinking about the NGP makes me giddy – the release date is at the end of this year. I've never had much interest in the 3DS, as I don't see the big deal about 3-D technology. It's always been a novelty in my eyes. The NGP sounds just like it should: a serious handheld console with a focus on delivering top-quality games and giving players the ability to connect with one another. After all, games bring people together, whether it unites them toward the same goal or pits them against one another in a friendly contest. Whatever you're looking for in a gaming console, the NGP looks like it's going to deliver with exceptional results. With the 3DS already out, the NGP will have little in the way of competition on release. Only time will tell which handheld device comes out on top, but my money's certainly on the NGP. I'll forgive the title on the condition we get a Final Fantasy VII remake. One can dream...

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