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Sony NGP: What the industry thinks about it

And what it means for you...

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"By combining energy efficiency with the performance mobile gamers crave, the Cortex-A9 has raised the bar for this category of products. We expect it to create quite a stir in the industry."

In addition to bleeding-edge tech and quality content, there is a third piece of the puzzle to consider - the NGP's integration with PSN and PS3 which, according to the Zen Studio boss, "also appears seamless".

"Mix that with the announcement of PlayStation Suite [the new software platform to deliver games to NGP and all Android devices] and you have a recipe for Sony to really shake things up in the mobile space."

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DUDE SUITE
PlayStation Suite is Sony's other answer to the social gaming revolution - a platform that will allow Sony-approved Android phones and tablets to emulate PSOne games and, eventually, new titles as well.

It'll also run on the NGP and on Sony's Xperia Play mobile phone, providing game downloads, stats and the rest. It's a smart two-pronged attack: There are lots of Androids out there already, giving Sony a head start in the casual market while focusing the NGP on the hardcore game crowd.

But how those PSOne classics will feel on devices that have only a touchscreen or phone buttons is anyone's guess. Mobile network connectivity is the critical new component.

"This opens the door up to the sort of games features found on smartphones such as OTA premium downloads, MMOGs and other persistent world games and mobile social network gaming," notes UK games analyst Nick Gibson.

"Much will therefore depend on what Sony will and will not allow rather than what NGP is capable of." Chris Kingsley, CTO of Oxford-based Rebellion Studios, thinks the key is the fact NGP was designed by and for gamers, with "a laser-focus" on features specifically designed for getting the best gaming experience.

"At Rebellion we're 100% behind it," he says. "We always love to get our hands on new tech. The rear touch is a great innovation allowing players to interact with a game without obscuring the screen, and so allows faster-paced, more dynamic content.

The really big plus for me is the dual analogue sticks because they will finally make first person shooters a compelling play experience on handhelds. No more move and turn frustrations, just seamless immersive action gameplay."

What you might not get from the photos or what you've seen online is just how sexy the thing is up close. Slick and curvy and available in black or white, it's a tight package, and the large OLED screen boasts deep contrast and a wide viewing angle.

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In fact, the high quality of the screen is the reason NGP will not support 3D. Having played the 3DS and eventually recovered from the resulting eyestrain, we doubt you'll miss it.

THE BOTTOM LINE
"The NGP hardware is at least 18-24 months ahead of everyone else," says Robert Henning, head of game technology at TAG Games. "But the iPhone will prove stiff competition - it might not have the same level of processing power (yet) but games like Infinity Blade and Rage HD show off its power. The fact that iPhone has phone, music, video, calendar, mail, web etc give it an advantage."

What do we think? The tech's hard to fault, although we felt similarly about PSP when it ran - wow - almost PS2-quality games.

NGP nails the controls, so credit is due. The big questions surround pricing (of console and games), plus Sony's ability to provide wider interest apps (social, stupid, practical etc, at a variety of prices) to compete with key rival iPhone.

Nail the PlayStation Suite, swallow some pride... and Sony might have hit a winner. Just keep it below £300, eh?

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