Quantic Dream’s Kara PS3 demo: a reaction from Official PlayStation Magazine UK
In a word: Wow.
In eight: Over to you, Microsoft. Over to you, Nintendo.
Usually I’m not one for stirring the fanboyish ‘my console’s better than yours’ pot. It’s for juveniles, sweary forumites, and juvenile sweary forumites. But there can be no doubt that the new Quantic Dream’s PS3 Kara tech demo, showcased at GDC by studio boss David Cage, is a stylish feather in Sony’s cap mere months before its rivals are due to unveil their new (or Wii-furbished) consoles at E3.
The underlying message is simple: there’s plenty of life in PS3 yet.
Because Cage’s work of wonder isn’t just a creation of sensational graphicsosity. It also does as good a job of evoking genuine, heartfelt emotion from the viewer as any console game you’ve ever seen.
I’ll let you in on a secret: on OPM describing games as ‘stunning’ or your reaction to stuff as ‘being left open-mouthed’ is banned. These days, nothing in this industry truly is stunning, or leaves you open-mouthed.
Or at least, so I believed before seeing Kara. Guess I’ll need to lift that ban temporarily. In the space of six minutes, it also leaves you curious, then smitten, then heartbroken, then elated.
Why is this emotional factor such a big deal? Because we already know that the Xbox 720 or whatever it ends up being called will up the ante visually. But that’s only half the challenge. What we don’t know is whether it can do what videogames so often fail to: plug into deeper emotions than “hooah! Momma, I just killed a man”. Or “goooooooal! Now, robot celebration or diving salmon?”.
Yes, us gamers can be moved to the verge of tears, be they happy or sad, very occasionally: that ending to Red Dead. Drake’s reunion with Elena in Uncharted 2. The realisation that you’ve spent the last two hours of your life playing Kane & Lynch. But those misty-eyed moments are very much the exception, rather than the rule.
Now Quantic Dream is raising the bar, way higher than it even managed with Heavy Rain. And almost unbelievably, it’s doing it on current-gen.
Meaning that suddenly, a very realistic scenario emerges. Let’s say Sony decides not to unveil PS4 at E3 in June (although it’s clearly inevitable at some point in the near future), but instead ends its conference with the reveal of Quantic Dream’s new game.
If it’s anything like the Kara demo (which is just that: a demo, not an actual game) it’ll steal the show. That means its rivals then have to come up with something truly special to counter it. And now, it’s well aware of that, and under pressure to deliver.
No amount of mechanical robot arms could have constructed a better proponent for PS3’s future than David Cage. Kara emphasises that Sony’s current-gen console still has a big future, while also opening up another big talking point: if this is what it can do now, just imagine what PS4 will be able to do.
Despite what Kaz Hirai said earlier in the year, I still believe we’ll get some hint of what’s next for Sony in LA in three months time. But even if we don’t, it’s now certain that E3 will be just as important a show for Sony as it will the other members of the big three.
And with one tech demo, it suddenly holds the trump card. Bravo, Sony. Bravo, enigmatic French guy. And, one more time: over to you, green-and-white away end.