Is the Next Generation Portable capable of running a blockbuster third-person shooter such as Gears of War 3? According to creator Epic, a Gears of War style "experience" would be "appropriate" for Sony's shiny new handheld.
Sony unveiled the PSP successor, which features two thumb sticks, at a Tokyo press conference yesterday.
Speaking to Eurogamer following the unveiling, vice president of Epic Games Mark Rein emphasised the NGP's graphical power.
"This is the kind of machine that a Gears of War-style experience would be appropriate on because it has the control layout that games like that are designed for and can produce some pretty compelling visuals," he said.
"Activision announced Call of Duty for the device so of course a Gears-style game would also be appropriate."
Much has been made of the NGP's graphical horsepower, with some insisting it is capable of producing PlayStation 3 quality visuals.
When asked for his honest assessment of this claim, Rein replied: "This device is certainly in the same class as PlayStation 3. With Unreal Engine 3, we're able to produce some pretty spectacular visuals on this device already, and we're just getting started."
During Sony's press conference Epic founder Tim Sweeney took to the stage to confirm Unreal Engine 3 support for NGP and showed the Epic Citadel iOS tech demo running on the new handheld.
"This is made possible by Sony's multi-core GPU, which is roughly 4x as powerful as any portable we've previously seen," he said.
Sweeney went on to introduce a demo of Trendy Entertainment's UE3-powered Dungeon Defenders, a PC, PSN and XBLA game. Converting from PS3 took a week, apparently.
Rein went into more detail on the game, and confirmed that PS3/NGP cross-platform play is possible.
"Dungeon Defenders is essentially a PS3 game brought to NGP," he said. "At CES this year, Trendy showed Dungeon Defenders on a Tegra 2 mobile device playing multiplayer against a PlayStation 3. Trendy told me they're planning to have NGP players playing against PS3 players. So this part is already a reality.
"All they need to add is the ability to save your status in the cloud so you can pick up and play on another device and they're done. That's not a hard problem to solve and I suspect Sony will offer a good solution for that via PSN at some point."
But what of Epic itself? Does it plan to develop NGP games?
"Right now we're concentrating on Unreal Engine 3 and we're very excited with the results," said Rein. "Multiple UE3 licensees tells us they're building games they plan to ship on NGP and I suspect we'll hear more about that throughout the year."
Summing up his feelings about the device, Rein was unable to single out his favourite NGP feature.
"This is a bit of a cop-out but I'd say it's the complete package; multiple control methods, great screen, an OS that gives you low-level access to the hardware, great processing power on both CPU and GPU, GPS, 3G, dual cameras – all this on a high-end portable gaming device. There's a lot to like there."
Sony is expected to begin rolling out the NGP from late 2011.
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