The stakes were high. 2005 would kick-start a console generation that would offer a stratospheric leap in processing power and gaming capabilities compared to the ruling PlayStation 2 and its Xbox and GameCube competitors. Just prior to E3 2005, Microsoft had already announced Xbox 360 – bizarrely via an MTV special – but gamers weren’t exactly amazed by the preproduction wares revealed therein. All eyes were on Sony for its E3 2005 reveal for PlayStation 3 and when it did eventually kick off, gamers were presented with an unbelievable array of cutting-edge tech showcases. Unbelievable, as in literally unbelievable.
One phrase became synonymous with that conference – “target render” – and to this day, it’s the blatantly unrealistic CG work Sony used to illustrate Killzone 2 and Motorstorm that this conference was remembered for (though its F1 rendering is also remarkable in other ways). Quite possibly, there was little else to show – PlayStation 3 was clearly behind schedule.
The truth is that behind the scenes, Sony’s plans for its next-generation console were perhaps simply too ambitious. Development of the Cell processor was dogged by issues, not helped by system architect Ken Kutaragi’s often strange requests (The Race for a New Game Machine is essential reading) . Meanwhile, plans for Toshiba to provide a unique, cutting-edge GPU came to naught. At the eleventh hour, Sony turned to Nvidia to provide the RSX – the Reality Synthesizer – and the best that could be delivered was a repurposed PC part, similar to Nvidia’s 7900GT (and unfortunately for Sony, just a little too soon to leverage Nvidia’s stunning G80 architecture).