PSU visits the PlayStation Lounge

The new, public PlayStation Lounge opened yesterday in the lower level of the Sony building in midtown Manhattan. As a NYC resident, naturally I headed over there to cover it for PSU.

The lounge is designed to be a sort of PlayStation paradise: it’s a hybrid of retail store and high-budget tech convention booth (think CES/E3). In fact, it feels startlingly like the latter; there’s a bit less on display, sure, but it has the same cool vibe as Sony’s event booths (with way less noise, rushing, and stress). Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty to play: Killzone 3 and MotorStorm: Apocalypse E3 demos are present in 3D, five fully-outfitted Gran Turismo 5 stations are set up, a LittleBigPlanet 2 demo is playable, Dead Nation is there, Sly’s hanging around, Drake makes a cameo, Move is everywhere, and so on and so forth. If you plan to visit the lounge, block out a sizable chunk of your day. It’s terrifyingly hard to leave.

Joby Hirschfeld, head designer of Sony’s event booths, also led the design of the PlayStation Lounge. He describes it as Sony’s “first foray into creating a new destination for PlayStation that pulls a lot of elements from the past E3s.” I got the chance to chat with Hirschfeld at the PlayStation Lounge yesterday, which I recorded and placed below for your viewing pleasure. Then, feel free to check out my video tour of the PlayStation Lounge right below that.



I’m not going to write up full previews of the unreleased games I played, because we’ve already covered them extensively at prior events. I will quickly sound off on the 3D tech on display, though. The two 3D games I played were MotorStorm: Apocolypse and Killzone 3. The glasses required to see the 3D effect were a bit bulky and unwieldy, but that was mostly forgotten upon peering into the television screen.

The stereoscopic effect looked great in Killzone 3, especially during the brief in-game cinematics. Most of the time, the added dimension helped me better situate my character in the game space. While aiming down the sight, though, the effect was a bit overwhelming; it still looked gorgeous, but didn’t do us any favors when I was trying to mark the Helghast between the eyes.

In MotorStorm: Apocalypse, the 3D worked absolute wonders. The blazing sense of speed, the collapsing buildings, the poor pedestrians who fly out of the screen—all are enhanced by the added depth. Without a doubt, MotorStorm: Apocalypse will be one of the showcase titles for 3D gaming.

As a special opening day sweetener, the PlayStation Lounge held a bi-hourly raffle for five full PS3 Move bundles in total. I recorded the 4:00 PM giveaway, when a lucky gent by the hilarious (but totally real) name of Luong Dong won the system. Check it out below.

When I step back and think about it, the lounge feels a bit like a modern arcade. It has a radically different business model, but the core concept of hanging out, being social, and enjoying games is at the heart of the experience. In that regard, Sony succeeds where GameStop and others fail. The lounge is a cool place to, well, actually lounge. I can’t wait to see more of them spring up.

Haven’t seen enough photos yet? The rest are available below.