Saturday, November 30, 2013

My First Two Weeks With My PlayStation 4

I wanted to write a 24 hour, instant, from the gut, opinion piece of my time with my PS4. It would have been easy, I would have written about how good/meh/good again Killzone Shadow Fall is, and how I’m afraid of playing Knack because of the reviews, and it would have totaled a paragraph or two in length. But I decided that I needed more time with this new beast from the house of Sony, so I held my thoughts, only for me to regurgitate them now. Side note; still afraid to play Knack, maybe after some… a lot of… whiskey.
Still don't know why I dropped $60 for this.
Let’s start with the most important part of any console; it’s controller. The PS3’s DS3 was fine. It fitted the mold that had been established since its introduction on the PlayStation, but Sony always seemed afraid to do anything major to it. The DS4 on the other hand is a great step up. It reminds me of the old PS3 boomerang concept controller, but you know, a serious effort this time. It’s really comfortable, fitting in my hands nicely. I also am fond of the touchpad, which so far in Killzone and Assassin’s Creed IV has been implemented nicely, but nothing revolutionarily. When it comes to live streaming from the PS4 I am genuinely surprised at how easy it is to just tap a button, choose my service of choice, and just go. I plug in the headset and begin talking. It’s really intuitive, and something I intend on using more once the holidays have passed.
On second thought, disregard everything I said about this controller.
The L2/R2 triggers have been given a vast overhaul this time. They are really comfortable to rest my fingers on, and I never feel like I am wrestling to keep them in place. The joysticks too have been vastly improved. I’m no longer having to readjust my thumb placement on them mid game and risk loosing a life due to a momentary lapse in concentration. I just haven’t had to think about the DS4, it’s just sat between my hands and has worked well, unlike the DS3 which upon reflection I was constantly battling with. Finally, the DS4 has a built in mic, which has been great when I played through Sound Shapes and Killzone, listening to various in game sounds/audio logs. Pro tip, its volume can be adjusted in the settings section under controller. The DS4 is great, comfortable, and feels solid in my hands.
Finally some triggers I can use.
Let’s move on to the user interface of the PS4. I’m surprised at how clean it looks and how easy it is to navigate. The shadow of the PS3’s XMB is still there, with the basic tabs you would need such as settings and friends list, but the meat and potatoes is a level below, where all your media is kept. First on the list is the recent games you’ve played/downloaded. Moving along you have various tabs that contains apps such as Netflix or Music Unlimited. It’s grouped smartly, and once you’ve logged on, it’s a simple click and you’re off. On the games front, once you’ve made your selection, the game loads up quick (Killzone very much so), allowing you to jump right in and begin the campaign/multiplayer without much effort. Want to take a quick break and check some messages, load up Netflix, or sync trophies, just hit the PS Home button and it flips you back to the main PS4 interface. All this points to an interface that feels like it was designed with ease, for a gamer who might change his/her mind halfway through a game and want a change in scenery. A vast improvement over the PS3.
It makes me feel so relaxed.
Now let’s talk some games. I’m going to start with Killzone Shadow Fall, which started great, dragged in the middle, only to bounce back in the final third. I’ve always found Killzone a little odd, mainly because I’ve always thought a far more interesting storyline would involve some alien force invading to kill off the Vectans/Helgans, forcing these formally two enemies to be allies. It would be interesting see how a fragile alliance works, with a lot of research going into battling aliens and keeping the former advisories from taking advantage of any lapses in security. However, we got the cold war this go around, which was fine, but I get the impression that Gurrilla took this far more seriously than they should have. If they had had a little fun with it, I might not have laughed at the end when The Flower Duet (Lakme) played. Overall, Killzone is very pretty, controls well, but like that stupidly hot girl from high school, would have been better served doing porn than attempting Shakespeare.
Sadly, no shiny Batnipples anywhere in this game.
Moving onto Assassin’s Creed IV. I bought the game on the PS3 and spent the $10 upgrade price to get it on the PS4. I’m a big AC fan. It’s my third favorite franchise of all time (after MGS and Uncharted), so barring it being an AC Revelations clone, there wasn’t much that was going to disappoint me. Thus far (I’m not even close to complete because I keep distracting myself by following the shiny objects here and there) I’ve had so much fun. I briefly compared my PS3 and PS4 version, and though I’m no expert, I could barely tell a difference in graphics between the two versions (Killzone does have it beat graphics wise). However, its story has been so much fun, and the lead, Edward, has so much charisma it really forces me to question why Connor did his best Harry Potter from The Oder of the Phoenix impression throughout ACIII. ACIV is great, but you can get a very pretty version on the PS3/Xbox 360, and outside of some controller enhancements, there is no need to get a PS4 just for this.
You can hear the dub step, and now that it's in you head, it will never leave.
Now it’s time to move on to the true killer app for PS4, and no, I’m talking about Sound Shapes or Resogun. I’m referring to remote play via PSVita. Now obviously, this would require you to have invested in a PSVita, something I did on its day one, and boy have I been glad. Gravity Rush and Tales from Space notwithstanding, the Vita has been a great little handheld, and definitely needs a price cut, but is a worthy addition for any gamer. However, when I put down the money to get one, I had no idea that I would be using it to stream my PS4 when others in my house want to use the TV. But you know what, I’ve been using it so much, that at times I’ll just find myself remote playing my PS4 through Vita while having Netflix on in the background via PS3. It’s a great little extra that I never thought I was going to use. It doesn’t hurt that Ubisoft released a companion app for ACIV that allows me to use my iPad as my in game map. I wouldn’t recommend streaming a first person game, let alone online multiplayer, but if you need to run around and collect items, why use the TV when you could watch some good old Legend of Korra or Star Trek? The PS4/Vita combo is great, and I can’t wait for the possibilities of the PSVita TV (if my daydreams are to be believed, it will be able to do everything!).
Killer app indeed!
So where do I stand with my PS4? I’m loving it. Just like I love my PS3, my PS2, and my PlaySation before it. But could I recommend it to someone who isn’t just looking for a new piece of kit? No. Wait a year. See how the PS4 does compared to the Xbox One. See if there will be more games that tickle your fancy, and if not, see if the Xbox has them. Look at the services offered by both companies, and see if there is something that you prefer over the other. Ultimately, your choice should be personal, so do the research, see if a friend or two has one or the other console, and compare. Figure out what you want, and don’t be afraid of spending some money. The PS4 is very good, just not good enough if you aren’t a gamer who needs to play Killzone, and eventually InFamous, The Order 1886 (incidentally the year the great Arsenal FC was founded as Dial Sq) and of course, Uncharted. Oh, and if you do get a PS4, do yourself a favor and invest in a Vita, it’s worth the price. 
One box to rule them all?

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