My first impressions with the Playstation 4 are about what you’d expect. Not a lot of fanboy screaming, mostly pleasant surprise.
Considering myself a member of the “Master PC race”, I was floored to have my worries assuaged. After a 2 hour wait outside of my local video game dealer, Sony had a lot to make up for. It was cold, I didn’t know anybody, and I had to go home and go straight to bed anyway, needless to say they met expectations.
Even with SEN being down almost all day yesterday (which is a rant for another day.) I feel this generation could be the renaissance the gaming industry needed. I would like first to discuss the value that Sony has created with their initial bundle for customers that Microsoft will be hard pressed to meet. Upon opening the console even without purchasing any software, you are treated to 30 free days of PLUS granting you immediate access to “Resogun” and “Contrast” at no charge. Furthermore the Playstation Store also has 2 F2P shooters waiting for you, “Warframe” and “Blacklight:retribution”. I’m going to stop ranting about bundle now, let’s talk experience.
The system set up was quick, and easy. Even with SEN denying my sign in attempts skipping into loading my disc based content was fast. “Killzone” began instantly, and installed in the background during my first hour or so of gameplay. The game itself does not disappoint, visually it is simply stunning, and the handling of characters, audio, and weaponry is simply phenomenal. The social aspects from the PS4 integration was also seamlessly easy. The share button allows screen shot, video, or twitch/uStream, access at a moments notice, and you can configure everything while the game sits paused in the background. Aside from a Lego: Marvel Superheroes crash while uploading a screen shot, everything has been almost seamless. Twitch integration is absolutely phenomenal with the option to simply display chat below your game window while playing, signing in took a matter of seconds and the Big Shiny Robot! Twitch channel was all ablaze with my failures at stopping the Helghast.
The controller feels a bit wide to me, even though the touch pad fits so well, it is hard to critique and feels to be more of an adjustment from my Dualshock 3. The thumb sticks have grooves that fit your fingers oh-so-well and the d-pad has that same spaced set up that I’ve loved from previous Sony generations. Rumble is responsive, and there is no way to miss that you’re running out of battery with the giant red LED on the back. If anything is a bit overboard it’s the space age LED’s that remind you of your controllers existence. Using the Vita as an extra controller is also extremely fun. Aside from remembering which portion of the back touch screen means what, the buttons map beautifully. Jumping between controllers is also managed with user profiles, that had me jumping between Vita and Dualshock 4 within seconds.
The new Playstation Layout is really well put together. Starting from your software screen using side-by-side icons is genius, forcing me to actually hop out of that menu to see other system options. The modified PS3 view is quick to navigate, and I love that they added the Vita styled multi-tasking. Remote play is still a bit off but overall has worked incredibly well for me. I haven’t found myself in a position to remote play my system from a different wifi connection yet, but can’t wait for the ability to play a next-gen game from 3 miles away on my Vita.
As of right now we are only weeks away from the post launch lul, that has us picking through the game stores praying for some new release, but at the moment I feel this is one of the stronger launch line ups we have seen. Even a gamer as picky as myself that won’t be playing Call of Duty or Battlefield has a decent selection to blast through while I wait for the heavy hitters next spring. Killzone is an absolutely phenomenal shooter, Contrast is intriguing and engaging, and Resogun is an adrenaline fueled game that lets you blow off steam 10 minutes at a time. Microsoft has some shoes to fill, let’s hope they can bring the same noise that Sony has next week. Gamers are in for a treat.
Unlike Thomas, I stayed snug at home for the midnight launch because I didn’t want to face crazy people in the cold, and I work retail which requires copious amounts of alcohol to strengthen my resolve for what will face me in the week to come.
Thus, bright and early on Friday, I headed down to my local store, picked up my system, an extra controller, the PS camera, and my games. Once home, I hooked everything up and got to gaming. Setup was a breeze, and I was into the system and loading my first game in less than a few minutes. I was really worried about the huge, required install files, but in less than a minute of popping in Lego Marvel, I was up and running. Even later on when trying out KillZone, the install streamed in the background and let me jump right in. To say I was impressed is an understatement.
And the games are wonderful! I played the hell out of the Lego Marvel demo on my PS3, and the graphical boost was significant in the next gen version. Rough edges were smoothed out, and the whole thing had a nice sheen to it that just made it a much more polished looking game. KillZone is absolutely gorgeous, and the benchmark for what next gen should look like on these new systems. What has me even more excited is the fact that it’s just a launch game, so developers haven’t even started working out the kinks and pushing the system to its true potential.
The PS Camera is also a fun addition for the whole package. When you sign in to the PSN for the first time, it asks to take your picture in order to recognize and auto log you in. Now, whenever I power it up, it looks for me or my partner, recognizes who we are and asks us to lift up the controller to verify our login. While it’s nothing spectacular or really time saving from choosing my profile and hitting “X”, it’s still a cool feature that just adds to the overall experience.
It wasn’t all perfect, though. As Thomas mentioned earlier, the PSN was down most of the day, and I wasn’t able to login until at least the early evening. The PS Store also only worked sporadically until around 10 at night when I was finally able to get in and download my free games I got with PS+. As with the disc based game installs, digital games only require a small amount of data to be downloaded before you can start playing, so it was really nice not to have to wait hours for a multi GB game to finally hit and install before I could start playing.
I’m also not a fan of the micro USB cable that comes with it to charge the controllers. I understand that it’s now the standard for charging pretty much all smaller devices, but it’s somewhat difficult to plug into the controller, and I don’t see it lasting a long time before it gets bent and needs to be replaced. Thankfully, you can get those cables pretty much anywhere, but I would have preferred something a little more durable.
Overall, I’m completely satisfied with my purchase and look forward to what’s coming next. Sure, there will be a drought of games for a few months until some big releases hit early next year, but unlike my problem with the Wii U, there ARE games in the pipeline that I can expect and be excited for.