For years now I have been content with my Xbox 360. Most of what I want to play tends to come out for that system. Unfortunately, we live in a world where games can be exclusive to one system or another, forcing the hardcore gamers to buy every console in existence. Luckily, I’m a medium-core gamer, so I’ve gotten by with my 360 (and a Wii that I never use). Now, the next-gen consoles are here and I’m looking to: a) gain some more gaming cred, b) upgrade to a mid-hardcore gamer, and c) get my hands on some of those sweet, sweet Sony exclusive games. With my Dualshock 4 controller in one hand and the Final Fantasy XIV: Realm Reborn trailer playing in the background, I can safely discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of the PlayStation 4 console.
CPU, GPU, and Plain Old PU.
I’m not a specs guy. I don’t know the difference between the CPU and GPU, but I can tell from the importance placed on them that they must affect gameplay and graphic resolution, which are both a staggering improvement from the legacy consoles. Thus far the gameplay has been fast and continuous, with very little load time or lags. There’s been no pixelated delays or jumpiness during gameplay or cinematics, which can be attributed to the processing units, but also an optical drive that reads up to 3 times faster than the PS3 drive. And for the first time since buying my HDTV, things look like they are in…drumroll please…HD. The games are crisp and Blu-rays look more clear than they ever did on my dedicated Samsung Blu-ray player. The only downsides I’ve encountered, and they are small, manageable, and not entirely the console’s fault, are the short battery life on the rechargeable Dualshock 4 and the excessively long download times for digital games. Now, the download times are really a function of the PlayStation Network server and the volume of people downloading at once, but Sony had to know there would be an increase in traffic this time of year, right? Again…not your fault PS4. I love you. Let’s never fight again.
In Yo’ Face Interface!
Having only spent a little time with the PS3 (I was saving my self for a younger, sexier model) I can’t really tell if the user interface is noticeably better or not. The transitions are quick and smooth, and I will say that the way it organizes games and content by recent use really speaks to the obsessive compulsive me. That and the ability to multitask between gaming and web browsing (so I can look up cheat codes on the spot) places it head and shoulders above its parent and grandparent consoles.
“Game’s the Same, Just Got More Fierce”*
Right now the glut of games available for next-gen consoles isn’t that different from the ones on the older consoles. The big sellers are Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, and Call of Duty: Ghosts, which can be purchased and played on just about any console made in the last 8 years. As stated above, the gameplay is fast and the graphics are noticeably crisp, compared to other iterations, but the majority of the games available are still not unique to any next-gen console. While the in-store selection is pretty sparse, there is a decent selection of downloadable games to occupy your time. The PlayStation Network houses a variety of downloadable, exclusive titles from independent game developers, and a few of them are free. So, while the shelves aren’t blooming with fresh PS4 fruits, yet, there is a pretty nice selection available online.
The Winners Are…
I’m breaking my list of worthwhile Ps4 games down by categories that will probably only make sense to me, and maybe 7 other people, found exclusively in regions with lots of toxic water and low hanging power-lines:
1. Most Wonky Gameplay That’s Still Worth The Trouble – Who doesn’t like ninjas? Who doesn’t like awesome tech? Who doesn’t like ninjas with awesome tech? If you raised your hand, please send me your coordinates, so that I may come find you with my awesome tech and ninja skills. Warframe (Free to Play), is the story of a forgotten group of warriors known as the Tenno, who are locked in an ongoing battle with the Grineer, a race bent on ruling the solar system. The Tenno are essentially high tech ninjas, fighting enemies with more high tech battle armaments. While not an entirely original concept there are two things that make this free to play game kind of praiseworthy: first, you not only get on-screen hints and directions, but the directions are also filtered through the controller’s on-board speaker, which is great for the hard of hearing. WHAT? Second, each mission pairs you up with other online gamers, which ensures that the success of your campaign is not solely on you, the individual. It’s a campaign, but how others perform affects your success and progression. And while the gameplay can be a bit wonky (they are continually updating and improving the game) it’s worth it for the futuristic ninja fun.
2. Most Eye/Hand Coordination Required– Resogun is hella fun. And free. Imagine Galaga, with an extra dimension, and 360° of potential death and destruction. The mission is to destroy the invading forces, while saving the occasional human survivor (easier said than done). Fast paced and extra challenging, Resogun, an exclusive to the PS4, puts the processing capabilities of the console to the test, which it passes with flying colors and spacecrafts.
3. Most Fun You Can Have With a Wizard, a Box, and a Giant Snail– I like puzzles and I like fantasy based fiction/games, especially if there are dragons involved. Trine 2: Complete Story ($19,99 on the PSN) ably combines the two elements, into an awesome, stereoscopic 3D adventure. Play as either a wizard, knight, or thief, each with their own necessary skill sets, fighting hordes of goblins, giant spiders, and randomly placed fire throwing devices. Loads of side-scrolling action and puzzle solving mayhem, Trine 2: Complete Story is my top acquisition since buying the console.
4. Most Enhanced Graphics on a “Both-Gen” Game– This is going to sound silly. It really is. I had a chance to play a number of the games released on both the PS4 and Xbox 360 (Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts for starters) and the game that looks to have the most improved lighting and resolution between the two systems was Lego Marvel Super Heroes. It’s easily the shiniest and most polished of the crossover games. That combined with the amusing storyline, lively gameplay, and comical voice acting, Lego Marvel Super Heroes is one of the few games worth getting on the PS4 that’s also available on older systems.
The PS4 has served me well these past couple of weeks. The games are intricate and look mighty “purty”, and for the first time ever Blu-ray seems worthwhile. The game selection is low, but that’s what happens at the launch of a new system. The excitement lies in what is to come (Star Wars: Battlefront 3, Final Fantasy XIV: Realm Reborn, and Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade to name a few). For me part of it is the excitement of owning a new game system…and not just fresh out of the box, but also off the assembly line. Which leads to my final point: this is the first system that I purchased right after its release (Xbox and Xbox 360 were my others) and I feel no regret. And if I’m this happy now, imagine what the coming months will bring.