So I finally got a PlayStation 4. I missed out one getting one at release and since then I’d been waiting for the right moment when I can just drop the cash and walk out of the shop without having to wait for the next shipment or any of that bollocks.
Technically it’s a nice machine, but it’s still housed in a cheap, shitty plastic box just like the Xbox One. The Dualshock 4 feels solid, unlike the Xbox One controller, which feels like it’s going to fall apart in my hands.
So far my fledgling PS4 game collection consists of Killzone Shadow Fall, Battlefield 4, Outcast and Zen Pinball. Killzone looks amazing. BF4 looks great; better than on the Xbox One but worse that the PC version. Outcast is very scary and not bad for a freebie courtesy of PlayStation Plus. Zen Pinball detected my 3D monitor and looks very nice in stereoscopic 3D.
As with the Xbox One the PS4 lacks games. Killzone Shadow Fall is obviously the machine’s graphical showcase product, just as Ryse: Son of Rome is for the Xbox One. I like Ryse, but I like Killzone a lot more.
Sadly though, with the likes of Dead Rising 3, Forza 5 and the aforementioned Ryse, I think that at this stage the PS4 owners are being short changed. Sure there’s about eight third-party games, but lets be honest for a moment apart from shinier graphics, they are not much better than their last-gen brethren.
And then, for Xbox One owners, there’s Titanfall about to drop.
There’s not doubt in my mind that the PS4 is the technically superior games console. But it’s competition, the Xbox One, isn’t just a games console. And I think that is the big difference this time.
Whilst I’ve been playing games on the PS4 at various preview events over the last six month, I’d never really had a chance to check out the machines UI. When I switched on my PS4 I was surprised at how empty it was. It had a couple of streaming channels, a browser, a link to the store and that was it. Compare that to the visual feast that is the Xbox One dashboard.
Two machines. Two different visions.
As you can imagine, I’ve a few consoles and a PC. I’ve only limited HDMI ports on the telly and, as a longtime PC gamer I kind of like playing games sitting down in front of a monitor. My pre-PS4 setup had my main Xbox 360 and my PC plugged into my (3D capable) monitor, with another Xbox 360, the PS3 and the Xbox One plugged into the lounge TV.
The Xbox One, with its extensive video streaming capabilities, TV integration, Kinect and the likes of Xbox Fitness for the missus, just seemed to suit the lounge more than it’s predecessor.
The PS4 on the other hand, being more of a meat and potatoes game console (a deliciously baked meat and potatoes, mind you), felt right in the study, so that’s where it is.
Whilst the PS4 has been a major distraction of late, I did manage to get some writing and reviewing out of the way before it arrived.
At the EB Expo in Sydney last year I interviewed Respawn Entertainment’s community manager Abbie Heppe and spoke to her about Titanfall. The venue was a bit too loud for an interview and the recording difficult to hear; so I put typing it up in the too hard pile. The other week,with Titanfall’s release fast approaching and the beta in session, I though it would be a good idea to sort it out.
The main focus of my conversation was Respawn’s decision to go multiplayer only for Titanfall. A brave design choice, and one that I welcome. Too many games bolt on a multiplayer experience to what is a single player game and vice versa. Respawn have tried to accommodate the single-player brigand by the inclusion of an campaign multiplayer mode, so we shall see.
I attended a preview event for Square-Enix’s Thief reboot a couple of months ago. I was feeling a bit under the weather and to be honest, not that impressed with Garrett’s latest outing. I left early thinking that Thief will be a dog to review.
A few weeks later, after signing the required NDA, I was sitting at my PC playing the latest old Eidos game to get the reboot treatment. I actually started enjoying Thief. It is a flawed game and many questionable design choices, the same design choices that I actually ignored with Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Evolution. This time I was not so kind on them.
As I said in my long-form review on Shane the Gamer, here, I’m finding a lot of modern game, whilst technically superb, lack any soul. A odd thing to say? It seems that many games, especially those coming out of Montreal like the Assassin’s Creed games rely more on gaming psychology than art. It’s like difference between the manufactured taste of processed food and a good home-cooked meal. The result is games like Thief, that seem to press all the right buttons, at the same time have glaring oversights; like the confusingly compartmentalised city and all those cookie-cutter tight spaces blocked by a fallen beam.
Interestingly, the Thief review code must have been the 32bit version. It seems that the 64bit version is a bit buggered, with stuttering and other issues. A recent patch allows those of us with “low-end” systems to play the game without some of the memory intensive 64bit candy. Dammit, I knew 32GB of memory wouldn’t be enough… Really Square-Enix?
Despite it’s faults I enjoyed playing the game and was disappointed when it was all over. I can see myself returning to Thief in the future. Check out my review on NZ’s Techday.com here.
I’ve been meaning to tackle the Assassin’s Creed V: Black Flag Freedom Cry DLC, for a while. I really enjoyed Edward Kenway’s adventures in Black Flag and was keen for more. It was more of the same, but with a protagonist that was no replacement for the roguish Kenway. You can read all about it over at Shane the Gamer here.
In between everything else, I still had the time to check out Fable Anniversary, the HD re-tooling of the classic Xbox and PC RPG. A must-have for fans of the series, you can check out my thoughts on the Games Console pages of Techday.com here.
Coming up, I’ve got to finish a review of Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD, the former PS Vita exclusive that is now available on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. I’m also playing through the rather vulgar South Park: The Stick of Truth. I’ve plans for a write-up on the Xbox One vs. The PS4 and then there’s Titanfall next week!