Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thoughts On... PlayStation 4

It's been a little while since I've gotten my PS4 and per my friend David's request, I have to go over how things are going with the system. As I said in my previous post, I knew that basically the whole world was going to be logging on to the PlayStation Network to get updates and start playing around with the new console, so I chose to go to sleep. I wasn't going to wait for over an hour to connect to the PSN just to then wait another hour to get the update. So, the next day while I was phoning it in at work, my overly tired brain came up with an idea! They say Necessity is the mother of invention and they would be right. I was trying to figure out a way to stay awake the whole day and I logged in to the PSN at work. I was able to access it with no problem and downloaded the PS4 update to my ever present USB drive. When I got home, I plugged in the PS4 and immediately updated the software. Total time: 5 min.

Now, let's talk about the machine itself. I'm someone who takes care of my electronics, which is why my computers last me for years and years, but my friends and family's machines all burn out in a year or two. So, while I was handling the PS4 carefully, there was no wobbly casing. It was just as sturdy as it's older brother, if a little more funky looking. I will say that the glossy side of the PS4 picks up fingerprints like they're going out of style so be careful in the handling. My roommate's wife picked up the controller and immediately felt that it was perfect for her hands, which lit up a red flag in my head. Her hands being smaller than mine, I started to think that the controller might be too small for me to use. But, I was wrong. I could go into a lot of technical details, but that would just bore everyone. Suffice it to say that the new PS4 controller was designed to fit comfortably in the hand.

The matte finish makes it easier to maintain your grip after long gaming sessions when your hands get sweaty (I tested that bit later), and the tops of the analog sticks have a nice groove which makes them easier to use especially during intense situations when your fingers would normally slip off of the PS3's completely curved analog sticks. After three long grueling hours playing Knack and then Lego Marvel Superheros, I had no issues with maintaining my grip on the controller and use the analog sticks with no issues. The triggers are a little bit smaller than the PS3, but once I got used to that I was back in business.

I have to admit, I was worried about the blue pulse of death, but it turns out that Sony's math was dead on and the issues were less than 1% of the consoles shipped, so mine turned on with no issues. I was able to connect to PSN from the console with no issues and I started playing around with the new interface. The first thing that blew my mind was the SPEED of the thing. I have crappy Comcast internet and I was used to having a little bit of lag time getting into the PS Store. But on the new console, no sooner did I hit the X button than I was in the store zooming around the choices that were available. The XMB responded really well, and I was able to jump in and out of games JUST as fast as I was doing with the Store.

Now, let's talk about games. I initially purchased Knack and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag for the PS4. I started playing with Knack and it was amazing. It's one thing to hear the Sony reps talk about how the new console can handle millions of particles on screen, it's quite another to see it RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE. The graphics of the game were a bit cartoony, but that didn't diminish the detail of the images I was seeing and Knack himself was simply astounding to watch just when he was moving normally, never mind in combat. Gaming-wise, the let down was AC4:Black Flag. I bought that game as a way to have my roommates and me play together, but only 10 min into the game we were all bored to tears. And my roommates are the ones who LOVE the Assassin's Creed series!! So, I traded it in for the Lego Marvel Superheroes game. That one was a HUGE hit. Not just with my roommates, but with their 4 kids as well. It was so awesome to see everyone sitting down playing and watching a game and really getting into it.

I then went and downloaded the other game I was really interested in playing. It's a 1920s themed platformer called "Contrast". And that game is the most bizarre game I've ever played in the best way possible. I love the soundtrack, the controls are amazing and the creativity of how they blend the shadow-walking (my term) with the regular game play is outstanding. I played the game for about an hour and it felt like only 5 min had passed. That's how engrossing it was.

Now, as amazing as my experience with the PS4 has been, there are some downsides. First, thanks to my crappy Comcast internet, I was without internet for about a day and I wasn't able to access things on the console. For example: my trophies. You would think I'd be able to see them on my PS4 without having to be connected to the PSN, but apparently that's no longer the case. Yes, I can see them on the PlayStation App on my phone or tablet, but that's not the point. If I can play games and earn trophies when I'm not online, why shouldn't I be able to SEE those trophies when I'm not online?

Second, I don't like that the XMB doesn't have visibility into the contents of a plugged in USB drive. I was able to update the PS4 from the USB, so it recognizes the fact that a drive is plugged in, but I can't see the files, so I wasn't able to play any videos to see what files the new console will have issues playing. I haven't tried a computer data disc yet, but that's next to try and see if/how it works.

Third, I don't like the fact that you can't filter the last thing done list. It's awesome if you want to jump right into the last game you were playing, but if you were switching back and forth between a couple of games (like I was) it was a pain in arse to have to jump several slots down to access the activity you wanted to get back to.

Fourth, the games. Unfortunately, my friend David was right. There just aren't as many games out for the PS4 right now and so I find myself going back to the PS3 to play. Granted I still have a TON of games to finish on the PS3, but there really isn't a huge PS4 library yet and the games that are available mostly play to a demographic that I'm not a part of. I'm just not a sports fanatic and I'm not really into first person shooters. So, in the end, I have the three games available for the PS4 right now that I'm interested in. So, until the next crop of games are released,  I find myself splitting my time between the PS3 and the PS4.

But look, for all intents and purposes, the PS4 is an amazing system. I'm very much looking forward to all the stuff that's coming down the line for it. And there are some MAJOR games coming. I'm so excited I could just burst! What do you think, my dear readers? If you have a PS4, sound off below. If not, do you think you'd get one now? Sound off below!


  1. I'm glad to read your reaction to playing Knack. It's very hard to tell from screens alone just what "next gen" really looks like. So the fact that it's noticeable to you is very promising. That's what I like to hear!

    Hey, have you thought about playing Resogun? I would think that game is right down your alley. It's apparently one of the best--if not the best--of the launch titles.

    Oh, and correction: Shadow Walking is my term! Have you forgotten that story I wrote in college already? ;)

    As for the USB drive: even my PS3 slim won't automatically display the contents of my thumb drive sometimes. So I have to select the drive, then hit the triangle button for a litst of options and select "view all files" before they appear. I would normally think this is the same problem, except for the fact that I read on IGN that the PS4 does not yet support the playback of certain a/v files, most notable mp3 and mp4. It might play avi files, though. Or do I have that reversed? All I know is, full media support is not yet enabled on the PS4. Sony wanted to focus specifically on game playing for the launch, and will be releaesing patches in the future to take care of everything else.

    So, this is a known issue. And because Sony has always been forthright about the matter, no one is really complaining too loudly. Yet. I hear Microsoft has similar issues with the Xbox One. You have to expect some sacrifices with the systems that are first out the gate.

    Speaking of which ... I still have no plan on getting either system any time this year, nor for most of 2014, either. I can see it happening by Fall of next year, perhaps. And most likely that purchase will be the PS4. Something tells me Xbone is going to be ... a boner.

    Heh. I crack me up. Sorry.

    1. Resogun is actually the next game I plan on downloading. It's been on my radar for about a month but I haven't had the time to get it. But Resogun definitely looks like it would be in my wheelhouse, as it were.

      Wow, I hate to say it,but I did forget about that story. In my defense, it's been approx 15 years since college, so it's understandable, right? Now, if you had published the story as a novel and created a "Shadow Walker" novel series then I'd have no excuse. So, in the end, it's YOUR fault I forgot. ;-)

      Yeah, my PS3 does the same thing where I have to hit the triangle button to see the video files, but at least the USB drive is visible on the XMB. On the PS4, I don't even get to see that. I know there will be updates to the PS4 interface to resolve this, but it's still a minor irritation which I'd thought I'd mention.

      Sometime this week, I'll be testing the video data disc, DVDs and Blu Rays to see if/how they all work. I don't have any 3D blu rays, so thankfully that won't be an issue.

      I think it'd be a good idea to wait for a little while to pick up the PS4. Since the trend is to release a great deal of epic games for the latest PlayStation within the first year of its launch, but keep an eye out on the digital side of things. If enough games like Resogun and Contrast come out early enough, it might be worth getting the PS4 earlier.