Last Friday the PlayStation 4 was released, and FoxNews.com was there to review the new Sony hardware. But a week later, as everything settles down, more games and features go live and the console rollout is in full swing, how are things for the new PlayStation?
Over a week after getting hold of the PS4, it's still striking how quickly the system gets you to your games. Being able to remotely download games from the office, and the fact that updates download instantly in the background, means that the days of watching an install bar are over. If you get only a precious few hours a week to game, PS4’s focus on maximizing game time will be a godsend.
Speaking of maximizing time, if you own a handheld PlayStation Vita, remote play – a feature that allows you to play your PS4 remotely – works well for the most part, but doesn’t always hit the mark. The ambitious idea that you can play from an entirely different location isn't there yet, save on a local Wi-Fi network.
At home, I found that remote play worked just fine with most games, with some lag here and there. As long as this is just a way to keep playing when the TV is occupied, and not a way to play when at the mall, it's a great feature for families.
Also noteworthy is that some users have been complaining of hardware malfunctions, including a mysterious “blue light of death” that Sony is trying to rectify. How many units this affects at this point is unknown, and needs further investigation.
The biggest issue with any console at launch day is games; launch line-ups are often an ocean of mediocrity.
The PlayStation 4 is lucky in that it arrives on the back of a series of good games for the older consoles. “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” “Battlefield 4,” “Madden 25” and “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” are all available on the new console. While these aren’t reasons in themselves to buy a PS4, they do provide support while genuinely next-gen titles are still coming together.
In terms of exclusives, there are two big ones --“Killzone: Shadow Fall” and “Knack.”
“Knack” is a very disappointing cartoon platformer/brawler that Sony chief Shuhei Yoshida admitted this week was only expected to score “in the mid 70s” -- that's pretty poor for a $60 title. “Knack” is difficult, unimaginative and very average; it's a weak way to launch a console.
“Killzone: Shadow Fall” is a different story, and while it isn’t the most original first-person-shooter, and is up against stiff competition with “Battlefield” and “Call of Duty,” it’s a highly polished futuristic title that does what it sets out to do very well, and can be highly recommended for fans of the genre.
Apart from that, there is “Resogun”-- a downloadable, side-scrolling space shooter. It is free with the month’s free subscription of PlayStation Plus that comes bundled with every console so it’s worth a try. "Resogun" is a smooth and surprisingly addictive experience that can certainly pass the time until better titles are released.
“Contrast” is an indie platformer set in 1920s Paris. You play a little girl’s imaginary friend who can navigate a shadow world. So a shadow cast on the wall of a house can be climbed in order to reach an unreachable balcony, for instance. The game is beautifully designed with a unique concept, and piped through with trendy jazz music. It’s an original title well worth your time.
There are also certain free-to-play titles like “DC Universe Online” and “Blacklight: Retribution.” The former is a tried and tested online role playing game that's a safe bet for those looking for a multiplayer experience, while “Blacklight” is a multiplayer shooter that doesn’t require a PlayStation Plus subscription to play online. Although it won't trounce “Battlefield 4,” it has a few nifty features such as the ability to press a button and see where the action is through walls, and also the ability to rent items for a day or for a week.
With zero cost and easy to download, these games are easy to try and fun to explore. Sony has been encouraging indie titles and it seems to be working: Indeed, the launch lineup more solid than it may first appear.
Also, this week Sony announced a new installment of the massively popular “Uncharted” series for 2014. Although details are scarce, it’s another big win for those who gamble on Sony’s new console.
At the end of the first week, the PlayStation 4 shows itself to be a sleek console focused on games, with an interface designed to connect you with friends and maximize game time.
Its biggest weakness is in the AAA title range; but on closer inspection, a solid range of games also available on Xbox 360, as well as a diverse array of affordable (or even free-to-play) indie titles, mean that come Christmas, the PlayStation won't disappoint. Sony’s new console should be a worthwhile purchase.