PS4 – First Impressions. The Good, The Bad & the Fugly
The next generation of gaming is finally upon us, and I can honestly say that it was well worth the wait. Here, I’ll discuss my first impressions on Sony’s next gen gaming device. I’ll name the good, the bad and even the fugly.
Now then, considering that the PS4 is still a relatively new gaming machine, I can’t go ahead and review the entire platform as a whole, as some of the key features are still AFK, or partially inactive / incomplete. All I can really do is write about what’s currently open to the masses, and give you a small glimpse of what is soon to come.
First, we have the initial presentation. Once you’ve hooked everything up, and turned on the system for the first time, you’re greeted with a simple and straightforward setup guide. By simple, I mean it is insultingly easy to set up. The time and date was already set, so I really only had to click next, agree to some terms, and wait for the system to finalize itself.
Once you’ve got the initial stuff out of the way, you’ll then be asked to either create a new Network account, or sign into an existing one. Mind you, given the fact that I was attempting to do this on the day of launch, I did encounter quite a few network issues. While most of these issues have since been resolved, it is worth noting that an active internet connection is required to gain full access to your PS4 system, and if Sony’s servers ever go down, new console owners would be unable to access most of what the PS4 has to offer. Quite simply, a firmware update is required straight out of the box.
Once you’ve finished the initial setup, you’ll get the first glimpse of the PS4’s new home menu. While the menu itself dazzles in its rich PlayStation Blue colour scheme, I was quite disappointed with the lack of any customizable options, such as the ‘themes’ on the PS3, PSP and Vita devices. Though it has been rumored that themes will be added to the PS4 at a later time via a system software update, this is a feature that really should have been included with the console at launch.
Also, just like with the Vita, the PS4 contains a soothing background song. Though the PS4 theme song isn’t as ‘jazzy’ as the one used in the Vita, the PS4 still manages to hold a catchy tune that isn’t too distracting. Personally, I found that the PS4 background song adds to the overall ‘style’ of the user interface. Just like with elevator music, you may find yourself humming the tune while you’re navigating the menus, but the instant you start up a game or movie, the song fades from your mind. It’s really a marvelous tune to have playing in the background.
For those of you that want a quiet menu experience, you also have the option of disabling the background music from within the system menu.
While the PlayStation 4 user interface is truly a wonderful work of art, the same cannot be said for the PS4 launch titles.
Although I greatly enjoyed my time playing Killzone: Shadow Fall online with a couple of random internet gamers, the singleplayer campaign was absolutely painful and repetitive. Guerrilla Games focused far too heavily on impressive graphical detail and large open world environments, they seem to have forgotten the core basics of what makes a video game ‘fun’. Though, Killzone: Shadow Fall is most certainly one of the most graphically realistic video games to date, the game appears to be more of a tech demo, than an actual video game. The singleplayer simply isn’t fun. You’ll find yourself walking around large (and mostly empty) environments that look stunning, but offer no real gameplay other than getting from point A to point B. The actual firefights have become a rarity, which is never a good sign from a game that markets itself as a first person shooter. Quite simply, most of the actual shooting will take place on Killzone’s solid multiplayer modes.
Playing Killzone: Shadow Fall online is like an entirely new experience. I’d even go as far as to say that the multiplayer modes are the main and only attraction to Shadow Fall, while the singleplayer was more of a graphical afterthought.
The level design is top notch, and the same dynamic gameplay elements introduced with Killzone 2 have returned in Shadow Fall, with the game mode changing at certain periods of the match. Each match incorporates team deathmatch, capture the flag and control points, making for one hell of a multiplayer experience that is slightly different every time you play.
While Killzone’s multiplayer showcases some of the best multiplayer combat on the PS4, especially given the connectivity problems and rapid game corruptions Battlefield 4 is experiencing, it isn’t without its’ flaws, most notably the severe requirement of teamwork during certain maps and match types.
Quite simply, if you do not work as a team, you will not win. Now, this may be beneficial to the professional gamers out there, as three skilled players working together as a small team will almost always result in victory. The map design almost guarantees this, as if three enemy players control a certain part of the map, simply running and gunning towards them will most certainly result in death. Unfortunately, this can also be a very overpowering experience, as if your team is unable to properly formulate a plan, you will undoubtedly lose the match.
Therefore, Killzone’s multiplayer requires absolute skill and teamwork to truly enjoy. Sure, you could simply go out and shoot everyone that you see, and I’m sure you’ll get a few easy kills with your powerful mini gun, too. However, you’ll soon find that every weapon and every lone-wolf strategy is destined to eventually fail you. Without a proper team to watch your back, even the slightest bit of teamwork from your enemy will result in their victory.
Now, every PS4 easily allows you to stream your games live to Twitch. Oddly, I was able to stream Killzone’s multiplayer modes at the best stream quality, without any kind of noticeable lag occurring in the game itself, or in the stream. Although I do have a 10 Mbps upload connection to the internet, which may have aided my lag-free experience. I must say, upon testing the streaming features first hand, the PS4 does it amazingly well. It’s stable, it’s fast, it’s easy and it’s innovative. You simply click a button, and you’re streaming.
Overall, my experiences with the PlayStation 4 have been very positive. The system seems to be fairly well built, although I did notice that, even when idling on the main menu, the system can become quite warm to the touch. I don’t believe this is anything to worry about, but it is something to look out for, as overheating causes the red line of death.
Having said that, if you place your PS4 in a well ventilated environment, and ensure that it is clean of all dust and airborne particles, you shouldn’t notice any major problems with the PS4 itself, at least not in terms of reliability.
I do wish I could have included all of my most loved and hated features of the PS4, but it’s still quite early in the game. The system itself seems to be amazing, and aside from a few minor software glitches here and there, as well as some poor launch titles, the PS4 is most definitely worth a buy.
I’ll see about writing another article once I’ve played around with the system a little more. You know, it’s only been out for a few days now, and even though I was among the first to get my hands on one, I’ve yet to fully see and experience everything that PlayStation has to offer. Besides, I currently only own two major games, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Battlefield 4. Well, aside from the free to play games and the games offered for free via PlayStation Plus.
I hope to pick up Call of Duty: Ghosts in a couple of days, possibly by tomorrow, just to see how the game plays out.
I also intend to get a PlayStation Camera, so I can fully experience everything that it has to offer.
Until then, I’m going to play some Battlefield and Killzone, and will write a new entry as soon as I have a more stable verdict.