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Baron's Blitz: The PS4 Review

PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 5:16 pm
by Baron von Gosu
As is tradition in the waning months leading up to the Christmas season, the video game industry has exploded with new toys and gadgets for the masses, promising new interactive ways to spend your time avoiding the drudgery of responsibilities like school, work, and families. This year is perhaps one of the bigger ones for releases, however, since the next generation of gaming is kicking off in a two week battle for our nerdly affections and dollars. First up is the Playstation 4, brought to you by a Sony corporation that finally learned the benefits of focusing on the mass exodus of holiday shopping to bring their new system to North America first.

The build up to the PS4 started back in February of 2013 when official notification of the system and dates for pre-ordering went public, followed shortly by Microsoft's often and deservedly mocked cluster fuck of an announcement to the new X-Box One. Since then debate has raged on through many a blog and parent basement as to the merits of which is better, more exciting, more promising, and ultimately the most fulfilling. As a professed fan of the Playstation 3 over the 360 along with my own opinions on the aforementioned debate, I picked up a PS4 at the midnight launch (my first as a customer instead of an employee) and spent several hours trying to get a glimpse of whether or not my nerd urges would be fulfilled. All I can so far is despite a few hitches I haven't been disappointed.

The system is surprising small and light weight, a welcome change from the previous console generation. The design of the overall system is a little odd, prompting me at first to wonder where the hell the disk drive was along with the eject and power buttons. As a man and therefore allergic to such helpful tools as the instructions, I took a couple minutes fumbling around with the system discovering where each item is. To describe the system best I'd say it reminds me of two large solid black lego bricks stuck together. In between the bricks is a small slot for the disks with two small buttons (one above it, one below it) for the power and eject. The slots for the USB, ethernet, etc are easy to find in front and in back and assembly of the parts took less than 2 minutes. Mine is a little noisy when running a disk but not so much that it became an annoyance like with the 360 or PS3 consoles. Overall the system takes up less shelf space and seems to handle long hours of use without becoming overly hot (at least mine doesn't seem too so far).

As for the dual shock 4 controller I love it. Lighter, thinner, and with a more capabilities than the dual shock 3, I loved how this controller easily melts with my grip. The touch pad on the front is easily responsive and also serves as a button function similar to pressing down on the joysticks (I believe it's referred to as the R3 function). The controller has built in speakers and headset jack (with pretty decent sound quality both with and without the headset) and the rumble feature continues to be a nice touch. The only thing I haven't gotten to try yet is the move function. Late into the PS3's release Sony came out with 'Move' attempting to enter into the interactive gaming experiences pioneered by Nintendo's Wii. The dual shock 4 combines the move controller into the regular dual shock set up with a large glowing section built into the back of the controller. I admit I don't play many motion based games, but I do like the idea of combining everything into one controller instead of having to spend 50 on another dual shock and another 40 on a move controller.

My only complaint so far with the hardware are the included accessories. The ear buds/head set is a joke. Cheap, not very durable, and shitty sound quality all have me digging through my ipod case for the cheapy buds I purchased at Five Below. The charge cable for the dual shock 4 is alright, but would it really have killed Sony to make the previous versions of the cable for the PS3 compatible for the PS4? Worse yet I purchased an additional dual shock 4 only to discover it doesn't come with a second charge cable. Odds are you'll have to purchased them separately and worse yet I expect it to be expensive. Sony (and Microsoft to a lesser extent) is well known for taking their sweet ole time licensing third parties for accessories which again adds to my displeasure to find a cheaper alternative. The HDMI cord appears to be as good as my other Sony one I purchased for my Blu Ray player a few years ago so no complaints there. I did notice, however, that the sound quality isn't as good with my surround sound system as the PS3, but admittedly that could be because I haven't played with the settings on the console yet. I'll update the review once I get a chance to adjust it.

Lastly the system at work. I liked the menu set up in this iteration. Rather than one long line of menu options you have two shorter lines on top of one another, slightly more similar to the Vita screen display than the PS3. Downloading the first patch and installing it took less than 5 minutes from download to install, though it did feel slightly longer than that after the rumors I heard of systems bricking after downloading it (more on that later). Installing the first game (Assassin's Creed 4) also took less than few minutes to complete. In the menu they have a menu option that helps show off the many functions of the system and controller. Although I didn't purchase the camera to go with the system, I was still able to use the program to demonstrate the abilities of the dual shock 4 through the controller itself.

One of the many functions promised by Sony in its initial release was the ability to minimize screens and move between game and menu functions without system slowing or lag. I tried this out and must say I'm pretty impressed with the results. Pausing and minimizing a game, then going online, and then loading up pictures in a different menu didn't slow the experience at all. For all the talk of processing power the PS4 so far seems to deliver. The graphics of the games I have tried so far aren't overly impressive, at least not when compared to the PS3. This doesn't surprise me though seeing as the system is so new and game developers still have a lot of exploring to do with what they can achieve with its abilities. I have to remind myself to be patient like with all new consoles. Patience is not an easy thing for me, as a man, as a gamer, and as a Cleveland sports fan.

Alright, so lets address the elephant in the room. With any console or big game release launch, shit happens. The shit, in the PS4's case, is quite concerning. First let's start with the bricking issue. At the midnight launch there were rumors being floated around that people who got their systems early (from the Taco Bell contest and game site reviewers demoing the system) had several problems with systems getting bricked after downloading the first software update. The system, after completing the download and install, is supposed to reboot itself to the main menu. Several machines, however, didn't reboot after install nor would they turn back on after hitting the power button. After I got mine set up and through the process without trouble, I sent a message to my Gamestop friends (yes I used to work there) letting them know I got through trouble free. My friend, along with about a half dozen others, weren't so fortunate. Their systems bricked right after install. Worse yet, Sony support was flooded with calls, which leads to the second item of the shit list. Server errors and login errors on the PS Network. Again, this one isn't so surprising considering every major launch seems to have this problem. Within a day Sony got the network up and running and I've been online many times since downloading apps for Netflix and scouring the playstation store for other gaming options. This is part 3: lack of games. Major, major lack of games. Say what you will about the X-Box One but when it comes to launch titles the PS4 is seriously getting bitch slapped around. I counted six, maybe seven titles, most of which already launched on the PS3 and 360, and only a few options listed on the playstation store from Indy developers. I know I know, give it time for the library to catch up, but this has always been my biggest complaint to launches. Lack of games ruins the excitement and quality of the experience, especially if the games already exist on an established platform. I long for the days of a major title release with a launch, and sadly PS4 was lacking that big title. Sure some people will point to Killzone, but at least as far as the store I was at it was Assassin's Creed that was the bigger seller, followed by Call of Duty Ghost, and the PS4 exclusive Knack.

Thankfully I didn't have many problems with my system. I find the system overall compact with a much improved controller scheme, workable menu options, and a gaming experience full of nerdly potential. I do recommend the PS4 for those looking to upgrade their gaming experience, but with the server issues and lack of games for the launch I wouldn't hold it against anyone to cautiously wait and pick one up a few months down the line. Although the X-Box One hasn't been out to review side by side at the time of this writing, I can't argue their launch titles carry much more weight over the PS4. Hopefully my early optimism will be better rewarded.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Until next time, dear reader.....

Re: Baron's Blitz: The PS4 Review

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:09 am
by Varyar1G
I completely agree with the launch title criticism of all console launches and especially the PS4 launch. However, in all fairness, you mentioned Knack but then glossed over it and I feel that honesty dictates I have to tell you that I have heard absolutely phenomenal things about that game. Haven't played it myself, but a couple friends and a bunch of customers at my gamestop had nothing but good things to say about it.

Re: Baron's Blitz: The PS4 Review

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:08 pm
by Baron von Gosu
I hadn't heard anything on it and haven't played it myself so I didn't have much in the way to review it. Usually a major title is extremely hyped and I didn't feel Knack really got the big push. If it is a great game than fantastic, but I would argue Sony should've gone balls to the wall to promote it then. Most of the promos I've seen were for Ghost, Killzone, and the slew of X-Box releases. I will have to try Knack out.