Sunday, December 1, 2013

PS4 Launch + PS4 Review!

I've kept this on the back burner for 2 weeks now, because I wanted to get acquainted with the system and its menus. I wanted to learn its pros and cons, and I wanted to play a few games through before I wrote anything up. This way, I could avoid any new-console-hysteria bias, and I could feel comfortable with things before I jumped right into a review.

I got to my local Gamestop around 9. I was number 22 in line to get my PS4 (out of 35?). They handed me my receipt with the sticker on it, along with some coupons and this certificate:

Unexpected plot twist! I was just about to head over to Taco Bell and get something that probably would have given me gross burps all night, so this was a welcome gift. I ended up getting a mushroom and cheese, and calling up my best friend Bill to come and meet me. This whole process killed about an hour and a half, so I got back to the store around 10:30.

I spent the remaining time surrounded by people who were somehow more nerdy than me. Gamestop midnight launches always make me feel just a little bit better about myself. I played a bunch of Walking Dead in my car until I was too cold and had to go inside, about 11:15.

Fast forward a bit, and I had my console home by 12:45. I hooked it all up (despite my plans to do it in the morning) and tried to connect my PSN...nope. Not happening. Well, thats for the better. I ended up going to sleep and just doing it in the morning (after resetting and punching my modem really hard.) I also got a free poster.

(no I didn't preorder, but I want the collectors edition so I will be shortly).

Onto the review. I think I'll break it down into some categories - UI/Performance, Controller, Games.

The UI is very similar to the PS3, but different enough to cause some initial confusion. Fortunately everything you could want to do is still bundled into their own respective categories, and once you take a few seconds to familiarize yourself with the home screen, you're set. Everything is there and ready very quickly, and switching between your game, the trophy list, your friends screen, notifications, etc is a breeze. The settings are more condensed than the PS3's, so navigating to anything you want is much more simple. The only real flaw I've found is the difficulty in reviewing your captures from within the game. There isn't a category for this, and you have to either do some stupid stuff through the settings, or navigate there through your Profile > Captures button. Extremely annoying. Also, there is no delete within the options menu. You have to go to a separate "Delete" menu, and then select multiple captures to delete (or, ya know, just the one). Why there isn't a designated button for this within the preview screen is beyond me, and its something I'm sure will be fixed soon. The inability to copy them over to a USB stick is also one of the more annoying features I hope will be changed. Other than that, easily breezily.

I never had a single hiccup with the performance of the machine itself (knock on wood). I played Knack and Skylanders through start to finish without having to restart or running into any problems. No problems updating or loading anything, nothing. The only issue I had was connecting to PSN on that first day (but that was because everyone was doing it at once). I do find myself watching Netflix on my PS3...I'm still nervous about leaving the PS4 on for extended periods. I've played a few hour(s) long sessions at a time, but the new console jitters are getting the best of me.

The controller is an all around upgrade. There is nothing I miss about the DS3. I find myself still looking for the "Start" button rather than the new "Options" button, but that'll change over time. The new sticks are wonderful and I can't believe how much of an improvement they are. Its like when you buy brand name Doritos after eating the store brand ones...they're so much better, but you had no idea what you were missing out on (and now its going to be tough going back...) The triggers (which I never had a problem with before) are very smooth and feel "right". The touch pad...I unfortunately didn't get much use out of just yet. Killzone tried to force it in where it didn't belong which made me hate it, but I'm excited to see its potential. I'm not sure just how sensitive or responsive it is, because most of the time I was using it in Killzone I was just angry I had to do it. It'll be fun to try out in Escape Plan when it releases later this week. Best of all, you can plug your controller into a wall outlet (like a phone charger) while you play. Even if you plugged your USB cable for the DS3 into a wall adapter while it was on, it wouldn't charge...this is probably the most welcome change of all of them to me.

The games look great. I only have a 720p TV (lets hope for 1080 after Christmas...) so its difficult for me to say how much better it is than the PS3. Skylanders looked really good - almost better than Killzone. Killzone seemed to have really distant rendering lengths, and gave a very good idea of depth and space. Everything from PSN downloaded quickly and in the background (yes, even while you play!) and the mandatory installs on the disc based games were so quick I barely noticed they were installing. I guess they install in pieces, so you can play part A and B while C,D,E, and F install. I was a bit worried when I was hearing things about a "50GB install", but it seriously took about 30 seconds for me to get to play (which is generally what I spend after putting in a disc and screwing around for a while before returning to the couch anyway).

All in all, I'm greatly satisfied with my PS4 purchase. I'm very excited to see where the next few months (and years) will take this console, and I'm ready for "next gen". Whether or not you're holding out for a price drop or some stellar games, I think the PS4 is going to be the best place for gaming for some time to come!

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