Opinion · Reviews

PS4 Preview

Finally got to spend some time today with the PS4 in a store. Had a few thoughts about it so thought I’d share.

First of all, the new DualShock4 controller is really good. They made the arms longer so it feels much more comfortable to hold; there is finally something substantial to hold on to. Having used the DualShock 3 and the DualShock 2 extensively in the past, I can confirm the new controller is a massive step forward and no longer inferior to the Xbox controller (at least the Xbox 360 one).

The console itself is quite compact. It looks smaller than even the latest version of PS3, which is quite an achievement. I’m not quite fond of the quality of materials used. The design is striking but the plastics make it look much cheaper than it is. Sony should have invested in better quality materials for the exterior. For a box that sits in your living room, the PS4 needs to look more premium.

I played ‘Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition’ and ‘Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’ for a short time. The console was connected to a 720p TV so I couldn’t assess how the games would look at 1080p. Having said that, I’m greatly impressed with what I saw.

Let me preface by saying I am primarily a PC gamer with a respectable configuration, so I know how good a game can look. I have even played the PC version of Tomb Raider before. In comparison to that, the PS4 looked just as good and that too at 720p. And this it managed to achieve at a silky smooth framerate of close to 60 fps. Black Flag was equally impressive and could have easily passed off for a PC game.

I have extensively played on the PS3 and the Xbox 360 and right from the first game I played I have generally been unimpressed by the visuals, save for a handful of games that really squeezed all that the two consoles were capable of. In comparison, the PS4 blew me away right out of the gate with launch titles. I doubt either of those games are fully utilizing the hardware of the PS4, which is why I can’t wait to see what developers, particularly first party developers, manage to achieve with it. Uncharted 4 is going to be GLORIOUS.

Pricing of the launch titles is not as bad as I had expected and in most cases on par with that of PS3 games. There aren’t a lot of games to play right now but hopefully things would be better a year later, which would also be the right time to get one of these things. Paying 3k for a console game never really made sense to me primarily due to the poorer visuals compared to the often cheaper PC games. But if the games are going to look just as good as they do on the PC, as it seems to be the case with the current games, then I don’t mind paying the price for the PS4 games, considering how hassle free the gaming experience usually is on the consoles compared to the PC.

Reviews

Sony PlayStation Vita first impressions

Got a chance to use a friend’s PSVita, which he had gotten for review. After spending about five minutes with it, here are my first impressions. 

  • It’s pretty massive. I make fun of large phones all the time but the Vita makes even the Galaxy Note look like Danny DeVito in comparison. It won’t fit into any pocket I own (even after all the space that will be created after I spend on it). You will need to carry around a bag for it. Having said that, for something this big, it’s pretty light. 
  • The display is gorgeous. Makes everything look great. 
  • Extremely fluid UI that looks like it was designed by a six-year old. 
  • Games look great but like its bigger console counterpart there are plenty of jagged edges due to a lack of anti-aliasing. I hate that shit on mobile phones but on the Vita’s larger display it becomes even more apparent. 
  • The joysticks are really good, despite their short travel. The rest of the buttons are pretty good too. 
  • The device operation isn’t very straightforward and self-explanatory. E.g., when I took the device in hand it was already running a game so it took me a while to figure out which button to press to go to the home screen. 
  • Didn’t get a chance to use the touchpad at the back or the cameras. In fact I completely forgot they existed when I was using the device. 
  • Videos look pretty awesome on the display but the format support is abysmal. 

Overall, I’d say it was pretty good but it wasn’t something that I felt I must have when I used it for the first time. I think I’ll stick to the PC/console for serious gaming and the smartphone for casual gaming. The PSVita, like the PSP before it, reminds me of the Galaxy Note, wherein it tries to bring the best of both worlds into one device without being particularly successful at either. The games are obviously not as good as on the PC or console, even though they cost as much and it is not as portable as a smartphone. The 3-5 hour battery life isn’t particularly great either. 

I’d like to spend more time with it but unless the prices of the console and the games drop I don’t see myself purchasing it or even recommending it to anyone else.