With the Playstation 4 finally hitting these shores amidst much fanfare and ‘fanboyism’, it’s time to ask that million euro (or four hundred euro) question – Why should you buy it?
In truth there are a lot of very valid reasons as to why one should fork out the money for Sony’s next-generation games console. At the same time, there are a few reasons why it might be a sound and sensible idea to hold off until later in the new year.
But let’s start on a positive note. The reasons you should buy the PS4 as soon as you can. Just holding the controller in your hands gives you a sense of “this is the next gen”, with the Dual Shock 4 controller being a massive improvement on its predecessor’s Dual Shock 3 controller, which has always been a distant second best behind the Xbox 360’s “greatest controller ever”.
The Dual Shock 4 is wider, with far better grips on the thumb sticks for better control, as well as new concave L2 and R2 (or trigger) buttons, meaning your finger no longer slips from a sweaty R2 button in the middle of a gunfight in your favourite first-person shooter.
But the most impressive new features of the controller are both its touchpad and light bar. The touchpad acts as a clickable button, with its entire area being touch sensitive. For instance, when playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag I was able to use the touchpad as a makeshift mouse to easily navigate the game’s vast maps. The light bar, when used in conjunction with the PlayStation Camera, is used to play some silly but hilarious AR (augmented reality) games through the pre-installed Playroom app.
The User Interface
As for the console’s user interface, it is a far cry from the ‘x-media bar’ of the PS3. Your console now resembles a video game social network, showing you a homepage of what you’re friends are up to, and in future you’ll be able to even directly jump into their games to help them out. As well as this, at launch all users with a PlayStation Camera will be able to record (and upload to Facebook), screenshot and even stream their gaming sessions live on either Twitch.tv or Ustream, making amateur video reviewers out of all of us. And if like me, video games can bring out the Incredible Hulk in you, video streaming of your sessions promises to be hilarious, and humbling. But now for the most important part of any games console…
As for the games themselves, it must be noted that that graphical leap from the PS2 to the PS3’s high-definition graphics is not here. But that doesn’t mean these games aren’t the most impressive looking games ever. Killzone: Shadow Fall is quite simply put one of the most gorgeous games you will have ever played. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, while only a port from the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, is mind-blowing to look at. Even the family-friendly platformer Knack was a graphical feat.
But what good are graphics without great gameplay I hear you ask? Well fear not. The PlayStation 4 has you covered. Of course, this does all depend on personal tastes. For me, the best PS4 game is their exclusive arcade-style shooter Resogun. This is an indie game, developed purely with great gameplay in mind. There are no Killzone graphics here (though the particle effects are stunning). This is all about having some serious fun, as you shoot hundreds of alien ships, all the while trying to beat you high score and 'save the humans'. It’s old school video gaming at its finest. And best of all, the game is free to download at launch for PlayStation Plus subscribers.
Killzone: Shadow Fall is not just pretty to look at, but a lot of fun to play, thanks in no small part to the (albeit minor) tactical use of the touch pad. There is no Call of Duty auto-aim feature here, which creates a tougher task in taking down enemies. But this is welcome, as you can’t just storm a room shooting in all directions, lest you suffer the fate of all those poor soldiers mowed down behind you. Using your new O.W.L companion, you can distract enemies, and sneak up on them to slit their throats or break their necks, which is handy if you’re low on ammunition from your last killing spree.
The last game I played was perhaps one of the most bizarre and at the same time laugh-out-loud funny games in the last few years. Yes people, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is another indie game, which has you take control of an octopus who is disguised as a human, with the whole premise of the game being you trying to hide the fact that you’re an octopus from other humans. It’s as mental as it sounds. You control your lower tentacles with the right thumb stick, and your upper tentacles with the R1 and R2 buttons. Just trying to walk to the alter FOR YOUR WEDDING (!) was hilariously difficult, as you just couldn’t avoid knocking over pillars and flower pots with your wayward tentacles. But enough of the positives, here’s why you might be better off holding off…
There aren’t that many fantastic launch titles…
While the likes of Resogun and Killzone: Shadow Fall are very good games indeed, is that really enough to get you to fork over €399 (+ €60 if you buy the PS Camera)? If, like me, you just can’t wait then by all means go for it. But there is a lot to be said for waiting until March onwards, when the range of games will be vastly improved, to buy your shiny new PS4 console. inFamous: Second Son, Watch_Dogs and Destiny will all be out around about then, giving you plenty more options to choose from. Though it has to be said that while the likes of AC IV, Battlefield 4, FIFA 14 and COD: Ghosts are all out for the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles we already own, the definitive versions of these games are the PS4 and Xbox One versions.
The PlayStation 4 is a fantastic piece of kit, and despite its relatively thin array of outstanding launch games, if you are one of us that pre-ordered the console in June and have been paying it off in instalments, you are in for a treat. If you’re asking me should you fork out all €399+ in one go, I would suggest you wait until next year, especially considering there’s still plenty of life left in the old PS3. But one thing is for sure, the next generation is here, and there’s never been a more exciting time to be a gamer.