Now that we’ve touched on the controller, it’s time to get stuck into games, because really, that’s what the “play” is all about in the PlayStation.
Our review unit came with five games to play with, but really, there aren’t many you can play at this time because frankly, there aren’t that many out.
Two of the titles were PlayStation exclusives — “Killzone Shadow Fall” and “Knack” — while the other three are cross-platform titles which can be found not just on the PS4’s main competitor that is the Microsoft Xbox One, but also on not-so-next-gen consoles like the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.
Killzone showed off some impressive visuals, even if the gameplay took a little too long to really start, while Knack was bright, shiny, and offered some decent beat ’em up action that reminded us of “Crash Bandicoot” mixed with one of the many LEGO titles.
Both looked excellent, and you could tell they were made for the PS4, though there were some graphical slow downs and judder in Killzone as the real-time animatics were playing back, telling us the developers may not have had enough time finessing the title before the console’s release.
Beyond these two titles were the three other games we had to test at our disposal, which were cross-platform and included “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes,” “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” and “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.”
These titles were released for the other consoles, and look good on the PlayStation 4 too, though we haven’t seen what they’re like on the Xbox One for comparison’s sake.
In Ghosts, however, the imagery was quite spectacular, and unlike Killzone, we didn’t spot much lag or slowdowns through the scenes, with solid visuals across the board. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes was very pretty too, with shiny LEGO pieces and some quick and frantic gameplay that will keep the kids — big and little — entertained for hours as they try and unlock every Marvel superhero.
Assassin’s Creed was the title that most looked like a direct port. Imagery reminded us of how it would look on the PlayStation 3, rather than 4, and while that’s not bad, it didn’t quite have the same perfect edges we’d spotted on the other PS4 games. Outside of the not-as-remarkable visuals, the game is a lot of fun, though very big, feeling like a mixture of your typical Assassin’s Creed game and “Sid Meier’s Pirates,” though with a futuristic tech friendly story thrown in for good measure.
Also available to PS4 owners is the PlayStation store, which for some reason still seems keen on charging Australians around $100 per title, even though gamers overseas have it for much less.
We checked out one of the more relaxing — and cheap — titles, “Flower,” which has you play a flower petal gliding on the breeze from one flower to another, opening it up as you do. The gameplay here is pretty minimal, but this was the only title we played that actually used the motion controls built into the PS4 gamepad, making it unique, since no other title we played seemed to use this method of control on the PlayStation 4.
Overall, the games are okay at the moment.
Obviously, there’s more to come, and we’re quite excited about “Watch Dogs,” “Driveclub,” “Kingdom Hearts III,” and whatever “Uncharted” title Naughty Dog decides to release to the PlayStation 4 in the next year or two. At the moment, the game supply is usable, but not great, but we’re sure gamers will find playing these titles, as well as grabbing downloadable content (DLC) a lot of fun.
But there should be more to a console than just games these days, and that’s why Sony has made its movie service “Video Unlimited” and music service “Music Unlimited” available to the platform, while also encouraging developers to make apps to access their content networks.
At the moment, there isn’t much to choose from, with only Quickflix, IGN, and Vidzone offering downloads to access services. There isn’t an app for ABC’s iView, Mubi, Channel 7, or SBS at this time, which is disheartening to say the least, especially to Australians who may want to access these services.
There is still an internet browser, though you’re probably better using the one on your smartphone or tablet, and Sony has also added a feature called “Live from PlayStation” which encourages people to share their games using the “Share” button on the controller, which will record what they’ve been playing so that the world can see it. It’s an interesting idea, and one that could lead to a more social style of gaming.
But as promising as some of these features are, we do have some bones to pick with Sony, though, and one of them comes from design.
To Sony’s credit, the PlayStation 4 isn’t a badly designed console at all, and unlike the VCR-looking Xbox One, Sony has taken a chance and made the PlayStation look interesting.
Yet while the front looks clean and modern, and almost evolves the monolith idea that Sony once used in its televisions, the slot-loading drive is in a strange place, and isn’t easy to point out.
It’s on the left side, but crosses over in the right, just beyond the line that splits the design up.
It’s a confusing location, especially since it’s not easily found like it has been on previous slot-loading PlayStation models, and it’s not helped by the fact that it sits in the shorter space of the PlayStation 4, not the longer part, where it looks more like a disc would go.
In the PlayStation 3 — every version of that console, in fact — it was easy to work out, with a section of the console carved out to indicate this was where CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays went.
In the PS4, however, there’s none of that, and that obviousness is more of a memory, given way to you being forced to remember the silly location Sony has selected.