One reviewer's take on the PS4 launch experience.
Note: be sure to check out the pre-launch piece.
Due to some unexpected circumstances, I was unable to attend the midnight launch of the PlayStation 4. The cool temperatures and long lines went on without me. On the one hand, I was somewhat disappointed to miss out on what some might consider a right of passage. On the other, I realized that having a PlayStation 4 on pre-order meant that I could pick up the console at a time most convenient for me. In other words . . . what was I thinking?
With that said, I was at my local Best Buy on Friday, November 15th approximately 15 minutes before the store opened; pre-order receipt in hand and thoughts of gaming greatness on the brain. After the doors opened, I was second in line at the customer order pick-up counter. The wait was mere minutes, and I was back home enjoying my own personal unboxing soon thereafter – well rested from a previous night's good sleep.
With my 9-year-old daughter at my side, and almost as excited as I was, we quickly, but carefully, opened the smaller than anticipated PlayStation 4 box; ensuring that all pieces and parts were included as advertised. Having already established a spot with the rest of my home theater equipment, I initially opted to re-use an existing HDMI cable that was previously used with my Samsung 3D Blu-ray player. It made for a fast connection and I was ready to power up the new console for the first time.
What came next made my heart skip a beat.
The previous 12 hours were filled with PlayStation 4 images and words across both Twitter and Facebook. Everyone was having a wonderful time getting to know their newest console. But then a handful of tweets and Facebook posts began to permeate across North America. Some were experiencing an odd glitch with the new PS4 that resulted in no picture displayed on their television. And it seemed like that was what happened to me when I first powered mine on.
Thankfully, what started out as mild panic worked out just fine. Keeping calm, I immediately replaced my existing HDMI cable with the cable provided by Sony. A quick powering down and back on of the console – new HDMI cord connected – and all was right with the world again.
Being meticulous and thorough I spent the next 30 minutes going through every setting, establishing every connection, and ensuring every pre-loaded application was working as designed. The new PlayStation mobile App - already downloaded onto my iPhone 5 - was effortlessly synced to the PlayStation 4, as was the Remote Play option from my PlayStation Vita. Everything was coming to fruition after waiting what seemed like an eternity.
Let the Games Begin
Having prepared for this most sacred of events I had taken advantage of a Buy 2 Get 1 free sale on PlayStation 4 games the week before the launch. Although I deliberated over which three games I would settle on for more time than I care to admit, I eventually landed on 'Killzone: Shadow Fall', 'Knack', and 'Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag.' But my gaming preparations didn't end there.
For months I had been cashing in credit card points to accumulate a nice cushion of PlayStation Network money. As a result I felt confident that adding 'Need for Speed Rivals' to my PlayStation 4 gaming library would be a good choice. Add to this the Day One PlayStation Plus games of 'Contrast' and 'Resogun', the free-to-play titles 'Warframe', 'Blacklight Retribution', 'DC Universe Online', and a review code for 'Super Motherload' and my weekend festivities were full and complete.
While nothing short of a miracle would have allowed me to play and complete all of these games, I was able to get in a nice sampling of most. Here are some of my initial thoughts:
'Killzone: Shadow Fall:' Having played the first few levels of the single player campaign there is no question that this is a must-have PS4 title. I've still got plenty more to complete, and the online multiplayer looks both deep and satisfying.
'Knack:' Easy to control and kid friendly, Knack was more difficult than what I was expecting. It has a charm to it that is rare in video games these days, and I look forward to playing this game with my daughters.
'Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag:' This was a tough game for me to purchase. I've always been a fan of the concept behind this series, but have had difficulty enjoying some of the game mechanics that they come with. While Black Flag still relies on many of those same mechanics it has enough new flavor and open worldness that I expect my attitude about the game will continue to be favorable the longer I play it. I also downloaded the free Assassin's Creed 4 Black Flag Companion App onto my iPad and cannot recommend this add-on enough. After syncing it to my existing U Play account the iPad integration works nicely as a second screen. [Editor's Note: Works great on the iPad, but Android support is restricted to only a few dices.]
'Contrast:' As a last minute replacement for the Sony exclusive 'DriveClub', it was a wonderful, yet somewhat flawed experience. You can see my full review for it here.
'Resogun': Fans of shmups need look no further than 'Resogun'. With seizure-inducing visuals (aka beautiful), the game plays incredibly smooth and is certain to provide an addictive experience for hours to come.
A Few Days In….
Taking an extra day off from work to fully enjoy and appreciate this new console launch experience, I am able to state with confidence that the PlayStation 4 has met – and/or – exceeded all of my expectations. The user interface is quick and intuitive. The games that I've played, although not a huge leap in terms of graphical fidelity, appear to perform better. Integration with the PlayStation Vita and the option for remote play or second screen functionality has breathed new life into Sony's handheld. If I had to describe the PlayStation 4 in a single word, it would be “impressive”. And what's best is in knowing that we're just a few days in. It may take time for the developers of a new gaming console to fully realize its potential, but if I'm already impressed with what they have accomplished I simply cannot wait to see what the future has to offer.
Author: Bill Braun