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The Suburbanite
The latest reviews and gaming news from around the Web.
PS4 Impressions
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About this blog
By Cliff Hickman
Cliff is a lifelong area resident and gamer. Cliff enjoys shooters, role playing games, action adventure games and sports games.
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I promised my impressions of the PS4 today and here they are. I'll break everything down by category

The System

I was surprised by how small the PS4 actually is. It comes in slightly smaller than the compact Blu Ray player I picked up last year. It looks nice and tends to blend into the background of whatever shelf you set it on. Connecting the system was easy. I experienced no problems with the initial setup. The one thing I need to stress is that this machine is whisper quiet. After years of hearing my first generation X-Box 360 and PS3 awaken with a loud roar every time I pressed the power button I was stunned that the PS4 hardly makes any noise. If it wasn't for the light strip on the top of the unit indicating the machine was on there are times that I wouldn't know it. The only time it really makes any sounds are when you slide a disc into the unit. I've yet to run into any problems with the hardware. I've been doing my best to stress test it. I had the machine on for more than a couple of hours today with no issues. I have not had any problems with the HDMI port. I'll be using the PS4 for a big chunk of the weekend so I'll let you know if any issues arise.

The Interface

This is where things got sticky. Setting up my account and downloading the day one patch were a bit of a pain. The slow download speed is understandable considering how many people are trying to pull patch information from Sony servers at once. Getting my account moved from my PS3 to the PS4 took some time. There were a lot of Please Wait screens with spinning wheels. Eventually everything worked fine. It took a good two hours to get to that point though. This will be less and less of an issue as time goes on. As less people try to download the patch and log into the Sony network it should move quicker. PSN has also been down for most of the day. I snuck in a couple of rounds of Killzone: Shadowfall multiplayer but I couldn't do much more than that. I don't think these are long term problems though.

The Controller

The PS4 controller is superior to the PS3 controller in every way. It is significantly bigger with a touch screen and a built in speaker. There are usable triggers for the L2 and R2 buttons which is a big deal considering those buttons were hardly usable with the way the PS3 controller was designed. I haven't used the touch screen much thus far but it was responsive during the single player campaign for Killzone: Shadowfall. The speaker is an interesting wrinkle. Sometimes game audio will be filtered through the controller instead of the television. If you find audio logs in Killzone: Shadowfall for example they are played through the controller. It's new but I'm not sure it's necessary. The joy sticks also have a nice rubber surface that makes it more difficult for your thumbs to slide off of. It's a big step forward. I still prefer the X-Box 360 controller as of right now. It still feels more comfortable but this is by no means a bad controller. I'll give you my thoughts on the X-Box One controller next week.

The Games

Killzone: Shadowfall

I've played the first four chapters of Killzone: Shadowfall and it is one of the most visually impressive console games I've ever seen. It has a great color palette. There are a lot of noticeable lighting and particle effects throughout.

The single player campaign appears to be meaty for a modern shooter. You can expect each chapter (save for the short introductory chapter) to take close to an hour to complete. I have nearly three hours into it and it doesn't seem like I'm anywhere near the end. If you want a shooter with a longer single player experience this is the game to get. The story, writing and acting aren't great but I haven't stopped paying attention to the story. It's interesting enough to make me want to see what comes next.

The gameplay is fluid. Movement feels significantly lighter than it did in Killzone 3. It doesn't feel like you are carrying five bags full of bricks on your back with each step and that is a welcome improvement. The guns pack a punch and are satisfying to use. This is the only game I've played that has a real use for the touchpad on the PS4 controller. By swiping your finger in one of four directions you can control the mode your AI drone companion is in. Shifting the drone from attack mode to shield mode is as easy as a swipe of a finger. Waiting for the AI companion to respond takes longer than it does to switch the mode. It works and it doesn't intrude on the experience or feel forced.

I only was able to try a couple of multiplayer matches but I walked away unimpressed. There is the potential for players to be able to create their own game modes but at the time I was on there were only a few standard lobbies. Unfortunately each time you join a game you are forced to play five random game types. If you don't have friends to play with that makes this mode incredibly difficult to get into. Playing objective based modes with random people just doesn't work for me. I just want to play team deathmatch and at this point you have to jump in a lobby and hope it comes up as one of the five game types in the match. Otherwise get ready to see a lot of variations of domination and rush mode.

The game doesn't seem terribly balanced right now either. Some guns seem way better than others so it just comes down to trial and error. Be prepared to empty a clip into somebodies back and have them turn and kill you immediately with a superior weapon. You have to experiment until you find what works. The semi-automatic sniper rifles seem to be the way to go. It only takes a couple shots to put somebody down whereas people seemed to be able to soak quite a bit of damage from the assault rifles before going down. I'm just not wild about it.

The maps themselves weren't memorable from a design perspective. They look incredible but they seem to be skin deep. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of head glitching and corner camping opportunities. That's not my style. I didn't like the overall feel of it. If you are picking up a multiplayer shooter you would most likely be better off with Call of Duty: Ghosts or Battlefield 4.

Knack

Knack is a game that looks like it is made for children but after playing it for a couple of hours today I can tell you that is not he case at all. Knack is brutally hard and punishing on normal difficulty. If you are picking this up for a child be ready to set the difficulty to easy.

I though Knack would have more platforming elements than it does. It has some platforming elements but it veers more towards being an action-adventure brawler. The combat is fun but death comes quickly. Knack can only take a hit or two before exploding into tiny bits no matter his size, shape or power level. You are under constant pressure and the game has no compulsions about throwing several enemies at you right from the start. Sometimes the deaths feel incredibly cheap. Nothing is more frustrating than sliding down an ice slide only to have a giant goblin waiting to smash you with a hammer the second you land. Sometimes they hit you before you really even have the chance to dodge.

I'm often perplexed at how quickly Knack dies even in his biggest incarnations as I mentioned above. It's fun stomping around as a Godzilla-sized monster but you are nowhere near as powerful as you look. One hit from some enemies will still often times smash you into pieces. It's frustrating to see a gigantic life bar only to see 80 percent of it or all of it drained away by one misstep. Knack can be fun. It can be rewarding. I think its best in small doses though. It's really taxing and the checkpoints are often spread out. It's a tough game on normal. Be prepared to die a lot. I would recommend Lego: Marvel Super Heroes over Knack for a child. Adults looking to play a tough, retro action-adventure game may find some enjoyment.

That does it for this look at the PS4. I'll be back soon with my thoughts on Resogun and Contrast.

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