Being the fun loving, party person that I am – when the PS4 was having midnight launch parties in stores across the country, I was in bed. Due to work commitments, I had to pick mine up later in the day! Having spent a good chunk of time with it, I thought I’d share the experience of going properly hands on with the console.
As there are a hundred ‘reviews’ of the console out there already, I thought there might not be much extra for me to share. We already know the technical specifications, the launch game line up, etc. Then I realised there is one aspect that no-one else has written about. MY experience!
Thus, I shall share my experience in anecdotal form. Free from technical dressing (mostly) and shooting from the hip – here is my first 24 hours with the Playstation 4…
Firstly, thanks to the generous people at Activision and Ubisoft, I am armed with games already – so only buy the PS4 and an extra pad. Get them home, have some food and… the kids want to watch cartoons, so I wait (I’m not sure if they have these problems over at IGN?). While waiting, I decide to unsheathe the additional controller I’d picked up! The first thing I notice is that, while the overall feel of the pad is bigger than a dualshock 3, the twin sticks are actually smaller. They have a concave, less
slippy top which does make them more tactile and responsive… at least as responsive as it’s possible to be twiddling them while watching Charlie and Lola. It’s slick, sleek and has a fancy touch pad (which also acts as a big satisfying button). In short, I like it, as an object to hold, it feels nice. But I want to play games!
I pack the children off to bed, read stories (Charlie and Lola again) and FINALLY get to plug everything in. The PS4 is smaller than I realised and pictures don’t really do justice to just how ‘futuristic’ it looks and feels. It slots perfectly into the space vacated by my PS3, power lead in AND the HDMI cable slip in reassuringly perfectly – meaning I’ve avoided falling into the <1% minority of faulty consoles. Loading up is straightforward enough, a few quick menus explaining things and then straight to the User Interface (UI). It IS as slick as they said it would be. Everything looks super bright and crisp and moves fluidly around. There are a good number of menus to navigate, but everything is fairly intuitive. I am able to register both of my controllers easily, then look to ‘Update system software’ – as the PS4 requires the 300MB update in order to play online, play Blu-ray or DVDs.
Again, this was easily found amongst the sub-menus. I hit ‘update’ and watch as 60MB of the 300MB is downloaded almost instantly, then a pause… then 10MB more. Then… nothing. ‘System cannot detect wifi.’ I check the wifi settings and try again. Same problem.
This is quite the irritation. After a quick read around, I identify some possible reasons and two probable solutions. People who have experienced the same wifi problems are split into two camps. Those for whom the problem persists and those who downloaded the update and then the problem resolves.
Of course, this is a Catch 22 situation. I can fix the problem by downloading an update, but can’t download the update as I can’t connect!?
However, there are 2 solutions. First, I could download the update on a computer, save it to a USB stick, then upload to the machine in safe mode (easier than it sounds, full details here). OR, I could connect using an ethernet cable. I choose option B and everything starts working beautifully! Machine updates. I get signed into PSN (and my Playstation Plus account) and start downloading Resogun and Contrast for free!
While the dowloads continue in the background (things have sped up considerably and the PS4 seems to be trying to appease my frustration by downloading everything at once), I put in the physical disc copy of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The game installs and is ready to play surprisingly quickly, I fire it up and head back out to the seven seas as Edward Kenway (You can see our full review of Assassin’s Creed IV here). The game looks great, but I’ve barely made it to the shore when I’m getting bothered by updates – ‘Resogun has downloaded’, ‘Contrast has downloaded’, ‘Resogun has installed’, ‘Assassin’s Creed multiplayer has updated and installed’. I say ‘bothered’ – what actually went through my head was ‘Holy crud – that was fast!’ (apologies to our US or Asian readers, in the UK – that IS fast).
The temptation of new games is too great and I leave Edward in the sea and head back to the UI. I boot up Resogun and go to work on the alien hoards – well try to. It would appear that all my dexterous ‘R-Type’ skills have left me, I’ve been softened by narratively driven games and find myself dead within about 90 glorious, light filled, stunning seconds! A full review of Resogun will be coming soon – but it’s amazing!
Hungry for more, like a child in a book shop sweet shop, I fire up Call of Duty: Ghosts. For this, I’m using the PS3 version, upgraded (for only £9.99) to the PS4 version. This means I have to download the PS4 version, more waiting ensues. Another problem emerges – as I try to ‘redeem code’, I keep getting bumped back to the main menu? Approximately one Google later, I discover that this is a known issue. I won’t be able to redeem my code until later.
Rather than get straight back into Creed, Contrast or Resogun, I decide to take a breath and see what else this machine can do. I look at the TV section and am prompted to download the Netflix app. Again, a quick download later (the rest of PSN appears to be working fine), I have access to my Netflix account (last thing watched, Charlie and Lola) and watch a couple of things, just to check the quality of the connection. Flawless. Thankfully. I start to breathe normally once again.
I then remember the new iPhone Playstation app should be available to us in the UK. So I download it and then see if I can get it to connect to my PS4. Again, this is done intuitively and the two are firm friends within seconds. I play around with my phone and get my PS4 (and PS3) to download more things while I’m in the kitchen making a cup of tea. I suddenly feel connected to everything! Daft as it sounds, it’s this moment in the kitchen – standing with my last generation iPhone and a kettle – that makes me realise just how far technology has come. From using electricity to boil water, to using a smart phone to command and control multiple devices in my house – the world is a different place to the one I grew up in.
I shudder slightly with either fear or excitement of what the future may hold – I’m too tired to tell at this point. My Call of Duty: Ghosts download has yet to start, but I’m not ready for it anyway. I need the comforting old school charm and familiarity of Resogun, even if it IS kicking my arse.
In a room lit only by the gentle glow of the TV, punctuated by the bright crescendo of particle effects generated by Resogun, I play until it is time for bed. Contrast, Call of Duty and a proper return to the pirate life of Edward Kenway will be on hold until the next 24 hours.
Richard is a father, teacher, gamer and writer. He believes that The Last of Us and Olli Olli 2 are the finest games ever made, feels that the StarWars Saga should only be watched in ‘the Machete order’ and once cleared Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in one sitting. Took him 20 hours, four cups of tea and a sausage roll. You can follow him on twitter @TLOUFactionsMP or @VigilanteSanta and view his occasional twitch outbursts on twitch.tv/spooklebeans.