New, shiny.

Well,

First of all, allow me to apologise for the lack of post recently. The build up to Christmas and the new year have been a bit hectic, and we got some bad news in the new year. But, I am back and I’ve got something exciting to talk about.

I am living in the future. The first time in years I have been an early adopter in the world of games (In fact I think the last time might have been my parents getting hold of an A600 one Christmas many years ago).

Because I am normally a sensible, grown up (boring) person, I waited until I had enough disposable income to buy my PS3, and I missed the PS2 generation due to building my ‘Beast’ gaming PC (which is looking decidedly slow and long in the tooth now). This year however, I had planned ahead. Saving a little each month and after Christmas I had enough money to order my PS4.

Thanks go out to Tesco, who were allowing people to order “for delivery in January”. I got all  excited and put my order in, and it arrived on Monday.

After a few days of getting used to the machine I felt it was about time I threw my opinion into the internet. As if enough people hadn’t already.

Well. What can I say… Lets do this logically..

Unboxing and set-up.

Nicely packaged, and comes with everything you need to get the machine up and running on your TV, including an HDMI cable. The first thing you notice is how svelte the actual PS4 is. I’m pretty sure it’s not that different from my PS3 slim (not the new top loading one the one before). It is all angles and is pretty weighty – I was slightly concerned about dropping it.

Put it onto my TV stand in pride of place and followed the Quick Start guide (I’m a geek and will always follow instructions). Dead easy though – PS4 into TV with HDMI, power cable into the back of the PS4 as well. Dual Shock 4 USB into the front and hit the Power button.

A few clicks later and The PS4 was connected to the WIFI and downloading the update. Update installed quickly and easily and then I was staring at the main menu screen. Easily about 20 from opening the box to being up and running (and that includes the time it took me to eat the pizza).

Main Screen

Not really sure if this is called the cross media bar or what, but it is a bit odd. If you are familiar with how Windows puts your most used apps on the start menu, this menu bar does something similar. Nothing to it really, apps and games are on the main bar, pressing up on the pad will take you to your options and settings section and down will take you to more info on what you currently have highlighted. It’s all very swish and flows nicely. It does have what can only be described as tingly sounds in the background, which might get annoying, but at the moment it isn’t.

I went straight to the PS Store and looked at what was available, not a massive list, but Lovefilm/Netflix, iPlayer, Channel 5 on demand and a few other catch-up things are available (no ITV or 4OD yet, but I’m sure they’ll be on the way) BBC news and sport apps and an IGN news app were also available. Downloading is easy and progress is hidden away in the options part of the bar, with a notification telling you when an app is available, no need to download then install, it’s all done behind the scenes 🙂

The pad

Well, I’m sure greater minds than mine have dissected the Dual Shock 4, but I can say here is that it fits nicely in the hand. It is a little bigger than the PS3 controller, but doesn’t feel horribly large. Again it feels satisfyingly hefty, but not so much that it could be a problem after extended gaming sessions.

The analogue sticks have a ridge around the edge to help stop those thumbs from slipping off in the heat of battle and the left and right triggers have been reshaped to help in the same way. Non of which detracts from the way it feels in the hand.

The clever bits now then.

The touch pad – Interesting idea. Have only played Assassin’s Creed 4 that uses it so far, but it works nicely as a button to bring up the in-game map, and to zoom in and out with multi-touch. I’m sure Sony are hard at work trying to get as many developers as possible to use it, but at the moment I can’t say much about it. I’m probably missing something really obvious it can do, but at the moment it seems a bit gimmicky.

Options button – Works the same as the start/select buttons did or the triangle button on the menu bar. Brings up the options. ‘Nuff said.

Share button – I’ve changed the default settings for this, so a single press takes a screenshot, and a long press brings up the sharing options screen. Again, I haven’t really played around with this too much, but I’m sure I will do as I get more used to the system. As has been well documented, the PS4 is always recording in the background. Bringing up the sharing options screen drops the last 15 minutes of game play into a video file which can be watched back from the options part of the menu bar. My only complaint is that it might be nice to have a dedicated app to show off your greatest gaming moments…but I may have missed this. I’ll play with it some more and report back. If I can take screenshots and get them onto the PC here, you might get to see some pics and not the text heavy rubbish that this post is at the moment – I figured there are enough pics of the PS4/DualShock4/menu bar and so online. Go and Ask Jeeves or something.

Games

As I have already mentioned, I have Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, but am only an hour or so into it at the moment. First impressions are that it is gorgeous, and it’s an Assassin’s Creed game. I pretty much know what to expect and will enjoy it. I will say at this point, that it does NOT suffer from the same issues as AC3 did on the PS3. The engine runs smoothly and with no judder at all. AC3 really did push the PS3 to it’s limit in places and (as yet) the PS4 can cope easily with the engine for AC4.

As a subscriber to the PS+ service I have also downloaded Resogun (best described as Defender on steroids) and Don’t Starve: Console Edition (haven’t even fired this up yet). As I discussed earlier, this week I have had a few things going on in my personal life and haven’t had as much time to play as I would like. I will be making up for this in the near future, and will post about each of them in turn over the next few weeks.

Right, I’m off to ignore my washing up and play at being a pirate for an hour or two.

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