I still see a lot of people unsure about the leap into the new(ish) generation, and still more arguments over which is best. Given that I now own a gaming PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, I thought I’d review the reasoning behind the purchases, and also what I get out of them on-going. I also decided that if I couldn’t come up with 10 for each system, I might as well get rid! This isn’t just a list of exclusive games, although those are obviously a factor.
I’m a pretty big fan of Housemarque, particularly where their shmups are concerned. Both Super Stardust HD and Super Stardust Delta were influential factors in why I invested in the PS3 and Vita respectively. I was excited about this from the early trailers and felt a draw to the PS4. I played it for the first time when staying with friends for a long weekend and I realised it was something special. I managed to resist buying the console for a while longer, and when the port to Vita was announced I thought I’d be safe for some time to come. I hammered it on Vita when it turned up, but it wasn’t long after that I was handing over my monies for a PS4 to get the ‘proper’ 60fps experience. It’s great and near enough justifies the purchase all on its own.
In what could be considered to be one of the greatest post launch turnarounds ever, this has recently become one of my favourite racers. (Notable mentions here for Destiny – The Taken King and Diablo – The Reaper of Souls as other great turnarounds…) It was widely acknowledged that Driveclub at launch was a mess. Server issues, the perpetually postponed ‘free’ PS+ version, you name it.By the time I got my PS4 though, things had improved. When I got home with my console, I hooked it up online, set it downloading all the free PS+ games I’d acquired over the previous year, and purchased the Playstation Plus Full Game Upgrade (the free version wasn’t yet out, but this was on offer at £19.99 and seemed worth a punt) I also grabbed the RESOGUN season pass, since I still felt bad that I’d gained the game for free through Plus. I loved Driveclub from the off, and it went some way to scratching the Forza itch I’d had since getting rid of my 360. The developers continued to impress with regular free content and improvement patches, and the game matured. It is very difficult though, and I found my progress coming to a halt in the ‘Tour’ modes. Regardless, this didn’t stop me purchasing the Season Pass when a PSN sale saw it drop to £10. So much content, it was obviously great value.Since then patches have addressed the difficulty, a ‘silver medal’ mode saw me returning to the Tour (the skill deficit is obviously my issue, I note plenty of my friends were progressing just fine on gold). The addition of Bikes towards the end of last year was huge, and bizarrely I seem to be doing much better at that than I did in the cars. It should be a system seller, and I still think it’s the best looking racing game I’ve ever played. Even my flatmate finds himself watching me play and admiring the visuals. I’m not so keen on his habit of telling me which crashes I’d walk away from, and which ones would see me dead on the spot. I won’t be buying a motorcycle any time soon, regardless of any recommendations from my attorney…
- Metro Redux
The first of my cross-platform mentions, and controversially, a HD Remaster of a game that was hardly old to begin with. However, it stands out as being one of my favourite gaming experiences of recent years, and quite possibly my favourite single player FPS since Quake. It looks amazing on PS4, and it nails the atmosphere perfectly. Playing it alone at night with the lights off was terrifying, and I’m not ashamed to say I did dream about those tunnels for a while after.I heartily recommend playing this, and it’s frequently on sale. I played through the 2033 remake first, then read the original novel before tackling Last Light. A superb experience, I’m confident I’ll go back and replay it on those harder difficulties, which is almost unheard of for me, since I rarely even finish games once, nevermind a replay.
- Rayman Legends
The Rayman reboot that started with Origins was a huge return to form for the character, and a boost for platforming in general. I picked this up as something to play in co-op with my girlfriend, and it has been a huge success. A big plus here for the PS4 version is that although I still only have one controller for the system, I can use my Vita to play. This works really well, and we have been enjoying playing Lego Marvel Super Heroes in the same manner.
- Madden 15
One of my circles of friends used to all live fairly close, and we had regular gaming days and meetups. As we’ve grown older we’ve moved far enough away that it’s no longer easy to just meet up at short notice, and adult lives mean we’re rarely all free on the same evening to game online. We agreed to buy Madden when it was on offer, thinking we’d be able to play 4 player 2 v 2 online on those occasions we did manage it. Given that I hadn’t played an NFL game properly since Joe Montana on the SEGA Master System, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Well it turned out EA had removed the ability to play 2 v 2 which was a bummer, and we resigned ourselves to playing 1 v 1. Then we discovered Connected Franchise mode. Obviously this is old hat to anyone familiar with the series and I expect sporting games in general, but it was pretty huge to us. We are now half way through an NFL season, where we’re essentially playing asynchronous multiplayer, in much the same way as you might have played chess via email in the 90s. When fixtures mean we have to play each other, the PS4 makes it really easy to stream the games to the other players so we can offer support / abuse in real time.
- Geometry Wars 3 & Jamestown+
Shmups! Again these are not platform exclusives, but they are excellent shmups. They both benefit from being played on the big screen, and I’ve spent some time with each. The PS4 shmup library is growing, with Darius Burst Chronicles being next on my list to acquire. The PS4 is also platform of choice for these, as it has a friends list of active shmuppers, keeping those leaderboards populated.
- Rocket League
A surprise contender for Game of the Year 2015, this completely came from nowhere. Free with PS+, I found myself buying cosmetic DLC just to throw a little money the developer’s way. It’s an absolute blast, and a regular for when I can’t decide what to play, or for teaming up online with a couple of buddies and losing to randoms on ranked. The ‘Snow Day’ playlist of an Ice Hockey mode was some of the best gaming I had over the holiday season.
- Battlefield 4
Although military shooters all blurred into one for me sometime ago, that doesn’t mean I don’t like playing them. This was bundled with all the DLC for a sensible price, so a few of us agreed to buy it and play together. We’ve had some solid Team Deathmatch experiences, and it also goes some of the way to recapturing the enjoyment I had from Warhawk on the PS3.I still drop into it, but I’d really like Warhawk 2 on the PS4, please. (No I don’t want to talk about Starhawk, go away). Admittedly there are experiences on PC which should be comparable, but I always find PC FPS to be a bit more serious. This is great for that chilled evening on the couch driving your buddies around in a tank.
- Crossbuy & PSPlus = Pix the Cat, Limbo, Velocity, Resogun again
PS+ has been stella for me since launch. I adore my Vita, and thanks to Crossbuy there have been multiple games that I’ve enjoyed playing both on the go and on my big screen. This list isn’t exhaustive, but they are highlights. Pix the Cat stands out as being something that completely took me by surprise, but dominated my playtime for about a month. I noticed recently that one of my friends beat me on one of the leaderboards too, so I’ll be back on it soon…
- SingStar, eventually
Sometime early in the PS3 era, SingStar went from being a PS2 novelty I was vaguely aware of, to being at almost every social gathering I went to. SingStar nights became regular occurrences, and through the wonders of alcohol, not at all horrific. The game got more and more polished, my friends and I all spent a small fortune on downloading more songs, adding cameras and wireless microphones* and a good time was had by all.
The inevitable PS4 launch came, and although initially sounding promising, your mics will still work, you’ll be able to download your songs (providing they’re on the new store) it was a disaster. There was new latency on the mics, hardly any songs were downloadable, and they’d stripped out most of the gameplay modes. We wrote it off. Recently though, after months and months of silence, it received a pretty hefty patch. The whole experience has been improved, 95% of my songs are available and new gameplay modes have been added as well as restoring the ones taken away. It’s the game it should have been. All I need to do is shell out for another camera, and the parties are back in business. Just need to apologise to the neighbours in advance.
Obviously the reasons mentioned above are personal, and we all like different games and experiences. I’m very happy with my PS4, and although I’m also pleased with the Xbox One and will be doing a follow up post for that, the PS4 would still be the system I’d recommend if you were only going to get one current system. It does tend to get the best versions of cross-platform games, and although you could argue a gaming PC might do that better, there is always an Arkham Knight to remind you that it’s not all that simple…
*Affiliate Amazon links, where I’ll receive a small commission for purchases