At long last, the PlayStation4 is mine. (THANKS, BOYFRIEND.) After a surprisingly sedate Black Friday scramble, we took advantage of GameStop’s deal on the Uncharted 4 bundle, netting a free copy of The Last of Us: Remastered for our trouble. The original plan was to get in on Kohl’s PS4 deal, which was admittedly rather less straightforward but would have netted us $75 in pretend money that we could only spend a week later. Kohl’s, however, seems to have stocked an approximate total of 2.5 PS4s, so they were long gone by the time we got there. On the whole, I preferred GameStop’s game-in-the-hand deal.
Neither Uncharted nor The Last of Us are my kind of game (which is why I am going to watch Boyfriend play those), but lucky (?) me, I’ve owned Final Fantasy Type 0 HD for over a year, after having preordered it with the express purpose of gaining access to the Final Fantasy XV demo that I loved so much, so I also had a game to play. A visit to our local library allowed us to snag a few more to try, and I downloaded a few demos from the PlayStation Store, too. My next-gen odyssey has begun!
The PlayStation4 Slim itself is quite a nice piece of hardware. It’s much smaller and lighter than I was expecting, even for something calling itself the “Slim”. It’s so quiet. Its operation is not dissimilar to the PS3, but its UI is rather more intuitive. Here are some things that I really like about the PS4 as a system:
- It allows me to suspend my game while I open another application and holds my place until I return to it. (I can almost hear Boyfriend hollering from the other room, “What, like PCs have been able to do since forever?!“)
- I can take my own screen shots with zero effort. (Boyfriend: “You mean like on a computer?!“)
- Finding my friends is much easier with simple Facebook integration.
- The DualShock 4 is insanely comfortable to hold, it has a touch pad, and it lights up, which is neat. It’s got a headphone jack in the controller itself, which is just fucking brilliant. You plug a pair of headphones in to the controller in your hand, and suddenly you are no longer at risk of waking your partner in the next room. The sound quality is quite nice, too! The lack of a Start button is, however, continually confusing to me and just seems on some level to be full of a deep, existential wrongness. How can a controller exist with no Start button? Madness. In addition, the battery life is significantly shorter than that of the DualShock 3. And man, Sony, why you gotta make these buggers so expensive? Having to throw down sixty bux for a second controller seems a little excessive.
- The console has a “rest mode” which conserves power, downloads things, and charges the controllers, something that is clearly necessary given the short battery life.
It’s the games that make a console worth having, however, so let’s talk about the ones I’ve played so far!
World of Final Fantasy Demo
This is one of the games that persuaded me that it was finally time to make the upgrade. (The other is, of course, Persona 5.) While my copy of the full game hasn’t yet arrived, I really enjoyed the demo. The gameplay consists of good old turn-based combat with menus (<3!) with a monster collecting mechanic a la Pokemon. Your party consists of two characters, Lann and Reynn, who in battles are stacked with a bunch of other Final Fantasy creatures, like so:
Creatures (called Mirages) come in Small, Medium, or Large, and they need to be stacked in that order. Lann and Reynn have the ability to be either Large or Medium, so they have the option to stack two smaller Mirages on their heads or ride on a Large Mirage themselves. As you can see, I have elected to ride an Ahriman while having a Moogle on my head, a thing I never knew I wanted until it was an option. Each stack of creatures can use any of the abilities present in the stack, so experimentation is highly encouraged. Each Mirage has its own skill tree, so I am going to have all the fiddly bits I ever wanted. Also, I can ride a Behemoth around, so what’s not to like here?
I also tried out the Unravel demo, a game starring a little dude made of red yarn exploring an old lady’s back yard. It’s a really cute concept, and it appears to be a pretty solid puzzle-platformer. I always appreciate platformers in which I don’t have to worry about being attacked while attempting to land jumps, so I quite enjoyed my leisurely jaunt through the first level. The environmental puzzles seem logical, and the yarn mechanics are fun and varied. You’re made of yarn, but you can also use your yarn to swing from trees, rappel up and down furniture, and create ramps.
The game is very pretty to look at, and the music is soothing. I wasn’t floored by the game, but I might pick it up at some point if it’s on sale.
Arslan: The Warriors of Legend
I didn’t really know what to expect from this game. I saw it on the shelf at the library and grabbed it because I thought it might be an interesting JRPG. Spoiler alert: it is not.
Now I’m not going to lie, I didn’t play a whole lot of this game before becoming bored, so maybe it gets better, but given the half hour I did play, the game appears to be about Prince Arslan (Boyfriend: “Wait, that’s supposed to be a guy?!”) learning to be a warlord despite the fact that his dad King Wossname is a huge dick. I understand that the game is based on an anime called The Heroic Legend of Arslan, and like video game adaptations of movies, there are very few video game adaptations of anime that are any good. This one does not appear to be an exception.
The game plays a bit like Dynasty Warriors. Mostly I rode around in circles on my horse, mashing a single button to murder thousands of clones of the same dude. Like I said, boring. I took it back to the library.
This game is bloody adorable, made by the studio behind the equally adorable Little Big Planet. The game is essentially Little Big Planet 2.0 only without the platforming and with the addition of some world-repair mechanics by way of Okami. The upshot of this is that I like Tearaway much more than I liked Little Big Planet, because while I suck at platformers, Okami is one of my all-time favorite games. The game preserves many of the things I enjoyed about Little Big Planet, though, like the fourth wall-breaking narrators and the character and world customization aspects. The idea of using your DualShock 4 lightbar to repair the world with cleansing light is equal parts dorky gimmick and genuine fun, especially when you get to blind the NPCs.
My favorite use of the lightbar so far is when I got to use it as a spotlight for a play that some of the NPCs were putting on. I’m also a big fan of the papercraft aesthetic that Media Molecule has created in this world, and I love the endless customization options, because it means that I was able to make my avatar look like a bunny at the first available opportunity.
That alone gives the game an RPG Rabbit stamp of approval.
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
I am still trying to decide if I like this game.
I want to like this game. For one thing, I threw down sixty bux for the damn thing over a year ago for the express purpose of playing Episode Duscae, and we all know how that turned out. I played a little bit of the game after playing the FFXV demo, but I was only able to get through the first hour or so before I had to return my friend’s PS4. Coming back to the game now after having played and watched several other PS4 titles really hammers home the fact that this is a very ugly game.
It would have been an ugly game on the PS3. Frankly, I’m mystified as to why it was ported to the PS4. It seems like an odd choice. I mean, I’m glad it made it over to the states, but the game seems explicitly designed as a handheld experience.
That being said, there’s a lot to like. After a few hours of practice with the battle system (particularly the all-important “dodge” command), I’m enjoying the fast-paced action. I like having so many interesting characters to choose from for my party, even if keeping them all leveled and learning their different button combos seems intimidating. Also, chocobos, let’s not underestimate the majesty of chocobos.
I’m also weirdly happy that the game includes a good old fashioned world map, even if it’s also really ugly.
The music is pretty great, and there’s lot’s of fiddly bits to keep me occupied, what with leveling everyone’s skills and completing side quests. Time will tell if it will hold my interest, particularly after I have World of Final Fantasy around to play.
I have a lot of things to keep me occupied on my new console. I have more games on the way, and there’s more on the horizon. (Don’t even get me started on Persona 5 and Ni No Kuni II…) I might even consider trying out some Twitch streaming, since the capability is integrated into the console. And someday when I have an extra five hundred bux lying around, I might be able to get a PSVR.
It’s a good time to own a PlayStation 4!