It's been a few months since my last blog on here (my GOTY Awards finale), where I hinted that I might be leaving GS for good. I was flustered by the new site design and how it lacked almost everything I liked about GS. But, here I am. I'm pleasantly amazed that blog notifications are finally working and that game collections (or at least a thin shadow of what they used to be) are back. What's mostly not back is a lot the great users that I've met on here over the years. Unlike myself, it appears their exodus was permanent. But, there are still quite a few faces here on GS that I've come to know and respect. I've went over two months without writing about games and gaming just didn't feel quite the same. For me, writing about games (and movies, comics, TV, sports, etc.) is a lot of fun and it adds an element to the hobby of gaming itself, whatever it may be. So as long as I enjoy writing about games (and whatever, really), I'll continue to do so here on GS, even if this site isn't nearly what it used to be.
So, with this blog, I'd just like to write about what I've been playing and what I plan to post in my blogs looking ahead. I may not be able to really get into blogging again until midway through May (I have a crucial end to my college semester coming up with at least two huge papers to write) but right now, I somehow have the time.
PlayStation 4 At Last
Since mid-February, I've finally bought a PS4! I guess I'm rather fortunate because I still have yet to see one on a shelf at a store and as of right now, they are out of stock on Amazon. The story of how I got my console is a pretty neat story actually. First off, I take great pride in saying that I paid for my PS4 and the Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag game that I bought with it almost entirely with my 1st place winnings from my fantasy football league. So, I'm sitting in my car after my classes (very exhausted), just kind of relaxing for a few minutes and checking my Twitter account before I was going to embark on my 45 minute commute back home. Then, I find out via someone on Twitter that Amazon just received a brand new shipment of PlayStation 4s and that they currently had them for sale for a limited time. I originally thought that I wouldn't be able to get my hands on one until June at the earliest because of how hot they were (and still are), so I instantly decided that now would be only opportunity for a long while (I would have been right). I'm part of a rare breed of college teens that decidedly doesn't have a credit/debit card so if I was going to buy this PS4, it needed to be with an Amazon gift card sold over the counter. I safely-but-quickly-as-could-be drove all the way to my home (a lengthy commute I remind you), pick up my fantasy football winnings stash of $500, and drove to the local grocery store knowing that they have Amazon cards. I spotted a $500 Amazon card on a gift card rack and took it up to check out. The cashier lady looked at the card like it was some type of mystical object from outer space and said, "I had no idea they sold these this expensive" and was even more amused when I paid in 50, 20, and 10 dollar bills. Again, I drove home in a combination of speed and safety wondering if the PS4s were still even in stock and how dumb I would look returning the gift card if I even could. Thankfully, they were still in stock and I placed my order with Amazon Student Prime. It arrived two days later.
My impressions of the PS4 after a little less than two months with it are extremely positive. The graphics aren't nearly as improved from PS3 to PS4 as they were from PS2 to PS3 (or PS1 to PS2 for the matter) but the transition is very noticeable to say the least. The frame-rate and texturing details are the most impressive while the overall graphic quality is moderately higher than PS3's best. The DualShock 4 controller is a thing of beauty. It just fits and feels natural in my hands opposed to the uncomfortable DualShock 3 and the Xbox One's triangle controller that feels as it could slip from your grip at any moment. The touchpad is pretty cool for sifting through maps and when used as a gimmick, it actually does feel immersive if utilized the right way by developers. The speaker in the controller is also pretty nifty. I could see it becoming annoying if overused, but again, it does bring you closer to the game your playing. Infamous: Second Son (more on that later) uses the controller's features in some pretty cool ways like when Delsin (the protagonist) receives a call from his phone or sound effects as you absorb powers.
Moving on to the share feature, this is something that I am very excited about looking forward. Capturing a screenshot (whether you share it with friends or just want to keep for browsing) is very cool but clicking the share button to look back at your last 15 or so minutes of gameplay and keeping or sharing it is absolutely awesome. It's something that truly amazes me in a "only next-gen" way. Sony is soon to release an app where you can edit your captures video into bits and combine them to other clips. The end result can be a montage of your greatest moments while playing the game. I already have a few captures ready to be edited and combined as soon as the app hits. Again, it's something that really excites me because you really couldn't do this before without expensive equipment and the know-how. I'm already imagining my Fallout 4 montage!!! *Slow down, Dylan*
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the PS4 is how quick and powerful it is. It literally inspires awe. You can play a game (downloaded or on-disc), press pause, go the PS4 home screen, look at your trophies, talk to Jimmy and Josie, watch an episode of House of Cards (loving that show) on Netflix, instantly connect to the store without any loading whatsoever, see what your friends are playing, and then resume playing your game. All within a snap of your finger. It's like *snap* that. It's actually identical to what was shown in the advertising.
So yes, I am very pleased with my PS4 and can't wait to see what the future holds for it. And that's just it. This console (and presumably the XB1) is built for the future and will certainly be much improved five years from now. Compare the PS3 in 2007 to what it was in 2013 and imagine what the PS4 can turn into. The one thing I'm a bit bummed about is the lack of games for it. I have Assassin's Creed IV, Infamous, and Resogun and that's all that I want. Killzone looks boring, Knack and Battlefield 4 are supposedly broken, etc. The tough thing is, there isn't a whole lot that's on its way (the same can be said for the XB1) in the coming months and even leading into the end of the year. Of course, we do not know about every game yet (E3 is right around the corner), but only Batman: Arkham Knight has me excited for the PS4 in 2014 and we have yet to see it in action. I have serious questions about The Order 1886, Driveclub, The Crew, Watch Dogs, The Evil Within, and Destiny. Of course 2015 and beyond will be incredible (and my PS3 and handy 3DS are still receiving just as much attention), but what's on deck for my PS4 until then? We'll all find out at E3 I guess.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
What an odd game. At one moment, it feels like a greatest hits mission of the AC I've come to love, and only minutes later, it feels nothing like an AC game at all. I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing. Assassin's Creed I like and I've always wanted a pirate game, but together they do not feel right. Again, all the AC stuff you would expect is great, but the pirate stuff (the at-sea stuff in general) can be anywhere from fun and engaging to a major turnoff and a pain-in-the-ass. I'm not saying it's an unwelcome addition to the AC franchise, but I hope that Assassin's Creed: Unity has nothing to do with a damn ship and a lot to do with sneaking among crowds, climbing famous architecture, and assassinating a secret Templar. This series needs to return to its roots.
I will say that Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag looks and plays absolutely beautiful on the PS4. It was the first PS4 game I played and I was initially amazed and I still do just kind of stop in the game, look around and admire how great it looks. The verdict is still out on its score from me. Likely an 8.
Infamous: Second Son
This blog is getting long! :P Here are some bullets:
- The main story I astonishingly short and uneventful. It's mostly fun and shows signs of greatness at its best moments, but the main story felt like a missed opportunity when you compare it to the rest of the game and wonder about what it could have been.
- The superpower gameplay is addicting, empowering, and completely fun. It controls almost perfectly. Each of the powers feel unique and fun. The leveling system is tried but true.
- The game looks extremely sharp. The scenery of Seattle and the resolution of Delsin's powers is jaw-dropping.
- It uses the PS4's features very well. The new Photo Mode feature can't be missed.
- Characters aren't drawn out well at all; mostly forgettable. I felt great chemistry between Delsin and Fetch (the neon chick) but then she disappears until the end, which again, I didn't have to wait very long for. Major missed opportunity, this game's story should have been at least twice as long.
- Thankfully, there's a ton to do in he sandbox world. No, there aren't any cool side missions with stories a la Red Dead Redemption, but battling the DUP and exploring is super fun.
- The game is a bit challenging, which I think is good.
- I still think that Infamous 1 is the best of the series. It was so fresh and cool with an interesting story. Plus, I felt connected to the world of Empire City. SS doesn't have that going for it.
- Overall, I'd probably rate it an 8.0/10, maybe an 8.5 if you catch me in the right mood. I hope Sucker Punch does something completely new next while a different, smaller developer could take the reins of this series and provide a sequel with a lengthy story with a cool plot while maintaining the tech. I'd love to see the same supporting characters back again but used more like Nix and Quo from Infamous 2.
Castle of Illusion
Last year's Castle of Illusion Mickey Mouse remake was free for PS Plus subscribers this week. Played it, liked it. I didn't play the original, but this game reminded me of old-school game design which is really cool. It's 2.5D and quite challenging. At moments, the game design is nothing short of genius. But it has its large share of flaws and is as short as you'd expect from a little downloadable game. Can be beaten in two sittings with nothing intriguing to go back and do. No Platinum trophy neither. It's worth it if you can score it for free. I'd give it a 7.0/10.
That's all for now. If you read this before or during Easter, I'd highly recommend taking a look at the PSN sale going on right now until Sunday. There are like 30 downloadable games for sale for just $1. I just bought the last Spyro game I needed (recently replayed 1 & 2) and all three Crash Bandicoot games for less than $4. It's a crazy deal, check it out. My Top 35 PlayStation 3 Games mega-list is coming soon! Thanks for reading and please comment :)