The weekend of 26-29 September 2013 was when the Eurogamer Expo came to town, the annual convention held at Earls Court in central London for gamers and press to view and try out all the latest video game software and hardware.
This year, with the impending release of the PS4 and Xbox One just weeks away, the convention was a sellout success. Gamers from around the world filled the convention hall, and it was difficult to squeeze everybody in to what was an event jam-packed with must-see games, consoles and peripherals.
At the top of everybody’s list was the Playstation 4, and for the first time in the UK it was available for 4 whole days for the Sony faithful to get their hands on it and try it out.
Whereas most studios and developers had individual queue lines for each game or peripheral (including Microsoft and their Xbox One offerings) Sony handled the event a little differently. There was a main queue to enter a cordoned off PS4 area in the middle of the show hall, which was unfortunately moving rather slowly. Only a certain number of people were allowed into the area, so those waiting had to wait for people to leave before being allowed to enter.
This both had its upside and downside, as it meant you could stay in the area and watch the games being played (unlike Microsoft who had their offerings enclosed in giants boxes, so bystanders couldn’t watch). The downside was if people refused to leave the area, nobody else was allowed in, which meant the wait time was rather large.
Luckily, armed with my press pass which allowed me early entry, I headed straight to the PS4 area and was able to get in fairly quickly. On entering the area I was given two tickets which enabled me to play two games from a selection of 12 or 13. Unfortunately one ticket had the ‘A-list’ titles such as Killzone and Need for Speed, and the other ticket allowed me to play the ‘B-list’ titles such as Knack and Fifa 14, which meant I had to choose wisely.
First up was Killzone: Shadow Fall, and a sample of the multiplayer the game has to offer. I played for a few minutes getting used to the controls, getting in a few kills, and enjoying myself. The game is good, but it doesn’t have anything which helps it to stand out, which is a shame. Considering it is an exclusive for the PS4, you would think that there would be something really special about it, but at least as far as the multiplayer goes, it was rather lackluster. It didn’t stand out from anything available on the PS3, so hopefully the single player campaign is enough to help it shine.
Unfortunately, after being killed, my character failed to respawn. Ah, oh dear, this isn’t good. A Sony rep soon appeared and the console had to be reset. Apparently I had killed Killzone. The console was booted up and in action again after a few minutes of resetting itself. I was offered the controller back, but I declined, I was too busy watching a friend play who was doing a good job of slaughtering the opponent. In fact, throughout the day there were reports of consoles regularly crashing. Killzone and Need for Speed seemed to be the catalysts for most of the downtime, so hopefully Sony can sort out these issues in time for the consoles November release. I later spoke to a Sony rep while watching somebody play Fifa 14, who admitted that there had been some teething problems with the console. At least they’re not trying to hide their issues, and to be honest, issues are expected at these early stages.
I may seem like I’m being overly negative here, so I feel it’s time to rectify this with a positive. A big positive.
The PS4 controller, the Dual Shock 4, is without doubt the best controller Sony have ever released. Firstly, it feels so much nicer to hold, and actually feels like it was designed with larger, more adult hands in mind. For me, the Dual Shock 3/2 were far too small, so it’s a welcomed redesign in my eyes. The buttons are all well placed, and it was comfortable to play with. The touch pad is smooth and smart, but wasn’t utilized in any of the games I played, so it remains to be seen whether this will be a widely used feature in games as a whole. I’ve no doubt that gamers will embrace the new controller with open arms.
Next up were Knack and Hohokum, which had relatively little queues. Playing Knack meant I had used both of my allotted tickets, and the game is fun, if not a little easy. It looks very nice, and is a great game for kids to pick up for when their Dads are done playing Need for Speed. Hohokum was outside the main PS4 arena, and it’s an odd little game with very little ‘point’. In fact, the Sony rep admitted that there is very little to the game, it’s simply something you ‘do’. Not a great sell, and it lost my interest very quickly. Certainly, none of these titles are going to sell the PS4 – games such as Need for Speed and Killzone are there to do that.
So that was it – my allotted PS4 game time was over. I could have queued again for another go, but it was a huge show and there was a lot to see. Besides, the general public had now gathered in the convention hall, so the queue had snaked its way out of the cattle pen.
I hate to admit it, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by my first PS4 experience. I had fun, but nothing that I couldn’t already experience to the same standard on PS3.
It’s still early days, so there is still a long way for the console to go. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, after all.
Article by - Mike J.
Insert Date: 10/4/2013
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