I Thought I Was Done With Consoles. #PS4

“I am going to skip this generation of consoles and just game on the PC.” – Jason

This is what I said after looking into the features of the three newest consoles (Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Wii U) as they were announced and available at stores to be messed with. On the surface it just didn’t seem like there was any need to have any of the new offerings. At the time of the launches we were in possession of an Xbox 360 and a Nintendo Wii. The Nintendo Wii mostly sat by the TV unused, and at one point didn’t even have power connected to it, and you wouldn’t have even noticed. The Xbox 360, on the other hand, was quite heavily used. In fact, Xbox has always been my go-to console throughout the last ten or so years. The Xbox has always served me well: great games, comfortable controller, and powerful.

Of the three new consoles, here was the breakdown of our feelings on them.
Nintendo Wii U
– Barely a refresh of the Nintendo Wii, which was already not being used in our house.
– More gimmicky controller interfaces that we wanted nothing to do with.
– In typical Nintendo style, we knew we would play a couple of first party titles, and then the console would be useless.
– Slow, slow, slow!
– We are not dealing with that stupid, wonky sensor bar again.

Xbox One
– The mandatory use of yet another gimmicky control interface (Kinect).
– New controller is pretty good.
– That same gimmicky control interface had to be out and present by the TV at all times.
– Large footprint. Big console, a giant power brick AGAIN, and that Kinect thing.

Playstation 4
– Looked to have great controllers.
– No need for extra gimmicky control interfaces.
– Camera and all that crap is optional.
– Integrated power supply!
– Cool looking design of hardware.

Now, if it is not obvious by the above feelings, the Playstation was clearly the frontrunner in the race for us. I haven’t had a PS since the first one, so I have become VERY comfortable with the Xbox way of doing things: menus, controls, etc. (The only exception was the ever increasing annoyance at Xbox Live doing stupid things and being a barrier to just playing a damn game.) So, going to a Playstation would be a pretty interesting transition.

So how did we end up with a console again? Well, after looking at the 360 and Wii sitting there being unused, and further discovering that the Wii was not even connected and we had zero Xbox 360 games in the house, it was clear that it was time for those two consoles to go! We commenced cleaning them off, wiping the data, and packing them up to go sell. Doing the Gamestop dance, we ended up with a fairly decent amount of money from the games we had left and consoles themselves. With that, we decided it would be worth giving the PS4 a shot!

Every step of setting up the PS4 was really well done; from physical connections to account setups, and navigating the menus to set the console up. Sony really nailed the experience on this new console: everything feels super fast, and I get the feeling someone actually used it and tweaked it before shipping it to customers. To continue the story of things being super fast, we tried some streaming video from Amazon (which is not something we usually do since we primarily use an AppleTV for video content) and the results were amazing. The video loaded very fast and the 1080p quality was the best I have seen on a streaming device. I suspect we will be watching quite a bit of streaming content on the PS4 going forward. On the other end of the streaming spectrum, live streaming of your gameplay on Twitch (my Twitch channel) is great as well! One button and you are able to setup and stream out your live gameplay. I never thought this would be a feature that interested me (too self conscious, mostly) but it is pretty cool to know I can do it, and because it is so easy, I suspect I will do it more often.

Ok, so what gives? You said no new console, and then you buy a PS4? Despite what many think, myself included prior to this purchase, there is something to be said for the couch experience. PC gaming is great, but sitting on your comfortable couch in front of a 70โ€ TV with only a controller to worry about makes for a really great experience. PC gaming will never go away, but because of this couch experience, new hardware like the Steam Boxes are going to be huge, I think, as they are a merging of the two worlds. Finally, I have to touch on the lifespan of these consoles. It seems like every 6-12 months there is some new graphics card to buy for your computer to ensure you can play the latest games, but I could not believe it when I read that the Xbox 360 was almost 9 years old! Nine years old and still has plenty of life left in it. That says a lot about the staying power of consoles, and I suspect we will have the PS4 for quite a while as well.

P.S. The experience of the PS4 has been so good, I am now going to get one of the new slimmer, lighter PS Vita systems to see what they are doing in the handheld area. There is, of course, the nice bonus of the two systems working well together with features like remote play, where you can play your PS4 games on the PS Vita.

P.P.S. There is also a Playstation app for iOS and Android that lets you connect to your PS4, control it, and manage your PS profile. Nice added bonus.

UPDATE ADDED 2014-06-19I decided to upgrade the Hard Drive in the PS4 and it was so refreshing to see that Sony designed the unit so the replacement was trivial! Our PS4 is now rocking an SSD and load times have improved quite a bit! I highly recommend it.

Wii Game Quick Review: Kororinpa: Marble Mania

I wasn’t too sure about this game, I don’t think I would buy it for $49.99, but I got it for $19.99 so why not ๐Ÿ™‚ This game is monkeyball minus the monkey’s. I don’t think that makes it boring by any means. You can move the board around a little more compared to monkeyball. I would say check it out.rent or buy? rent, maybe buy[rating:2.5]

Wii Game Quick Review: Mario Party 8

I have been a huge fan of the Mario Party series for a while for a “party game.” And with the Wii release I thought the time of online play had finally arrived, but, it didn’t. Another big disappointment is the fact that I am playing it on my new 42 in LCD TV and it puts these bars on each side because its not a wide screen game. Poor programming :(Overall it doesn’t feel much different from the rest of the series.

Rent or buy? Possible rent.[rating:2.5]