We're coming to the end of the Staff Picks part of our Best of Generation season (the Top 50 runs next week), but let's take a moment to look forward. We've celebrated some of the finest titles and moments from the past seven years or so, but how has that shaped our vision of the future? Ladies and gents, it's time to get stuck into our personal hopes and wishes for this next generation of games consoles...
I've said it before a thousand times, but just once more for the road: graphics mean nothing without the gameplay to back it up. Given the choice, you'll find me playing an innovative boutique or indie title rather than a shiny AAA shooter. All day long. This new generation promises devastatingly handsome games, but also needs to push forward in terms of systemic, dynamic worlds to explore, advanced AI, bigger contiguous playgrounds and genuinely new things to see and do.
I'm reminded of the beginning of Generation 6, when I first played Rainbow Six: Vegas and Gears Of War and thought, “wow, this is the start of something amazing.” It was to some extent, but sadly, business is business. In a strive to conform to focus testing and market forces, we saw any number of games apeing the biggest hitters, rather than running with new and unique ideas – to the extent where it was occasionally difficult to find a major new IP that didn't resemble a cover-based shooter or, erm, Call Of Duty a while ago. All too often, we saw the biggest studios iterate rather than innovate, falling back rather than pushing forward.
Don't get me wrong, the PC and emergent console download marketplaces have stalwartly delivered bountiful new and interesting games to enjoy; revolutionary experiences to sink our teeth into. We've definitely enjoyed plenty of exceptional triple-A titles too, many of which have attempted to push boundaries. And that's what I want from the next console generation: a desire to push the envelope, to push those boundaries even further in gameplay terms.
Wouldn't it be nice if, when new games are announced, we find ourselves saying, “wow, that branching dialogue looks amazing,” or “whoa, that learning and evolving AI is really exciting” rather than just “gosh, doesn't that look pretty?” With luck, Project Spark and Watch Dogs are going to make this happen, and really be the start of something truly amazing.
Actually, scratch all that pretentious nonsense. Give me a decent Crackdown and Rainbow Six sequel and I'll be happy as Larry. Perhaps take a look at those RRPs while you're at it.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed) | Xbox One
Developers: Visual Concepts
Publishers: 2K Sports
The generation jump has, by and large, seen much of the same again in the short while since the Xbox One and PS4's releases. We've had a dearth of truly essential exclusives on both sides, coupled with generation-bridging third party extravagances that, though shinier on next-gen tech, are largely feature-complete and cheaper on old machines. What this had meant is that it feels as though we're still awaiting a number of studios to really commit to the future consoles and truly elevate their games to the next level.
Thankfully, Visual Concepts are on the ball. Sorry for the puns.
NBA 2K14 arrives on PS4 and Xbox One in markedly different form to the game that greeted PS3 and Xbox 360 owners. Instead of being a slightly tuned up version of NBA 2K13, what we have here is a title that has been resolutely overhauled both on and off of the court to striking effect. It hasn't all gone entirely swimmingly, but what we do have here is a truly next-gen title that shows great promise.
If you watched my initial impression video for NBA 2K14 on PS4, you'll no doubt have borne witness to my excited reaction to the player models and exceptionally fluid animations. Visual Concepts have always been excellent at player capture and recreating the spinning, Eurostepping balletic grace of a player such as Kobe or D-Wade. Creating a zippy point guard and giving him a devastating, Iverson-esque crossover has long been a delight. But here, on machines with more power and memory, the animations and level of physical detail on the players have been ramped up to an impressive degree. There's a solidity and physicality to proceedings that is very welcome, aided by an on-court soundscape that has been recaptured and given wider variety and impact.Click here to read more...
Developer: Ghost Games
Need For Speed: Rivals ought to be the best racing game on PS4 and Xbox One. On paper it already is: an enormous open world where street racers challenge each other to reckless head-to-head showdowns, all as the police strive to shut them down hard and fast with an insane range of gorgeous tricked-out supercars. It's a fun factory, a powerslide paradise, underpinned by the AllDrive system that brings players together into a single seamless session on both sides of the law. Ghost Games have the pedigree to pull it off, consisting primarily of Criterion veterans, but the reality match the mission statement?
Everything nearly works as intended, it's almost brilliant, but unfortunately you can feel the limitations of the PS3 and Xbox 360 holding Rivals back where it counts.Click here to read more...
Can you put a price on happiness, on fun, on experiential immersion? That's what games do , to a certain extent. How much is a good game worth to you? What do you expect for your £30-50?
Last year I wrote a lengthy piece ranting about this industry's preoccupation with game duration -- that is to say, the "length" of a video game. This is a relatively arbitrary concept, of course, given that people go through games at varying velocities, some with the skill and drive to strive for speed from the outset, some preferring a more languid approach.But it's a key consideration for consumers in particular, that much is understandable. Games are expensive, especially these titles for new platforms, and getting value for money is a key consideration.
This is part of the reason Call of Duty is so damn popular: it's a comprehensive content package.
But the reason I bring this up is because I've just finished Killzone: Shadow Fall -- a game let down by hideous pacing and far too much wave-based padding. A game that squanders the promise of its opening levels with the repetition of bumping off streams of gormless AI mannequins over and over again in its second half. Here's what I said in my review:
The first couple of hours of Killzone: Shadow Fall hint towards a game that might just play as well as it looks. And it looks phenomenal. But sadly, the game falters and falls rather quickly, crushed under the weight of its own ambitions, and it retreats to the safe banality of staid FPS conventions for a second half that's all filler, no killer. It's a great game to show off the power of the PS4, a magnificent spectacle, and its Custom Warzones hint towards the possibility of a bright future; but it's just not that fun to actually play.
Now the reason I bring up game length rather than talking about the lack of ideas is because of a quote from Killzone: Shadow Fall's Lead Designer, Eric Boljes, made post-launch. In an interview with AusGamers, Boljes acknowledged the mixed reviews that the game has received, but stated that he felt this is the best Killzone game Guerilla have ever made:Click here to read more...
This isn't really a case of "wow, it's cheap," rather it's a case of "wow, it's in stock." ShopTo are currently selling the PS4 and PS Vita together so that early adopters can crack on with remote play from the get-go - effectively you'll get the PS4 at RRP and the Vita for £150. Not too bad, but unless you're absolutely champing at the bit to get one as a present, waiting until next year will be the best way of saving money.
Thanks to kevykat @ HUKD!
Developers: Guerilla Games
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment
Hot damn, Killzone: Shadow Fall is pretty. Really pretty. It's so pretty, in fact, that my very first act as protagonist Lucas Kellen was to rush to a balcony and gawp at the stunning vistas before me. Unfortunately, though, I was on the run from the Helghast at the time, and dawdling was inadvisable. I'm pretty sure I hold the current record for swiftest demise when it comes to this game.
The point is, of course, that Killzone: Shadow Fall really looks like a next-gen game.
It gallops along in clear, crisp 1080p at 30fps in singleplayer, and 60 in multiplayer, and Guerilla Games have thrown colours into the mix, which makes a nice change from the decidedly military tones of previous installments. An early mission sees you trotting about in a lush green forest to discover what happened to a missing scout battalion. Later on, as you find yourself in Vekta City, the urban landscape unfolds in beautiful fashion, with alabaster monoliths giving way to skyscrapers of vanilla marble and shimmering glass.
The lighting is phenomenal. From glorious sunsets that see stars melt into the horizon, to rich neon hues in more urban environments. There's a hint of lens flare in some shots, occasionally specks of dust and dirt on the camera that add to the framing, as surfaces glimmer and gleam with reflections. Every single frame of Killzone: Shadow Fall is a feast for the eyes, and if you want a next-gen game to drop your jaw with sublime prettiness, then this is it. It's a testament to the artistic craft of Guerilla's designers that you want to move through the game at a relatively languid pace just to enjoy the sumptuous visual detail. The PS4 gives this game the grunt, but the art team deserves real credit for making the tight corridors of a city's shanty built out of shipping crates just as visually engaging as the beautiful, sweeping shots of Vekta that greet you as the opening credits roll.Click here to read more...
Big numbers alert! Now that the PS4 has released both Stateside and in Europe, Sony have revealed that over 2.1 million units have been sold worldwide since launch - and they expect this figure to increase to more than double by next March.Click here to read more...
Greatness awaits. That's been the main slogan for the PS4 over the last month, along with the party line hashtag #4ThePlayers. But does it really? Have Sony stayed true to their assertions of focusing this console on gamers and developers? The (marathon) race for supremacy in this, the eighth, console generation has begun, and this time both of the big hitters from Microsoft and Sony are out of the gates at the same time. We've already heard about the Xbox One, but what of Sony's machine. After spending most of this year basking in their competitor's PR gaffes and U-turns, Sony's console finally has to stand on its own merits.
So, can it cut it?
The PlayStation 4 is a sexy piece of kit, that much is certain. I had my slight reservations about it early on, but at 275mm x 53mm x 305mm and 2.8 kilos, the frame is both smaller and lighter than the first round of PS3 Slims let alone the original last-gen console itself. There's no ugly power brick you need to find space for, and although at a glance it looks like an obsidian monolithic homage to the National Theatre in some ways, it makes my other consoles look like ugly, jagged crates. Sat next to an Xbox One, it just oozes aesthetic superiority.Click here to read more...
The PlayStation 4 launched in the UK last Friday, and by the looks of things, the entire population of Hull bought one each.
At least that's what the data tells me, because Sony's new console sold a whopping quarter-million units in its debut weekend, trouncing the Xbox One and becoming the fastest-selling games console in UK retail history. Break out the blue bunting!Click here to read more...
Bought a PS4 yesterday? Have a little trouble signing into PSN? Us too dear readers. As we expected, the servers strained and buckled under pressure as European gamers tried to sign into PSN on their new PS4's to download demos, get their free PS Plus games, play online or redeem vouchers. At least the day one firmware patch was available to download without being signed into PSN.
Sony took their time yesterday, but finally acknowledged via Twitter and their Blog that there was an issue, which was something of a relief that it wasn't something on our end to be honest.Click here to read more...
You would think that buying a disc version of a top tier launch title would save some serious hard-drive space on your PS4. After all, who wants to download 50GB for Killzone: Shadow Fall?
Well you may want to consider upgrading your new PS4's hard-drive to something much larger sooner thank you think as the mandatory installs from retail version Blu-rays for the likes of Killzone: Shadow Fall and Assassin's Creed: Black Flag are freaking huge.Click here to read more...
Make sure you always have a controller charged and ready by picking up a spare. GameStop are beating most other sites by over £10. Although, if you have any Hut or Zavvi codes in your inbox you may be able to get it cheaper. I've been loving the new controller since getting a PS4 yesterday, the new triggers are fantastic and the analogue stick grips are vastly improved. Getting used to hitting the Share/Options button positioning is taking a bit of getting used to, but I'll sync up over time. Battery life is good, but using plugging headphones into the controller at night drains it pretty quick. Note: you don't get an extra micro USB charging cable with extra controllers.
Thanks to oUkTuRkEyIII at HotUkDeals.
Next-gen is here, so we sat down to have an informal chat about our early impressions of the Xbox One and PS4 and didn't realise until about halfway through that Matt was recording because he's a sly git.
Still, it came out pretty well, so have a listen and let us know your thoughts in the box below!
Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there are some instances of strong language.
"Next-Gen" is now "current-gen" here in the UK. It's official. After seven years of continually upping their game on PS3, Sony made sure to hit the ground running this generation - deploying a sleek black console with powerful hardware and a seriously attractive price tag.
So it's time to sound off: did you buy a PS4 today? Queue up at midnight? Had one pre-ordered? If so, let us know how you're getting on with it!
Matt's come down with an acute case of the probablyjustplayingps4-itis (can't say I blame him really!), but our full review will be ready very soon. Remember to check out all the reviews, articles and video coverage already on-site.
Anyway, here are a few fun things floating around the net today.
It's not often I use the words "inspired advertising" and "The Sun newspaper" in the same sentence, but here's what greeted lascivious buyers expecting Rosie, 22 from Middlesex:
And how's this for a little friendly competition. Aww.
Anyway, have a happy launch day - whether you went to work or totally got pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis overnight. Nasty disease that. I'd suggest at least a long weekend of complete R&R.
The PlayStation 4 releases here in the UK tonight!
Next-gen kicked off on UK shores last weekend with Microsoft's Xbox One, and now it's Sony's turn. Our comprehensive hardware review for the PlayStation 4 goes live tomorrow (sadly there won't be any self-drawing GIFs), but we've run a whole bunch of coverage already too. With that in mind, here's a run down of where you can pick up a PS4 at the last minute tonight, along with a handy link-stuffed list of all of our PS4 coverage thus far.
Left things to the last minute? Found yourself on the fence initially, but swayed by the positive noises coming out of the US launch and recent press coverage? Did you have a surprise dream about Knack last night and now simply have to have it in your life?
Fret not, dear reader. All is not lost. Here's where you might find a shiny new PS4 to pick up come midnight:
We've also rounded up all of the launch titles along with prices, apps, and PSN listings. You can find that bundle of goodness here.
Remember you can watch the official UK PS4 launch right here:
Happy shopping folks!
We've got a whole bunch of material still to come, including reviews and videos for Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, AC4: Black Flag, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, NBA 2K14, FIFA 14 and more, but here's all of our coverage so far, and be sure to look out tomorrow for our all-encompassing PS4 review.Click here to read more...
PlayStation Access are presenting a livestream from Covent Garden this evening, where people have been queuing up for the last couple of days in the hopes of getting a launch PS4. Sony revealed that they would be stocking units for those whop had yet to pre-order a PS4, with consoles sold on first come, first served basis.
The video goes live at 10pm and will run until the wee hours of the morning.
Greatness awaits. It's so close, you can practically taste it. The PlayStation 4 releases at midnight, finally making its UK debut after two torturous weeks.
Our full review is going live tomorrow, and since Sony were kind enough to provide us with an advance unit, Matt has been hard at work delivering video content, reviews and useful tips for your eager delectation.
But, let's face it, a console is just a plastic box without games to play on it. To give you an idea of what to expect from the PS4 -- both in terms of games, freebies, discounts, F2P titles and entertainment apps -- we've got the entire list of launch titles and services below - along with how much they'll cost on PSN.Click here to read more...
One of the much-hyped features of the PS4 has been the ways in which it's going to link up with the PlayStation Vita handheld console (there's even a double console bundle on the way). Just as it could with the PS3, the Vita will be able to connect to the PS4 straight out of the box to be used as a second screen for certain games offering that functionality, as well as supporting remote play.
With the latter in mind, here's how you can set up your Vita for Remote Play along with a little video showing the feature in action.
NB. If you want to link you Vita to a different console following setup, just load up the PS4 Link app, tap the "..." bubble in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, select Change PS4 System to Connect to for Remote Play, and then follow steps 2 and 3 for the new console.Click here to read more...
The PlayStation 4 hits these shores this Friday, and there's still a barrage of coverage to come. Today, we've got the first twenty minutes of Sony Japan's Knack, the mark Cerny-fronted titles that took a bit of a beating over the summer. I'm delighted to report that the game itself isn't actually as crushingly mundane as we first thought, and that having the difficulty settings above E3 Demo Easy actually make the game a little bit more engaging. Plus it really does feel like your playing through a Pixar movie.
Well, a Dreamworks movie. A Dreamworks B-list movie.
Anyway, the Knack review is on the way, but in the interim, here's a look at the game's opening scenes.Click here to read more...
Housemarque's Resogun is a cracking little game, and we said as much in our review:
It's a great little PS Plus pack-in for new adopters, and will no doubt please genre fans immensely on the harder difficulty settings with a purity of purpose and execution that makes for a deliciously balanced and focused slice of SHMUP action. -- 8/10
But it can be pretty damn tough on the higher difficulty levels, so here are a few little Resogun tips and tricks to help you save the last humans and run down some alien scum. Welcome to the Resogun Survival Guide!
I always forget this one, but the Boost is an outstanding tool for getting out of a tight spot. Not only does it let you smash through anyone in your way, but there's a little charge blast that blast enemies close by when you come to a stop. But use it lightly, as it has to charge all of the way back up before you can use it again. Feathering the Boost allows for quick turnaround.Click here to read more...