Last year around August, during all the hype about the new Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4, I decided to pre-order both consoles. However, as the release date approached I realized that the number of titles available for both consoles was extremely limited with many studios aiming for a 2014 release date. Based on this I decided that I did not need approximately $NZD1,300 of electronics that were glorified Blue ray players. I should inform readers (he says optimistically) who are not based in New Zealand or Australia that we do not have access to Netflix in New Zealand, and nor do we have cable TV that integrates with either box. Voice activation and control of the Xbox One is also currently disabled in Australia and New Zealand. Microsoft won’t say why but one strongly suspects that the software simply cannot deal with the Australasian accent. The voice features of Android used to be hopeless for anyone who did not have an American accent. Google has spent considerable time working to remedy this, and now it mostly works.
So I held off until May of this year, and finally purchased the PS/4. I had originally thought I would buy the Xbox first because I have been a much heaver Xbox 360 gamer, but the only two new games that interested me were Watchdogs, available on all platforms, and Sucker Punch’s inFamous: Second Son, which is a PS/4 exclusive. The latter swung the decision as I have enjoyed playing both inFamous and inFamous 2, and, to be fair, with the exception of the idiotic spray-painting side “quests”, I enjoyed this iteration as well.
Watch Dogs, from Ubisoft Montreal, was majorly hyped at 2013’s E3 event. Billed as open world action-adventure title with driving, shooting, running and climbing (parkour), and hacking all being part of the game. In reality, they should have just stuck with driving. This game reminds me so much of Grand Theft Auto it is not funny. Many of the integral parts of the story line require the player to drive at high-speed, either in pursuit of someone, or to get to a specific location within a time limit. These are the exact things I loathe about GTA, but can forgive in GTA, because hey that game is called Grand Theft Auto. It is about cars, and you expect cars to be an integral part of the game. Personally, I like in this sort of game to jump, climb and precision shoot. Watch Dog’s lead protagonist, Aiden Pearce, can run, and climb in a very limited fashion, but not jump — he can fall down to a lower level, or vault a fence which is really just an extension of the running, but he cannot jump from say a boat to a pier.
The hacking part of the game is sort of interesting in that it can provide you a way of carrying out a mission without entering a building, but mostly it doesn’t. It lets you steal money from unsuspecting citizens, which Eurogamer points out you can’t even give to the numerous beggars around the city. It does not really help you when you are driving, except in the odd case where you can cause bollards to rise out of the road to stop a car, or raise a bridge. Eurogamer states, again correctly, that it is a game about hacking where hacking quickly becomes incidental.
A number of side missions require you to interfere with, or stop, criminal activity. Fine, I have no problem with that, but then why do most of these missions require me to tackle someone who is shooting at me with an automatic weapon? Overall, I am extremely disappointed with this game and will probably not bother to complete it.
No DLNA support, no third party media
Both the Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 could see and play all the media content hosted on my Windows box in the basement. This was a nice feature because it meant I could play media (music, video, browse photos) without buggering around with discs, portable hard drives, or flash drives. So you might say, okay minor inconvenience, stick it on a flash drive and away you go. No dice. Sony, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that “Unfortunately as noted pre-launch of the PS4, you cannot play movies on the PS4 off of an external hard drive or memory stick. However this is something that is looking to be added in the future with an update.” One question – “Why?” It is hardly a revolutionary feature — my TV does it. The inability to insert an audio disc seems like a kick in the face to the consumer, and overall Sony, you are just pissing off a lot of people who give your company considerable revenue.
Its possible that Sony may fix some of these issues, but I am not holding my breath. I am hoping that Far Cry 4, releasing in November, is as good as the previous titles in the series.