Yesterday’s PS4 adventures got off to a rocky start. The system looked good, and made a great first impression, but outside forces beyond my control meant I couldn’t really spend much time with it. Let me see if I can put this in terms that are easy to understand.
Let’s liken the PS4 launch to the Hunger Games . (What? Catching Fire‘s movie adaptation is coming out soon.) Which meant getting onto the PlayStation Network was like attempting to grab some weapons from the cornucopia when the game began. It was a mess. Everyone wanted on at once, which meant nobody was getting online.
Fortunately, I was able to download all my shiny new games during the night, and woke up with Contrast, Resogun, Sound Shapes, Trine 2: Director’s Cut, and Warframe ready to play. Things always quiet down a day or two after a console launch, and now there were no problems getting online and enjoying some special features.
In fact, I decided today would be a great day to test another famous PS4 feature. Sony’s made a big deal out of the Share button, which allows players to let everyone they know see what they’re doing with a push of a button. Part of it was my desire to see how easy it was for myself, but it was also so I could share the experience with all of you. I have to say I was completely and utterly impressed. Despite there probably being a lot of people online, doing the exact same thing, I had no issues when sharing screenshots on Facebook and Twitter, recording video to share on Facebook, or livestreaming games. Creating a free Twitch.TV account was extraordinarily simple, and anytime I felt like broadcasting, I could. I’d just press the Share button on the DualShock 4, log into Twitch, and I’d be set. Sharing images via Twitter was even easier. Just look at this Tweet I sent while playing Trine 2 Director’s Cut.
— Jenni Lada (@JMariye) November 17, 2013
It took only a minute to put that online using the PS4’s share function, about about two minutes to get a Twitch.TV broadcast going.
I decided the first game I would play would be Sound Shapes, because I wanted to try livestreaming and I figured it would be best to use one I had played before. I didn’t really notice any graphical improvements or gameplay difference. I did realize my skill with the game had suffered after not having played for a few months. Fortunately, the cloud sync worked perfectly so I could enjoy everything I’d already unlocked.
I really consider Contrast to be my first, real, PS4 gaming experience, even though it is also a PS3, Xbox 360, and PC game. I began the game, pressed the share button, and within moments I was all set. There was no delay in my gameplay because I was livestreaming, or drop in quality. It just proceeded beautifully.
Unfortunately, Contrast isn’t the best of games. The idea is sound, with shadow-based platforming like that found originally in Lost in Shadow, but there are various glitches that got to me. Players control Dawn, the imaginary friend of a girl named Didi. Didi’s family is having problems. Her mother’s a cabaret singer, her father’s out of the picture, and she’s regularly sneaking out at night. Fortunately, Dawn isn’t any ordinary imaginary friend. She has the power to shift into the shadows, which means she can traverse gaps and do things that help Didi and her family.
The problem is in the execution. I encountered numerous bugs. In particular, Dawn would get hung up on things, and I’d have to try and dash to get her to unstick. Moving within the shadows sometimes proved problematic, as its hard to gauge dashing jumps, and sometimes moving objects from the shadows to the real world and back again caused problems. My favorite “worst” experience was when I accidentally set a cannonball down next to a switch in the real world. I kept attempting to grab the ball, shifting Dawn’s position a little each time, but kept pressing the switch instead.
What bothered me most is that the collectibles in Contrast are so hard to see. Though most of the story is told to the player by watching the shadowy figures or listening to Didi, there’s a substantial amount of backstory only found by reading collectible items. There’s no way to zoom in on them, so if your HDTV isn’t big enough, you’ll never know some of what’s really going on within the game.
But enough about Contrast. Though the game was more of a miss than a hit, my PS4 livestreaming experience with it proved that Sony has mastered that aspect of the sharing experience. Anyone can share their gaming experience with friends or strangers, and it really is as easy as making a free account with Twitch.TV or UStream, then pressing a button. Doing so doesn’t hamper your gameplay experience at all, and you can even send a notification out via Twitter, to let people know to visit your channel. Like this!
— Jenni Lada (@JMariye) November 16, 2013
Tune in tomorrow, when I’ll talk all about navigating the PS4’s user interface, and getting setup with friends so you can enjoy some of those free-to-play games like DC Universe Online and Warframe!