Playstation 4 Pro Checks All The Boxes

A while back I warned of my affinity for video games and wrote about the lead up to my purchase of the new Playstation 4 Pro. I’d like to revisit my purchase and the three months that have passed in this Playstation 4 Pro review.

One of the best, and worst, parts of this review will be the fact my last Sony videogame experience was with the Playstation 2, a time before High Definition gaming was a thing. I’ve skipped HD and am now right on the cusp of 4K gaming. I’ve read some of these games look amazing on 4K (I wouldn’t personally know this yet … it will be sometime before I can afford a new display). Nevertheless, I think I can provide a detailed enough review for those of us stuck with — pfft — High Definition displays.

User Interface

The little experience I’ve had with video game systems that allow users to download and save content to their console has been limited to the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo WiiU. By all accounts, Nintendo is trash when it comes to online services. They offer very limited storage space and their content is minimal at best.

Knowing Sony is well-known for providing online content, such as the Playstation Plus membership which features free monthly game downloads and the fact developers take advantage of offering free or paid downloadable content to extend the shelf-life of their titles, I decided the Playstation 4 Pro would be a wise purchase given its standard 1TB hard drive.

I’ve heard the Playstation homescreen was an unorganized mess prior to the release of the 4.0 update. A slew of updates, including the ability to catalog game titles in folders, helped clean things up a bit. In my short time with the console I can already understand why some gamers would have been frustrated prior. For someone who has upwards of 30-plus games, it would be a bit annoying searching for a title quickly.

I’ve built a decent collection in a short period of time (I’m catching up for years of inactivity — ha — so I thought it best to compile them as fast as possible). Fifteen or so games later and I’m using three self-created folders: Games, Demos and Landon for my son’s small collection of age-appropriate titles. To better safeguard him against even seeing some of the covers for the more mature games I have, the system allows me to password protect and create a separate user account he could access just for his games.

I’ve had no qualms about the interface itself. It’s clean, organized and responsive. I haven’t even had the time, or need, to get into the sharing capabilities or use of other apps such as HBO, Netflix or the Vue, an online streaming television provider. It’s a complete entertainment system if you want it to be. The nice part about the recent update and the Pro in general is that the user interface is always running in the background. Want to stop mid-game and watch an episode of “Frasier” on Netflix, or upload a video clip to Facebook of a sweet boss battle you just experienced? It can be done with the touch of a single button on the gamepad. It really is a smooth system to work with.

Games

A few things played a role in my decision to choose Sony over Microsoft: loyalty; familiarity; and above all else, the games. It’s an easy argument to say Sony provides some of the best first-party Sony exclusive games. From any game developed by Naughty Dog to the upcoming Guerilla Games masterpiece, “Horizon Zero Dawn,” there is no contest in this department.

One problem I’m running into, mine not yours, is my inability to change up what I play. I have games that I hand-selected to purchase because of their rave reviews and my desire to play them: “Metal Gear Solid V”; the “Uncharted Collection”; “The Last of Us”; “Titanfall 2”; and “Final Fantasy XV” to name a few, and others that I purchased just because they were so damn cheap, like $5 cheap.

I seem to commit to playing just one game at a time until I beat it. It would be nice to try a few different games at a time, I mean I tried, but I couldn’t get into anything else for more than a half-hour without wanting to go back and finish what I started with another. Over the last three months I’ve only been able to knock out one game that I’d be comfortable talking about for the purposes of review.

“The Last Of Us Remastered”

Originally released on the Playstation 3 in June 2013, “The Last of Us” earned phenomenal reviews which warranted the release of “The Last of Us remastered” in June 2014 for the Playstation 4. Playing this game first on my new console was a blessing and a curse. I’m not sure I’ll play another game that has a story that draws you in quite like this did.

I’m a big fan of “The Walking Dead,” not just because it’s survival-horror and has a post-apocalyptic setting, but because early on the show did a great job of selling the characters. I enjoyed watching certain characters develop over the seasons to the point (Spoiler alert if you haven’t started this season) where I was upset Glenn died.

“The Last Of Us” has this similar ability to make you invested in the character. In a nutshell, the story begins with the protagonist, Joel, holding his daughter in his arms as she dies — the result of a gun shot from a law enforcement agency attempting to quarantine his city. This was the beginning of a global infection from a fungus that affected a humans brain thus turning them in to various types of monsters. Twenty years later, Joel is tasked by an underground organization to bring a young girl, about the same age as his late daughter, to a lab across the country. This girl, Ellie, had been bitten but was unaffected by the disease. Their journey plays like a well-written movie. Joel softens his hardened shell over time and Ellie begins looking to Joel as not only her savior but as her father. Upon reaching their destination, Joel learns the only way the lab would be able to create some sort of cure for the disease is if they remove a tumor in Ellie’s brain — the tumor is essentially making her immune to the disease. By doing this, however, Ellie would not survive. Fearing the thought of losing his “daughter” a second time, Joel savagely kills the lab workers and whisks Ellie off to an abandoned village in the Washington mountains. He lies to her when she awakens and tells her they didn’t actually need her, they were able to make a cure using other people. She was ready to sacrifice herself for a cure. The ending begged for a sequel.

The gameplay was mostly third-person shooter with a mix of quick-time events throughout. Thankfully, I felt like nothing too important was being left for quick-time events. I hate when the action is essentially taken away from you when developers choose to overdue this. The controls were difficult at first, but that’s just because I haven’t played a real video game in 10 or so years. Back in my day, games didn’t have a lot of control options because the games weren’t able to process much. Now, you can dodge, duck, hide, crawl, aim, zoom, take pictures, sidestep, grab, clutch, punch and do just about anything with your character. Anyway, once I mastered the controls the gameplay became much easier. Enemies were a mix of rebel humans and those infected, with a few mini-boss monsters a long the way. I have to admit, playing the game in the evening hours had me a bit jumpy at times — it’s fun though, adds another element to the experience. Nothing in the game was too hard that I needed to look up a walkthrough, but upon completion I came to find I only competed 9 percent of the entire game. What I missed were a slew of trophies awarded to players for doing certain things throughout the game, for example, finding all of the shiv doors or beating the game within a certain timeframe, etc. This gives me reason to go back and play again to at least try and accomplish some more of the achievements.

Fans of this story, myself included, were thrilled to see Naughty Dog will be continuing the story in “The Last of Us 2.” The game, announced in December at a Sony-only event, has no scheduled release date at this time. I give this game a 10/10.

Overall Impressions Of The Pro

Short answer to my first question long ago: Yes, I’m glad I decided to go with the Playstation 4 Pro. The graphics boost does seem noticeable — even on a 1080p display; the 1TB hard drive comes in real handy for game downloads; and when the time comes to grab a 4K television, I’ll be all set. One note (to anyone who reads this and actually is considering the purchase of a Playstation 4 Pro) the console runs warm. I installed an entertainment console exhaust fan and it has helped tremendously — basically something that pulls the hot air out so the console can cool faster.

Pros — unreal graphics, cheaper than a top-notch gaming computer, large game selection

Cons — large console (might not fit nicely in some entertainment centers, rest mode can be touchy to the point of needing to manually powering the console down, it’s still expensive for people who don’t like to spend money

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I hope to write more, in-depth reviews of games on an individual basis as time allows in the future. I play about an hour or so an evening after work so don’t expect them to come too frequently.

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