PS4 Launch Verdict: GameStop Win, Sony Fail, Outlook Amazing [VIDEO]

The dawn of a new era is upon us. The Playstation 4 has officially launched, ushering in the next generation of console gaming. I was one of the lucky first to lay hands on the PS4 and planned to spend the entire night immersed in “the future”. I was immersed in something alright, but mostly a suffocating inability to play games and the deafening silence of my own disappointment.

And F bombs. A lot of F bombs.

ps4-bundle

Rather than scrapping my frustrated footage, I thought it would be much more productive to share with you my experience over the past 9 hours: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the awesome. Let’s start where it all begins… with my mission to acquire the brand new Playstation 4.

GameStop: Getting the Goods

I didn’t pre-order either of the new consoles, but as you may have guessed, decided at the last minute that I wanted – no, NEEDED – the PS4. So at 2PM on Thursday afternoon, I strolled into the Fells Point GameStop in Baltimore, MD where 3 freezing souls were already waiting in line. The store manager suggested I come back by about 6PM if I wanted ¬†a chance to buy one.

No chance I would wait 10 hours in the cold. Even the 6 hours from 6PM to midnight seemed pushing it. So I rolled back up to GameStop around 7PM where the manager informed me they had run out of systems. What happened to waiting in line until midnight?

Unlike my disastrous Wii U Walmart launch, GameStop had it all figured out. They monitored the line, and when the number of people in line matched the number of available consoles, they gave everyone a reservation ticket, had them purchase the console on the spot, and asked them to come back at 11:30pm to pick it up.

GameStopLogo_BlackRed

Luckily the employee on duty (thanks if you’re reading this!) contacted several other GameStops and let me know 3 local stores that still had availability. So off I went… winding up on the Merritt Road GameStop with plenty of PS4s to spare. I made my purchase at 8PM, returned at 11:30pm with about 100 others, and in assembly line fashion they checked receipts and passed out consoles.

Despite all the crap GameStop takes, I can’t imagine the experience being much better. It was organized, employees were helpful, wait time was minimized, and they had everything running on all cylinders.

Then I got home.

Sony: WaitStation 4

Prior to the public launch, we had already heard about a number of PS4 problems. Some reports indicated corrupt PS4 hard drives. Others were saying HDMI output was broken or shoddy. My primary goal in life quickly became to set up my PS4 and realize it wasn’t bricked.

Marvelous. Now for the next hurdle: in order to play any online games, PS4 owners need to perform a system software update to version 1.50.

One could imagine that a huge, simultaneous influx of 300MB software downloads would cause a bit of a clogged network. Those of us who prepared in advance were able to download the update ahead of time and manually install it with a USB drive. That’s what I did and it worked out wonderfully:

Relatively painless. So now I’m in the clear, right? Not exactly.

Beyond this step, almost everything involved with setting up the Playstation 4 was a nightmare. The “loading” screens would load infinitely, leaving you without the option to back out. Random network connection errors popped up. Some blamed Sony Entertainment Network System Maintenance . Doing anything except crying seemed close to impossible.

That video was only a few minutes… but it took place over the course of 4 long hours. It was painful. Every time you thought you were in the clear, more infinite loading would ruin your day. But as you can see, I eventually got through.

I spent about 30 minutes attempting to connect for online gameplay, which in hindsight, seems completely idiotic. The sun began to rise, indicating to me that my all-nighter would soon be a failure if I hadn’t at least played some actual game. I cracked open Madden 25 and Killzone and gave each a quick spin, trying to forget about my previous 5 hours. Afterall, this is the price early adopters agree to pay, both literally and figuratively.

PS4 Verdict: Outlook Amazing, Infinite Potential

I chose Madden 25 because it’s a game with which I’m intimately familiar and I wanted to compare the experience to my Xbox 360. I chose Killzone because it’s a PS4 exclusive and seems like it could really show off what the PS4 has to offer.

I was absolutely blown away by both games.

Madden 25

ps4-madden-25I started with Madden. I figured it would simply be a rehash of Madden 25 on the other consoles. Same graphics. Same gameplay. Same announcing. Same everything, just a different console to put it in. Boy was I wrong.

Don’t get me wrong: Madden 25 on PS4 may seem identical to folks who aren’t used to Madden, but it only took a few plays for me to see the power of PS4. On offense, movement in the backfield seemed fluid and natural, making it more realistic to play on both sides of the ball. For the first time in awhile, the Madden game physics seemed perfect. Was it the clarity and smoothness provided by the hardware? Did EA put in overtime hours on their end? Probably both.

Then, while on defense, I slammed the opposing receiver out of bounds after a long gain. FLAG! What?

I haven’t seen this before in any other version of Madden… I got an Unnecessary Roughness¬†penalty for hitting the player late, while he was out of bounds. The penalty was deserved, but I didn’t even know the penalty existed in Madden! It all happened so smoothly that it felt like watching one of today’s NFL games.

The NFL has changed a lot in the past 5 years, but in many ways, the Madden franchise has been walking on a treadmill. I’ll need to put in a lot more hours before I can offer a verdict, but this was the first time in years that I’ve been wowed by Madden. In fact… I’m usually extremely disappointed.

Killzone: Shadow Fall

killzone-ps4After playing one half of Madden I jumped over to Killzone and started a campaign.

Full disclosure: I’m not traditionally a big FPS type guy. Don’t get me wrong, I play my fair share, but I don’t naturally gravitate towards them. After 30 minutes of Killzone, that might all change: within the first 10 minutes you’re blown away with gorgeous scenes and sucked into a cinematic story that has a few heartstring moments. It’s the type of game that can pull a Netflix on you… watch the first little bit and before you know it you’ve wasted your whole weekend, you’re done the series, and you’re already looking for a new addiction.

What’s next?

Thanks to the solid set of Playstation 4 launch titles, there are plenty of addictions to be had. I’ll be spending all weekend enjoying a wide spectrum of games so I can bring you guys a little bit of everything, and then in the coming week(s) and month(s), much more in-depth pieces will come.

A few important reminders:

As I previously mentioned, the problems I experienced should be expected for a launch of this magnitude. If everything went perfectly smooth, THAT would be the surprise.

I’m assuming in the coming days things will start to stabilize. Sony will release some software patches. They’ll better load balance their servers. They’ll figure it out. This is an unfortunate but relatively acceptable evil. I hope everyone getting a PS4 over launch weekend can understand and appreciate this concept. You may get frustrated, but put it into perspective… at the end of the day, they’re still just games.

Fortunately for me, PS4 games will be my best friends this weekend, and I take my friends very seriously.

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  • rpcstryker66

    I somehow (thank you Walmart and Amazon) got my PS4 delivered yesterday in the middle of the day. So much so that I expected it to be a mistake and be an empty box. None the less, I got home from work and there it was. A good 12-14 hours before the midnight launch. I turned it on, updated the software which only took about ten minutes, did not have any of the connection issues you speak of, and started downloading my PS3 to PS4 upgrade of Battlefield 4. Was able to start the campaign with the game only 27% downloaded. Amazing! Playing music through Unlimited while blasting guys was awesome. And I downloaded Resogun just because it was free and man did that surprise the hell out of me. That game is so addictingly fun! Like a modern day Asteroids. Remote Play to the Vita works amazingly! Played in bed last night and used my Verizon iPhone 5 to hotspot a wifi signal while at work and I played Resogun this morning from work and it was beautifully! I am absolutely blown away by this system.

    • purpleworrior

      iphone wifi hotspot resogun on vita at work just blew my mind…. i want that

      • michael gabriel

        worst madden game ever made

  • DeewekomsNY

    LOL 44 hours, WAITstation!

  • PS4/WiiU

    To me the PS4 seems the exact same thing as PS3 except with few additions. But the games look awesome though

  • Michael Ken Dennis

    My Gamestop experience was similar although I pre-ordered mine. It went quickly and I could have easily been home with it plugged in by 12:30, but I took the kids out for a burger on the way back. 3 hours later I finally got past the PSN debacle and got into some game play. PSN has seemed fairly stable for me the rest of the night, but BF4 mp is unable to open for me. My guess is that it has more to do with DICE than PSN since I can get into Ghosts and Killzone lobbies.
    Resogun reminds me more of Defender than Asteroids. I also liked Blacklight.

  • TomDobo

    Servers are pretty shit at the moment so people are saying

  • DeewekomsNY
  • Ahiam94

    I kinda figured it would be like that. Servers have to be getting thrashed right now. I’m kinda glad that I’ll have mine in a few days, so hopefully, that’ll be over by then.

  • Asif Bashir

    This has to be one of the best reviews/experiences I’ve read in ages, well done!

  • DoUbLeZz (Lydon)

    Awesome, got mine midnight but just getting ready to set it up!!! Hopefully the servers arent super buisy right now!!! Every gamestop is deffernt, pretty wierd but its true, the 2 i go to are just fine!!! =)

  • jfelts

    I am happy I got the PS4 but am too have the Log in issue. I knew this was going to happen though. Always does….

  • Tra Allen

    i say for the first hour and a half i could not get online. after that it was smooth sailing. having surround sound on COD ghost is unbelievable and a campers dream.

  • Stoney

    Damn, your gonna be busy with that many games to start off with:-)

  • Dakan45

    Sony overhypes and fails and underdeliver agains, consoles dont work,games flop, etc etc.

    • oo7PorscheMGS

      Do something better with your
      life than hate on a piece of
      plastic..you’re disgustingly pathetic and need to get mental help…

  • brian murphy

    would be nice if you could pause your downloads on ps4 thats something i would like very much

  • Ronnie Adrian Torres

    Excellent review. I never leave comments on these things, but i was compelled!

  • http://apocalypticthoughts.com/ Synfidie

    Liked your review/post. It was actually interesting and I normally despise game system review videos. :) Hope you have fun this coming week with your new system.

  • ShOw Off

    excellent review.

  • michael gabriel

    madden 25 sucks

  • be happy live pink

    ps4 ruined my son’s christmas! game won’t load called customer service and they said it is corrupted and we need to send it in because you have to download something to it within the first 24 hours of purchase. why do i need to send in a brand new game? why would i open it before christmas if its a christmas gift makes no sense! WAY TO RUIN MY KIDS CHRISTMAS PLAYSTATION. WAY TO GO

  • Dre’as Sanchez

    Madden sucks