It’s never a matter of when you start – rather it’s where you end up at the end of the generation.
The PlayStation has always been a consistent frontrunner in the video game console market for the past four generations, and the fifth should not be any different.
With the Sony PlayStation 5 arriving a mere two days after the official launch of Microsoft’s attempt in the next generation console wars, this small headstart will be inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
While Microsoft champions the most powerful console ever on paper, Sony would be unleashing their vision of a next-gen console in the form of the PlayStation 5. Powerful yet hefty, it represents how Sony is attempting to dominate another generation, supported not just with games but also with the power, speed real innovation in its DualSense controller.
Out of the ox, this console is certainly a sight to behold, but whether it is beautiful or grotesque depends on who you are asking. However, there is no doubting that the curves and the lines are designed to give off the feeling of a premium console ready for the future, making it the beautiful centrepiece in the living room that the Xbox Series X can never be.
We already know that the faceplates can come off, but even in its original form, the off-grey tint seems right at home with the brand. It is arguably the best PlayStation console ever made in terms of visuals, where the idea of embracing the future comes to life.
Lying the console flat on the stand presents an illusion of the console magically floating, while standing it up vertically just makes it the focal point of any setup. This console is gigantic, no matter how you put it, and it catches the eye in every single way.
Sony has made it so easy to set the console up, even with its separate stand. All you need is a screwdriver, twist the stand, and install the screw for the vertical option, and the designers have even allocated a small slot just to store the rubber stopper that covers the hole where the screw goes in. They seem to have thought of everything, and it shows. Clipping the stand for a horizontal orientation is also simple and easy.
The many vents look right at home, adding a layer of aesthetic flair to its practical purposes. The subtle way at which the console lights up exudes a feeling of calm, as you marvel at the PS5. In fact, fan noise is barely noticeable, and a stark change from the PS4 and PS4 Pro. However, the main part of the console can be a fingerprint magnet, so keep your fingers away.
You can find USB-A and USB-C ports on the front, alongside the power and eject button. Shift to the back, and we have the power plug, the ethernet port, the HDMI 2.1 out, as well as two more USB-A ports.
There are no more special ports for the PlayStation Camera, with the new HD Camera using a USB connection instead, while those looking for the Optical port will also be disappointed. Streamlining the different ports will certainly establish a level field for consumers, but the more invested audience might be disappointed.
Once you have the PS5 connected and powered up, consumers will be welcomed by an elevated experience compared to the menus of old. Going through the processes of setting up accounts, logging in, and your various settings is a breeze. The overhaul of the UI is a complete one, with the row of installed games and applications remaining.
A press of the PlayStation button brings up the Control Center, a big highlight of an addition in the form of a convenient menu that pops up at the lower part of the screen. It provides users with access to almost everything you need from the PS5, all without taking you out of the game. You can switch games at will, check your notifications, see which friends are online, and much more.
Activating the Control Center in any game will also showcase Activities. These are on-screen cards that can introduce different gameplay opportunities, alert you to things you may have missed, and more amazingly, let you jump straight into any levels or challenges that caught your eye. Certain Activity Cards can even be placed in a picture-in-picture mode for easy referencing while playing.
Every game comes with its own Game Hub on the main UI, which will contain the latest news or specific Activities worth taking a look. This will even be possible for backwards compatible PS4 games as well. If you ever needed to find out more about a game, or noteworthy sections that might interest you, the Game Hub is here for you.
The opportunity to check out the official Game Help section for PS Plus subscribers did not present itself in the review period, but that will be something to keep a close eye on. The same goes for the PS Store experience.
In addition to all that, Sony wants you to be immersed in the game as soon as possible. The option of setting Game Presets will do just that, giving users the ability to customise their gaming experience across the board. You can choose your default difficulty, or whether you prefer resolution over performance, and even tweak subtitles and audio options.
The accessibility options are also wonderfully comprehensive on the PlayStation 5. You can count on the voice dictation feature to input text instead of using a virtual keyboard. The Screen Reader will make sure blind or low-vision users can hear the on-screen text. Users who are deaf or find it hard to hear can also have their messages spoken out loud to others. Multiple languages are supported so no one is left out.
Not only that, you can change up button assignments, enable Closed Captions, but also adjust the colour to suit your needs. For those worried about the DualSense’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, you can reduce or even disable them outright.
This player-first thinking is present in almost all facets of the UI experience, from setting up the console all the way to playing your favourite games. It will need some getting used to for returning fans with brand new menus and navigation, but it is a change for the better nonetheless.
The same can be said of the brand new DualSense controller, with its fresh new look, textured grips, adaptive triggers, and the haptic feedback providing a foundation for potentially game-changing ideas. All it needs now are developers to take advantage of it.
The DualSense fits snugly between hands of different size, and it certainly feels familiar enough. However, the buttons and D-pad feels more responsive, and the same goes for the touchpad. It is slightly heavier than the DualShock 4, but that is usually indiscernible when enjoying your games.
The highlights are definitely the adaptive trigger and haptic feedback. With Astro’s Playroom, that feeling of walking on different surfaces are represented well, with it almost becoming intuitive even without the need to see what’s on-screen.
As for the adaptive triggers, it would hopefully go beyond just the usual pulling back on the bow and feeling the resistance. The way in which the underlying technology allows for the resistance changes needs to be embraced and fully utilised, it is that fun to experience.
The battery life, for all the bells and whistles, is reasonably sufficient. With the new USB-C charging port, you will be up and running in no time as well.
With the new DualSense taking care of some of your sense, the games will have to match up. Experiencing both Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Astro’s Playroom, both PlayStation exclusives, only goes to show Sony’s continued commitment to awesome experiences that look gorgeous, play wonderfully, and run flawlessly.
From the UI to the games, loading is definitely almost non-existent. That is an improvement that is groundbreaking, similar to how the Xbox Series X does for Microsoft. Going from the menu to the main menu of Spider-Man: Miles Morales takes less than 5 seconds, fast-travelling in just 3 seconds, while the same process on the PS4 version of the game takes considerably longer.
You can even switch between games in an instance. The power of the custom SSD in the PS5 is always in action, and gamers will be spoilt from the moment they get their hands on the console.
Indeed, with Astro’s Playroom being pre-loaded on every PlayStation 5, consumers already have something wonderfully crafted to show off the unique features of the DualSense and the console. Add in the impressive Spider-Man: Miles Morales and with Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Demon Souls on the way, early adopters are all set for even more graphically spectacular experiences. 4K, 120fps, and even 8K presumably, the console has you future-proofed for quite some time.
The number of backwards compatible titles will also benefit from the Game Boost feature if you have them on the internal SSD. Everything will look better, play smoother, and of course, load lightning quick. Get that PlayStation Plus Collection via a PS Plus subscription and you have some instant classic all benefiting from the power of a next-gen console. With the PlayStation 5, you already have an existing library of games and more exclusives to look forward to.
With Sony having dominated a generation, it would not be surprising to ease off the gas. However, with the PlayStation 5, the DualSense, and all the enhanced features that make this console an improvement in every sense, that dominance looks set to continue well into the future. If you value enhanced fidelity, spectacularly fast loading, and something that looks out of of this world, the PS5 awaits.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
A stark departure of a take on console design, the PlayStation 5 fulfills the promise of next-generation gaming with improvements all around, and the DualSense is simply an experience that cannot be missed.
Aesthetics - 9/10
Build Quality - 9/10
Performance - 9/10
Value - 10/10
Geek Satisfaction - 9/10