As you will know if you were checking out ZKG earlier this week, I was recently given the amazing opportunity to visit the Tokyo Game Show 2013. As I am now back in the UK and fully recovered from a horrendous 19 hour flight, I thought it would be a good time to fill you guys in some more on what I saw at the event, and show you some more pictures. Over the next few days, I will be sharing my thoughts on the next-gen console war, giving you a guide to the Tokyo Game Show, and finally giving you an insight into gaming culture, shops and arcades in Tokyo in general. Firstly then, Xbox One VS PlayStation 4!
The Xbox has never been a popular console in Japan, that much is pretty much common knowledge. Time after time Microsoft has attempted to target the console at Japanese gamers, investing in some RPG titles like Blue Dragon for example, or having a major marketing push. These attempts have been pretty much redundant however, as the Xbox remains a niche system over in the Far East. What all this meant for my visit to the Tokyo Game Show was that it was much, much easier to play on the Xbox One than the PS4. With Nintendo long-term absentees from TGS, and the show being most Japanese gamers first chance to experience next-gen gaming, the crowds flocked to the Sony booth. Whilst queues for the Xbox stand were still large, they were largely manageable, with a maximum wait of around 90 minutes for Titanfall.
Hopefully the fact that I have played five games on Xbox One, and only one on PS4 does not sway my opinion too much, but I have to say that based on what I have played so far and when it comes to the launch period only, Microsoft has the edge for me.
Let me start by talking about the controllers for the two systems. Whilst the Xbox One controller is only a marginal improvement over the pretty damn good 360 controller, it does incorporate one big change, rumble motors in the triggers. Although it sounds like a small thing, having two motors in the triggers as well as the two in the body of the controller means that much more subtle effects can be used in games. Forza 5 was the only title I played that used the rumble (so far) and it genuinely felt really good when braking for example, as it is almost an arcade-like feeling of force feedback. Microsoft also showed off a tech demo where they employed effects to demonstrate a helicopter taking off, a heart beating, or a standard FPS minigun firing. Each of these impressive demos made me think that this could be a real selling point for the system. Outside of that the only real difference was the slightly more comfortable and sensitive control sticks, and a much improved joypad, which when I played using it in Killer Instinct worked just fine.
The PS4 controller on the other hand is a massive improvement over the one for Dualshock 3. The triggers felt much much better and would work well in racing games, where the PS3 controller struggles. The rubberized grip was really nice as well. I played Knack, and it didn’t employ the touch pad at all, but I still had a play around with it and it felt like a neat addition. Finally the sticks were likewise a big improvement over the Dualshock 3, but the indented tops still meant my thumbs would occasionally slide off them. All in all both systems have very good controllers, with genuinely not much to call between them. It could be said that both do the basics very well, with really only the trigger rumble and touch pad to choose between them.
Now to the games. I have already talked about what I played in the hands-on impressions I posted earlier in the week, but let me reiterate what I said then. At this stage in the game, nothing you will play on PS4 or Xbox One will feel amazingly different. The games tend to be the same types of titles, controlling in the same way. Graphics are of course much improved, but really only in the same way that a PC game might have low/medium and ultra graphical settings. Particle effects and lighting are the two biggest improvements over the games you are playing now, but textures of things like the armor in Ryse: Son of Rome for example look very impressive. Genuine improvements to gameplay will probably be seen a little way down the line, when developers get used to the systems more. To be honest though, the only game I played that really blew me away was Titalfall – that game plays like a much more varied and exciting version of Call of Duty. It isn’t just the graphics here that impressed, the power behind the hood meant that each game was frenetic without ever being confusing, although it was confirmed that the version of the game I played was actually the PC iteration.
Although Knack was the only title I managed to play on the PS4, I was able to see every other game in action, and to compare what I played on Xbox One on occasion. DriveClub for example looks so much better now than its lackluster showing at E3. You can certainly tell that it is produced by the guys behind the Motorstorm series, as there is a lot of trackside detailing. In this way it differs from Forza, which is more about clean tracks and shiny lighting effects, where DriveClub seems to have more detail but looks less immediately stunning. I did notice a fair bit of anti-aliasing jaggies on Forza though and not on DriveClub, although it has to be said I was playing pretty close up to the screen.
Ryse: Son of Rome surprised me with how much fun it was to play, based on some hands-on previews I had read online. It did still have a few glitches here and there like a bug which meant a button prompt remained on-screen, and some screen tearing evident, but these should get cleared up in the next couple of months. As I already said, the game most resembles the fighting sequences in the Batman: Arkham series of games, but with some added objectives to spice things up. It all looked lovely and the change from screen prompts to colors that represent controller face buttons lighting up enemies when it was time for a cinematic kill was a big improvement.
The other game that impressed me for the PS4 was Killzone: Shadow Fall, which looks as if it will be the big launch title for Sony this November. I really was gutted that I didn’t get to play this one, but I stood watching it for a good while, and again the lighting in particular really impresses. It wasn’t as ‘WOW’ as Titanfall, but it certainly seems like a solid first attempt at a blockbuster PS4 game, and if I opt to buy the console will be the game I get first.
Having only played on Knack for the PS4, I don’t really feel able to directly compare the two systems at this point, although I certainly had more fun with the games I played on Xbox One. If anything that systems mixture of really good launch games (Ryse, Forza 5 and Dead Rising 3 – annoyingly not present at TGS) followed by the amazing Titanfall and upcoming Halo and Fable games, seems like the best bet for gamers. Of course though Killzone and DriveClub both seem like solid PS4 launch titles, and things like The Order: 1886 should be amazing, as will future Uncharted and God of War for example. At this stage it’s still anyone’s game!