A Week Of Interfacing

Happy Weekend TAY! I’m away this weekend visiting family and dropping off the kid at his grandparents for his March Break. I’ll hit the comments when I’m back.

Last week didn’t see too much actual gaming but saw loads of gaming related activities.

The biggest news was that I finally caved and bought a PS4. I was going to wait and get a 1TB model when they had standard looking 1TB models around these parts (instead of the very fugly 1TB CoD set that was out during the holiday). Frankly, I got tired of waiting. Not that I’m burning to play anything on the PS4, but the longer I wait, the bigger the backlog gets.

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I bought the Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection bundle that also comes with The Last Of Us. I’ve played all those games on PS3 (except for the Left Behind DLC which I’m excited for), but they all were amazing and I’m looking forward to their PS4 incarnations. I had a bunch of stuff on PS+ that I was squirreling away for when I bought a PS4, but there is nothing terribly exciting there. Once I’m done with my current game of Super Mario Galaxy then I’ll likely grab The Order: 1886 to play since it is cheap and apparently shows off the PS4's power fairly well. Then Killzone, Infamous, Until Dawn, and likely Diablo 3 are in my future.

(not my Dashboard)

I’m impressed in general with the system, though it wasn’t hard to improve on the awful PS3 OS and UI. Everything is snappy and loads so much quicker than the PS3. The PS Store, which was an awful pain to load on the PS3, comes up very quickly now on the PS4. However, the store navigation, while being generally good, has the annoying feature of resetting the whole list you are viewing if you go look at a game’s details and then back out. A minor annoyance, but something that doesn’t happen on the PS3.

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The controller seems cool, though I’ve never been a big fan of the DualShock design. I like the speaker quality in the controller and I’m glad you can dim the light coming from the back of the DualShock 4. Since I haven’t really played anything, I can’t speak to its performance as a controller, but the touchpad is awesome for entering text (except that aspect doesn’t work universally). I’m looking forward to giving the controller a full workout.

I am a little disappointed you can’t share PS+ like you can on Xbox One with Xbox Live Gold. Not that my kid will likely play online on the PS4 and he still can use all my PS+ games, but the sharing of Gold on the Xbox One is a nice touch. Also, having to open the PS4 to install a bigger hard drive is much more unfriendly than just attaching an external drive to the Xbox One. I know the installation of the drive on a PS4 is supposed to be very straight forward, but plugging in an external drive is even easier and I get to continue to use the original drive on the Xbox One. Since the warranty on the PS4 isn’t voided by replacing the hard drive, I am seeing one of those 1TB Seagate hybrid drives in my future.

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With the addition of a PS4 to my family, I had to spend a while rewiring things and moving consoles around so the PS4 was in a place of comfortable access. While this didn’t take very long, it was the reprograming of my Harmony remote that took a couple hours to get perfect. I’ve customized a lot of the activities on the Harmony remote so there was loads of manual tinkering to be done. It seems good now, but I really wish the Harmony PS3 adapter worked on the PS4. Since the PS4 will likely be my Bluray player now, it would be nice not to have to use the controller on the PS4 to simply play movies and navigate the interface. Now, to Harmony and Sony’s credit, I could upgrade to a hub based Harmony remote and get control of the PS4 (aside from actually powering on the system) but those remotes are like half the price of the PS4 or the same price as the PS4 (depending on which model you want). That’s a bitter pill to swallow. Does anyone have good luck with any other advanced universal remotes with the PS4?

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In addition to the PS4 setup, I had a very tiny amount of time to monkey around with my new Steam controller, but again, I didn’t really play any games with it. I did load up Left 4 Dead 2 for five minutes to make sure it all worked and I was impressed with the native Steam controller support. It all felt intuitive and the haptic trackpads were better than I was expecting. With the one pad in trackball mode for L4D2 I was fairly impressed with the mouse aiming and I’m sure that will only get better with prolonged exposure to the Steam controller. I love the idea of all the customization I can do and it doesn’t hurt I can make it play the first five notes of “Still Alive” when I turn it on.

The last interface change I had last week was rather minor. I finally received my wireless Wii sensor bar from Amazon. It is made by Monoprice and takes 4 AAA batteries. Seems to do the trick though. I can use it with the Wiimote on the Dolphin emulator with great success and it is nice to not have to turn on my Wii U for a sensor bar (and then have it go to sleep every 10 minutes) while playing on the PC. I’m now in total heaven with Super Mario Galaxy.

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Super Mario Galaxy is spectacular fun just as I remembered. It truly is a masterpiece of gaming that should be played by everyone who enjoys good platforming. It makes me sad for the Wii U though. Every Nintendo console had a great Mario platform game except the Wii U. New Super Mario Bros. U and Super Mario 3D World don’t cut it for me. Nintendo was making such great advancements with the 3D Mario platforming games only to reduce the Wii U offerings to souped-up versions of games on the DS and 3DS. Hopefully they have pulled development of the next real 3D Mario platform game to launch with the NX. They need to come out swinging with the next console.

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Since I’m away, I won’t have a chance to game at all this weekend. However, with the boy being away for March Break, my wife and I are set on finishing off Life Is Strange and jumping into the Uncharted series. And of course, I’ll be collecting as many stars in Super Mario Galaxy as I can when I have time on my own.

What are you playing this weekend?