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We've been playing with Sony's new console for a few weeks now. Here is our PlayStation 5 review.
One of the most-sought-after Christmas presents of the year, we're sure you're here for the PlayStation 5 review, and to see whether or not you should invest in Sony's new console ASAP, but first, a few notes:
There are actually two new Sony consoles being released. The digital-only version, simply called the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, is also available for purchase, but we did not receive access to that console. Full details on the Digital Edition can be found here.
We reviewed the PlayStation 5 on a 60-inch, 4K-capable TV for the PlayStation 5 review, with a high-end sound system, which is really the best way to experience the next generation of consoles. Those without a decent audio-visual set-up may not get same results.
This reviewer has dipped a toe in and out of the previous Xbox systems, but has mostly focused on the PlayStation consoles to date, so adaptability time for non-Sony players may vary.
And with that out of the way, on with the PlayStation 5 review below...
- FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Christ, this thing is HUGE. And HEAVY. While the jokes and memes about the PS5's appearance have done the rounds, being greeted with this lavish looking monster does give the impression of impressive tech underneath the shiny, designer cover. Sony are obviously aware of the potentially precarious nature of having a mini-skyscraper for a console, so it does come with a screw-in stand, for those already worried about clumsy guests knocking it over. Once turned on, the shine black and white of the console becomes slightly internally illuminated by a dark blue light, and it really does feely like this console has been sent back from the future for us lucky folk to play with.
- BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY
For the first time with Sony, you'll be able to play previous generation PS games on a next generation PS console, with Sony confirming that pretty much the entire PS4 catalogue will work on the PS5. Some titles will see improved loading speeds, higher graphical fidelity, and more stable frame rates. Releases that pushed the PS4 to its limits in recent times (we're looking at you, Control), will look properly incredible on the PS5.
- LOADING TIMES
From the console in "off" mode, to turning it on, getting to the home screen, to selecting Spider-Man: Miles Morales, to that game's home screen, to selecting the most recent save point... less than ten seconds. Coming from the PS4, when you could probably wander to the kitchen and sort your snacks out and return before the game had fully booted up, this new console is not wasting any of our time. On. In. That's it.
- ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
One of the things that really pops out is that Sony are hoping to make the PS5 not just your gaming console, but the central entertainment system of your home. The separately sold remote control will have native buttons for your favourite streaming options, the matching-designed headphones will have 3D-capable sound to give you the full level of immersion, and the ease of use of it all (no need for a native phone app to turn it all on properly, as with the Series X), it will make the PS5 what you'll use for games, TV, movies, and the best audio/visual experience for them all.
Okay. Wow. Just... wow. The haptic feedback on the new controller is phenomenal, really bringing an extra dimension to the games. Whereas the previous controller had basic vibrating feedback, this new advancement really does let you feel every directional rumble and movement. While playing Astro's Playroom, the full possibilities of the new controller become incredibly clear, with the combination of movement censors and haptic feedback combined turning the Mario-esque platformer into a very impressive demo for the future of the PS5 controller. Ditto with Miles Morales, even over the opening menu as you travel via subway, you can feel the controller going over the tracks, the movement flowing from one hand to the other. It really is magnificent what they've done here.
The PS5 UI has been given a bit of a makeover from the PS4 user interface, which will take a small amount of getting used to for those who have spent the last seven years with the previous homepage. Once you've adapted, you can see the changes make a lot of sense, and little things like specific video games playing different background music on the home-screen are a nice touch. Once playing the games, the 4K and 60fps capability look drool-inducing on a decent TV.
- PLAYSTATION PLUS COLLECTION
Upon launch, those with a PS Plus account will get automatic access to the PlayStation Plus collection, which is a specially curated selection of PS4 games that you can download and play immediately on your new console. Those games will be Batman: Arkham Knight, Battlefield 1, Bloodborne, Call of Duty: Black Ops III - Zombie's Chronicles Edition, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Days Gone, Detroit: Become Human, Fallout 4, Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition, God of War, Infamous Second Son, Monster Hunter World, Mortal Kombat X, Persona 5, Ratchet and Clank, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, The Last Guardian, The Last of Us Remastered, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, and Until Dawn. This will be great news for anyone who has missed some of the best PS4 games, and as long as you've got an active PS Plus account, you'll have downloadable access to them all.
- LAUNCH GAMES
Astro's Playroom may initially seem a little... childish?, but stick with it, because while it is obviously adorable, it is an impressive example of what the controller is capable of, and is a lovely love letter to the history of the PlayStation's technology. Miles Morales, while not a PS5 exclusive, does impress on the new console with the graphical prowess and haptic feedback in the gameplay, but is also quite a short adventure - not unlike The Lost Legacy to the rest of the Uncharted series. Other launch games - Sack Boy, Godfall, COD: Black Ops Cold War - were not available for review prior to launch, and it does seem like there isn't a killer game to go with the killer console. You don't have to look too far back - God of War, The Last of Us Part II, Horizon: Zero Dawn - to see the all-time stone-cold classics that the PS4 brought us, and thankfully we don't have too long to wait before sequels to some of these will be arriving.
Sometimes, it is tough to improve on close-to-perfection. Towards the end of its life-cycle, the PS4 really did feel like the best that gaming consoles can possible aspire to be. Cleverly, Sony have not tried to swerve too much from that, knowing that the games will speak for themselves when they arrive, even if the actual "killer game" has not yet premiered. Instead, they've gone back to the drawing board in everything else, giving us a modern-art-looking console, with a bleeding edge controller, and aiming to become not just where you come to play your games, but the hub of all entertainment in your day-to-day life. As will always be the case with consoles, the games that arrive on them will ultimately decide their fate in terms of greatness, but after four generations of consistently bringing us the best exclusive games on the market, we trust Sony will do it again.
The PlayStation 5 launches in Ireland from Thursday, November 19.