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Sony’s Choice of Games for PlayStation Classic Makes it a Strange Proposition

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PlayStation Classic

With the release today of the PlayStation Classic, Sony seemingly does not want to be left without a ticket for the retro revival train. Following the hugely successful NES and SNES ‘Classics’ from Nintendo, Sony is jumping on board with a retro console of its own that is so similar to Nintendo’s, in both design and execution, that the trio might well have been cooked up over the same corporate lunch meeting. However, while the miniature NES and SNES were largely well-received by consumers, those looking to splash out on the PlayStation Classic might want to take a moment to consider just what exactly they are getting for their money.

Coming in at a cool £89.99 (US$99.99), the Classic certainly is not cheap, and the hefty price tag suggests that Sony considers it to be a premium product. Here, OnlySP will focus on the software, which has some good news, some bad news, and some that is downright ugly.

Some worthy classics are present and accounted for.

Starting with the good, the PlayStation Classic comes preloaded with twenty of what Sony calls, “the best titles from a game-changing era”. Considering that the era in question spawned a back catalogue of more than 2,500 games, curating a list of 20 games that would satisfy every consumer would be impossible. That being said, looking at the games (see list at the end of this article) one can see straight away several that will be sure to please fans of the original PlayStation. Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, Grand Theft Auto, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, and Resident Evil are rightly considered by most to be iconic of the PS1 era. Others, such as Intelligent Qube, Revelations: Persona, or Cool Boarders 2, may be a little more niche and despite having some dedicated fans will probably not be of interest to everyone.

The big draw here of course is the ability to simply plug the Classic into a TV with HDMI and revisit Shadow Moses, RuptureFarms, or Spencer Mansion at the touch of a button. This simplicity will be very appealing to retro fans who want to re-experience these titles, even those more obscure games that some may never have heard of, but do not want to muck about with emulators themselves. Unfortunately, this simplicity is pretty much where the good news ends.

No PlayStation revival console would be complete without Metal Gear Solid.

Despite a level of appreciation that Sony has attempted to select a range of games that it feels are representative of the PlayStation’s full repertoire, one cannot help looking at the list of “the best titles” and find it lacking. How can Sony push out a console that is supposed to reflect the best of the PS1 generation and not include a Tomb Raider, which is perhaps the most iconic of all PlayStation franchises? If Sony wanted a racer, why did it pick Ridge Racer and Destruction Derby over Gran Turismo and WipEout? Where is Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon? Why include Syphon Filter when the far superior Metal Gear Solid is already on there? Does Sony honestly think that Mr Driller deserves to be on the list more than Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, or Super Puzzle Fighter more than PaRappa the Rapper? Some of these AWOL titles may have enjoyed recent remasters, or re-releases, but Oddworld and Resident Evil have also had the remaster treatment and yet they find themselves a place on Sony’s list. The more one thinks about the selection of games, the more questions start bubbling up.

As already stated, Sony was never going to please everyone, but if it is going to ask people to fork over almost a hundred pounds, it should have at least made sure that “the best titles” are the best, most iconic, game-changing titles. With over 2,500 to choose from, gamers are forced to play Rainbow Six’s buggy, twitchy mess instead of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2’s near perfect offering.

A PlayStation without a Tomb Raider? Say, what?

Finally, sadly the PlayStation Classic’s adorable exterior belies an inner ugliness in more ways than one. For starters, as reported by Kotaku, the UI experience can only be described as basic, being devoid of features or personality. The console has no amazing start-up video showcasing the many great games of PS1 and no customisable, retro background themes. Instead the Classic offers only a utilitarian blue background and a revolving selection of the pre-loaded games; Sony missed a perfect opportunity here to really play up to the retro-nostalgic crowd. Other issues, such as only be able to have one save file per game and a mishmash of game region versions, simply adds to the feeling that the PlayStation Classic is more of a cash-grab than a faithful ode to one of gaming’s most cherished consoles.

This leaves players with perhaps the biggest elephant in the room, which is the fact that all but three of the included games are already available on other Sony platforms, some with updated graphics. Personally, I already own six of them on PS Vita or PS4, and I envision that there are many gamers out there who own some or all as well. This begs the question: why would Sony not just add the emulator software to the PS4 and let users download what they want from the online store?

PlayStation Classic

PS4 owners are more likely splash a little cash on a retro game they can play on their existing machine than go out and buy a PlayStation Classic. Microsoft has proven that backwards compatibility is not only possible on fourth generation hardware, but is popular with gamers; suddenly, the £89.99 asking price for the Classic becomes a little tricky to justify.

The games included on the PlayStation Classic are:

  • Battle Arena Toshinden — PlayStation Classic exclusive
  • Cool Boarders 2
  • Destruction Derby
  • Final Fantasy VII †‡
  • Grand Theft Auto — PlayStation Classic exclusive
  • Intelligent Qube
  • Jumping Flash!
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Mr. Driller
  • Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee †‡
  • Rayman
  • Resident Evil Director’s Cut
  • Revelations: Persona
  • Ridge Racer Type 4
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Syphon Filter
  • Tekken 3 — PlayStation Classic exclusive
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
  • Twisted Metal †‡
  • Wild Arms

† Available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and/or PlayStation Vita via PlayStation Classics line-up

‡ Available on PlayStation 4 as a Classic or remastered title

Come back later today for more on the hardware used for the PlayStation Classic. For news, updates and information on the PlayStation Classic, keep in touch with OnlySP on  FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

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Editorial

The PlayStation 5 Specs Are Beefy, But Not Entirely Necessary

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PlayStation 5

Six years have passed since the launch of the PlayStation 4, and, consequently, the launch of the eighth generation of consoles. Throughout this time the industry has seen a shift in how the medium is consumed. Nowadays, gamers are no longer forced to experience titles through conventional controller inputs thanks to the implementation of VR, while visual performance and optimization are at record heights given the current technology available to developers.

For well over a year now, rumors and speculations have sprung up surrounding the next generation of hardware from both Sony and Microsoft, with the latter being more open about its technological aspirations. Despite withholding true hardware specifications, Microsoft does not shy away from igniting conversations around its next systems (yes plural). Sony, on the other hand, has been extremely tight lipped on the topic, only hinting at the PlayStation 5 during a discussion on the success of the PS4.

Until now, consumers were left to speculate on the possibilities of what the PlayStation 5 will contain. To the surprise of many, however, Sony has unexpectedly opened up about the final specifications that will be found within the upcoming hardware. Lead architect on Sony’s next console Mark Cerny detailed how important this generational leap is for the company and what consumers can expect from its beefy machine. While confirming some rumors, and debunking others, Cerny expressed Sony’s desire for the new generation to allow “for fundamental changes in what a game could be.” As a bold statement by Cerny, this ideology will help Sony fall in line with the trajectory that other studios, such as Xbox, have had during the eighth generation of consoles.

For those who are unaware, the PS4 launched in 2013 to wide success, re-establishing Sony’s brand at the forefront of console gaming. Although the console became a household and media juggernaut, many tech-savvy individuals were quick to point out the flaws within its hardware. For example, much of the specifications that the PS4 touted were, in fact, already outdated at release when compared to high-end PC rigs. Despite the obvious limitations of console gaming, the choice of hardware found within the PS4 proved puzzling, as it was being marketed as a giant leap forward for the industry. Sony would later attempt to mitigate the ongoing damage caused by underperforming hardware with the mid-generation iteration of the PS4 Pro, though this attempt only served to extend the console lifecycle by another few years.

From the outset, Sony knew its largest issue was underperforming hardware, and, thanks to the information detailed by Mark Cerny, the community finally has some insight on how that will be addressed. For starters, the CPU found within the PS5’s hardware will use the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line which is a massive leap over the PS4’s Jaguar chip. Although I am not much for technical jargon within the PC economy, I do understand how much the Jaguar chip held back performance within the eighth generation, and I welcome the Ryzen with open arms. My only hope is that this upgrade will be enough to sustain the PlayStation 5 throughout the years and maintain its presence as a PC competitor.

Additionally, the custom AMD Navi GPU that will be present in the PS5 will support ray-tracing, a feature that only a few games fully utilize on PC, but nonetheless will provide a more realistic experience. Although this specific feature is a welcome addition to the console ecosystem, I honestly never expected it to be a priority. While having real-time accurate reflections within the environment will definitely increase immersion, I would personally desire a more optimized experience that will never falter during play. We will have to wait until more is revealed on the PS5’s ray-tracing technology, but I can only hope that it will not take priority over performance.

Building upon the implementation of ray-tracing with the PS5, Cerny noted that, for him, the audio technology present within the PS4 did not achieve the standards of a generational leap from the PS3. According to Cerny, the PS5 will implement 3D Audio, dramatically changing how gamers perceive sound within a video game. The inclusion of 3D Audio sounds like a well-deserved feature for PlayStation veterans. However, I feel as though this addition will only benefit those who have an entertainment setup that supports it. Unfortunately, individuals who resort to stereo speakers could potentially see no difference in how the audio is delivered from PS5 titles compared to those on PS4.

The interview also provided information surrounding the type of storage available in the PS5. As a much-needed addition, the PlayStation 5 will contain a solid state drive (SSD), which will allow for faster load times and experiences. As many PlayStation users know, the PS4 can provide some appalling load times, leading this issue to be a constant topic of discussion throughout the entire generation. The possibility of a game having long load times was so great that it often made headlines in video game’s media, pleading for action to be taken (Bloodborne anyone?).

Thankfully, information on the PS5’s hard drive capabilities does not require too much speculation, as Cerny provided an example of how fast it will be. According to him, Marvel’s Spider-Man, which has an average of a 15 second load time on a PS4 Pro, will have just 0.8 second load times on a PS5. No indication is yet forthcoming as to how consistent this technological feat will be across different titles, and I urge consumers to temper their expectations on the speed of the PS5 because only time will tell how efficient it can be. Regardless of my concerns surrounding inconsistencies, the PS5 will feature the fastest load times of any console before it, eliminating one of the greatest issues of the PS4’s hardware.

Bloodborne gameplay 1

In addition to the announcement that PlayStation 5 will have an SSD, Cerny confirmed a much-desired feature in backwards compatibility. Although this feature will not reach as far back as the competition, the PS5 will be compatible with PS4 titles, both digital and physical. This was to be expected—seeing as both consoles will run off the same architecture—but the silence from Sony proved worrisome for some fans, myself included. While I am disappointed that PS3 titles will not be compatible with the PS5, I understand that the cell processor of that earlier device would take more effort than it is worth to make games from the platform compatible. Regardless, PlayStation fans can rejoice in this news, as it further validates any investment into the PS4’s ecosystem.

Where I draw most of my criticism from Mark Cerny’s report on the specifications of the PS5 is within the idea that Sony’s next hardware will support 8K resolution. To be clear, I am not stating that such an achievement is impossible; rather I question the necessity of it. Given everything that we know about the PS5, one can assume that the system will cost around USD $500. With 4K televisions slowly becoming a household norm, is it worthwhile for a company to be devoting resources into a feature that will likely not be consumer friendly for years to come? I understand that Sony is at a disadvantage right now with the Xbox One X outputting at native 4K, but seeking to outdo the competition to this extent seems financially unobtainable for most consumers.

My concerns develop from individuals who hear the news of PS5 and 8K resolution and assume it to be the Second Coming. It is unfeasible to have a $500 to $600 console run at a native 8K resolution. Anyone who believes this will happen need look no further than PlayStation’s competition with the Xbox One X. At its launch, Microsoft was selling the Xbox One X at a loss, solely to prevent the console from exceeding the $500 mark and turning away consumers. Microsoft’s current machine is capable of outputting at a native 4K resolution, whereas the PS4 Pro can only achieve the same through upscaled checkerboarding. The PS5 will surely be able to output at a native 4K resolution, but to expect anything more with the current state of consumer technology is wishful thinking. I urge consumers to understand that if the PS5 has an 8K setting, it will likely be only achieved in the future and through a checkerboarded solution.

Spider-Man PS4

Given the rumors that the next generation of hardware will be the last, Sony may be trying to future proof the PS5 so that it can remain on the market for as long as possible. Given the information provided by Mark Cerny, Sony may be intending to utilize every feature of the PS5 to its entirety before considering what could come after. By future proofing the PlayStation 5, Sony can anticipate where the industry is heading, ultimately eliminating the need for a mid-generation upgrade with a PS5 Pro.

I have been a PlayStation fan for as long as I can remember, but have recently branched out with the Xbox One X and PC gaming to experience what those ecosystems have to offer. By broadening my horizons, I maintain an outside perspective on how Sony is upholding its promise to gamers and how the competition tackles similar issues created by an ever-growing industry. With the eighth generation nearing its completion, I look forward to discussions such as this one as it generates hope and excitement for the future of the brand.

While the PlayStation 4’s colossal success this generation will provide a jump-start in sales for the company’s new hardware, the beginning of a new generation only reinvigorates the console wars. As a firm believer in what both Sony and Microsoft will do to shape the future of the industry, I am reminded that competition breeds excellence. Furthermore, when competition is present between both parties to win over public appeal, in the end, consumers emerge victorious.

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