Karl Puschmann: Does the PlayStation 5 live up to the next-gen hype?


It’s always the way; you wait seven years for a bus and then two next-generation consoles arrive at once.

With the release of both the futuristic looking PlayStation 5 and the blunt rectangular slab that is the Xbox Series X, it’s been an incredibly exciting week for those who identify as “gamers” and a ruthlessly wallet-draining one for those who prefer the designation “hardcore gamers”.

It’s hard to believe that the predecessors to these shiny new machines, the PS4 and the Xbox One, have been sitting under people’s TVs since November 2013. In technological terms they’re practically prehistoric.

So out with the old! In with the new! Well … uh.

If this isn’t your first rodeo then you’ll know that jumping headfirst into the next-gen ring and grabbing the very expensive bull by the horns isn’t always the smartest of ideas.

There’s a very limited number of games, there are no retail deals to take advantage of and, while obviously an improvement, it takes at least a year for games to trickle in and for the serious advancements of the new machines to take that quantum leap.

You’re safe to wait it out a bit. You probably should. But this, as with most truisms, is far easier said than done. Especially when your social media feeds begin filling with pals posting pictures of their envy-inducing purchases.

There’s no question that if Sony hadn’t sent me a PlayStation 5 to play around with last week my resolve would be near breaking point under the deluge of social posts I’ve been seeing.

But even had I given in to impulse and splashed out I couldn’t have afforded much. What Sony sent me exactly replicated what I would’ve picked up if I’d been shelling out the clams myself.

No extra controllers (sorry, kids) and no quality-of-life improvements like the media remote, a charging station, or the rather spiffy 3D Pulse Headphones. Nope.

My bare-bones shopping list would’ve been the PS5 itself, just one game and a prayer that the receipt was never discovered by my significant other. Because there’s no hiding the actual PS5. The thing’s huge and has a striking futuristic style that’s impossible to ignore.

The undoubted star of the launch game line-up is Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and by happy coincidence, this is the game Sony sent and the one I would’ve bought if I’d been in the market.

It’s a huge amount of fun and spectacular at showing off what the PlayStation 5 is all about. This action-adventure game is a true blockbuster. It frequently thrills with big, explosive, carnage-causing set-pieces and drops jaws with its buttery smooth action, incredible detail and high fidelity — both audio and visual.

The PS5 is lightning quick. You go from pressing start on the system menu to web-slinging around the New York skyline in about 15-20 seconds. No more scrolling Twitter while waiting for a game to load. In fact, I never noticed any real loading waits. That’s revolutionary in itself.

Having used the much-hyped new DualSense controller all week I can confirm it lives up to that hype. It feels great to hold with a light, grippy texture and pleasing heft. Its big feature is haptic feedback which basically means it rumbles, shakes and vibrates with a force that mirrors the onscreen action. There’s also a little speaker which does the same. Together they ensure the experience is that much more immersive. Seriously impressive.

As is the 3D audio that kicks in when you plug your ordinary old headphones into the controller. Game-changing? Absolutely. The sense of surrounding depth is transformative and needs to be experienced to be appreciated.

The game itself is brilliant fun as you throw yourself off skyscrapers to acrobatically web-swing around the city, stop opportunistic crimes with your web-slingin’ and electrifying fighting combos and uncover a dastardly plot to blow up Harlem.

The story’s incredibly cinematic, filled with twists and turns and betrayals. If you’ve been missing Marvel movies this will more than quench that superhero-flavoured thirst. It’s a super easy recommend.

If you have the willpower there’s no urgent need to rush off and buy a new console right now. Its next-gen game catalogue needs time to expand, although being able to play PS4 games on it is a convincing enough argument in itself to upgrade.

That said, the PS5 has truly delivered a next-gen experience. And that’s something you may not be prepared to wait any longer for.

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