No, it’s not a rejected title for a Star Trek series following a group of dejected university graduates working in an outer space fast food chain with little job prospects. That was a mouthful. Instead, I’ve given in to the current generation of gaming consoles. I caved and bought a PS4. More specifically, a PS4 Pro, the latest iteration of the PlayStation and bigger brother of the PS4. I came very close to buying a PS4 Slim at Christmas, but a malfunctioning ShopTo.net prevented me going through with the sale. I haven’t bought a new PC since 2010 and my ability to play graphically challenging games has been non-existent, aside from the Xbox 360. Graphics are hardly the most important aspect of gaming – story always comes first in my book – but looking at the almost photo-realism in Resident Evil VII shows how they can be used to pull you even further into the experience, and bring a horrifying new level of detail. I fear for those playing in VR – we could end up with a Black Mirror-esque scenario on our hands. Games are about escapism for me, being able to occupy and interact with another world, often not bound by the same rules as our own. When graphics start to rival real life, the line between the virtual world and reality starts to become blurred.
I remember the first time I played BioShock, watching the plane crash and a single survivor emerging out of the water. It took several moments before I realised it wasn’t a pre-rendered custscene any more. The visuals were so stunning, I hadn’t realised that the gameplay had begun. I had a similar moment at the beginning of Resident Evil VII. It’s amazing how far graphics technology has come.
If you hadn’t already realised by my previous writings and videos on the subject, I’m somewhat of a Fallout fan. I’ve played through Fallout 1, 2, Van Buren, 3 and New Vegas, but Fallout 4 was unattainable for some time. My computer wasn’t going to cope with it, and it wasn’t realised for the last generation. Naturally, it was one of the first games I bought for the PS4.
This Fallout is somewhat different because the protagonist is no longer silent – you have a voice, and had a family in the pre-apocalytic world. The game begins just before the bombs drop, with your perfect 1950s style home, and your helper robot Codsworth looking after your perfect family. But soon you find yourself evacuating to the local vault in search of shelter. Needless to say, the world sort-of ends, and you’re left searching the wasteland completing a range of quests and establishing settlements. If you’ve played Fallout before, you know the deal. The graphics have been updated, and the crafting system improved, but it’s essentially a skinned version of Skyrim. That sounds like a criticism, but I love Skyrim and Fallout, and can still sink a lifetime into these games.
It’s so easy to spend the best part of an hour wandering around an abandoned supermarket, fighting a gang of raiders for no particular reason other than the thrill of exploration and to gather some sweet loot. Being able to build houses is an interesting addition too, though it does lead to inventories full of junk yet to be broken down into parts. Games parallel life, I suppose. I have a room full of junk with potential.
The PS4 has been great so far. I can’t say I’ve taken massive advantage of the Pro-ness, but the games have been fantastic. I’ve been entertained by the Telltale games, explored Seattle in Infamous, and been terrified by Resident Evil. The console has quickly become our media centre of choice (it actually works with our surround sound receiver which can’t always be said of the Chromecast), and I managed to pick up another controller at Oxfam for £6 in perfect condition. It was an incredible find, in a pile of PS2 and PS3 controllers (also priced ridiculously at £3). The next mission will be finding a multiplayer game…