Nintendo of America’s outspoken (but still very likeable) president Reggie Fils-Aime expressed his distaste for the PlayStation 4’s launch lineup this week. In the wake of the Wii U’s price drop, the executive told IGN that he feels that the next generation console’s catalogue is “meh”. The suit was comparing the system’s software selection to the House of Mario’s holiday lineup, which admittedly includes key titles such as Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD. But while we wouldn’t expect the top-dog at a competing corporation to outright commend Sony’s assortment of digital and retail releases, does the gaffer have a point?
System architect Mark Cerny believes that the ease of production on the upcoming console has facilitated the best launch lineup in PlayStation history. We disagree with the statement, even though we don’t necessarily feel that the Marble Madness creator is far off the mark. As discussed in previous articles, the platform holder is playing the long game. The decision to delay inFAMOUS: Second Son to February, for example, will give the machine a much needed boost once the excitement of the release has passed. The firm has also clearly made a conscious decision to give some of its teams – such as Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica, and Media Molecule – more time.
For us, that puts this launch lineup behind the PlayStation Vita. However, we think that the Japanese giant learned some important lessons from the portable’s release last February. Despite deploying with a cavalcade of big first-party games – Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational, and WipEout 2048 – the system swiftly started to flag, and the fact that it took months for the manufacturer to flesh out the release schedule really affected the handheld’s reputation. That the company is spacing out its next generation offering speaks volumes about the long-term strategy that the organisation is adopting this time around.
That’s not to say that the lineup is bad, though. While there were certainly some criticisms pointed at the quality of the offering at E3 in June, we can’t help but feel that Killzone: Shadow Fall, DriveClub, and, to a lesser degree, Knack quashed any criticisms at GamesCom last week. All three titles were buoyed by significantly superior builds to the ones shown in Los Angeles, with Evolution Studios’ racer in particular leaving the visual criticisms that had plagued it earlier in the year in the dust. Guerrilla Games’ first-person shooter impressed, too, with its multiplayer mode’s unexpected emphasis on custom playlists, and the same slick style of gameplay that has defined the futuristic franchise since its inception on the PlayStation 2.
Of course, these three games alone are not going to appeal to all gaming tastes, but there is plenty of variety coming from third-party publishers. The likes of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, LEGO Marvel Superheroes, and Need for Speed: Rivals should bring a different dynamic to the launch offering. And there are copious blockbusters coming in the form of Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, and Watch Dogs. Even younger gamers are covered with Just Dance 2014 and Skylanders: Swap Force, while sports fans should get their fix with FIFA 14, NBA 2K14, and Madden NFL 25. It’s certainly not a weak offering.
The problem, perhaps, is that the majority of the titles available on day one will already be playable on other platforms. Many of the abovementioned games are promising a more sturdy performance on Sony’s next generation machine, but will be fully playable on the PS3 – some of them months in advance, too. The manufacturer has acknowledged this issue by offering an affordable upgrade path for those looking to switch between systems, but despite being an appreciated option, we’re not convinced that it will make the lineup any more enticing for those that have already experienced a majority of the titles on an existing console.
Fortunately, the digital offering looks a lot more imaginative. There are plenty of ports and upgrades here, too – Blacklight: Retribution, War Thunder, and Warframe, for example – but these will be accompanied by a smattering of original titles. Housemarque’s flashy side-scrolling shooter ResoGun is quickly establishing itself as one of the system’s must-own releases, and it will be joined by the equally exciting Hohokum, Doki-Doki Universe, and Basement Crawl – the weird Twisted Metal-esque take on Bomberman by Polish outfit Bloober Team. Furthermore, there’s always a good chance that the launch lineup of digital content will expand, with the delivery mechanism meaning that schedules can be a little more fluid.
As is often the case with these types of discussions, though, taste will play a large factor; an enormous fan of Killzone is more likely to be taken with the lineup than someone that abhors the shooter series, after all. However, we do think that the breadth of software is impressive, even if a chunk of the catalogue will be playable elsewhere. And let’s not forget that the PS2 released alongside FantaVision and Tekken Tag Tournament, while the PS3’s headline titles were Resistance: Fall of Man and MotorStorm. Food for thought before you air your feelings in the comments, perhaps.
What do you think of the PS4’s launch lineup? Are you looking forward to a particular title, or do you think that the offering’s weak? Is the continued strength of the PS3’s library putting you off the next generation machine? Let us know in the comments section below.
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