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PlayStation 5 Console Review

Reading Time: 9 minutes

The seventh generation of home consoles is finally here. With the Xbox Series S and Series X consoles out in the wild already, the public didn’t have to wait long for Sony to join the fray with what has been dubbed “the biggest console launch ever”. We’ve already had the pleasure of sharing our thoughts on the Series S here, but does the PlayStation 5 live up to the immense amount of hype surrounding it?

It’s A Sony

Since first entering into the console gaming market, Sony has always been out to prove themselves against an industry that, at first, didn’t want them to be there. Take a trip back to 1992 and you’ll see Nintendo teaming up with Sony to create a CD-based add-on for the Super Nintendo console. However, this partnership was ill-fated, as when it was announced at a conference that year the very next day Nintendo snubbed Sony and partnered with Phillips instead. Not one to take this lying down, Sony picked themselves up and brought video games to a place they’d never been before.

A prototype of the Nintendo & PlayStation console that was set to come out.

For a long time gaming had been considered “nerdy” and “uncool”, in 1994 the PlayStation set out to change that. Quickly setting itself apart from its rivals, Sony had created a games console that would bring cutting edge technology, immersive and creative games and the mainstream appeal that other consoles just couldn’t garner. The PlayStation was here, and through its many different iterations and stylings, it was going to continue to bring gamers an experiences like no other.

Fast forward to June 2020, rumours and speculation had been flying around in regards to what Sony’s 5th console would be. How would it look? How would it perform? With rumours of a Holiday 2020 looming the public needed answers; and Sony provided them in abundance. 

The full PlayStation 5 lineup, from console to controller and even camera.

June’s State of Play event (a regular press event that Sony holds to showcase the latest news surrounding their games consoles) brought us all the first look at the PlayStation 5 and all of its unique charm. With its striking design, unique controller and impressive game lineup, Sony wiped away any worries that fans had about what they could bring to the table for the latest console generation.  

The One And Only

It’s hard to not talk about the PlayStation 5 without talking about its very unique aesthetics. From the two white fins that surround the console itself to the controller which boasts contrasting white and black scheme. This console is not going to blend in with the rest of the household entertainment, which has been divisive to say the least. The matte white side panels sandwich between them a glossy black central unit which houses the guts of the PlayStation 5. Glossy finishes are always a risky move; as visually appealing as they can be, they also act as magnets for dust and fingerprints.

Masayasu Ito giving us the full PlayStation 5 tear down.

During a teardown that Sony shared on their YouTube channel (you can check the video out here) they showed how easy it was to remove the side panels and even clean the console. This got the cogs turning in players with an inkling towards creativity. Customising their panels, creating their own 3D printed ones, there were tonnes of options for players to make their home console their own. LED strips line the edges of the centre unit, changing colour for what state the device is in (rest mode, powered on, experiencing errors etc.). All the accessories follow a similar white and black aesthetic, with similar status lights to boot.

Play Has No Limits

Ok, we’ve been talking about the PlayStation 5 for long enough now, it’s about time to mention that this thing is a powerhouse! Not only does it have the ability to output stunning 4K, 120hz graphics but it also provides an incredibly smooth user experience. From a user interface that is simplistic, to a super responsive menu system that allowed players to quickly switch between games and manage parties. Without getting into crunching the numbers, the specification of the CPU and GPU inside this beast of a console allows it to produce the most stunning visuals ever seen on a home console. Talking about the specifications of the chipsets used here is useless if they aren’t actually providing a benefit to players.

If you connect the console to an OLED TV (with the appropriate specification) you’ll be treated to a visual delight as the HDR visuals bring everything to life. Sony has managed to make everything work in harmony to allow users to have an experience like no other. Even if your TV isn’t an OLED one, your time with the PlayStation 5 will be one filled with visual treats as the console pushes the edge of what modern displays can deliver.

The PlayStation 5, paired with a 4K OLED TV, provides a viewing experience like no other.

With the PlayStation 5 we’re not only greeted to the next-generation of home console visuals, but the audio presentation has taken a huge leap forward too.  Using their own audio engine, known as Tempest, to create 3D audio that fully immerses the player into the game.  This allows the use of some very complex audio algorithms to enable players to hear sounds exactly where they should be within games.  Playing games such as Call of Duty Warzone can become spine-chilling when you’re trying to hold down a position and you’re able to hear players right below or above you, or worse…behind you.  To quote one of our very own writers, SquashPickle, “with city-based games, Watch Dogs: Legion , Spider-Man, Miles Morales etc, I often stopped and listened to the 360 degrees of conversation”.  Immersion has reached a new level.

At present, the only way to experience 3D audio is via headphones.  If players are after a wireless headset for their console then they should look no further than Sony’s Pulse, not only because of the quality but because it’s the only wireless one to support 3D audio at the moment.  Wired headsets will work however, just as long as you don’t mind a cable being used. That being said, Sony have stated they are working on bringing it to much more home audio equipment in the future.  

The Wait Is Over

The seventh generation of home consoles is also the first time we’re experiencing solid-state storage being a standard across the entire range. Why does this matter? Speed, speed and more speed! With no moving parts, no disk platters and lightning-fast read/write speeds, the storage inside the PlayStation 5 virtually eliminates loading times in games. Players have access to around 667Gb of the 825Gb of storage that is available. This has been a matter of great concern for some, feeling that this is far from enough when the size of games is only increasing and the need to uninstall and re-install games is seemingly going nowhere.

The expandable storage bay will allow users to drastically increase the internal storage of their PlayStation 5.

All is not lost though, Sony have allowed players to expand their console’s storage with a compatible NVMe drives however, at present there are very few compatible drives for this. The console sports front and rear USB ports, meaning that if you wanted to connect your external storage drive you are more than able to. Be aware though as only PlayStation 4 games can be played from the external drives, PlayStation 5 games stored on external storage will need to be copied to the internal storage before playing. There also seems to be a few glitches around the use of external media, causing unlucky players to experience system overheats, crashes and storage corruptions. Hopefully, a patch will address this shortly.

It Only Does Everything

It’s not all doom and gloom though, for Sony have created one of the most immersive controller experiences ever. Not only does the new DualSense controller pack everything you’d expect from a PlayStation controller, using the same button layout as previous releases, but it adds in features such as adaptive triggers and advance haptic feedback.  

The DualSense controller is leaps and bounds ahead of the DualShock 4 controller.

Ever since Nintendo first popularised rumble in controllers (way back in 1997 with the Rumble Pak for the N64), console manufacturers and accessory creators have strived to find new and innovative ways to use this system. Nintendo brought a lot to the field with HD Rumble system found in the Switch’s JoyCon controllers, but it found little use outside of a few titles. Sony has managed to use the same company (aptly named Immersion) that created the HD Rumble system to bring haptic feedback to their new DualSense controllers. From changing its style of rumble depending on the surface a player is walking on, to the pitter-patter of rain, and even when taking fire from enemies, the new haptic feedback feels like nothing that’s ever been put into a controller before. It adds a level of immersion into the games that can’t be compared to previous rumble technology. 

Adaptive triggers are a feature that Sony has been putting a lot of hype behind. What it boils down to is allowing developers to cause the triggers to react to certain in-game events. It’s hard to fully appreciate this without seeing (or feeling) kit in motion. However, let’s try to explain. Take the game Deathloop for example: when the guns jam so do the triggers on the controller. The latest instalment in the Call Of Duty franchise even has different trigger responses for each gun. This seems like such a small detail but it makes games really come to life.

Long Live Play

If you’re after the full DualSense controller demo then your luck is in. Every PlayStation 5 console comes with a game called Astro’s Playroom pre-installed on it. Sony fans may remember Astro from the PlayStation 4’s PlayStation VR title “Astro Bot Rescue Mission”. Now he’s back, and ready to take you through a huge nostalgia trip all while showing off just how the DualSense controller breaks the mould for what a console controller should be like.  

Astro’s Playroom is the perfect game to show off exactly what the PlayStation 5 can do, it’s also an amazing nostalgia trip for longtime PlayStation fans.

Those who sign in with their PlayStation Plus account will be greeted with the ability to acquire the PlayStation Plus Collection. Unlike the regular monthly free games that members are usually given, this collection combines some of the absolute best games from the PlayStation 4 era. From titles like God Of War, The Last Of Us and Bloodborne, to Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Batman: Arkham Knight and Resident Evil 7, players will be spoiled for choice. Will this collection be extended in the future? Who knows, but for now this is an amazing offer that should not be slept on.

Launch titles and exclusives usually go hand in hand with a new console launch, but this generation is a little different. A lot of titles are cross-platform, and even cross-generation, which means that whoever you are you’ll be able to play the latest games. However, PlayStation 5 gamers were given the choice to purchase Demon’s Souls at launch. A remake of the cult classic PlayStation 3 game from From Software, and the game that laid the blueprint for Dark Souls and other games of that ilk. Spider-Man Miles Morales gives players a chance to experience New York City in glorious 4K visuals, feel the full force of the DualSense controller and take in all of what next-gen gaming can deliver. Although the launch lineup is nothing like we’ve had before, there’s something for everyone and you’ll be able to enjoy the console to its fullest.

Demon’s Souls has been brought into the modern era and the cult PlayStation 3 classic has never looked better.

This Is For The Players

Online gaming is a huge aspect of the modern console gaming scene, in fact, it’s how almost every multiplayer experience happens now. The communities built around certain games, friendship groups that come together to enjoy their favourite titles and the players trying to prove themselves as the greatest at a game all rely on the online component of a console. This is one area that Sony has always done okay with. The experience on the PlayStation 5 is not the most straightforward one, but it’s not the worst.

Although the user interface is easy to navigate if you’re looking to buy or play a game, getting into parties with friends and playing together can be a mess. Multiple parties with similar people in them, games having their own party systems that differ to the native ones and a menu system that is less than clear. If you can get your head around it then it’s not too bad, but getting to that point is a struggle. It’s a huge shame as this is one area that can always cause a couple of moments of frustration as you try and set up your team for your next drop on Warzone.  

Greatness Awaits

Sony has surpassed all expectations with the PlayStation 5. Proving a gaming experience like no other. With graphics that blow previous consoles out of the water, a solid launch lineup and the most immersive controller to date. Let down only by a confusing online experience, the PlayStation 5 brings everything gamers would want and more to a home console. The future is now.

Rapid Reviews Rating

You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.

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