Notoriously in short supply and selling out in seconds are the two phrases that best describe Sony’s new console.
A behemoth-sized device, and expected to take on the most powerful console ever built in the Series X, Sony’s answer is supposed to outperform the competition in ways that differ from raw computing power. In my experience it does that and offers so much more as it opens console gaming up to new ways of player engagement. Ways that transform the way both games are built and played.
This review, quite late, was waiting for two things; one, a sizable number of PS5 owners in India and secondly, the right games to judge the console by. Now with games like Returnal, and Rift Apart and free PS Plus games like Maneater, Wreckfest, and Destruction: All Stars we have a diverse collection to test the hardware.
The review is based on three broad categories: hardware performance, gameplay experience, and software and game content; each essential to help a console make an impression.
With an SSD (solid state drive) that offers an unmatched throughput, the PS5 blazes through its tasks, be it installing routine updates or launching games. Similarly, the processing power and graphics potential are showcased by the ease with which it runs games like Control, Returnal, and Rift Apart. Instant pauses, minimal load times, and immediate multitasking are the hallmark of the PS5.
You can launch multiple games together and such is Sony’s confidence here that the operating system doesn’t even have the option to close an application (a significant part of gaming on the PS4). You simply return to the home screen and fire away a new application, as simple as that. Similarly, it resumes gameplay in a jiffy a key feature for gamers who might have to attend to pressing concerns during gameplay.
On the graphics front, much was made about 4k and ray-tracing and it all works here with perfection. AMD’s take on ray-tracing is just as good as Nvidia’s and with games like Scarlet Nexus, I preferred the visuals on the PS5 a lot more than the ones my RTX cards. Hardware wise – no qualms.
There is no major difference between the Xbox Series X and the PS5 in terms of hardware, the chips nearly matchup and despite the numbers, the performances across games is almost uniform. The difference though is in the accompaniments, the controller and the sound card.
The DualSense controller is the life and blood of the PS5, a unique differentiator, as it is no mere generational upgrade. When it powers on, the controller is a living machine and the haptics are not just rumbles and vibrations but carefully thought out, precise tactile inputs. Inspired by the Switch’s controller, everything from the triggers to the in-built speaker can send unique or simultaneous outputs to your hands.
For example, a simple game ending whistle on FIFA 21 can be felt as three short bursts of vibrations that resemble a whistle but experienced by touch. The experience is not limited just to the whistle though as the crowd’s cheers or a crunching tackle can all be felt.
On the acoustic front, promised to be more than Dolby’s surround implementation, the PS5 has 3D surround features and with the right audio system the experience is extremely immersive. Combining the controller and the sound offers an experience unlike any other at times.
Light and breezy just the way Sony does it, there is a nice separation between media and game applications as the PS5 brings its entertainment features to the fore. The OS has a nice warm feel to it and the soft beams of light on the top-left of the home screen pleasantly hint at its RTX capabilities. There is more here though, each game has a preview screen with its own unique music when you scroll onto it; a window of promise of sorts; and there’s a new dock that shows necessary information from the bottom of the screen.
The OS takes some getting used to but it’s clean and intuitive. The ability to use themes is lost though for the time being.
All in all, the PS5 as a device gets a lot of things right and very little wrong, bar the supply issues. This is a great device as long as games tap into its unique hardware features. One tiny piece of advice though, trust and protect the DualSense controller. They are too expensive and fantastical to be flung with rage in games like FIFA.
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