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  • Cheryl Tan

Sony PS5 Review: The Next Step For PlayStation

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

For all you Playstation fans out there, you’ve waited long enough. Or perhaps, to be more accurate, you’re probably still waiting. But regardless, Playstation 5 is finally here.

So by now, we’ve seen the design multiple times, and it has certainly become quite the conversation starter within the gaming community as a whole. To tell you the truth, I’m still fifty-fifty on the design. On one hand, I kind of want to applaud Sony for coming out with such a radical design that’s a major departure away from the Playstation 4. It really is unique and it stands out. 

On the other hand, I really like the monolithic block design of the Xbox Series X. In comparison, it’s much smaller and compact, and would just about fit in any room you want to put it in.

I guess only time will tell if this design would grow on me. But there’s definitely one thing which I really don’t like, and that’s the glossy black plastic finish that runs through the middle of the console. 

I understand that Sony was going for a two-tone look in both color and surface of the material. But I don’t know. That glossy plastic really makes it feel cheap and scuffs and scratches are really easy to notice as well, so there’s that.

Now, I foresee that a lot of you guys would probably use the PS5 standing up, and with that, perhaps forgo the included base. In my opinion, I think it’s fine either way, because while some others claim it might restrict airflow without it… I hardly think so because the fan is at the top of the console, not the bottom, and unlike the Series X, the air gets pulled in from the front, and out the back.

Personally, I use the base because it’s an easy measure to prevent it from getting lost, but also, it’s already included, so why not.

Anyways, once you have the PS5 all set up, this is where the next-gen experience truly starts.

First off, you get treated with a new UI that’s a nice refresh. It’s basically like that of the Dynamic Menu in the PS4 but just refined with new animations and effects. In fact, it’s like taking the UI of the PS4, squeezing them down and pushing all of it into the top left corner. And of course, Sony has decided to standardise the cross button for confirm and circle for cancel. For those of us in Asia, kind of a bummer because I’ve always associated circle for confirm and its naturally always the rightmost button. But you’ll get used to it. 

Apart from that, some things are actually downright similar or flat out the same, like the settings menu and the such. If you’re familiar with the PS4, you’ll be right at home with the PS5. 

But now, let’s talk about what truly matters, the performance and the games, for PS5 is basically touting the same kind of experience the Series X offers. 4K gaming at up to 120 frames per second, and thanks to the new AMD chips, ray-tracing as well.

Now, unlike the Series X, there are actually next-gen games that’s only available to play on the PS5 such as the Demon Souls Remake. But what’s just as neat is backwards compatibility. Basically, any game you own on the PS4 will be playable on the PS5. If you own a digital collection, you basically just need to re-install it onto the PS5 and play it that way. If you own a physical copy, just insert the disc and once it’s installed, go ahead and play. Either way, it just works.

Although you don’t get a feature like Quick Resume, the PS5 still boots into the game just as fast as the Series X thanks to that insanely fast custom SSD that’s built-in.

But back to the next-gen stuff, and we start with Spider-Man: Miles Morales. For this game, you can basically choose between High Fidelity or High Performance mode. In High Fidelity mode, the games run at a resolution of 4K, with ray-tracing turned on. This is the mode you want to be in if you really want to experience the best that Spider-Man Miles Morales has to offer in terms of visuals. The actual real-time reflections really make the city much more alive.

But, and it’s a big but, you’re limited to just 30 frames per second.

On the other hand, if you choose High Performance mode, the game runs just slightly below native 4K and you don’t get ray-tracing, but you now enjoy a really smooth 60 frames per seconds experience.

Compared to the PS4 Pro version, you’re playing a better version of the game no matter which mode you choose. It just depends on which you favour more, frames per second or that immersive ray-traced world.

This kind of decision making also stays true in a game like Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War. The difference, however, would be the option between choosing ray-tracing and playing at 60 frames per second, or turn ray-tracing off and enjoy up to 120 frames per second, which I daresay is the much bigger game-changer.

But I’m not going to delve too deeply into the performance and visuals of Black Ops Cold War. Instead, this game has a far more interesting feature and it all has to do with the new DualSense controller.

Compared to the previous DualShock 4, the DualSense is definitely much larger and curvier. Gone are the hard edges, now all replaced with a smooth contour that really makes the DualSense a much more comfortable controller to hold. 

The DualSense also introduces a new haptic feedback system and improved motion sensors, but by far the most impressive has to be the adaptive triggers.

I’ve mentioned this before, but basically, developers are free to implement features in their games and tie that to the triggers. They can change things like the tension of the triggers, the actuation point, the feedback, so on and so forth, and Black Ops Cold War is one game which fully makes use of this.

Call of Duty is all about gun gameplay, and in reality, different guns have different weights, different triggers, different recoil strength and pattern and more. This is reflected directly onto the adaptive triggers.

Say you have a handgun like a 1911. Pressing down L2 is easy and pretty light, and your character aims down the sights pretty fast. As for R2, which is your trigger, you’ll find that there’s zero tension as you start to depress it until you reach about the 20% mark where you’ll literally feel like you hit the wall inside the trigger housing. Put in enough force, and you’ll pass that point instantly and fully depress the trigger, thereby firing your handgun in the process.

If you’re familiar with firearms in general, it is essentially a two-stage trigger. 

Now if you swap weapons over to something like the XM4 or the Stoner light machine-gun, the triggers change immediately. Pressing down L2 is now really heavy, and it is reflected on your character, as aiming down sights now take much longer, owing to the increased weight of the weapon. The R2 trigger, on the other hand, you still get a two-stage trigger, but once you depress enough to hit that wall, the end of the first stage, you have to put even more strength to actually actuate the trigger compared to that on the handgun. 

With the weapons being fully automatic, you’ll also realize that the trigger kicks about as you hold down the trigger, kind of replicating the recoil you would feel when you’re unleashing lead down the range.

This single feature is what makes the DualSense so unique, and sets it apart from the Series X controller. Now it might not be that viable if you want to be really competitive in multiplayer, but in the campaign, I do feel it really adds another layer to the experience and it’s a physical one, which is unlike anything in the past. 

Honestly, while I’m still not too sure about the design of the PS5 itself, I definitely really like the new DualSense controller.

So overall, I’m really impressed with the PS5. Just like the Series X, it is next-gen through and through and runs just as quiet as well. But there is one downside which I do have to mention, and that’s storage.

Now don’t get me wrong. The 825GB custom SSD inside the PS5 is pretty ridiculous, and PS5 games moving forward will be developed with that in mind. It is literally a cornerstone of the gaming experience on the PS5. 

The issue is the size. First off, it’s not even 1TB, but 825GB. Honestly, still not too bad. What’s troubling is the actual free space available after taking into account the OS.

You get only 667.2GB.

That’s it.

Black Ops Cold War by itself already comes in at about 140GB. Add in a few more next-gen games which typically average around 80GB and you’ll be pretty much out of space. Now the PS5 does support additional storage by means of a standard M.2 NVMe SSD up to the full length.

But at the moment, it can only be used to install PS4 games, which I can understand because of how tightly integrated the custom SSD is with the next-gen games.

So if you managed to get your hands on a PS5, just do take note of that storage space. I highly suggest deleting games once you’re done, even more so than the Series X.

The other small mention would be HDMI 2.1. Which like I said for the Series X, has to be used in order to enjoy 4K at 120 frames per second. I would say give it a year or so, and the market would be much more saturated with TVs and monitors with HDMI 2.1 support. So just be patient.

The PS5 retails for S$729 or US$499, which is basically the same as the Series X for those of you in the States.

But you can also pick up the PS5 Digital Edition which retails for S$599 or US$399.

Unlike the Series S which is a weaker console compared to the Series X, the PS5 Digital Edition is the same full-blown PS5. It just doesn’t come with a 4K Blu-Ray drive and in my opinion, looks slightly better because it’s symmetrical.

Regardless of what you think about the design, the PlayStation 5 is definitely a next-gen console. It’ll offer you a great gaming experience and perhaps arguably a unique one, as Sony is still pushing for more exclusive games for the PS5.

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