So, you got a PlayStation 4 for Christmas or finally tracked down a copy at your local store, and now, you’re asking that all-important question – what do I play on this thing? We’ve covered a large number of your on-disc choices like “Knack,” “Killzone: Shadow Fall,” and “Call of Duty: Ghosts,” and we’ll do a recap of all of it this week, but we wanted to take a look at what will be a MAJOR part of the PS4 generation – the downloadable game experience. We will very soon reach a point where most major games are being downloaded and not ordered through online outlets or picked up at old-fashioned game stores. Already, people are downloading games like “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” and “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes” and never having a disc in their hands. It also offers a wonderful variety of smaller games, from independently-created offerings like “Don’t Starve” (new to PlayStation Plus last week) to imported-and-upgraded PS3 hits like a few of the titles below. Where do you start with your PSN experience in the new generation? You’ve got hard-drive space to fill, right? Start with these five, all available now for the PS4.
Most game critics seem to be embracing “Resogun” as the must-have free game of the PlayStation Plus service but I find that title fun-but-disposable. It doesn’t linger at all and it’s not what I reach for any more when I pick up my PS4 controller and leaf through the collection on my hard drive. I find “Contrast,” the other day one PS Plus game, more ambitious. Some of the gameplay is flawed but this is a visually engaging experience, in which you bounce in and out of the shadows to solve puzzles and find collectibles. I’m a sucker for a good platformer and good puzzle-solver. “Contrast” doesn’t live up to the potential of its concept as the execution doesn’t quite match the set-up but there’s more to like here than not and I hope to see more unique games like “Contrast” as a part of the Plus service in the future. The more people that play this, the more encouraged Sony will be to make more successful games like it.
“Contrast” is the only PS4-exclusive title in this list as, yes, sadly, again it’s a time in which games upgraded from their PS3 incarnations seem to dominate instead of original titles. The best games for the PS4 now are also many of the best games for the PS3, just with a better framerate. But within upgrades like the one to “Escape Plan” (and, especially, the next game on this list), we can see the potential of this system. For now, you should download “Escape Plan” for a very simple reason – it’s fun. A clever blend of puzzle-solving and platforming with a unique visual style, “Escape Plan” is a great title to use via Remote Play with your Vita. Sitting on the couch, grab your Vita, fire up your PS4 from the other room. Yes, you could just own “Escape Plan” on your Vita but you’ll never have the hard drive space on your handheld that you will within your PS4.
One of the best games of the PS3 generation, downloadable or otherwise, has been beautifully upgraded for the PS4 crowd and I couldn’t be happier that it’s so early in the lifespan of this new console. If “Flower” had been ported over this coming Summer, it might have been lost in the shuffle, but the dearth of great titles for the PS4 should allow this game to stand out. And even if you’ve played “Flower” for your PS3, you should do so again (and can for free since you already bought it for the last system). The visuals are smoother, the music feels more in tune with the action, and the controls are responsive. It’s a lyrical masterpiece.
The world of “Sound Shapes” has really exploded through one element that Sony really hopes the new generation of gamers will embrace – the social experience of the machine. Sony really wants you to share your gaming experience, and a large number of developers don’t just want you to share what you’re playing but to get in on the act of creation. “Sound Shapes” includes a number of great, music-based games when you download it but it also allows access to the wealth of levels designed by gamers. It’s a case where the professional levels, like those featuring music by Beck, are worth the purchase price on their own, and then everything else is gravy. Dubstep gravy.
Zen Pinball 2
It all comes back to “Zen Pinball.” Yes, there’s also an upgraded PS4 version of “The Pinball Arcade,” which purists would argue is more loyal to real pinball physics and I wouldn’t disagree but this game is more fun. With tables built around the Marvel Universe and Star Wars, it looks even better with PS4 graphics and those of you who jumped aboard this arcade bandwagon on the PS3 can download any table you bought for that system with next-gen graphics and gameplay. Get thee to the PlayStation Network. Now. See you on the pinball leaderboards.