Feature: Share Play on PlayStation 4

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For most 20-something gamers, childhood is basking in the warm glow of a tube TV at a friend’s house at night, rejoicing in multiplayer nirvana with games like Goldeneye 007 and Mario Kart 64 in an era when split-screen reigned supreme.

Ties were tested and virtual lives were lost: ‘Watch and learn!’, friends would naively proclaim, seizing the sweat-laden controller during a particularly tricky level of Crash Bandicoot, before slinking into the silence of shame as Cortex laughed maniacally during the CONTINUE? screen.

Sibling rivalries were temporarily postponed as little brothers were desperately drafted into the fray by assuming the less-coveted role of Player 2. ‘Perhaps today is the day I defeat Doctor Eggman once and for all!’, older brothers bravely aspired. ‘Perhaps today is the day I am finally allowed to play as Sonic’, younger brothers contemplated in hope.

But years passed, and friends and families moved away in search of University, work and love, for pastures greener than the Emerald Hills of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Although the advent of online gaming bridged the inevitable separation of former classmates and gaming compatriots, the true essence of ‘couch multiplayer’ seemed reserved for the ranks of young families and FIFA-obsessed undergraduates. With Sony’s latest system software update on the PlayStation 4, however, the couch is back – and with a vengeance.

Introducing Share Play. The ability to play games online with a friend as if you were huddled together on that patterned 90s couch once more. Selecting Share Play allows you to effectively ‘pass’ your friend your controller, allowing them to take control of your game as you see it on your screen, or to alternatively ‘pass’ your friend a second controller which can be used to play local multiplayer online.

Wanting to convince a friend to purchase Destiny? Share Play. Stuck on that terrifying boss fight on The Evil Within (curse you, spider lady…)? Share Play. Or how about just dusting off those ‘local-only’ PlayStation Plus favourites like Octodad, TowerFall and Spelunky for some carefree, throwaway fun? You guessed it – Share Play.

Buzzwords such as ‘innovative’, ‘game-changing’ and ‘revolutionary’ are industry pre-requisites in marketing campaigns nowadays, but this really is the next level for gaming. Remote Play was just the beginning. This is innovation. Of course, there are always spanners to be found in the most well-oiled machinations. Alas, there are connection and latency issues abound and few developers restricting Share Play at a whim are unavoidable problems which Sony are most certainly aware of.

In the so-called ‘Console Wars’, Nintendo have occupied a niche market which is set to further explode in popularity upon the release of Super Smash Bros. 4, and with Microsoft’s proverbial hype-train that is Halo: The Master Chief Collection quickly gathering steam, Sony needed a literal game-changer to propel them into the new year. And boy, with all the games November will have to offer, Share Play is unmistakeably the console exclusive worth having. All hail the couch!

Feature: E3 2013

E3 Logo

Exciting. Excruciating. Exhausting. E3 is back, and boy did it entertain. After months of rumours and insults being traded like bullets between companies and gamers alike, and of course – the Xbox One reveal, the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles prepared the battlefield for a mighty war, a gunfight of wits and technical prowess between two giants of the gaming industry. Oh, and Nintendo were there too.

As we wipe away tears of nostalgia, remembering those long nights playing Halo 3 with friends, and sigh with content at our first memories of Uncharted 2, it’s once again time to usher in the dawn of a new generation of consoles. Yes, this E3 was bigger and brighter than ever – an event which promised to deliver, and delivered promises which will tantalise gamers for years to come.

Remember the Xbox One reveal? In the wake of that infamous exhibition, gamers were left reeling in confusion and disappointment regarding the future of the massively popular Xbox 360, as rumours surfaced about changing DRM (digital rights management) policies and ‘always-online’ prerequisites. Indeed, Microsoft’s hesitance to approach these queries provoked more ‘Will they?’ ‘Won’t they?’ questions than Ross and Rachel from Friends ever did.

E3 Xbox One

Thankfully, Microsoft began their E3 press conference in style, showcasing the latest edition of the Metal Gear series, The Phantom Pain, and putting to rest plausible questions such as ‘does the Xbox One actually play games?’ With stunning graphics, photo-realistic at times, and open-world gameplay, wholly reminiscent of Red Dead Redemption (complete with desert and horses, naturally), Metal Gear Solid 5 set a lofty precedent for the rest of the show.

Of course, Microsoft can’t rely entirely on third-party developers, and exclusives such as the gorgeous driving simulator Forza 5 and the surprisingly realistic sequel Dead Rising 3 give credence to the fact that this is definitely a new generation, and it looks exquisite. As I present the award for world’s most unnecessary item of clothing to Master Chief, emerging in his armour from underneath a cloak, it is clear that with the plethora of exclusive IPs, such as Crytek’s Ryse: Sons of Romeand Project Spark, plus the continuation of the beloved Halo series, Microsoft might manage to win back the hearts of some loyal fans, albeit at the cost of £429.

E3 PS4

Enter Sony. Although the Playstation 4 was tipped to be a clear favourite with gamers after the details of the Xbox One were revealed, the decision to initially discuss Netflix and music features in the press conference had the gaming world on tenterhooks: ‘won’t somebody please think of the games?!’ viewers cried. But fear not: Sony delivered, and then some. Whilst people marvelled at the glorious graphics of exclusives Killzone and Infamous: Second Son, and RPG enthusiasts swooned at the announcements of Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3, it was the ‘commitment to independent creators’ that deserved the most applause, allowing developers to self-publish on Sony‘s system. A games console which truly caters to gamers. Of course, the rapturous applause came later, during the announcements that PS4 supports used games, and at its £349 release price. Overall, a show-stopping performance by Sony.

E3 Nintendo

And let’s not forget Nintendo, who despite falling out of the limelight somewhat over recent years, announced Mario Kart 8 and a newSuper Smash Bros, much to the envy of many gamers. Online gaming aside, Nintendo remain unparalleled in terms of frantic multiplayer and family fun, and with Wind Waker HD and new Zeldaand Mario games in the pipeline, the Wii U is worth keeping an eye on. With further appetisers such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Yoshi’s New Island for the 3DS, the handheld market looks to be in safe hands for the foreseeable future.

E3 Mirrors Edge 2

With EA also announcing the development of Star Wars: Battlefrontand Mirror’s Edge 2, and Ubisoft’s innovative Watch Dogs and next-gen shooter The Division also looking incredibly appealing, the real question will be which platform fans opt for to play these brilliant third-party games. With the PS4 costing significantly less, and boasting unrestrictive features and the fantastic Playstation Plus offers, the odds are in Sony’s favour. Despite the expansive list of new exclusives for the Xbox One, customers will be potentially unable to purchase pre-owned games, or even play them without an adequate internet connection. Not to mention the inability to disconnect Kinect, the ever-listening camera which will undoubtedly leave George Orwell spinning in his grave.

You can’t help but feel Microsoft haven’t simply shot themselves in the foot, they’ve blasted their feet clean off with a Spartan Laser.