Hands-on with PlayStation 4 titles Driveclub, Knack and More

Playstation 4 Previews Racing Sony News Indie Adventure Casual EB Expo 2013 FPS Action

Sony-PlayStation-EBExpo-Booth-01

Sony was generous enough to invite members of the press over to their EB Games Expo 2013 booth the night before the first official day of the show to get some hands-on time with their slate of titles across all platforms ahead of the 40,000-odd expected crowd. Of particular note, we played multiple major PlayStation 4 release titles and have some impressions to share.


Driveclub-Promo-01

Driveclub: Playing Driveclub allowed me my first look at the PlayStation Camera, which is tiny! It was hooked up expressly for the purpose of taking your picture for use in the local leaderboards. Once you’ve accepted the usage of a photo, the demo allows you a choice of two cars. For me, the options were: the Maserati Gran Turismo MC Stradale and the Mercedes Benz SLS AMH Black Series. Alongside their key attributes, such as acceleration, braking, etc., there was also a difficulty tag, with the Mercedes apparently falling under ‘Hard’, even though I had an easier time handling that vehicle.

Before a race starts, Club Standings are shown to remind you of your friends’ dominance. Club Challenges are also presented for you to attempt to achieve. Overdrives – which are bonus tasks that grant extra rewards – are listed, and Face-offs tell you which main competitive elements you will tackle during a race. For example, throughout the 2 laps, there will be sections where a Drifting challenge is posed to you. At the end of the highlighted section of track, you will be compared to the current leader. They basically add variation and keep the experience as fresh as possible. Unfortunately, I found myself floundering under the pressure.

In regards to controls, Driveclub leans more towards the tuned, realistic “simulation” approach. There was some stuttering at moments, but I put it down to early code. Racing games usually need a lot of varied content/modes to keep me interested though (which is rare nowadays), and even with the intermittent social challenges, I’m not sure if Driveclub would sustain my interest. It may for you PlayStation loyalists though, and if you are a primarily social, multiplayer-focused racing gamer, then Driveclub will hold you over until the next-gen iteration of Gran Turismo.

Killzone-Shadow-Fall-Multiplayer-EB-01

Killzone: Shadow Fall: My time with the PlayStation brand’s lead first-person shooter was very short, as I only experienced a single multiplayer match. Warzones make their return, allowing you to customise your objective-based playlist for any combination of tasks/modes in a given match. We played alternating between Search and Destroy and Capture and Hold. Any multiplayer shooter fan will be familiar with these game types, the former requiring the setting of a bomb at a specified location and the latter tasking a team with keeping control of a checkpoint.

The ability to customise absolutely every single aspect of a match imaginable is impressive and a great appeal. In this entry, there are only three classes available: Scout, Assault and Support. These are very common, well-defined roles in FPS’, and nothing too drastic differs here. Also, gameplay-wise, if you’ve played Killzone 3 at the very least, then you will have no problems picking up Killzone: Shadow Fall and getting into the groove of things quite easily. And it goes without saying that the game looks amazing.

Knack-EB-Demo-01

Knack: Now Knack was the pleasant surprise of the bunch; I admittedly had little expectations for what I perceived to be a “kiddy” title. The demo consisted of portions of various chapters throughout the campaign. First up was a look at Chapter 19 – ‘Inside the Fortress’. Here, Knack has very basic attacks and no special abilities as of yet. Surely 19 chapters into the game, he would, but this was probably the particularly easy, opening section of the chapter. The camera is fixed, with the right analog stick mapped for directional dashing. ‘Square’ is your attack button and ‘X’ is jump. Combine the two and you can pull off a Kano-esque rotating ball attack mid-air. Throughout there are yellow crystals which you can break in order to fill up your special attack meter, of which there eventually is 3.

There are also destructible objects and somewhat hidden walls/gates that hold upgrades, pick-ups or unlocks behind them. After getting through the basic goblins – which can be deadly when you are at your most basic form – the demo abruptly fades out and then back in on Chapter 21 – ‘Catacombs’. Here is when the special abilities come into play as you face knights with laser swords, morning stars and more. Executing special attacks is two-staged: press ‘O’ once to initiate and then a second face button, each with their own unique attack. ‘O’ results in a focused shockwave, ‘Square’ with a sustained, tornado-like storm and ‘Triangle’ with a radial blast. Unfortunately, on every usage of a special attack, the game’s framerate suffered heavily. Again, early days… I hope that’s it.

Absorbing wood found across the levels, Knack gets bigger and attains more health, although every non-defended hit cuts Knack down a peg, sometimes literally. Chapter 31 – ‘Heavy Machinery’ introduces more platforming and timing-intensive elements. Eventually, we get to Monte Verde where ‘Tanks and Planes’ is the name of the game. Knack starts off huge in this part of the demo, out on the streets, scaring civilians as he stomps through. As the title suggests, your adversary becomes that of a higher-powered variety. In his enlarged state, Knack can pick up numerous heavy objects – including tanks – and hurl them. If the demo is any indication, Knack will provide players a widely progressive and evolving experience. Simple, yes, but fun. And we didn’t even scratch the surface of the puzzle component.

Hohokum-Screen-01

Hohokum: Honeyslug’s explorative indie title Hohokum is calming, for sure. But I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and have no idea how to accurately describe it. The developer has previously stated that it is all about relaxing in the space and enjoying the musical, colourful experience. There were three worlds available to explore in the demo: ‘Lamp Lighting’, ‘Kite Village’ and a steampunk inspired world. The gameplay is simple as you control the ‘Long Mover’, interacting with objects simply by brushing by them. You can speed up or slow down, and despite my disorientation, there is a core objective in each world.

Apparently, the lightbar on the Dualshock 4 changes colour to reflect the level, although I don’t know what purpose that serves when it is so imperceptible. In the end, this type of game is best experienced at home, with good noise-cancelling headphones on. During a loud, crowded industry showcase, it’s hard to be engrossed with such an artsy (oh no, I said it!) title that promotes a state of serenity and tranquility. However, Hohokum certainly has the capacity to bring a little peace and joy to your lives when it releases later this year for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PS Vita.


We’re seeing a good spread of genres covered for the launch window of both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, so there should be something for everyone. It was a bit disconcerting to experience performance issues, but what is important to keep in mind is that the consoles on-hand at the show are dev kits and the gameplay is of early code, across the board. Although, I personally haven’t experienced these issues with any Xbox One games. Take that for what you will. Either way, this November/Holiday Season is going to be very interesting.

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I am a graduate of the Bachelor of Interactive Entertainment (w/ major in Games Design) course at Qantm College, Sydney.
  • Pony’s Gaffer-Hive mind

    PS4 with now 60% more gpu power and 70% RAM bandwidth will make mince meat of the xbone. (cause m$ said there’s a 10% down grade now lol)
    M$ is not even interesting in trying to compete with such weak hardware.
    Only interested in getting information on what tv your watching though their oversized underpowered box to sell too advertises

    • Landsharkk

      Funny, because all the games shown so far the Xbox One are kicking the PS4’s butt all over the place.

      Where’s that magic 60% more power from the PS4? I’m not seeing it anywhere. Are you?

      • Michael W

        They believe sonys lies more then their own eyes… hence why they are called drones. No brain of their own, just listen and obey.

  • Pony’s Gaffer-Hive mind

    funny how xboners also down play they are missing 60-70% of ps4’s power.
    -Claim the cloud can fix that….. all saw how well sim city worked
    -Claim Graphics now don’t matter
    -Claim a weaker gpu means it’s “balanced” so it’s somehow better now?
    -Claim Next xbox after the one will be the true xbox with real power.

    still in the denial stage 🙂

    • Megaman

      This is what you base power off???This chart???Wow i feel bad for you???dont let your eyes and Sony deceive you or your gonna get your feelings hurt….Killzone is exclusive to Sony so theres no excuse to not use that power….40 poly vs Ryse 85 Poly???Last Gen the ps3 had and excuse of being harder for developers to use the true power of the PS3…This Gen theres no excuse because Sony has made there Machine more easy then the Xbox one to develop for…So why is it that the X1 exclusive games are looking better the the Ps4 exclusives???Dosnt add up..

    • SDFKiLLER

      but yet it stil has better games nd games being reviewed better at these expos on beta or alpha builds

  • meanMRmustard

    hmmm another post about the ps4’s power over the x1 but I guess you didn’t read the bottom of the article……its a reoccurring trend. Here let me help you

    ” It was a bit disconcerting to experience performance issues, but what is important to keep in mind is that the consoles on-hand at the show are dev kits and the gameplay is of early code, across the board. Although, I personally haven’t experienced these issues with any Xbox One games.”

  • GAMER36

    Ps4 has all that power and we still haven’t seen any of it, MS games are shitting on ps4 games. It might really have all that power but the games don’t reflect it, not at all.
    The only game running on a real ps4 is KNACK an it has frame rate issues, I don’t like that shit. Where almost a month away from launch!

  • spid3r6

    I hear that Knack hat really bad frame rate issues…WTF is going on with supposedly overpowerd PS4…Also some have claimed overheating issues after just 2 days. Why are these things happening yet the consoles are due to be out next month?

    • Revolver Ocelot

      “Also some have claimed overheating issues after just 2 days.”

      Oh look, a misterxmedia acolyte. Tell him his lies aren’t appreciated, especially after his dGPU debacle.

  • Zac Elawar

    Hey all. So having played both consoles, and numerous titles on each – in my humble opinion (just an opinion) – the Xbox One has been more impressive in regards to the quality of launch titles. Now, performance wise, I made a point of reiterating that these are dev kits we played with and the code is early, some just out of Alpha… but to address Knack in particular, yes there were B-A-D framerate issues.

    Again, it’s early days, so I guess we will not know for certain whether this is something to be concerned with for the final release. Optimisation is usually the last thing a developer tackles, so if it wasn’t the hardware being the source of the issues, these snags can definitely be ironed out. They may actually already be for all we know, but maybe they couldn’t get the newest code in time for the expo. It’s all uncertain.

  • Megaman

    This is what you base power off???This chart???Wow i feel bad for you???dont let your eyes and Sony deceive you or your gonna get your feelings hurt….Killzone is exclusive to Sony so theres no excuse to not use that power….40 poly vs Ryse 85 Poly???Last Gen the ps3 had and excuse of being harder for developers to use the true power of the PS3…This Gen theres no excuse because Sony has made there Machine more easy then the Xbox one to develop for…So why is it that the X1 exclusive games are looking better the the Ps4 exclusives???Dosnt add up…

  • meanMRmustard

    Zac bravo for writing an unbiased post. The proof is right in front of your eyes, doesn’t it worry you that the only game that is confirmed running on a retail ps4 is Knack…..you know the game that has not only huge frame rate issues but was also torn apart by Playstation Magazine…
    Why is Battlefield 4 being shown lately only on the X1? Why does the X1 need double the power? Just because your mom tells you that your haircut is nice doesn’t mean it is 🙂 Let the games do the talking then well see how far your charts go lol.

    • Zac Elawar

      I actually wasn’t aware Knack was the only one on a retail console. I saw all the PS4’s and thought, seeing as most were dev kits, they would be too. It’s a bit worrying, especially because Knack isn’t that intensive, at least from what I can tell. It looks great, but in no way is it pushing the hardware… hopefully it’s just an optimisation issue that can be ironed out.

      I also crashed two PS4’s at an earlier event when attempting to play LEGO Marvel Super Heroes… although it was the exact same action so I think it was a problem with the game’s code, not the console. Those were dev kits too.

    • Revolver Ocelot

      BF4 was played on the PS4 at TGS.

      • Zac Elawar

        That is true, it was played on a PS4 at Gamescom. We played Battlefield 4 at EB Expo on PC’s.

        • Revolver Ocelot

          I think most major multiplats are being demo’d on PCs due to the nature of having to develop for new hardware. MGS5 was demo’d on PC at TGS with the appropriate button prompts coded in at the Sony and MS demonstrations.

  • Revolver Ocelot

    Pretty simple. The Sony builds are older than the MS builds because right now MS is in total damage control and needs to convince people its $500 TV box is worth the expense. Meanwhile, Sony developers can use the thin amount of time they have to polish off their games instead of continually making demos that look worse than the previous iteration. Looking forward to seeing the final builds of KZ and DC crush Ryse and Forza.

    • Zac Elawar

      Sorry, but you have inside information on all of this? I just hate seeing fanboys write anything, period. If you want people to take your opinion seriously, don’t compare a shooter in Killzone: Shadow Fall to an action title in Ryse: Son of Rome. We actually played all of those games, and are reporting on them without bias. If you don’t like what you hear/read, then I’m sorry for you. But we also made it a point (and I have to repeat myself… AGAIN) that we are taking into account that the consoles on show were dev kits and the game codes are very early. Not attacking either side here.

      • Revolver Ocelot

        It’s pretty obvious that the Knack and Killzone demos are still the same ones from back at E3. Driveclub was still running on Alpha code when I played it last week and I gotta say, even at that early stage the lighting alone blows the upressed Forza 5 out of the water.

        • Zac Elawar

          Actually, the Knack demo had updated title cards at the very least, so it was an updated build. Killzone I can not speak to because all I saw previously was single-player footage and this was a single multiplayer match we played. And you don’t play a game for its lighting, do you? It definitely looks good, though I don’t believe that was up for dispute here.

          Out of interest, where did you play Driveclub? Honest inquiry.

          • Revolver Ocelot

            Knack build I played had no framerate issues in combat, but juddered a bit in larger outdoor areas. Certainly nothing that can’t be fixed.

            My point about DC is that graphically it trounces Forza in an
            important area whereas Forza 5 barely looks better than 4. Look at this and tell me this is an upgrade: http://i.imgur.com/bCtbzPt.jpg
            Full video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPAQa6Scbdc

            Played DC and Knack at Digital Nationz, by the way.

          • Revolver Ocelot

            Knack build I played had no framerate issues in combat, but juddered a bit in larger outdoor areas. Certainly nothing that can’t be fixed.

            My point about DC is that graphically it trounces Forza in an important area whereas Forza 5 barely looks better than 4. Look at this and tell me this is an upgrade: http://i.imgur .com/bCtbzPt .jpg
            Full video is here: http://www.youtube .com/watch ?v=mPAQa6Scbdc
            Remove the spaces.

            Played DC and Knack at Digital Nationz, by the way.

          • Zac Elawar

            I only experienced slow-downs when using special attacks, which is what I stated.

            There is clearly a massive improvement in the lighting and particle effects department for Forza 5. But again, what’s the big deal. And you know, I looked at your profile on Disqus, and all you do (practically 99% of your comments) is slag off anything Xbox and promote Sony. So I’m sorry if I prefer to value my own first-hand, unbiased experience playing the games – and being someone who has owned both company’s consoles for the last two generations, and will continue to moving forward – than someone who is ostensibly a Sony drone. I won’t comment on anything further. Peace.

          • Revolver Ocelot

            That’s fine. I was interested in what Microsoft had to offer for the next gen but after their TV SPORTS TV SPORTS reveal and then their DRM/online authentication announcement, I nailed my colours to the mast. PS4 and Wii U for me. Three interviews by different MS executives where they admit to bringing back the DRM in future didn’t do much to temper my disgust. As far as I am concerned, the Xbone needs to be a commercial failure and the Kinect needs to die.

            However, you cannot deny that MS has been in damage control since May and the current Sony builds are much older than the current MS builds for that reason. Thanks for the discussion anyway.

        • SDFKiLLER

          its one month from release if they still are the same games than i doubt that this console wars is going any where unless the ps4 unleash its “FULL POWER” than its useless for the next 4 years

    • SDFKiLLER

      DC equal next gen Need for speed

  • Yesnomaybeidontknow

    Phony and microshaft are as bad as each other. Both make promises they can’t deliver on.

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