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PlayStation Now Is Best Left for Later

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 9 comments
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PlayStation Now is one of the more interesting streaming projects in the gaming sphere right now, promising to deliver PlayStation 3 games not only to game consoles, but directly to TVs as well. Now that the program has entered open beta, what it offers is exciting, but the service is still very far from a product that will really wow either experienced or neophyte gamers.

PlayStation Now gets one key thing wrong right off the bat: It's not easy to find. There's no main menu shortcut to PlayStation Now, so users will instead have to rely on an advertisement in their feed (which, for us, was buried under our friends' recent activities) or access the PlayStation Store manually. This is not difficult, and not likely to dissuade any fans from checking it out, but it's still a few more steps than it needs to be.

MORE: PlayStation Now Looks OK on 4K TVs

Pricing is also an issue, albeit one that Sony is already working on. Rental prices vary wildly, although they're generally obscenely expensive. Renting a game for four hours (the shortest time available) costs a minimum of $2, and can sometimes cost $4. Renting a game for 90 days (the longest time available) can cost up to $30. Considering how old the games offered are, you could easily buy one or more of the titles for less money than that.

(The pricing dilemma is hardly academic. If you want to play madcap open-world action game Saints Row: The Third, you can rent it for 90 days for $30, buy it on the PlayStation Store for exactly the same price or buy a physical copy from a third-party retailer for about $20. The only advantage of renting it, at present, is that you can play it on a PS4 instead of a PS3.)

The game selection is solid, but a bit uninspired. Big franchises such as Saints Row, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil are present and accounted for, but the series are often incomplete and don't always contain the best entries. There are a few cult classics such as Overlord: Raising Hell, Catherine and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, but a big chunk of the available titles are casual and kids' games.

Of course, the most important thing about PlayStation Now is how well it actually streams titles. Our experiences here were mixed. We tried four titles: side-scroller Guacamelee, first-person shooter Killzone 3, vehicular combat game Twisted Metal and fighting game Dead or Alive 5. Each game played just fine, although their looks left something to be desired.

We had no trouble running, jumping and fighting enemies in Guacamelee, but grainy textures and screen tearing dimmed the game's superb animation and striking palette somewhat. Graininess was endemic in every game we tried. Twisted Metal's multiplayer death match looked fine as long as we sat perfectly still, but with our characters in motion, the game looked like a mid-budget PS2 title.

Dead or Alive 5 and Killzone 3 shared the same problems. Low resolutions, rough textures and minor lag plagued each game, especially during high-intensity action scenes. Even so, we had very little trouble shooting targets in Killzone 3 or pulling off impressive combos in Dead or Alive 5; they just didn't look so good.

One important thing to note is that we tested PlayStation Now on a Wi-Fi network instead of a wired connection, as PlayStation Now recommends. It's possible that a wired connection ameliorates these problems, but not every user will be willing or able to use one — especially when PlayStation Now comes to TV sets, which may be placed nowhere near a cable modem.

As it stands right now, PlayStation Now is a functional service that is just starting to make good on its enormous potential. If you have a PS4, it's definitely worth a look, although your wallet may be a little worse for wear afterward.

Marshall Honorof is a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • 0 Hide
    HEXiT , August 4, 2014 11:20 AM
    sony like a lot of other media companies have forgotten that there games console is a games console. gamers want powerful hardware to play the latest games on.
    gamers want backwards compatibility so they can play there old titles on there new hardware.
    we dont need media streaming because the hdd's on the console soon fill up with games never mind adding movies and i suppose tv (soon).

    nah they seem to preoccupied with telling the customer what they can have and not enough time listening to the consumer wants.
  • 0 Hide
    Free2play_noobs , August 4, 2014 11:48 AM
    This kind of pricing literally makes no sense,Especially when we all can play the entire PS1,PS2 & PSP library on our PC & also we would be playing PS3 on our PC ,when RPCS3 would be ready(Eventually Vita)
    Second of all I don't have enough bandwidth to stream games.
    So no it isn't a viable option to me.
  • 1 Hide
    Innocent_Bystander , August 4, 2014 11:50 AM
    I would have preferred backwards compatibility, but hey...what do I know...
  • Display all 9 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    icemunk , August 4, 2014 11:51 AM
    That's some greedy pricing schemes, which will result in low sales. Just make it a subscription service like netflix, and you'll rake in the cash. How disconnected from reality are these companies?
  • 0 Hide
    fastcountach , August 4, 2014 12:19 PM
    It sounds as though from the description that you are only streaming the audio and video and uploading your inputs. The graphic processing is done somewhere else on a server far away compressed to a audio/video feed and streamed to your PS4 or TV. That would explain the graininess, the lag in controls and the ability to use it on a TV that likely doesn't have any powerful graphics hardware.
  • 0 Hide
    EssariOfNine , August 4, 2014 1:47 PM
    It might be worth trying a router running CeroWRT if you're going to use PS Now over WiFi.
  • 1 Hide
    caqde , August 4, 2014 2:27 PM
    Quote:
    I would have preferred backwards compatibility, but hey...what do I know...


    Quote:

    gamers want backwards compatibility so they can play there old titles on there new hardware.


    What both of you need to understand is that Emulating the PS3 with the PS4 hardware is Impossible it cannot be done at playable speeds. The same goes for the XboxOne emulating the Xbox360. The hardware is extremely different. The other issue besides the hardware being to slow to emulate the older systems (yes the hardware is faster than the older systems but the process of emulating is expensive hardware wise) is that the time it would take to make the emulator for the PS3 would likely be similar or longer than making a AAA title for the console basically it takes a lot of man hours to make.
  • 0 Hide
    korndog55 , August 5, 2014 6:27 AM
    Great idea but probably not using all the current technology they could to make it better. VMWare virtualization would allow Sony's host server to share it's video card resources to their vdi (virtual desktop infrastructure) client systems like Tvs, ps3s and ps4s. Client systems like Sony Bravia Tvs could also have better hardware decoding built in to decompress the video/audio that is received. It may take some development to get more compatible with their linux based OS, but it would run better.
  • -1 Hide
    paulogy , August 6, 2014 12:41 PM
    Yes, these imagine quality issues do clean up when using a wired connection. You may want to spend the 10 seconds it takes to put a cable in over simply speculating for your journalism piece next time.
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