PS Fourgasm: or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bread Bin

I’ve never believed in fanboyism.  I know that it exists, and I fully understand the reasons behind it, but I can’t bring myself to the point where I agree with any of it.  Those who like a certain thing should allow themselves to enjoy it without tainting it by wasting time pulling someone else down for their differing opinion.  I’m a musician, and find myself much more immersed in prog than I do mainstream rock, primarily because that musician side of me wants to hear and enjoy all the intricate nuances of the music rather than bang my head in time to a regular 4/4 beat.  As much as I adore prog, I’d never dream of tackling someone who loves Oasis and tell them that their choice in music is shit.  Inferior, in terms of musicianship and perhaps also lyrically, but not shite.  That’s an opinion being taken too far.

Why then do gamers resort to such a basic stance when it comes to opposing sides?  Why even are there opposing sides?  Why are we not just all ‘gamers’, living out a peaceful existence where we each understand the reason for the other to enjoy their choice of console, and never butting heads?  I’ve never been a fanboy.  I’d played the original PlayStation, tinkering around with Tomb Raider and Gran Turismo, but it never quite grabbed me and so I held off getting a console and stuck with my trusty Amiga and PC.  It wasn’t until I saw Project Gotham Racing 2 showcasing the Xbox in the front window of Electronics Boutique that I had that inner tingling where what I was witnessing was enough to make me want this ugly black box, purely for the beautifully rendered graphics.

So, thanks to PGR 2, my first console was the original Xbox, but I came into it a little too late so most of the games were already out by the time I picked one up, and it was only a year later that I was given a shiny new Xbox 360 a month after release, along with the wonderfully immersive Oblivion.  From that point on I almost stopped gaming on the PC entirely, dipping in and out now and again whenever I felt it was necessary for strategy games and other genres where the console just isn’t best suited.  I was hooked.  I had become an Xbox gamer, through and through.

Regardless, I was never a fanboy.  It wasn’t even that I preferred the Xbox 360 to the PlayStation 3, because in order to have a preference you must first have a basis for comparison and, even though we owned a PlayStation 3, it was never actually used.  It was there because we were gamers and, as such, it made sense to have both of the then-current generation consoles even though one was used daily while the other gathered dust. So enamoured were we with the Xbox 360, in fact, that we ended up with four of them.  I had one in the lounge, as did Lorna, as well as one in the guest bedroom, and another in the dedicated gaming room upstairs.  We were a multi-console family and rarely an evening passed where we weren’t glued to our respective screens.

When friends spoke of their love for the PlayStation 3, it fell upon deaf ears.  To get a rise out of them, we’d often refer to our own PS3 as a “bread bin” or a “dust bunny” and even joked about opening it up and turning it into a toasted sandwich maker, which I believe someone eventually did, if memory serves.  It wasn’t that we didn’t like the PS3 although, to be honest, I had to use one at E3 a few times and really didn’t like the feel of the controller – it was too light and… smooth.  Far too smooth.  But it was never hatred.  I’ve never hated the thought of playing on any particular console… until now.

Somewhere along the way, Microsoft reached a demonic hand into my chest cavity, ripped out my heart, pissed on it, rolled it in shite, and shoved it back in upside down.  Every single thing they announced about the Xbox One, and the way they regarded their loyal customers, was exactly the opposite of what I’d hoped for from them.  It wasn’t about the aesthetics, as I absolutely loved my huge Marantz DVD player from the early ’90s, or the fact that they couldn’t really decide whether to go for a gloss or matt finish.  Neither was it about the tech, as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One aren’t that much different in terms of what goes on under the hood.  It was all about the attitude and reinforcing the way they’d started to go with the more recent dash updates where games were almost becoming secondary to sponsored content and entertainment.  Even the marketing campaigns spoke of the Xbox One as a home entertainment system rather than a games console.

By the time the ‘next-gen’ had become ‘current-gen’, I had already sold both my Xbox 360s and had plunged feet-first into the vibrant waters of PC gaming once again, with all its ridiculously overpowered graphics architecture and more anisotropic filtering than you can shake a bump-map at.  A mini gaming rig had been built for the lounge, taking permanent residence below Lorna’s lonely little Xbox 360, complete with a couple of sets of 3D glasses and a full license for TriDef 3D because, you know, sometimes you really want to experience being shot in the face by a Crimson Lance Guard as though you were really there.  Suddenly, gaming had become exciting again, and the difference in quality and performance made me wonder why I ever stepped away from the PC in the first place.

Then something happened.  With each new announcement from Sony, I became more drawn to their upcoming box of tricks to the point where we took a shot with the minuscule PlayStation 4 even though its predecessor still lay dormant and forgotten in… actually, I’m not even sure which room it’s in, or whether it’s still even plugged in.  Either way, this was a risk, and for more than a few weeks it sat in its box on our lounge floor, being used by our two-year-old daughter as a stool, a step, and something to absorb the impact of high-velocity toys.

Its first outing as an actual games console came some time later, and it was Need For Speed: Most Franchised that ended up being the one to deflower it.  It looked great, don’t get me wrong, and the weather effects added a little more immersion than previous incarnations, but there was nothing to reach out and grab you by the balls.  Some months later, however, the PlayStation Plus membership has been used to build up the games collection, inFAMOUS: Second Son has taken over my life to the point where this weekend I will undoubtedly reach platinum status, and lounging on the sofa with the Vita streaming the remote gameplay put a smile on my face as large as I had that night when… well, never mind.  In short, I fell in love with the PlayStation 4 in a big way.

Then, just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love it more, Sony released the 1.7 firmware upgrade.  It was as though Jack Tretton had taken a cranial saw to me while I slept, rummaged around inside until he found the box marked “things I’d love a games console to do” and carried out each and every one of them.  Just for me.  No fucking around with external HD capture devices with cables trailing across the floor to a high-powered laptop, and no massive 10,000 rpm USB 3 hard drive ready to store all the video so it could be taken into Adobe Premiere and turned into the next Oscar-winning piece.

Instead, Sony somehow thought it would make sense to allow the gamer to capture their own video, edit it, add their own soundtrack, commentary, and even a picture-in-picture feature with the PlayStation camera.  The cherry on this multi-tiered jizz cake was that all of this was being done by the PlayStation 4 itself and could then be exported to an external USB device with absolutely no fannying around.

And with that one upgrade, the angular box of tricks that I’d fallen in love with became the ultimate gaming machine for someone like me.  It wasn’t all about Netflix, Spunkify, or however many sponsored ads could pollute the home screen… it was all about the most important person in this entire equation – the gamer.  The person who sits down and enjoys playing games so much that when they do something remarkable, they want to share their joy with the world.  They want to do it their way, in glorious 1080p, and they want to be able to transport it without uploading to some cloud somewhere.  Of course, there’s much more to it than just this one upgrade but this is the first time in a long time where I’ve knowingly picked one camp over another.

There’s a Vita in my pocket and a PS4 under the TV, and I doubt that an Xbox One will ever find its way into my home.  Not because I think the PlayStation 4 is a better machine, or that I still hate the way Microsoft went about everything with this generation, but because if the PS4 already does everything that I could possibly want it to do… why look elsewhere?

Last five articles by Mark R



  1. Chris Toffer says:

    I always said I’d never pick up an Xbox One after the route Microsoft ended up going with the Xbox 360. Along the way, they’ve lost the real focus, which is the gamer. There are certainly enough of us. I do need Netflix and Spotify in my life for a variety of reasons, but those are console sellers – I can do those on my PC, tablet and phone if needs be. No, what I need it to do first and foremost is play games.

    I’ll be picking up a PS4 some time this generation. I played a lot of games on the PS3 and enjoyed the sleek UI. From everything I’ve seen, the PS4 looks have only added to that.

  2. Victor Victor Anfu says:

    I hear what you are saying. And I am feeling a pang of regret each time I fire up my Xbox One and notice that the friends I had slowly built up over the course of the last console generation are all on a different console. I miss being able to see their progress on leaderboards.

    But I may yet end up in Playstationland.

  3. Richie rich says:

    I’ve been saying since E3 that Microsoft can suck phlegm from the cocks of men and that I’d be retiring from the Xbox brand eventually. Finally bought a PS4 last week and it’s a box of potential loveliness. Can’t wait for the games to match up but, as with the Vita, the indie scene is going to shine on that fucking thing.

    Good article as ever, man.

    EDIT: oh man, fuck this Captcha!

  4. Tim Tim says:

    I don’t believe in fanboyism either, but I have to say I’ve always been more of a PlayStation supporter than an Xbox one, so I can’t help but feel glad for Sony and the PS4. A brilliant controller, a reasonable price tag and a nice(ish) looking box that’s easy to develop for; Sony got everything right this time.

    I wouldn’t be so quick to rule out the opposition just yet though. Both the Xbox One that launched in November and the Microsoft that unveiled it last May are different to what they are now. If they can come out of E3 with some killer exclusives, convince us of Kinect’s merits and put the gamer first and foremost, then it might be enough to turn things around.

  5. Lorna Lorna says:

    I truly thought that I had found my console home on the Xbox 360, but became increasingly pissed off and dissatisfied by the end. I never thought that I would switch to Sony for my console needs, but when MS screwed up and pretty much ignored the gamer-base who had got them where they are now, I knew it may be time to jump ship.

    I hated the PS3 controller, so knew that the PS4 one would be a deal-breaker – thankfully it has some heft to it, although, the stick positions are odd to me (having been used to the 360 pad for years), and the odd and seemingly illogical buttons that I can never remember the position of (sorry, but A and B, and X and Y make way more sense) are a bugbear, but I’ll probably overcome it.

    From the little time I’ve had with it, I’ve enjoyed it. Still not sold on everything – the trophies are still a crap idea… I much preferred achievements and gamerscore, and the store needs better filters (unless I’m just missing how to select to browse games and not get all the DLC and add on crap), but on the whole, I think I’ll be in it for the long haul. I need to get used to those damn buttons though, if Mirror’s Edge 2 is coming out this year (and isn’t shite and full of multiplayer crap).

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