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Sony PS5 review: a 5-star gaming experience

The Sony PlayStation 5 ushers in the next gen in style.

Sony PS5 review: a 5-star gaming experience
19 November 2020

The Sony PlayStation 5 is finally here. Some seven years after the PS4, the PS5 has launched and what a machine it is. Those lucky enough to get the console on day one are in for a treat.

The console is a giant in the gaming world - literally. The size of the thing is not to be underestimated, but that’s no problem. The Sony PS5 is a games console that demands to be noticed. Futuristic in both looks and game play, this really is a next-gen machine and we’re itching to play with it some more.

Why? Well, here’s 5 things to know…

1. The PS5 stands proud like a gaming Gundam

Sony PlayStation 5 review: a 5-star gaming experience

While there has been seven years since the launch of the PS4 and the PS5, it doesn’t feel like that. Whereas the wait between the PS3 and its successor was a long one, with just a slim version of the console to satiate the appetite for a new console, this time it’s a little different. The PS4 Pro allowed gamers a sniff of what the next-gen could do with 4K and the like. This was launched four years ago so doesn’t feel like an old console, well maybe one with a bit of salt and pepper in its hair.

Couple this with some fantastic games in the twilight of the PS4 (The Last of Us Part II, Ghosts of Tsushima) and Sony needed to come up with something rather special to convince people to upgrade.

One look at the machine and there’s no DNA between the two machines. Apart from the PlayStation logo, the PS5 adopts a space-station style look, with two ski-slope-like fins that make up a wavy white shell. The design is striking, in both horizontal and vertical positions.

As you can use the PS5 both ways, in the box is a mandatory stand. It’s easy to fit when horizontal and needs a screw when you are using the PS5 vertically.

We have a TV unit with space for things like a Sky Q box and the current PS4 and the new PS5… just fits when horizontal, its edges pushing the rest of the devices to the side.

Underneath there’s room for a 4K Blu-ray disc drive - if you opt for the PS5 digital, then you get the same console, just no drive.

2. It’s the most powerful PlayStation ever

Sony PlayStation 5 review: a 5-star gaming experience

Yes, it’s to be expected that this is the most powerful PlayStation ever, but it does explain the bulk of this machine. It’s a unit because of its power - and a big part of the design is ventilation, to make sure the components inside are kept cool enough so the thing doesn’t sound like an aircraft carrier taking off, like sometimes its previous iteration did.

Inside the shell is a super-fast SSD and some heady components, including a: a 10.28 teraflop RDNA2 GPU (customised), 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz and 16GB GDDR6 RAM. Don’t worry if that’s just sailed over your head, you just need to know that compared to the original PS4, the GPU is nearly eight times as powerful. And the graphic boost means that fancy things like ray-tracing and enhanced audio are a breeze for the unit.

Included in the box is an HDMI 2.1 cable (which theoretically means you can get 8K gaming at 120fps). Ports wise, there are 4 USBs on board and an HDMI slot.

When it comes to disk space, things get complicated. There’s a quoted 825GB in the PS5 but with essential software and other things taking up space, you are left with 700GB.

The games we installed on the console ranged from 50GB to over 100GB (for an ultimate edition with all the bells and whistles). You don’t have to be a mathematician to see that the drive will soon fill up with games.

The good news is that you can use an external SSD drive but (and it’s a big but) you can’t run PS5 titles off of an external drive, this will have to be solely for remastered 4K games. Sony is going to offer expandable SSD storage at some point but there’s no word on that yet. So, for now at least, there is some game juggling to be had.

3. The PS5’s UI fantastic at easing you into the next gen

Sony PlayStation 5 review: a 5-star gaming experience

The changes to the UI in the PS5 are subtle but welcomed. Games and Media are now separated in two tabs. This makes a lot of sense and proves how much of a home ents powerhouse the PS5 has the potential to be. In the Media tabe there are a whole host of streaming services you can download and sign up to - including Netflix, Prime Video and Apple TV Plus. Couple this with the 4K Blu-ray UHD player and this is a power console for TV and movie fans.

One press of the PS button brings up a strip of other features you can choose, include Switcher which switches between your most recently played games. Another important part of the US is Control Centre, here you can go into a game’s menu and choose whichever level you want to start (as long as you have completed those levels) and other options. It’s a really quick way into starting games again and adds to the interaction the UI offers.

4. The DualSense controller is the star of the show

Sony PlayStation 5 review: a 5-star gaming experience

The DualSense controller is the best controller we have ever tested. It is hands down the greatest addition to the next gen, with its controls adapting fantastically well to whichever game you are playing.

Sony has completely re-engineered the thing but it still feels, aesthetically at least, like you are using a PlayStation controller. Before getting to how it works, we need to point out the fantastic detail Sony has given the textured grip - on it are raised versions of the PlayStation button icons and it’s the same subtle design that can be found on the fins of the console. It’s a beautiful nod to the heritage of the PlayStation.

As for other changes - the controller is a touch bulkier and healthier than the DualShock, the light bar is more subtle around the centre of the controller and the option and control buttons feel better placed. There’s a mute on the mic now and the speaker is still there but feels like it gets use more in games.

As for the trigger buttons, these are adaptive and can tense up when playing games - like when you are shooting off a ton of rounds or climbing up something. It really is a fantastic sensation when the resistance comes. We can’t wait to see what happens when more games start to use this technology. The haptic feedback is also really well done. It is a lot more subtle, but all the better for it. There’s pulsing when something big is about to happen, a shimmery feeling when walking over something like sand in a game. It feels like there is a lot more precision in the haptic feedback and we are big fans.

Battery life is about two hours better than the DualShock. We would have liked a bit more but charging doesn’t take too long and it means you should get a good 6-8 hours out of it.

5 The launch line-up is strong, and things will get stronger

Here’s five of our favourite games so far...

1 Astro’s Playroom

Sony PlayStation 5 review: a 5-star gaming experience

One of the best games in the launch line-up is built into the PlayStation 5. A love letter to all things PlayStation, Astro’s Playroom is a delight of a game that takes you through the history of the PlayStation while subtly talking you through all the new features that come on the console and the controller. It’s a brilliant-looking game, too, that really uses things like haptic feedback to great effect.

2 Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Sony PlayStation 5 review: a 5-star gaming experience

Other games we have played include Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a fantastic tighter version of the first Spider-Man game which is around 10 hours long and doesn’t have an ounce of fat on it. It’s beautiful to look at, too. Thanks to the ray-tracing you’ll be staring at puddles for hours, while the boss battles are nuanced enough that it doesn’t feel like you are just button mashing.

The remastered version of Spider-Man looks fantastic, too. We’re not that convinced with the new-look Peter Parker but can understand that he’s more in line with Tom Holland’s look now.

On both, load times are near non-existent which means that you can get right into the game with no lag.

3 Demon’s Souls

Sony PlayStation 5 review: a 5-star gaming experience

This is a real treat. It’s been some 10-odd years since Demon’s Souls was first released and now it has been given a gorgeous makeover. Everything has been redone, from the castle to the skeletons to the demons. The 3D audio is really given space to breathe throughout the game and, my god, the gameplay is just as hard as ever but looks gorgeous thanks to the real detail in both the dark and light corners of the game. Those checkpoints are still ridiculously far away and the sense of worth you get actually defeating something is palpable.

This is a dark, broody game that works majestically on the PS5. It’s not for the faint of heart, though. More than once we nearly threw the DualSense at the screen in frustration.

4 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Sony PlayStation 5 review: a 5-star gaming experience

Yes, multi-player is usually the first place to go with a CoD game but we loved the campaign. It’s explosive, filled with missions that consistently mix stealth with all out mowing down of people, while there’s always a helicopter chase or remote controlled buggy to explode close by.

Yes, it’s short but it’s blending of real world characters with shady black ops operatives is inspired, as are some of the set pieces. The PS5’s ray-tracing kicks in once more, making this a stunning light display while the game loads faster than, well, it takes you to reload.

5 Sackboy: A Big Adventure

Sony PlayStation 5 review: a 5-star gaming experience

If you are after a dose of cute and colour, then Sackboy: A Big Adventure is for you. The PlayStation’s unofficial mascot, Sackboy is a brilliant protagonist and this game sees him stuffed into a proper platformer. Yes, it’s a bit by the numbers but boy did we have fun playing it.

The game is both kid friendly and the likes of Richard E. Grant and Dawn French lend their dulcet tones. The malleability of previous Sackboy adventures is here, too, with the landscape able to be moved around to get you where you need to be. Add to this some bubble collecting, a bunch of brilliant music-inspired levels and graphics that show off what the PS5 can do and what you have is a delightful launch title that couldn’t be further away from the wrath of Demon’s Souls.

Sony PS5: Final Verdict

Sony PlayStation 5 review: a 5-star gaming experience

The Sony PlayStation 5 gets nearly everything right on Day One. It’s a powerful console that will stand the test of time, a hulking thing that won’t suit all living rooms but screams next-gen.

The new UI is gorgeous, the games from launch fun and varied. The quick load times are just superb and we can’t extol enough hyperbole on the DualSense controller - the future really is in the palm of your hand with that one.

While there are niggles about hard drive space and maybe an over reliance on PS4 titles to bolster the line-up right now, we think Sony has packed a fantastic amount of innovation into it’s big, burly box. And the best thing is: we’ve only just scratched the surface of what this thing can do.

Launch day availability
Launch day availability
PlayStation 5
£449.99
The PlayStation 5 is now available to pre-order from Argos. Head to the site but be quick: pre-orders have been selling out everywhere.
Currys orders open 9am (19 Nov)

Launch day availability
Launch day availability
PlayStation 5
£449.99
The PlayStation 5 is finally available for pre-order. The actual console comes out 19th November.
Available from 12pm UK time (19 Nov)

Launch day availability
Launch day availability
PlayStation 5 DualSense Wireless Controller
£59.99
Because you always need more than one controller! The PlayStation 5 DualSense Wireless Controller is an innovative new PS5 controller, featuring haptic feedback and dynamic trigger effects.
Buy now!

Launch day availability
Launch day availability
PS5 console
£449.99
The PS5 should be available from Tescos on launch day.
Tesco orders open 9am (19 Nov)