So you’re probably all going to start asking “what is First Play?”. Well, readers, if you’re too lazy to click this link and read up on my post for when First Play was originally announced, I’ll quickly summarise it here. Basically First Play is a brand new interactive service that will be coming to PS3s in the UK on April 8th (that’s this Thursday folks!) First Play will provide screenshot galleries, HD reviews & previews as well as featured downloads, which will be handpicked from the PlayStation Store by the First Play team plus there'll be network highlights featuring the best things the PlayStation network has to offer. This could range from the best LBP level, the best PSP Minis or even the best content in the video store. Simply put, First Play is pretty awesome.
I was one of the lucky people who got sent a beta code because I signed up for updates via their website which is how I got to do this hands-on article before Thursday’s release date. Anyway, read on and find out exactly why you need to download First Play!
When I first found out about First Play I was unbelievably excited. I knew that it was being led by the team behind the Official PlayStation Magazine (OPM_UK on Twitter) and that’s a magazine that I’ve been reading since I was 8 years old! Needless to say I’m 14 now and I’ve spent countless hours being captivated in OPM’s glossy pages full of bright pictures and well-written articles. Articles so good, I’d like to say, that they can even rival the quality of mine (gasp!) My time with First Play started yesterday after I’d spent even more hours downloading the 1GB+ file from the PlayStation Store and I have to say that it was well worth the wait.
What stood out to me most was the interface. Slicker and glossier than any of the pages in the mag, the ‘home-page’ of First Play is easy to use and easy to navigate, I had no problem searching through the heaps of gaming goodness that the First Play team had put together. From the main interface of First Play I headed straight to the most appealing part of the service and probably the best ; the HD Reviews & Previews. On offer they had previews for both the upcoming titles, Lost Planet 2 and Super Street Fighter IV (SSFIV), a chance to look at the ads (more on those later), a review of the film Cracks on Blu-Ray as well as a HD video review for Battlefield Bad Company 2. I found all of these pieces of content particularly amazing because not only are they in beautiful and rather stunning HD, they highlight one of First Play’s key features. Insider info. I know that many journalists do have access to exclusive knowledge but First Play takes this to all new heights. Because they are so closely affiliated with Sony they get news and other content before anybody else. Now I’m not saying that you should stop visiting the likes of SFN because frankly, who else will give you these great tips for MW2’s online modes? However, what I am saying is that they can help you to get a lot of gaming gossip before the whole world has even caught the slightest whiff of it! Anyway back to the content…
After marvelling at the impressiveness of First Play’s logistics for a little while, I selected the Lost Planet 2 preview video. I had tried to get into to the LP2 multiplayer beta myself so to see footage of the game in action was pretty cool. The OPM team have always had a knack for knowing what their readers want. What makes this video so special is the quality of the footage, all in crisp HD, as mentioned, but it’s also the voiceover work. Everything in First Play from each and every screenshot to the main interface is all voiced over by Lucy Porter, a comedienne with masses of funny things to say. In the LP2 preview vid she explained the back-story of the game, explained why the climate had changed between the first and second games from frosty snow to a more jungle like atmosphere and she even talked about the set designers interesting use of HDMI cables! All of this was very funny and her voice brings something extra to the already jam-packed table.
Next on my list of things to visit in First Play was the HD screenshots. Remember how I mentioned that all of the images were voice captioned? Well, they were, and it was pretty cool, I tell you! Images from Brink, Mafia 2 , 2010 FIFA World Cup and Red Dead Redemption were some big games to choose from but having already jumped on the RDR hype rollercoaster I selected those images. One example of an image was of the main character, John Marston, shooting at a buzzard. A seemingly uninteresting picture don’t you think? That’s what I thought too until Lucy’s voice started playing with something to say about Red Dead Redemption's hero/rebel choice system (something I talked about here). Her voice added something more to the image and wasn’t just a humorous little caption, it was something that actually expanded on what we already know about the game and it really does help if you don’t know much about a particular game.
As I headed to the Network Highlights section of First Play I was greeted by an advertisement for Assassin’s Creed 2. Now I don’t mind ads at all because they help to keep a service (or website) cheap or entirely free. Plus these ads are particularly great because they’re not full of the worthless crap that you find littered between TV show breaks and they’re also skippable (that’s a made up word by the way) and (yes there’s more) if you really take a liking to the ads, you have the option to press select and visit the product’s website, another useful feature. I really like the Network Highlights section because it will feature content made by users such as kills in Uncharted 2, awesome Sackboy costumes, or, as the beta showed, the 10 best Singstar videos. I thought that these videos, showing user input, are what sets First Play apart form Qore, a similar online magazine-like service available to PS3 owners in the US. Well there’s that and the fact that First Play is way cheaper too…
Featured downloads are also one of the things featured in First Play, a great round-up of the other things that PS3 owners in the UK should download. Besides every episode of First Play that is! Though there’s not much to say about it despite the fact that it’s a great addition to First Play’s already excellent list of features.
And so, readers, I shall leave you with this… First Play is a must download. No doubt about it. It’s released on April the 8th (this Thursday) and is 99p for one episode or £8.99 for 12 EPISODES which is 30% off the usual cost (bargain!). The service is currently only available in the UK (for once we get something first!) but will be made available to other countries in the PAL region (Europe) soon. If you live in the US you can download Qore instead.
- Are you angry or annoyed that First Play isn’t available in your region?
- What do you think could be added to First Play to make it better?