Why the smartphone is about to beat the PS4 at its own game

Is smartphone gaming smart gaming?Should the Playstation console itself?

So that's the hardware - it's a much closer-run thing than some might expect. But gaming is nothing without the titles, so what kind of choice is on offer from the Play and App Stores of this world? Does it even come close to what you can buy at your local video games emporium?

Mobile gaming

There's logic behind the design decision to make smartphone games more snackable, since most people take their handsets with them everywhere, so having something to fill a few empty moments when you have nothing else to do is ideal, but it does mean that the games are often fairly disposable experiences, which can detract from console parallels.

It's not all doom and gloom for phones though, as while most smartphone titles pale in comparison to most console games, there are still some shining gems.

Ravensword Shadowlands

Take Ravensword: Shadowlands for example. While it's no Oblivion it still contains an impressively enormous game world jam-packed full of things to do, including dozens of quests, skills and locations and hundreds of different items.

It's easily as big and as deep as your average console game, so when it comes to content there are at least a handful of smartphone games that reach console quality.

The Walking Dead

Then there are some console games which have actually made their way to smartphones or tablets as well, such as XCOM: Enemy Unknown and The Walking Dead. These are full featured versions of the console games of the same name and while the graphics don't look as good on a big screen, they are comparable when shrunk down on a portable display.

These aren't the most high profile, nor pack the highest production values, of console games, but if you can get current generation console games running on smartphones it still goes to show how small the gap between smartphone and console gaming could potentially be. Phones just need more games of that level of quality.

Pros and cons

There are some undeniable advantages to playing a game on a console over a smartphone. Playing on a 60 inch television with surround sound or even a 20 inch monitor with desktop speakers is far more immersive than playing on a 4-5 inch phone screen.

Console gaming

Though that's an area that's improving on phones, as while there was a time when 3.5 inch screens were considered big, a 5 inch screen is now more common and with phablets and tablets rising in popularity screen sizes are getting bigger still - and graphical processing power is having to follow suit to match that rise in pixels, which is a boon for gaming.

Another console advantage is that they have controllers that are positively rippling with buttons, making it easy to control mechanically complex games.

Smartphones on the other hand don't make use of buttons in game and any input you make by tapping the screen risks obscuring your already limited view of whatever's going on. Not to mention the fact that touchscreen controls are often clunky and imprecise.

But while most games benefit from a controller, some actually work really well on touchscreens.

Broken Sword

Things like Broken Sword, which are slow paced and simply require you to tap to interact with things work just as well as on PC and arguably better than on a console. The same is true of many turn based strategy and puzzle games, where quick inputs and fast reactions aren't necessary.

Infinity Blade 3

Games like The Room and Infinity Blade 3 are designed from the ground up as smartphone games and are built around a smartphone's strengths, ensuring they can be controlled superbly.

The Room, for example, makes full use of touch screen gestures to zoom in and out on objects and manipulate mechanisms with a speed and precision which would be hard to achieve using a controller.

Similarly all of Infinity Blade 3's actions can be carried out with a tap or a swipe, making for frantic, high speed duels. While everyone's favourite / most bored of title, Angry Birds, is so simple that it can literally be controlled with one finger, as you aim and fire your aggravated fowl.

Real Racing 3

Another challenge faced is that while console games tend to be big budget blockbuster affairs, smartphone games aren't so much indies as the gaming equivalent of a home movie. That's not always the case and the likes of Real Racing 3 and Infinity Blade 3 are testament to that.

Real Racing also adds another dimension: that of the freemium model. Free to play but slow to get through if you don't splash the cash, it allows gamers to choose their level of involvement - it helps that it's a stunning title, but it's a sign of things to come.