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The Essential 4K Experiences
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 02:56pm 20/04/18 | Comments
We go through some of the most impressive examples of the latest in display technology.

Sponsored by Universal Sony

With displays, playback devices, and video game consoles embracing the latest in presentation technology we’re in the middle of what one might call a 4K revolution. Where larger screens are benefiting from the increased clarity that comes with UHD or Ultra High-Definition content. Plus, the improved colour and brightness from HDR (or High-Dynamic Range lighting). Cutting edge technology that essentially means that movies and games have never looked better.

Brighter, sharper, and more vibrant. With that in mind lets go through some of the essential 4K experiences.

It Takes a Hero

Horizon Zero Dawn (PlayStation 4 Pro)

At first glance one might assume that Horizon Zero Dawn takes place in the distant past. Thanks to the lush high-rise-building-free environments, and what look like giant dinosaurs off in the distance. Of course, one quickly notices that these dinosaurs are machines. And that humans and dinosaurs never really co-existed outside of the Jurassic Park films. From developer Guerrilla Games, PlayStation 4 exclusive Horizon Zero Dawn is easily one of the most visually impressive video games ever released, and one that truly comes to life on the PlayStation 4 Pro. With gorgeous environments filled with the sort of detail that can only be seen on a 4K display with HDR enabled - this tale of heroine Aloy in the distant future (not past) is both a visual spectacle and a grand epic adventure.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (4K Ultra HD)

This might be yet another reboot of the popular Marvel hero – but Spider-Man: Homecoming more than lives up to its name. It re-integrates the wise-cracking web-slinger into the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. A move that results in one of the most entertaining and engaging superhero films in recent memory. From the star-making turn by Tom Holland in the titular role to the wonderfully intense Michael Keaton as the villain, Homecoming is the sort of experience that you’ll return to time and again. Thanks to its inclusion of cutting edge Dolby Vision HDR, Spider-Man Homecoming offers a pristine and vibrant 4K image that simply bounces off the screen. So much so that even during night scenes you can see those little tiny lights shining through Iron Man’s suit in a completely realistic fashion.

Real Cars, Real Racing

Forza Motorsport 7 / Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One X)

When Microsoft released its new flagship console the Xbox One X late last year, one of the titles that it used to showcase the 4K difference was Forza Motorsport 7. The latest entry in the critically acclaimed racing series that offers players real cars to race in real racing locations across the globe. With a focus on simulating real-world physics and other realistic mysteries like exhaust valve shaft diameters, thankfully it’s a series that also includes the option to simply straight up race like you’re back in an arcade in the early 1990s. Throw in the 4K visuals of Forza Motorsport 7, and the impressive lighting and realistic weather conditions; and, well, digital racing has never looked so good. In addition to the excellent Forza Motorsport 7, Microsoft has also updated the Australia-set Forza Horizon 3 to take advantage of the Xbox One X with an equally impressive 4K update.

Baby Driver (4K Ultra HD)

Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver understands the pure cinematic joy that comes from watching two cars or multiple cars chasing each other through city streets, highways, and other tarmac infused surfaces. Outside of the wonderful car chases, which are edited in a creative fashion that incorporates the wonderful soundtrack in fun and inventive ways, Baby Driver is also a heist thriller. In that classic Hollywood style. Shot on film, Baby Driver’s colourful aesthetic comes to life thanks to the wonderful 4K Blu-ray and the additional colour range that comes with HDR support. In fact, when stacked next to the standard Blu-ray release the difference is remarkable – making this an essential disc for those looking to showcase their new 4K setup. Or, if you’re a movie fan that love a good heist. And the car chase that follows.

Fantasy, Magic, and Worlds of Wonder

Assassin’s Creed: Origins (PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One X)

Assassin’s Creed: Origins take place during the height of the Roman Empire in many of the iconic cities and locations found across Ancient Egypt. From the Great Pyramids of Giza through to the bustling streets and great libraries of Alexandria. But, as it also features a storyline that is part genetic memory, ancient aliens, and Egyptian gods come to life there is a thread of fantasy that can be felt throughout the epic story it tells. A story that if you were to try to see and do everything, could take you a few weeks to simply scratch the surface. The true star of Assassin’s Creed: Origins though, is its digital recreation of Ancient Egypt. A land so rich and full of detail, mystery, and wonder, that it doubles as a staggering visual achievement.

The Dark Tower (4K Ultra HD)

Stephen King’s magnum opus, The Dark Tower, made it to the big screen last year. And now after a few months of waiting, finds its way to the smaller one found in most homes. That is still pretty big thanks to most TV sales being in the 60-inch plus range. The Dark Tower is no doubt an interesting franchise, in that its eight books from King cover the entire genre spectrum of fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and even western; as the story follows a mysterious gunslinger on a quest to find the Dark Tower. As the name suggests, this isn’t a bright and colourful story – with the cinematic adaptation following suit. With very few colours in the frame. Instead the focus is on shadow and contrast, with only flashes of brightness. And where you might think that shadow and contrast might not be the best way to experience a 4K image, well, that’s not the case. With HDR and an almost IMAX-like source, the 4K Blu-ray of The Dark Tower provides a masterclass in contrast and small shadow detail.

Contract Killers

Hitman (PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One X)

IO Interactive’s Hitman series first came onto the scene way back in 2000, where on PC it introduced the world to Agent 47. And mechanics that provided players with almost limitless ways in which they could approach an assassination. Go undercover, sabotage some equipment, snipe from a distance, or simply go in guns blazing. Or, silenced-pistols blazing. Almost two decades later Hitman for PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X takes the series to the next level by offering huge detailed locations to explore. And conduct all sorts of violent behaviour in. Of the assassination variety. For a game built around little details, Hitman’s 4K support means that everything from tiny indentations on glasses at a hotel bar through to being able to track someone at great distance make everything feel more natural than ever before.

Atomic Blonde (4K Ultra HD)

Speaking of natural, Charlize Theron’s transformation into the badass operative Lorraine Broughton in Atomic Blonde is quite something to behold. One of most intensely entertaining action films of the year, Atomic Blonde also doubles as one of the most visually impressive 4K Blu-rays currently available. And thanks to a soundtrack full of ‘80s gems from New Order and Flock of Seagulls, it’s also one of the best sounding ones too. From the subtle neon glow that fills the background in some scenes through to the graffiti made up of bright and vibrant colours, Atomic Blonde is both a cinematic experience full of brilliantly choreographed action as well as a showcase for what a difference 4K HDR makes over a standard image.

That Gritty Filmic Look

Far Cry 5 (PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One X)

Set in the deep south of America, in a fictional town where a religious cult has taken control, Ubisoft’s Far Cry 5 is both very much in line with previous entries in the series whilst at the same time feeling quite unlike anything that has come before. As one of the first major releases for 2018, Far Cry 5 is also one of the most visually impressive games to take advantage of 4K HDR capable consoles. The cinematic introduction basically serves as a checklist of what the technology can bring to interactive storytelling. Then again it helps that the HBO-like production values make it immensely entertaining to play through too. From moonlit skies, lush forests, to subtle lighting and reflective surface - Far Cry 5’s visuals sell the concept long before the first words are spoken.

American Made (4K Ultra HD)

Tom Cruise stars as a real-life pilot turned drug smuggler turned CIA agent in the delightfully insane American Made. A film that moves at such a brisk pace you can’t help but get caught up in its story - only stopping to ponder the real-world ramifications later. Set during the 1970s and 1980s, director Doug Liman shoots the film in a style that aims to replicate the look and feel of films from both eras. Surprisingly, American Made was shot on digital cameras and not film, so the results mean that the 4K release of American Made offers a substantial improvement over the standard Blu-ray. The colourful and saturated 1970s sequences ooze detail whilst retaining a somewhat dreamy feel, with the latter 1980s scenes providing that gritty, realistic, documentary feel.

Sci-Fi (Or, Another Excuse to fall In Love with Giant Robots)

Star Wars: Battlefront II (PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One X)

Star Wars is a franchise that can be found throughout every important videogame era. From the original home console that was the Atari 2600 in the 1970s through to the rise of the Sony PlayStation in the 1990s. And now, with the arrival of 4K HDR images. As the sequel to a multiplayer-only title from a few years back EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront II introduces a cinematic campaign that covers eras from both the original trilogy through to the current post-Vader trilogy. To say that the 4K visuals of Star Wars Battlefront II are gorgeous would be to sell the game short. Piloting an X-Wing through the wreckage of a Star Destroyer, thanks to the additional power of modern hardware, is borderline transcendent.

Transformers: The Last Knight (4K Ultra HD)

Transformers: The Last Knight is the fifth instalment in director Michael Bay’s giant robots and giant explosions sci-fi action series. This time though, with an Arthurian bent to the story being told. Mainly because they did dinosaurs last time. Now, if there was ever a 4K Blu-ray to showcase the capabilities of a new display and the combination of equally impressive speakers – then this is it. Say what you will about the franchise, Michael Bay knows how to shoot action. And with a lot of the film shot on some of the most advanced camera equipment currently available, the 4K edition of The Last Knight is pure reference and demo room material. Jaw dropping-ly impressive and excessively over-the-top in equal measure. In other words, pure Transformers.