The new generation of gaming consoles is upon us with the release of the Playstation 4, a console dedicated to gaming, but stepping away slightly from the media and entertainment aspects of its predecessor. Sony is showing us with this console, that they want to be a powerhouse in gaming, while offering media content through own services and removing DLNA, putting more focus on gaming on the PS4. With a redesigned UI, more comfortable controller, and enhancement of the Remote Play features, the Playstation 4 offers a phenomenal gaming experience for every player. Overall, the first impressions offered by the Playstation 4 offer an experience that every gamer will want to be a part of, even if the console is (currently) no longer a living room media powerhouse.
The system fits perfectly in the living room, with a design that looks really great for a console. With a solid blue light when the console is on, and a white one when the console is idling, the console looks really clean wherever you place it. Sony kept with the same sounds that accompanied turning on the Playstation 3 and brought them back with the Playstation 4, so turning on the console sounds the same even with the all new button configuration, which responds to a touch or a hold, and brings the console up very quickly. The console uses the same power cable (no power block!) as the newer PS3’s (and PS2 as well!), and comes with a HDMI cable in the box. The reason for the HDMI cable is that the console only works on a HDMI Connection, so those of you with non-HD TV’s (Which, I may be speaking to an empty crowd there) may want to upgrade before grabbing this console. The console boots up incredibly fast, and you’re greeted with a nice, new interface.
The new interface, now named “PlayStation Dynamic Menu”, keeps the same basic theme of the previous console with a line of choices in the order of Playstation Store, Notifications, Friends, Chat, Party, Profile, Trophies, Settings, and Power. In that list, you no longer will see Games, Music, Movies, Pictures, or a few of the others that you became used to with the previous console generation. Now, in order to get to games and applications, you actually go down with your D-Pad or joystick, showing the full list of games and applications installed on the console. The beauty of the new interface is that it is much faster than that of the Playstation 3’s XMB (XrossMediaBar) interface, and it makes getting where you want to go much easier. With a 500 GB Hard Drive, and the requirement install all games directly onto your console, you’re able to switch between games and apps swiftly (but make sure you save first!), as well as respond to message and check your trophies (which still have to sync every time your check, albeit much quicker than before). A nice new feature, is the ability to multitask, such as opening a web browser while you play a game! Overall, the interface is incredibly sleek and well designed, but there are a few additions that we’d like to see again, but first a few software updates will likely be in order.
Applications and Games are the main function of Sony’s new console, as they step away from making the Playstation 3 a media powerhouse, and focus more on gaming. The new Operating System, which is named “Orbis OS”, runs on the FreeBSD Kernel and doesn’t require any form of internet connection but having one really enriches the experience through many features. With the ability to access services like the Playstation Store, Music Unlimited, and Video Unlimited; you have access to any game available for the Playstation 4 and any movie or piece of music within Sony Entertainment’s library. The new software does offer one limitation, however, and that is that online games (with the exception of Free-to-Play) require a Playstation Plus subscription. You also have the ability, through the Playstation Store, to install apps such as Netflix or Amazon Instant Video on your console, and made accessible. The new software is a solid step forward for the console, even though there have been numerous issues after launch, which is to be expected with a release as large as that of the PS4
The New Controller
The all new Dualshock 4 controller is a really great evolution from the Dualshock 3, with it being bulkier and wider, allowing for a more comfortable grip. Instead of the rounded joysticks that accompanies the DS3, the Dualshock 4 controller features smooth and depressed (no, not sad) rubber joysticks. For prolonged play, the new feel of the controllers is just as comfortable, but is even better if you have issues with sweaty hands during a heated firefight! Like mentioned in the first impressions, the controller may surprise you a bit when it starts talking to you (Resogun has this feature), but the feature is a nice little touch! If you intend of using the same charging cables from the Playstation 3’s controller, you won’t be able to, due to the Dualshock 4 using micro-USB now. If you have an Android phone, at least you’ll have plenty! There’s also a light on the front of the controller itself, which changes color depending on whether it’s being used or charged, but it’s worth noting that it makes a phenomenal flashlight if you accidentally turn off your TV.
Remote Play Functionality
Easily, one of the best features of the Playstation 4 is the incredibly improved Remote Play with your Playstation Vita. With the recent firmware update to the PS Vita, you now have two separate icons for remote play with one for the PS3, and one for your shiny new PS4. The PS4 link allows you to play any, and yes we mean any, Playstation 4 game through your Vita. Obviously, the remote play works perfectly over the same wi-fi network that the PS4 is located on, allowing you to either use the device as a second screen to control the console, or take over the console completely, and seamlessly. The graphics will be dumbed down a bit to accommodate what the Playstation Vita offers, but looks fantastic nonetheless. We played Resogun and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and the games looked great and played great, once you got used to the use of the touchscreen on the back of the Vita! There are a few things that should be known about playing with Remote Play from outside your home network, namely that you will likely need to port forward your router to the console. Once that is done, you can connect freely, but keep in mind that internet speed is key because a slow internet connection will not work well. We tested with two networks that were both at 60 MBps download speed and 12 MBps upload speed (which is one of the higher tiers), and while there was some lag, games were still easily playable. If you plan on playing anything that is fast paced gameplay, it is HIGHLY recommended you are on a good connection, and some coffee shops (if you try) may not allow you to use the ports needed. But the use of the Vita in conjunction with the console is definitely a plus!
One of the most hyped up brand new features of the console is the sharing, and it lived up to the hype completely! As promised, with the click of a button, you care share a screenshot of your gameplay or quickly edit and share a video to Facebook or Twitter. The majority of images included in this review actually came from the sharing button! The quality of the images is superb, and doesn’t lose any of the definition that you have on your TV, allowing you to share your favorite scenes, kills, or more with the click of a button! The video editor is very simple, allowing you to edit small clips that can then be shared to Facebook to Twitter to share with your friends, and although you can’t send them to YouTube the feature is still really nice and easy to share. It is also worth noting that the HDMI connection is encrypted and you cannot get access to the original feed from it. Our favorite feature, and one that we’ve all been using as we test out our consoles, is the streaming option. You can stream, and very seamlessly depending on connection, your gameplay to Twitch or Ustream with the ability to talk to commenters who will pop up on your screen! To see a few of these, and maybe even catch us in the act, check out our Twitch Channel! The sharing features really put the topping on an already solid next-gen experience, allowing you to share your discoveries and accomplishments easily with friends!
Obviously, the biggest part and the reason that consoles even exist, are the games. Now, as with most launches and especially due to some setbacks, the Playstation 4 launch didn’t have as many games as originally intended. There still great launch titles, such as Resogun, Contrast, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, and more though! Resogun and Contrast came free with a Playstation Plus Subscription, and honestly they were the best part of the launch. The Playstation 4 aims to be a more game-oriented system, and with their focus on bringing in both indie and AAA games alike, owners are going to see an incredibly diverse range of games to play. Indie developers are being openly encouraged by Sony to develop games for the Playstation Network, and we’re guaranteed to see some fantastic titles as time progresses! The launch day titles, while limited in number, were not lacking in other respects. The main game I played on the console was Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which is a big step away from the previous games in that it has a whole new story. But we’re not reviewing that, are we? The graphics of the Playstation 4 are a step up from the previous generation, with crisper and more realistic gameplay and cut scenes as well as almost instant load times. No more waiting around to play, the game loads within seconds when you play something that has any sort of loading, and when downloading or installing games they are ready to play within minutes (Depending on your connection, of course!). Aaron Blevins recently reviewed Killzone: Shadow Fall and even with the many gameplay and story issues, it was also a sight to behold on the Playstation 4. With the upcoming lineup of games such as Watch Dogs, Destiny, and more, the Sony Playstation 4 is guaranteed to be a great experience.
If you’ve owned a Playstation 3 for any period of time, then the Playstation 4 is definitely your next logical step. If you’ve never owned any Sony console, then you won’t regret grabbing a Playstation 4. With a solid lineup that offers a diverse range of game genres, the Playstation 4 is a gaming console to its core. On top of that, you get some solid features in the form of sharing and remote play, which really enhance the experience and allow you to play on the go or share with your friends. Unfortunately, the strong multimedia/entertainment presence that the Playstation 3 had is missing from the system, even though we have been told it should be re-added in a later update. Out of the box, the console is a solid must-own for any gaming enthusiast and especially former Playstation owners!