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The PlayStation 4 Review – The Best Generation

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Posted April 9, 2014 by Ivan "Tech Curse" Mashkov in Reviews
PS4

I am a massive fan of everything Sony does and the PlayStation brand specifically, so it’s no surprise that I bought the company’s latest console soon after launch. The first few months were a bit underwhelming, however the console is slowly improving with new features being added and great new games coming out for the console. The PlayStation 4 heralds the start of the best video game console generation and is, possibly, one of the best consoles ever made.

The Hardware
The PlayStation 4 is the most powerful console on the market. The console’s specifications are impressive, but they aren’t that important.

PlayStation 4 Tech Specs:

Main Processor

  • Single-chip custom processor
  • CPU: low power x86-64 AMD “Jaguar”, 8 cores
  • GPU: 1.84 TFLOPS, AMD next-generation Radeon™ based graphics engine

Memory

  • GDDR5 8GB

Storage size

  • 500GB Hard disk drive

BD/DVD Drive (Read Only)

  • BD x 6 CAV
  • DVD x 8 CAV

Input / Output

  • Super-Speed USBx (USB 3.0) port x 2
  • AUX port x 1

Networking

  • Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T) x 1
  • IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 (EDR)

AV Output

  • HDMI out port
  • DIGITAL OUTPUT (OPTICAL) port

What is important is that the PlayStation 4 is a powerful and stylish piece of hardware that gives developers better hardware to create better and more immersive games. Many may question Sony’s decision to include a 500 GB hard drive in the next generation console, however from experience I can say that most users won’t need to buy a bigger hard drive.

The Dualshock 4, the console’s controller, is a masterpiece that fixes some of the issues fans of the brand had with the PS3’s controller and introduces some new features that we didn’t expect to have. It’s heavier than the Dualshock 3, however, the ergonomic design means that your hands will never get tired holding it. It features new and improved sensors, which allow for some innovative uses of the technology. One example is the on-screen keyboard. Instead of using the D-pad or left stick to select a letter on it, players are given the choice to use motion controls, which are very precise and easy to use. These controls take a bit of time to master, but they allow owners of the console to type at a far greater speed than normally would be expected.

The most visible addition to the controller is the touchpad, which allows gamers to use touch commands in games like Infamous: Second Son. The new controller includes a D-pad with digital inputs, as opposed to the analogue one’s on the Dual shock 3, which weren’t getting much use, and a multicolored lightbar that uses the PS Camera for more precise motion tracking and as a gameplay element. However it’s use in games remains limited due to the fact that the average player will not see it, unless they are playing in a darkened room, something that I don’t recommend doing.

The PS Camera is the number one accessory for Sony’s console, however it’s use in games remains limited. It mostly functions as a microphone for players who want to stream their gameplay via Twitch or Ustream. It is capable of recognizing your face and logging you in, and is able to track the Dualshock’s movement far more accurately, however it’s primarily used as a microphone for streaming gameplay online and using the voice commands on the PS4. In the future it may become a necessary accessory, when the recently announced Project Morpheus is released in 2015 or later, however you don’t need it if you aren’t into streaming your gameplay online.

The Services

PlayStation Plus is Sony’s premier service that offers owners of PlayStation hardware free games, avatars, themes, a variety of discounts and special access to demos and betas. Sony has introduced a requirement starting from the PS4 generation that forces players to subscribe to the service in order to access some online features, notably multiplayer. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. Other platforms have had such subscriptions that give little or nothing in addition to being able to play multiplayer games. PS Plus is such a great value that it shouldn’t be a problem.

The free games offered by PS Plus have been diverse in nature and been well received. In fact, one of the games available through the service without charge at the console’s launch was one of the highest rated games on the console. However, Plus does not provide as great a value if all you have is the PS4. There aren’t that many games available on Sony’s next generation console, even though the recently released Infamous: Second Son, however as time goes on the service is sure to become far more valuable as more and more developers release their games on the console.

The User Experience

Turning on the console for the first time was a treat. Setting everything up took at most 20 minutes and was easy to use. In fact the console’s user interface (UI) is clean and simple. It takes the UI from Sony’s last generation console and improves on it a great deal. Even though the UI could still use some work and lacks some minor features, it is a great experience.

Social integration is one of the more prominent features that shines through on the PS4. The biggest change is the ability to link your Facebook and PSN accounts so that your friends see your name. For example, I used to be known as RRR112 (a random name I created, when I created my PSN account). Now my friends see that I’m Ivan Mashkov. They are also able to see what I’m playing, what videos I’ve watched, compare the trophies I get in Infamous and so on. Gamers are able to limit on how much they share and the privacy settings on the PS4 are clear and easy to use.

One more big feature is the share button on the controller that allows you to share screenshots and videos on Facebook and Twitter, as well as streaming your gameplay live to Twitch or Ustream. It is simple and easy to use, like everything else, however players may experience some restrictions. Developers are able to prevent owners of the console from recording or streaming part of the game that may contain spoilers. Overall, I’ve had a lot of fun just screwing around with my PS4, especially late last year, when there weren’t any great top tier games exclusive for it.

Games Out Now

The PS4 launched in the autumn of 2013 with a solid library of launch day games, however most of those titles ended were just there to tide us over until the recent release of Sucker Punch’s Infamous: Second Son. The console has had some solid titles, like Resogun or Don’t Starve out until now, however Second Son is the first exclusive game that uses all of the features and power of the console to show off what it can do. If you do end up buying a PS4, then you’ll need to pick up this game while you’re at it. Someone described the game as a “demo that shows off what the console can do” and for the most part, it’s true. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the latest title from Sucker Punch is a great game that players will certainly enjoy.

Overall, the biggest improvement in games on the PS4 are the visuals. Snake never looked better than on the PS4 version of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Given the large number of cross-platform games that will grace us in the coming months and years, players should expect that many of these games will play the same on current and last generation consoles. As time passes, though more and more games will use the hardware to a greater extent.

If you plan on buying a PlayStation 4, then be warned – the console has a fair amount of games out for it, but a lot of those games aren’t AAA titles with high production values and epic adventures. Infamous: Second Son is the first video game that was created exclusively for the console and uses the available power and new features of the Dualshock 4. If these games aren’t for you, then you may wish to wait until the start of summer if you want to sink your teeth into titles, like Watch Dogs and Murdered: Soul Suspect.

The Future

Just like any newly launched console, the PlayStation 4 has a lot of potential. That’s normal for any console, however the PS4 may herald two new massive shifts in video games, though something far more important has happened – Sony has changed. The company was able to listen to gamers and developers, to learn what they want, and to create an incredible console and the software to back it. The company has changed and it’s current approach to video games means that they are focused on giving their customers the best experience possible. That attitude will serve them well in the future.

Going back to the new trends in the industry that Sony is focusing on. PlayStation Now is an innovative new service from Sony, that may be available commercially starting in the summer. If it works as intended, then the service will allow users to stream video games to their console of choice. This means that your PS3 library may become available on your next generation Sony console or on your tablet. This service will give players the ability to experience games that they may have missed or games that they wouldn’t have even known about. It will certainly grow, if Sony is able to solve the technical hurdles that have plagued past contenders, however I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to do it.

The biggest news of this year is Sony’s announcement of Project Morpheus. If you haven’t heard of it, then the basic idea is that it is a VR (Virtual Reality) headset, that offers full 360 degree head tracking, low latency and great visuals. Sony’s foray into VR may create an accessory for the PS4, that will open our minds to new experiences that may not have existed before. Even though a lot of this is still up in the air, I have seen the demos from the show floor at the Games Developers Conference and those experiences are incredible, even if they are only demos.

The Verdict

Sony’s next generation console is a work of art that combines excellent hardware design, useful services and a UI that makes PlayStation fans happy. There are a number of great games on the console, however it is a far cry from the video game library on the PS3. If you want a console that is stylish, has great services and a lot of potential, then you need to buy the PS4. However if you’re only interested in games, then you may want to hold off buying the console until the summer, when some of the other notable titles come out. Overall, it’s the best console out there and you should be trying to get your hands on this masterpiece.

Final Score:

5 out of 5

Masterpiece




About the Author

Ivan "Tech Curse" Mashkov

This is the Japanese Tech Curse, who enjoys GTA way too much and need to lose quite a few pounds. I love open world and I love simulators, so laugh all you want. I am RRR112 on the PSN and Ouya and JTC2008 on Steam, so check me out and let's play!

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