Well folks, before we dive in to Joe's review of the Playstation 4 he had asked me to provide a bit of a disclaimer on the pictures. These were all taken on scene while he tried out the new console, but was forced to take them with his phone. He was worried about quality, but I think it's awesome to see real pictures of the first next-gen console to hit selves, live and in person.
So with that, be warned, the pics aren't of the best quality, and the screen shots were taken of a projection set up. So forgive us the quality, but enjoy meeting the new Playstation 4.
At Least She's Pretty
If nothing else can be said about the PlayStation 4, it is at least an absolutely aesthetically beautiful machine. You can instantly notice the time and effort it took to design the system, a parallelogram style design with about 1/3 of it in a black glossy finish (read instead: easily and instantly visible dust and fingerprints) that is reminiscent of the first editions of the PS3 and about 2/3 in a matte finish similar to the later editions of the PS3. On the top separating the two finishes there is a white light that shines when the system is turned on (or very rarely blue, but I’ll talk about that later). The overall size of the PS4 is impressively small, about 10.8in x 2.1in x 12in, or just about the size of two PS4 games side-to-side and a little taller. Also, a huge congratulations goes to the PlayStation team for designing a system that is so incredibly quiet. Long gone are the days where you can still hear the hum of your game system. It’s a small touch, but it’s a much-appreciated one.
The Dualshock 4
Speaking of small touches, the redesigned controllers (aptly named DualShock 4, no surprise there) are a great improvement over the previous DualShock 3 controllers. Sony has made many improvements to the controllers and not one seems uselessly tacked or a last minute afterthought. The first thing that caught my eye were the new buttons. No more “Start” or “Select” buttons. Now, the buttons are “Share” on the left side and “Options” on the right. Pressing “Share” brings up a menu allowing you to share a video of the last few minutes of playtime that can be uploaded directly to Facebook. You can also save the video and edit it later. By using the “Share” button you can also upload a screenshot to both Twitter and Facebook. The final function of the “Share” button is being able to broadcast your game on Ustream and Twitch for others to stream and watch you playing live. I feel that the new buttons are a fantastic addition and I’m fully expecting that once more people purchase the PS4, my Facebook feed might start seeing quite a bit of my friend’s uploads… As for the “Options” button, this serves as your general options menu in a game, much as the name implies. After playing with the PS4 for a little while, I quickly forgot why there was even a “Start” or “Select” button on my PS3’s DualShock 3 controller to begin with. The new buttons feel like they’ve always belonged.
Other changes to the controller include an added texture/grip to the back of the remote control which is more useful than you would expect. The analog sticks have also slightly changed from convex (outward) on the DualShock 3 to concave (inward) on the DualShock 4. This allows your thumbs to rest on the analog sticks a little bit better providing a little more comfort and accuracy. It also appears as though Sony has finally heard all the pleas of all of the irritated girlfriends and wives (or boyfriends and husbands for you of the female persuasion out there) that were kept up until wee hours of the night because their significant others were playing Call of Duty or some other game with the volume was turned up. Now, there is a nifty little audio jack at the bottom of the controller that should work with any headset you want. This allows you to hear all of the game’s music and sounds without having to play it through the TV. As long as the TV light does not bother your significant other, feel free to assassinate, slay demons, and destroy worlds to your hearts content. In other words, feel free to be as much of a considerate bad ass as you want while not keeping your significant other up.
Remember the PlayStation Move for the PS3? No? Don’t worry, you didn’t miss much. However, Sony has taken the Move’s colored LED lights and added them onto the DualShock 4 remote (red, blue, green, and a pink/purple) that denotes which player you are. If you have the PS4 Eye camera (a $60 peripheral not included with the system), the colored light is what allows the system to track where you are in relation to the room you in quite the same fashion as the oddly shaped glowing wands/ice cream cones for the Move. (Really? A glowing orb of light on top of a thick shaft? Great idea guys…).
The final great innovation for the DualShock 4 is the touch sensitive touchpad right in the center top of the controller. It will be interesting to see what developers decide to do with this new addition. You can swipe your finger across it, click it, and it appears to be very responsive. The main use I’ve seen so far has been with the PlayRoom, an application that comes installed on the system.
The Playroom is a set of augmented reality games you can play using the PS4 Eye and the DualShock 4 controllers. It ranges from an “Air Hockey meets Pong” type game, to one where you’re interacting with a cute little robot, and finally an army of little incoherent minion type creatures. When the PlayRoom works, it works great. When it doesn’t, it’s frustratingly difficult and you end up waving your arms around like a lunatic. This is especially true for the interactions with the robot. After 15 minutes of attempting to touch the robot to cheer it up or interact with it in some way (it started off sulking in the corner of the screen), I just gave up. The most I was able to do was touch its dangling legs and make them swing a little. Overall, it was quite frustrating. The air hockey game, however, was quite enjoyable. By inverting and twisting the DualShock 4 controller (with SixAxis motion), you could warp the field and send the puck across a twisted terrain. You control your paddle by swiping up and down on the touchpad on the controller. Innovative and fun for a while, but that’s about it.
The Playroom is only one of the options you can choose in the new PlayStation 4 Menu. The new menu is a lot cleaner, simpler, and overall more appealing compared to the PS3 version. You at first only see recently played games or applications or other items of interest. Only by pressing up on the D-pad, do you see what resembles the old PS3 crossbar menu, but this version is much simpler and set up intuitively so that you do not get confused as easily.
And speaking of menu, the system’s hard drive is a point of contention. The PS4 hard drive is 500GB in size. It seems like quite a large number until you realize that you have to install every game onto the system itself in order to play it. Luckily the vast majority of the game can be downloaded in the background so the wait until you can play is greatly minimized, sometimes only waiting a few seconds. With games ranging from 15GB to around 50GB, that hard drive space will fill up very quickly. Call of Duty Ghosts filled 33GB of the hard drive and I’m sure as the games get bigger and as developers begin to make more complicated games for the PS4, the memory usage may just keep getting bigger. And we’re just talking about games at this point. This doesn’t include the apps such as YouTube or any other system add-ons that you may download onto your PS4. The good thing is that the PS4 has a removable hard drive. This means that you can buy a larger hard drive up to 1TB and install it yourself as long as it fits the given dimensions.
Let's Not Forget About The Graphics
Finally, as most of you can assume, the graphics are much clearer, crisper, and more textured than the PS3. The opening level of the single player campaign of Call of Duty Ghosts was so beautifully rendered that there may or may not have been a couple times where I believed I was watching a movie and forgot that I needed to move the character out of harm’s way. I’m very excited to see what the PS4’s graphical capabilities are, especially later in the system’s life. Games like The Last of Us have pushed the PS3 past where we thought it could go, and the same will be true of the PS4 years from now.
XBOX, I See Your "Red Ring" and Raise You My "Pulsing Blue"
One last note, it has been reported that there have been a few PS4s that are suffering from what is affectionately being called the (Pulsing) Blue Light of Death. Once turned on, the console does not display the video output and instead of the white light that is supposed to appear separating the glossy and the matte finish, a blue light appears. Although there has been no word from Sony as to the problem itself or how many units have been affected, it appears as though it is covered in the PS4’s warranty so they can be exchanged for non-defective consoles. Hopefully Sony will learn from the Xbox 360’s “Red Ring of Death” and get in front of the issue before the word becomes that the system is unreliable or that there are enough lemons to make lemonade in their first batch of PS4s.
The PlayStation 4 seems to be quite the aesthetically beautiful piece of technology. It's upgrades are everything the gamer community has wanted for quite a while. The system, the menu, and the DualShock 4 controller are all great upgrades and the graphics are superb. Only time will tell as to how the system holds up as developers learn to push the boundaries of the PS4.
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