At the end of November last year the gaming world was gripped in excitement; the latest Playstation console was released to the world, and in the UK the PS4 hit the shelves on the 29th breaking all sales records for a gaming console. In the first 48 hours alone it sold 250,000 units. Up until Christmas it had sold a massive 530,000, proof alone that the gaming industry keeps on growing.
Whilst the launch was a huge success for Sony, what’s it really like having one? I got mine on launch day and after having it for a couple of months now I am going to highlight both the positives and the negatives of the new hardware and what I hope to see change and improve in the future.
Firstly the positives: the first thing you notice is just how quick it is. There were fears about having to install every game to the system’s hard drive, but you barely notice it as it’s all done in the background and just a few seconds after it has started installing you are able to boot up the game. The always frustrating patches and updates from the PS3 are gone; the PS4 can do all of this whilst you leave it on standby so you never really notice if anything has happened.
The user interface is very slick and easy to use, and the ability to switch through and suspend different games, applications and services instantly is a great feature – I often find myself checking who is online or what screen shots I have taken whilst waiting for the next game of FIFA to load. The ability to take screen shots, record video and even broadcast your gameplay was something I originally thought I would never use, but I have. I have used it quite often too, especially broadcasting, even when I am just playing a bit of single player.
The Dual Shock Four is a huge improvement over previous versions. It has only really had subtle changes to the positioning and feel of the buttons, analogue sticks and triggers but it all adds up to make it the most comfortable controller I have ever used. The only downside is that the battery life is significantly shorter, around 7-8 hours on a full charge, but this time the PS4 can charge up the controller when it is on standby so I havenâ€™t had a problem with this, plus as before the rechargeable battery is built-in.
Moving onto the negatives, and the main one for me is that there just isnâ€™t a truly great game that is able to showcase the huge leap in power from the PS3 to the PS4, with a lot of the games available being on the old hardware too. Of course the graphics look a lot better but there is nothing new in the gameplay. I am sure this will change soon, starting with the release of Infamous but for now it is a little underwhelming that I am basically paying more money to play high resolution versions of PS3 games.
When I had my PS3 in the living room it was used as a media hub, to watch Blu-rays, stream movies and music from my PC and watch catch up TV. While I still can do most of these on the PS4 it seems strange that Sony would release a new product with less features than its predecessor. The PS4, at the moment, cannot play 3D Blu-rays or be used to stream video or music from another device meaning that it is no longer able to be used as a media hub. The lack of a dedicated Blu-ray remote certainly annoys my wife.
Something that will also become a problem for the PS4 is the relatively small hard drive that comes with it, only 500Gb, of which around 420 is usable and gets eaten up very quickly if you are using the share features and playing several games. In a few monthsâ€™ time with more games being available I will have to either delete old game installs or upgrade to a larger hard drive as the stock one just won’t be big enough.
For me though there is nothing massively wrong with the PS4, the introduction of a mandatory PS Plus subscription for online play hasnâ€™t affected me as I already have one and feel it is incredible value for money with the fantastic Instant Game Collection, especially Resogun. There are a few things that I hope will be ‘patched’ in as time goes by, but the extra media support has already been confirmed as being worked on.
The camera certainly needs some work on it too, the main problem is the inability to turn the mic off when playing in an online game without going into a party chat, this means it picks up everything that is going on in your room, in my case mundane chats about what we are going to eat. I’m sure no one else is interested in hearing this given that I’m usually not. The camera needs more voice commands adding as well as general use, no game I have come across yet, excluding the built in playroom, actually uses it.
Customisation of the home screen I hope is something Sony will add in so that it can feel more like it is your own console and not one of the thousands. Friends no longer pop up on the corner of the screen when they come on or off line. Personally I don’t mind this as it can be distracting but I think the option to turn these on or off should be added as many people like to know without going to a separate section.
Overall though I have been very impressed with how the PS4 functions. There are no major problems that I have encountered whilst using it, the graphical differences initially don’t look that big but you really do see how much better they are when you go back to a PS3 game, the detail in the backgrounds and realism of the world you play in is a huge leap. I think that everything I have been disappointed with can be updated via system updates and I know that Sony are working on improving everything about their new console.
New and better games are on the way that will showcase what the console can do that the PS3 can’t in terms of gameplay so if you haven’t bought one yet and are undecided about making the jump then I would recommend holding off a couple of months yet until these are released. If you can’t wait then you will be impressed at how quick and smoothly everything runs on the PS4 â€“ I certainly was.