Reviews»Playstation 4»Playstation 4
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Kareem Ali 4.5

Playstation 4

 

  • The good

    High-performing hardware, great gaming catalog and support. Touchscreen and speaker on controller. Easy sharing and broadcast options

  • The bad

    Setup and connectivity issues. Can't multitask as opening one app requires another to be closed. Placement of left stick on controller

  • The ugly

  • I originally wanted to review the Playstation 4 first but with the extremely limited availability after it was released I had to change my review schedule. One thing that didn’t change was my excitement when I finally got my hands on one and opened the box. For a brief moment I wondered if everything was accounted for but then I remembered how Sony emphasized this was a gaming console and they would focus on the games. The design of the console is pretty sleek but simple. However that works perfectly for me as it blends in and is as unnoticeable as its power button or the usb ports in the front. Physically setting up the Playstation 4 was as simple as it gets as it was a matter of connecting the included HDMI cord to the TV and plugging in the power cord. The Dualshock 4 controller is wireless but it had to be connected to the PS4 for the first time to continue setup after powering on the system but also to charge. You don’t have to worry about buying packs of batteries as the Dualshock 4 is rechargeable and comes with the charging cable. Here are the contents of the box:

    • Console  (Blu-ray Drive, 2 USB ports, HDMI Out port, Digital Out Optical port, Gigabit Ethernet port, Built in Wi-Fi)
    • Dualshock 4 Controller and USB charging cable
    • High speed HDMI cord
    • Mono headset
    • 30-days free for Playstation Plus, Music Unlimited, $10 Playstation credit

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    The controller is light, as expected, and if I offer a comparison it’s slightly lighter than the Xbox One controller, and the D-pad and left stick are swapped, and I admit that took me some time to get used to. I do prefer the other configuration as it’s more comfortable but maybe that’s just from years of habit. There’s a speaker on the controller that can be used in games and I’ll get to more of that later. There’s a touchscreen that can also be pushed, adding more functionality to the controller. To the left and right of the touchscreen are the share and options button, respectively. The two bumpers feel really good but the triggers don’t feel quite as good since I have big hands and so the grove isn’t as defined for me and don’t snap as crisply for me when pulled. Overall the controller’s shape is decent but the functionality is excellent and I’ll get to that later as well.

    I was feeling really good  about the setup as it was a breeze to physically connect and go through the simple set up. The look of the dashboard is just as simple and very easy to navigate. The main level of the dashboard shows the games you have installed as well as the following items:

    • What’s New? – Your recent activity, friend’s recent activity and newest offers in Playstation Store
    • TV & Video – all your apps such as Netflix, Amazon, Crunchyroll and NBA Gametime
    • The Playroom – Need a Playstation camera for complete functionality – showcases camera features
    • Video Unlimited, Music Unlimited – purchase videos or play music
    • Live from Playstation – Watch broadcasts live or interact with broadcasts
    • Internet Browser

     Playstation dashboard

    To see more details about any highlighted item you press down on the controller and you can see Overview, Recent Activity or Related Items. This is a nice touch as it’s a very easy way to see friends’ activities in that game, what you’ve done last or other items such as DLC, etc. If you press up from the main level you see the Playstation Store, Notifications, Friends list, Profile info, Trophies and Settings. Of course you can’t get the full experience until you create a PSN tag and this is where I encountered some problems. There was a temporary problem because the night I connected my PS4 and tried to sign up network maintenance was taking place so it was down for a couple of hours. Another issue was I was required to download a system update but it wouldn’t download directly to the PS4 and I kept receiving a known error message that would cause it to fail right before the 323 MB was finished. After trying multiple times I had to choose the alternative way laid out here.  It was frustrating and it was a good thing I had an extra USB flash drive because the update file had to be downloaded directly to my PC, copied to the flash drive and then manually installed to the PS4 while it was in safe mode. I don’t know if this issue still occurs now but this took longer than any other step just to create a PSN name. I also encountered errors when trying to download games and updates for games as it would take multiple times of manually restarting a failed download but thankfully it wasn’t always from the beginning. Lately I haven’t had the same difficulties but it’s necessary to mention this because it went on for a month and was part of the entire experience.

    However I don’t want to lose focus on the overall gaming experience and the promise of this being a gaming console that would also be very indie-friendly. And this was apparent from the moment I started browsing the games in the Playstation Store. The indie games are featured prominently and there was even a decent selection at launch. There’s also a free game given to Playstation Plus members every month and the two choices since I’ve had my PS4 have been solid. And with the upcoming Playstation Now there will be even more games available and this is as close to backwards compatibility as possible and some of the best and most recent PS3 games will be available such as the Last of Us.

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    The Playstation 4 is relatively a powerful  gaming machine and there’s already been substantial talk and comparison about it getting 60 fps at 1080p compared to the Xbox One at 720p for some games. So yes the games run very smoothly and the graphics are great, and since I don’t plan on updating this review every few months I’ll ignore the launch hiccups in terms of error messages that no longer occur now. There is no true multitasking functionality as you’ll be required to close apps or games before opening another one. The controller was designed to truly offer new functions for game developers that are willing to take advantage of them such as the touchscreen and controller speaker. Killzone: Shadow Fall, for example, takes advantage of both the touch screen and the speaker as the direction you swipe on the touchscreen determines the setting for the OWL, an attack drone that is with your character for majority of the game, and the speaker plays all audiologs you find making for a more immersive experience. I can just imagine something as simple, yet immersive, as playing a Dead Space game with the lights off and having an audiolog I just found playing on the controller while trying to be very aware of the surroundings in a creepy atmosphere. So there is a lot of potential in the functionality of the controller with even more advanced features and settings.

    Another built-in feature is the ability to share with the push of a button, and you can configure the share button to either take a screenshot with one push, record video with a double push or open up the menu. The Share button settings can be changed by holding down the Share button until the menu opens, pushing the Options button and then Share settings. You can change your video clip settings, broadcast settings and link with other services from this area. There are options to upload pictures directly to Twitter or Facebook, and you can upload videos directly to Facebook and it’s extremely easy to do. And if you have a Twitch account you can broadcast directly to Twitch or to Live from Playstation. And yes, even Ustream is supported. Sony was serious about fostering a community for gamers and they’ve delivered. Now of course you can’t have a community of gamers without games and as expected with any new console, the upcoming titles can be more important than the launch titles.

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    There are over 30 titles available now through retail and the Playstation store, including indie games so you’ll have plenty to play for and with dozens of new titles being released this year, as well as Playstation Now, you’ll never be at a loss for games to play. And with its built-in support for the PS Vita so you can stream games to and from it without a hitch you’ll have access to all PS Vita games too. I’ll write more about this when I finish reviewing the Vita. And if you want to take a break from gaming there are apps, and if you’re an NBA fan then the Gametime app is a must have as you’ll be able to watch any NBA game on League Pass in HD. And if you’re an anime fan then you’ll definitely enjoy the Crunchyroll app with its endless anime. I’ve been enjoying my PS4 since I’ve got it outside of the errors and troubleshooting. It’s an extremely solid gaming console that is currently only have the surface of its potential scratched right now. As a gamer I’m impressed with what the PS4 offers, and it may not be an all-in-one entertainment console but Sony never promised it would be.

     

    SUMMARY

    The Playstation 4 is an impressive gaming console that focuses on delivering the best gaming experience through its raw power, catalog of games, and fostering a gaming community where everything can be shared with a little more than a push of a button. And with free games being offered every month as well as the upcoming Playstation Now, Sony is reinforcing its promise that they’re all about the gamer this time around. And with its clear support for Indie titles it’s creating a very inclusive community and I’ve been enjoying this system thoroughly. The errors and crashes going back to even just creating a PSN name were frustrating and put a damper on the experience but some have been rectified and others were due to the developer (such as Battlefield 4) and I expect these things not to be an issue going forward. Yes I recommend the Playstation 4 for anyone who is not only looking for a powerful console to enjoy the latest games but looking for great support in terms of a gaming catalog and a gaming community. It is truly a console for gamers.

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  • Rating ( 9 )
  • Total score 9.0

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