With any game console release you can expect a few things, there will be haters, fanboys, and overpriced re-sales of systems on eBay. Between midnight release parties, Black Friday, and holiday shopping you were sure to see someone get trampled to get their hands on the PS4 before the end of the year.
Now, I have been using the PS3 as my primary gaming console for the last 3-4 years. Needless to say, this all looks pretty familiar. You’ll notice on startup, that after logging in you’re greeted with the same menu layout as the PS3. What makes it a little more interesting is that each player, including guests not logged in to the PSN, has a “home screen”. This can be either fun or annoying depending on whom you game with and if you both agree on what you want to do.
The controllers have remained in their traditional shape, but they fit hands more comfortably than the PS1-PS3 controllers. The most notable additions to the controller are the light bar, headset input, and touch pad. I genuinely enjoy the rave of colors each controller emits. It doesn’t distract from actual gaming, and it makes it easy to tell who is playing on which controller.
Surprisingly, the headset doesn’t have third party support yet. While the launch headset is a bit low quality for games like Call of Duty, it still functions and lets you use voice commands on your PS4. Though that whole voice-command system still feels a bit gimmicky. It’s possible that future games and system updates will make this better, but so far it’s easier to go old-school and use the physical controller.
Along the theme of microphones, cross-game chat is now available! It’s one of the best parts of Xbox Live and many people where glad to see it integrated into the PSN. Unfortunately, with this great feature add-on comes a price. Multiplayer games now costs users in the form of a Playstation Plus membership. Select games will be “free-to-play” online, but this seems to be mostly for MMORPG games that already require a subscription fee. I think it’s safe to say the days of free online multiplayer are over.
After that bit of bad news I should mention one of the new and interesting multiplayer features Sony has added. You now have the ability to override a friend’s controller to help them out. I would expect this feature to create a better experience for gamers of different skill levels to co-op together.
My all-time favorite feature so far though has to be that games pickup right where I left off when I shutdown the system. It sounds like a simple thing, but this is great for me because I usually play something until I can’t play any longer without passing out or dying. I’m sure you can then see why I wouldn’t have time to wait for a game to save.
There are a handful of new portals to access your PSN account through now that are somewhat interesting. A new android app let’s you shop for new titles on your phone. The app itself is somewhat uninteresting right now, but I imagine it will continue to be improved and developed. The other way to access and interact with your account on the PSN is through the Vita, but, let’s be serious, how many people actually have a Vita anyway?
Despite everything good about this console, there are a few things that I found disappointing. Controller charging cables. You only get one with your system and additional controllers don’t come with extras. What the hell Sony? While it’s not the end of the world, it was cheap of Sony to leave out the cable that costs them pennies to make. Other hardware that disappoints would be the number of USB ports. There are only two on the system, although I suppose I don’t need as many USB ports if Sony wants me to charge all my controllers from one cable.
My hardware complaints are a bit petty, but the software issues I have are more serious. Every game console this generation wants to be a media center so I found it frustrating that Netflix was crashing! I will be honest and say I didn’t try out the Amazon store, but Hulu seemed to work alright. I’m sure updates will be released to fix any bugs, but it’s still frustrating. Luckily I still have my Xbox360 hooked up for Netflix.
Another one of my gripes is that you can’t play your own music in game without signing up for Sony’s streaming service. This coupled with the relentless requests to connect to Facebook have me thinking Sony is being a bit clingy and desperate. I love you Sony, but sometimes I need a little time away from you
Overall, I would give this system a solid B. There are some interesting additions that should improve multi-player games, but there aren’t enough truly new features to live up to the hype. At launch it’s only a marginal improvement over the PS3, but you know that eventually your friends will all upgrade, and if you want to hear from them again, you will have to upgrade too.
Sarah at Team BaDoink