I received my PS4 in the mail on Monday, November 18th, and I’ve played it for probably close to a dozen hours. The Playstation 4 has some great new features that the Playstation 3 didn’t have, and of course, there is a lot of innovation to be found in this gaming machine. When it comes down to it, the PS4 is a great piece of hardware, and I’m here to share with you all the info I’ve gathered in the past week that I’ve deemed important. Long story short, I love my PS4.
The first thing that I noticed when I popped open my PS4 box is that the PS4 itself isn’t as large as I thought it would be. I have an old Xbox 360, and I’m not saying old because it’s technically last generation; I’m saying old because it’s the big, fat, white, launch edition that suffered from a RROD and was resuscitated by a GameStop refurbishment. In any case, my PS4 is only about 3/4 as thick as the 360, about a half inch shorter in width but about an inch longer in length thanks to the parallelogram shape; if it were a simple box it would be only about a half inch longer.
The PS4 is sleek; the on/off button and eject button are very small and not very noticeable. The USB ports are nicely hidden, and the light bar that runs down the length of the system is a nice touch as well; it serves not only as a status indicator (blue for booting up, white for on, orange for charging/standby) but it’s pretty as well. The disk tray is internal, like older PS3 systems, which makes it look more professional in my opinion. My only complaint aesthetically is the glassy portion of the exterior. It’s pretty to look at, and it complements the rest of the exterior nicely… but it smudges way too easily. Not a problem, really; not much of a need to touch the system once it’s set up anyhow.
Next up was the setup. I turned the system on, and it didn’t take me long to go through the required steps until it was time to do the mandatory, day one, v1.50 patch. This is not Sony’s fault. Every review I had read stated that the download takes less than ten minutes. I have notoriously slow internet, so it took about a half hour, which killed my enthusiasm a bit, but again, not Sony’s fault. I have to say, the setup is simple, quick, and painless (as long as you have decent internet connection).
The user interface was the next thing I noticed. The PS3’s Xrossmedia Bar was decent enough, but it had too much clutter. This new system is much simpler than the old UI. Basically, it works like this: there are 2 horizontal rows of icons; one stack atop the other. The bottom row is the main row, and it’s centered in the middle of the screen; the one you are sent to by default. This has your important options, such as reading the disc in the tray, playing your recently downloaded titles, accessing the Playroom (if you have the Camera) accessing the video streaming services, and more. Basically, it puts the things you’re likely to use the most in the center.
Then, the top bar has less important information, such as friends’ activities, messages, system notifications, settings, access to trophies, and other icons. You can easily flip between the two rows by flicking up or down on the d-pad or thumbstick. When you activate an icon on the main row, a drop down list appears with sub-options. For example, when I click over to the Battlefield 4 icon, I can look at trophies I recently earned in the game, I can access the user manual (it’s digital now; no manual in the case), and take a look at other news and information regarding the game.
When you want to activate an icon on the top row, it activates a menu above the row that you flip up to. For example, hovering over the notifications icon will bring up a larger notifications box for you to click up to that shows current downloads and uploads, friend requests, and other system notifications. The system is very clean; it only shows you information if you want to see it, whereas the old Xrossmedia Bar showed you all the information whether you wanted it or not. I’m definitely a fan.
You may know that all PS4 games must be downloaded to the hard drive before they can be played; this decreases load times, helps with textures, and creates a smoother experience. The download from the disc is lightning fast! Lego Marvel Super Heroes has a 6GB install; it let me start playing in under 30 seconds. I don’t know if all 6GBs were downloaded in those 30 seconds or if the game simply allowed me to start the first level while it continued to download the rest. In either case, I didn’t have to wait long to begin playing, which is a blessing.
As I was playing, I set Resogun to download from the Playstation Store in the background. I found that the downloads don’t take longer when done in the background as opposed to the foreground when nothing else is happening. I downloaded the 1.50 system update (about 300MB) in the foreground with nothing else running, and it downloaded at a rate of about 10MB per minute. Resogun downloaded in about 45 minutes, which put it at the same download speed considering the size of the game. When it was done downloading, I was alerted with a friendly chime and a small, non-obtrusive notification in the top left corner of my screen. I’m very happy with this feature.
On this multitasking note, the UI allows for a lot of multitasking, similar to a smartphone or 3DS. I was playing Lego Marvel, and I wanted to upload a little clip of my gameplay (more on that later). I was able to pause my game, edit the length of the clip, upload it with a description, and then get back to Lego Marvel, right where I left off while it uploaded in the background. Again, I was alerted of the success with a chime. This multitasking works with most things; I was able to message Vitosal while playing Battlefield 4. I simply tapped the home button when I was notified of a new message, I tapped to the correct icon, typed my message, and resumed play with another couple taps of the home button. It’s a quick and smooth transition. Some operations require the suspended software to be terminated, however. The PS4 will ask if you want to completely quit whatever you’re doing or wait until later in these scenarios.
Everything about this system is sleek and smooth, right down to typing. Carving out a message on a normal PS3 or 360 controller is arguably as difficult as literally carving your message into a tree or stone. The PS4 gives you 3 input options without needing to buy a separate keyboard. Option 1) tap out your message the hard way by clicking over to each key. 2) Activate the motion sensor in your remote and move the remote like a Wiimote, pressing X to make your letter selection, or 3) use your phone’s keyboard with the Playstation app to quickly type your text straight to the screen with no delay.
Options 2 and 3 may have confused you a bit. Yes, the DualShock 4 remote has some level of motion sensing. I’m not sure what capacity this can or will be used in, but I do know that the motion sensing+the controller’s light bar+the Camera allows for some amount of motion control without the need for Move controllers. Option 3 is just plain awesome though. Sony produced an app for Android and iOS that allows you to use your phone as a “Second Screen.” At this point, I’ve mainly used it to type out text rather than using my remote, but I’ve heard this will be used in a much greater capacity in games as time goes on. This will range from the simple ability to interact with mini-maps all the way up to playing Watch_Dogs’ multiplayer on your phone. Basically, there is a mode that will allow a PS4 player to race to get to a safe zone while you create obstacles and manipulate the city on your cell phone… from anywhere.
Capturing and uploading videos on the PS4 is very easy as well. As far as screenshots go, you simply press the Share button to take a screenshot, and an option box will pop up, allowing you the options of uploading one of your screenshots or videos to Facebook or Twitter (Twitter only does screenshots). From there, just write up a caption (which is made immensely easy with a phone’s keyboard) and send it off in the background. In the case of a video, you can clip it to be the size you want (an enjoyable moment from Lego Marvel like this one I had. You’ll get it if you’ve watched the Avengers) and upload it without having to terminate whatever game you were playing. Once again, this is painless and simple.
Graphics. Oh, good grief, the graphics are beautiful. I won’t even go into detail, but let’s just say that developers can. The amount of detail I’m seeing in these launch titles trumps any current gen (er, last gen, now) game I’ve seen aside from possibly the Halo 4 cutscenes. I’m blown away; the lighting and shadowing is perfect, facial expressions are better, images are sharper and crisper, textures are cleaner, and it’s just gorgeous. I can’t imagine what games will look like in 2, 3, or even 4 years.
Finally, the system doesn’t heat up any worse than my PS3 or my 360 (which has an external fan as well). I’ve played my PS4 in sessions of a couple hours or more, and it doesn’t get alarmingly hot; I’ve never worried about it possibly overheating, so the fan inside must be doing a decent job. With that being said, the system does run very quietly. I can hear it occasionally, but it’s still pretty much silent; I can play it when others are asleep and not have to worry about a loud fan (Fat PS2, anyone?) being a disturbance. I can even plug the included headphones (I haven’t tried my own yet) into the controller for practically wireless audio; very, very handy.
So, that’s that. I’ve shared just about everything I know as of yet. I’m probably missing something, so please tell me if there’s anything I missed that you need to know! I hope this has been helpful, and I must say, I don’t regret my purchase one bit; here’s to hoping it stays that way.
If you want to see uploaded screenshots, I’ll be posting more as time goes by on my Twitter @OpinionAsAGamer so follow! Also, I have a plug-in that allows me to download videos from Facebook to my computer where they can be uploaded to Youtube; I’ll have a sick video of the final stage of Resogun up soon for your viewing pleasure (amazing game; review to come). That seems to be it for now; leave a like or a follow, comment with any questions you have, check out the LP channels in the “Links” tab, and I’ll see you next time with a review of the game RAGE.