So I finally bit the bullet.
Despite the fact that I (ahem) already own nearly every game console around, and despite all my rationalizing why I shouldn’t get the new ones yet until maybe sometime next year, I still unlimbered my wallet and got myself a next-gen Sony PlayStation 4.
Sheesh. All that talk, and I still end up with one of these things. Early adopter indeed.
Well, it’s about time, really. My PS3’s been… stuttering, is I guess the best way to put it, and I can’t seem to fix the damn thing. It pauses every minute or so, hangs for a few seconds, then resumes normal operation. Over and over again. I think it’s the hard drive, but I can’t replace it because of one stripped screw on the drive caddy. I tried to get another caddy, but it seems there aren’t any available anywhere. The PS3 still plays the games, but it takes a (long) while to start up and get going.
So based on that very thin reasoning, I went and got me a PS4.
Doing an unboxing video and report on it might be old hat by now, three months after it came out, so I won’t even attempt it anymore. Quick summary, though: it comes in a big box, with the PS4 to one side, the DualShock 4 controller, the microUSB cable for charging it, headset, HDMI cable (the only TV connection, by the way—no more composite video option), power cord and documentation to the other side.
It’s a svelte little thing, smaller than the old PS3, with a nice gloss-and-matte angled look. The disc slot is to one side, along with a touch-sensitive power switch and eject button, a power indicator light in the seam on top, two USB ports on the front, and the different ports on the back: optical out, HDMI out, gigabit Ethernet and AUX. Like the PS3 before it, and unlike the Xbox 360 and new Xbox One, the power brick is incorporated into the unit itself, so all you have is a power cord that snakes out from the back.
It uses a low-power 8-core AMD CPU, a 800MHz Radeon HD 7000-series GPU, and it’s whisper quiet, unlike the PS3. It also has a 500GB hard drive (upgradable) and 8 gigs of 5500MHz GDDR5 RAM. But never mind the numbers. All told, the PS4 is slightly faster and a bit more powerful than its counterpart, the Xbox One.
That it doesn’t play any of my older PS3 games (the PS4 uses a different architecture) didn’t sway me from getting a unit, but I’m still waiting for that one killer game to be released. Any day now, any day now.
Mine is a North American unit, as opposed to the Asian one being sold here by Sony, the difference of which is lost on me. Someone was selling a unit online, and on a whim I snapped it up, price be damned. So here I am, with a next-gen console, and one solitary PS4 game for now—Killzone: Shadow Fall.
The PlayStation 4 works fantastically fast, and the graphics on Killzone are to die for. But aside from the graphical wizardry and faster system speed—there isn’t really anything new.
The menu system is a bit different. Sony did away with the XMB menu and introduced the PlayStation Dynamic Menu, which is a bit muddled and confused—the Xbox One menu system still has one up on the PS4. The new PlayStation Store loads up really fast though. The new menu system also features live video feeds of your friends’ games, and a host of social features and video editing and broadcast modes, But other than these minor things, you’d be hard pressed to tell what’s really changed.
What’s more important is the controller: the DualShock 4’s a dream.
It feels right in your hands, with just the right weight, and the buttons and new outward-angled triggers are smooth as silk. The D-Pad has also changed, becoming slightly larger and more angular. The Select and Start buttons are gone, replaced with Share and Options buttons, and there is a big clickable 2-point capacitive touchpad right in the middle by which you can have more control. The face buttons have become digital, as opposed to the PS3′s analog.
There is also a light bar on the front of the controller which is used to identify different players with the PS Camera (not included with the package and costs an additional US$60), and there is a built-in speaker and headset jack on the controller for more audio. And it now charges from a microUSB connection and can charge from the PS4 while the console is asleep. The Dualshock 4 runs for around 8 hours from a full two-hour charging time, a marked difference from the much lengthier battery life of its predecessor, the Dualshock 3.
One interesting addition is the use of the PS Vita (if you have one, that is) as a linked remote player. Both the Vita and the PS4 have to be on the same network though; you enter a code on the Vita that connects the PS4, and then you can play your PS4 game on the little device with virtually no lag. Obviously the Vita doesn’t have as many controls as the Dualshock 4, so it maps these missing controls to the capacitive back panel. This linking just might be the thing to boost sales of the PS Vita, especially the newer, slimmer version that just came out.
In other matters, the PS4 doesn’t work as a media library playing device right out of the box (you have to tinker with it a bit first to get it running), and while it directly plays Bluray and DVD movies like the PS3, I don’t think it does too well with lower resolution video files, at least for now. (Or so I’m told—I think it has something to do with interlacing or something. To be fixed, I hope, with a future update.)
Strangely, my Sony BD Remote Control (which I bought separately and use the hell out of with the PS3), doesn’t work with the PS4. It’s nice to have one like that when you’re just watching Blurays or DVDs on the PS3, and you can pretend it’s just your regular media player. But with the PS4 I’m out of luck in that department and have to wait for a PS4-compatible remote control to be released. I don’t understand why it doesn’t just work; Sony made it after all, and it shouldn’t have to be a big deal. But it’s a real bummer. Dammit.
First-time-out faults aside, the PS4 has a lot of potential, and of the two next-gen consoles that have come out, the PS4 seems to be the leaner, meaner, slightly more powerful game console. If I gambled, I’d go with the PS4; it may not have all of the home theater frills the Xbox One has, but it’s got it where it counts, and is just waiting for that killer game to make it truly the one to beat.
The Sony PlayStation 4 is available from Sony Philippines and your favorite game stores for around P24,500.
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