Sony PlayStation 4 500GB Console Black
PS4 games that can be experienced whenever, wherever and however you want, thanks to a system specially built to cater to the needs of the best developers in the world. Play digital titles as they download from PlayStation Store, and update PS4 even when it is switched off. Immediately pick up any saved game where you left off the suspend mode of PS4 gets rid of loading times and lets you carry on by simply pressing the power button. Gaikai technology will let you instantly try out sections of any game that catches your eye on PlayStation Store. Check out what your friends are up to and see the games, TV shows, movies and music recommended especially for you on the newly designed PS4 menu screen. Broadcast as you play via Ustream. If you get stuck, your mates can join in to help you or offer...
Dave Wallace December 16, 2013 PS4
The great thing about being an adult is that you don't have to wait until Christmas.
Sony's PS4 is the third Playstation console that I've owned (I never had a PS One, but have been a happy owner of both a PS2 and PS3 over the past ten years). And upon buying it - as a Christmas present to myself - I found that I just couldn't wait until the big day to get it out of its box and start playing.
Having had a couple of weeks to play around with it (I bought it on release day), I think I've got the measure of how the console feels and what it can offer at this point. And while I do think it's an excellent bit of kit - as evidenced by my four-star rating - I also feel that there's still a certain amount of room for improvement.
Let's start with the positives: games on the PS4 look amazing. 'Killzone: Shadow Fall' (which came in the bundle I ordered) was the first thing I tried, and while it still has a similar look and feel to the Killzone games on PS3, there are all sorts of little graphical touches - like lighting effects, or softer and more realistic facial features - that help make it seem just that little bit more real. This, combined with the sheer amount of extra detail that the PS4 can provide (there are some especially astounding city-scapes that look almost photo-real), immediately mark out the console as a cut above its predecessor.
But really, better visuals are the least you'd expect from a new-generation console - and certainly from something that costs the best part of £400. So is that all the PS4 has to offer? Thankfully not. The Dualshock controller has also been completely redesigned for the PS4, with smoother, more rounded grips and a rubberised finish to some of the buttons and toggles that helps to prevent slipping (if you're one of those people who gets sweaty hands when playing something particularly nerve-wracking, this is a real bonus). Some users have apparently reported the rubber cracking or splitting on the control sticks, but thankfully this hasn't happened to me yet.
The 'start' and 'select' buttons on the controller have also been moved and combined into a single 'options' button, which seems sensible given that the 'select' button always felt slightly redundant to me. There are also some colour-coded light displays on the front of the controller which help you to identify between players. But the biggest innovation is the flat black rectangle at the top of the controller, which acts as a miniature finger-touchpad that enables you to pull off more delicate in-game controls.
Another big change for the PS4 are the added social-media functions that allow you more options to share gameplay videos or stream live video of your playing. I'm not a big online player or social-media user myself, but I can see how these would be attractive for younger players or those who are more into multiplayer gaming.
Finally, the console itself looks great: an understated angular black slab that's surprisingly small and compact, and will nestle under your TV quietly and unobtrusively.
So why the reserved tone and the slight sense of disappointment in this review? Well, there are a couple of things that I think could have elevated the PS4 from merely a very good console to a great one.
Firstly, there's the lack of backwards-compatibility with any previous Playstation games. I think this is a big mistake. The PS2 was able to play PS One games at launch, and the early models of the PS3 were able to play not only PS2 games but also PS One games too. By not including this kind of feature for the PS4, Sony are potentially alienating a lot of players - like me - who have a long history with their consoles and who might not want to have to keep their old console around to be able to play their old library of games. With new PS4 games still costing £40-50 at the moment, I still want some way to play my old PS3 games (which I'll likely keep on buying for a while), and having to keep two consoles to do that feels awkward.
Secondly, there's the slight sense that the PS4 doesn't represent quite as great a leap up from the PS3 as that console did from the PS2. The PS3 had all sorts of added benefits over the PS2 (a Blu-Ray player, advanced multi-media functionality, wireless controllers, and lots more), but the PS4 feels like more of a steady step along the path of technology than a similar quantum leap forward.
What's more, quite a few features that I enjoy on the PS3 have been removed from the PS4 (like the ability to play CDs and MP3s, and streaming media from other devices like your laptop). Sony have apparently promised that some of these will be restored in updates, but it seems like a massive oversight to not include them from the start.
So in conclusion, my feelings on the PS4 are mixed. While it looks slick, feels great to play, and boasts some amazing graphics (along with Killzone I also got the new Battlefield and Assassin's Creed 4, both of which look demonstrably better than their PS3 counterparts), I feel that there are a lot of areas where it isn't as good as it could have been. But if Sony can address these, and work on making the PS4 as multi-functional as the PS3 was (and is), then I think this could still be a great follow-up, and a worthy contender in the next-generation console war.