This holiday was the most exciting time for gamers in years with the release of not one but two new next generation video game consoles. Since its release in November of 2006, the Playstation 3 has been one of the most powerful consoles on the market and a major player in the video game industry. Over the years, the PS3 has had some of the best titles to have ever been released, many of which were first-party exclusives. There is a lot to love about the PS3, and now Sony has continued its tradition of quality with the release of the Playstation 4.
The look of the PS4 is very sleek and modern; it is considerably smaller than the PS3 and even the Xbox One. It has a matte black finish and a really pretty light bar that goes across the top of the box. It doesn’t appear to have any buttons on the face, but they are on a seam and very hard to spot; it took me a few minutes to figure out how to turn it on or put a disk in. There are USB ports on the front for charging controllers, though they are hard to spot as well. There are big exhaust fans on the sides and back, making the system run very cool and almost completely silent.
I never understood why but for the life of the PS3 critics complained about the Dualshock 3 controller. saying it was not as good as other systems on the market. I loved the PS1 and PS2 controllers and found the controller to be a great and comfortable means of playing. The new controller on the PS4 is nothing short of amazing. It is a hair wider than the PS3’s, but the space is hardly noticeable. The analog sticks have an indent on them and soft rubber, making it so your fingers won’t slip off of the sticks. The shoulder buttons have a new angle that feels very comfortable and less awkward, and the whole thing feels a lot lighter. The new added feature to the remote is the touchpad in the middle. It isn’t a screen per say; it is more like a trackpad on a laptop. However, you can press down on it and it acts like an extra button.
It can be used in a variety of ways. In games like “Assassin’s Creed 4,” it is used to navigate the map screen, and in other games, it used more noticeably in game controls. The start and select buttons are replaced with an options button, which is basically the same thing, and the home screen is back and works in a similar way. Another new addition is a lightbar at the top of the controller; most of the time it glows a nice blue, but it serves some purposes. In “Killzone,” it will turn red to indicate you are taking damage, and if you have the PS camera, it will make the controller function like motion controls. If you don’t have the camera, it is basically just a pretty light that eats up battery life.
That is really the only complaint I had with the system – the controller battery life is not great, but you can plug it in with a USB to recharge. Another cool feature is you can plug a headset into the controller itself for in-game chat and sound. The most notable of the new features is the share button that lets you share what you are playing and even share screenshot and video with your friends on social networks like Facebook and stream video via Twitch.
Even though the new hardware is great, it’s what it can do that really matters. The graphic power is simply incredible; the little details, textures, and lighting in the games is mindboggling. Just like the Xbox One, most of the launch games are upscale versions of last generation games, though there are some great next gen titles like “Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag,” “Knack,” and “Killzone: Shadow Fall.” With the new system, the Internet is still free, but if you want to play games online, you need to subscribe to a Playstation Plus membership, but it does have its perks. You get cloud storage, automatic system updates, and free games. During the first two months, the free games were amazing – “Resogun” and “Contrast” – starting your next generation game collection off on a good foot. In the last generation, the content management was not that great, and things in the store were hard to find. The new system has been completely overhauled, and now things can be pinned to the main menu and everything seems well-organized and so much more user-friendly than before. There are also great apps that can be downloaded, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Crackle, and there are many more entertainment options, along with the ability to play Blu-ray movies.
One of the biggest announcements coming this year is called Playstation Now, which is in beta right now. Starting this summer, you will be able to pay a subscription fee and instantly stream the backlog of PS1, PS2, and PS3 games with a service similar to Netflix but for games, streaming to any Sony device. This is the most interesting technological advancement gaming has seen in years and is sure to revolutionize everything in upcoming years.
So far, I love everything about the PS4 and can’t wait to see what this console generation has to offer. If what we have seen on the PS3 is any indication, what we are likely to see next will be astonishing. The PS4 is a technical powerhouse with amazing graphics, great controls, and some of the best games on the market. All of the features are comparable to the Xbox One; however, it is more about great games instead of all the other bells and whistles the competition has, and it has a much smaller price tag. If you are looking to get into the new console generation, the Playstation 4 is a great way to go.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]