All eyes are on the Playstation 4 (PS4) as the premier gaming system as it competes against the Xbox One and the Wii U in the battle of the consoles this holiday season.
Sony’s idea of the next generation console goes beyond the potential horizons of bringing TV and movies to gaming, and guts other messaging services, such as the video calling Xbox One added to its interface.
Instead, it focuses on the purpose of computer entertainment systems — gaming.
Compared to the Playstation 3 (PS3), the new design is four pounds lighter and has side grills that allow the console to be quieter as it transfers heat outside the shell.
Though this is the first time a gaming console includes an eight-core processor, it — and the replaceable 500 GB hard drive — still doesn’t compete with PCs.
However, the graphics are a step up from the previous generation and are aesthetically pleasing.
What’s under the PS4’s shell allows games to have enhanced qualities, such as dynamic lighting.
This effect will directly impact gamers in ways that game makers haven’t fully been able to integrate into games yet.
The power inside the PS4 allows for bigger maps and more destruction, turning up the scale of action in shooter and racing games. Bigger maps mean more content and possibilities that developers and publishers can pump into games made for the PS4.
The highlight of the PS4 has little to do with the console or interface, but the controller. The Dualshock 4 controller is the first major renovation to the controller.
Substantial upgrades were implemented in the controller, beginning with the lower trigger buttons, giving more responsive feedback upon releasing pressure which makes the controller triggers feel more like weapon triggers than buttons.
When gamers pull the lower triggers in games such as “Battlefield 4,” the player won’t just be giving the game a command to fire weapons. Instead, when gamers pull the trigger, they will feel the instant feedback of their decision.
Another new feature to the controller is a depressible touchpad that can be used to navigate options or play games. This option for navigation brings out finer and tighter controls with the flick of a finger, a tool that previous Dualshocks never had. Near the smooth touchpad is a “share” button, which allows users to edit and upload videos or screenshots to Facebook and Twitter.
A light bar located on the back of the controller enhances motion control when combined with the Playstation camera, sold separately, and also serves as a color-based status for in-game health stats and player indicators.
For gamers looking to be vocal during the action, an output sound speaker is located within the controller and a standard headphone jack can turn any headphone with a microphone into a gaming headset.
One of the faults of the system, however, is that it is not backward compatible, leaving gamers torn on the fate of favorite games being released for the next generation console. If gamers choose to play the PS3 copy, they must pay an additional $10 fee to have the game optimized for the PS4.
Another drawback of the interface is its video share capability.
Gamers can do very little with the video they capture outside of sharing it with Dynamic Menu and Facebook. The video, which can only be captured for 15 minutes at a time, is in 720p resolution (short of PS4’s 1080p). Captured video cannot be accessed from the hard drive, but instead must be ripped from Facebook with third-party video software.
In order for PS4 gamers to play online, a Playstation Plus membership is required. Included in the $5-per-month subscriptions are reliable servers and free critically acclaimed games from past generations of Playstation. Throw in cross-game chat and the online multi-player experience is made more social than previous consoles.
At $400, the PS4 not only provides a thorough experience without being meticulously detailed or lacking social capability, it is also very cost-effective.
Sony took every effort to bundle an entertainment package and redirected it toward an experience that focuses on gaming. When gamers are choosing a console during the release of next generation platforms, they want a reason to upgrade their game with enhancements that enriches overall play. The PS4 is the console that provides gamers a new way to play games.