PS4 Reveal – James’ Positives And Negatives
That’s it then. The race and battle for next-gen supremacy is now on.
Yesterday’s PS4 reveal from New York was a solid show offering tantalizing glimpses at what we can expect from Sony’s next machine. We got specs, we got controllers, we got games, we got studios. We didn’t get a box, a console, a price. However, I didn’t mind. I wasn’t overly expecting Sony to show all their cards at one go; it could have been a risky strategy. The PS4 announcement impressed me sufficiently.
So, here is my review of Sony’s PS4 reveal with the positives and negatives, enjoy!
Now I may not be a tech-whizz but I gather that the Playstation 4’s specifications are pretty good? Powered by a custom 8-core AMD “Jaguar” x86-64 with integrated graphics APU and “next-generation” AMD Radeon graphics processor capable of driving 1.84 teraflops (what?) basically means that the PS4 is similar to a high end PC in terms of power now. Likewise, the 8GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory also brings it up to speed with modern PC’s.
In Laymans terms though, the specs for the PS4 are quite astounding. It still features a Blu-Ray Drive and USB Ports etc. but the increased processing power and internal memory makes the PS4 more of a brute than many people were expecting. I was impressed with the sheer power of the console, more power usually means prettier games, but I am cautious of the PS3 trap were the hardcore processing makes developing initially difficult. However, the PS4 has laid down the spec challenge to the next Xbox!
When Sony announced the Playstation 3 they convoluted the system by emphasising its multi-entertainment values. People got confused and the PS3 launched as a wannabe everything. That’s why I was so glad to see Sony focus on the Gamer for the PS4 launch. They constantly reinforced this idea that the PS4 is designed for games for the gamer, it created a much more focused presentation and in places, what seemed like more focused hardware.
Sony have fleshed out the online aspects of the PS4 and as a result it seems like the PS4 is a very well rounded product so far in terms of social integration and gaming. The Share button on the new Dualshock 4 for example is a brilliant way of making gaming more accessible for the gamers. Also, the fact that Sony were so keen to show so many games and studios behind the PS4 instils confidence that Sony have learnt from the PS3 and this time, they’re concentrating on the games. I like it.
Nicely leading on from my previous point, Sony’s lineup of future games impressed me massively. As always, we have to be careful not to buy into pre-launch hype butlaunch titles such as Knack, InFamous Second Son and Drive Club all looked like great titles and ones that Sony can get behind and thoroughly support. Personally my highlights were the new InFamous; the first two games are some of my favourites, and Killzone Shadowfall. Although we have come to expect pure beauty from Guerilla Games, Killzone Shadowfall looked gorgeous with the particle effects and draw distances showing us that it’s more about the subtle improvements for the next gen leap.
I also enjoyed seeing the promises of games such as Watch Dogs and Destiny on PS4 as well as a PS4 and PS3 version of last year’s Diablo III. All these inclusions show that Sony have got the third party support, something which hampered the initial years of the PS3. I can’t wait to see the announcement of new titles, perhaps something new from Naughty Dog to partner The Last Of Us? Or even a new Crash Bandicoot! What do you want to see?
Sometimes Sony can come across as pretentious and even slightly arrogant at these types of events, but yesterday’s PS4 reveal wasn’t weighed down by ego. Andrew House did a brilliant job at conveying what was going on with an air of confidence but also genuine passion for his product, likewise with Mark Cerny, lead PS4 architect. All the presenters at the event spoke clearly and confidently and although it may seem like I’m clutching at stars, an eloquent presenter does make a difference to how a product is presented, think Caffeine Guy from E3 2011. Sony did a great job at presenting the PS4, even through the slightly repetitive ideas of connectivity and evolution.
Controller (Cross play!)
The new Dualshock 4 controller is bound to split opinion. Personally I think it looks pretty good with some useful features. I’m liking the more rounded and bulbous handles, hopefully laying in your hands more easily and the analogue nubs look like they can definitely aid you on your gaming marathons. The touchpad could be used in pretty inventive ways, much like the motion tracking pad on the back. At the moment I can’t really see it being used for anything more than a gimmick, but the Move has showed itself to be partially capable of genuinely game changing capabilities.
Whilst there wasn’t much description of it, I kinda like the idea of the LEDs being used to represent your player health on the controller too, just a little change. The inclusion of a headphone jack also means no more Entrapment-esque stealthing past sprawling wires across your living room. The final thing was the talk about cross-play with Vita. I don’t know how many games would utilise it but it seems like a great idea, especially when paired up to the Wii U’s similar feature. As my cousin texted me, playing Uncharted whilst going for a shit – heaven!
But it’s not all good. As I said, I liked many features of the controller but much like everyone else, it has induced some areas of doubt. The touchpad seems intrusive to the overall design, taking up a lot of room and looking to force the PS Home button to a possibly awkward position. Also the R2 and L2 buttons seem to be pointed, perhaps causing some irritating finger slips now and then.
However, my real concern is the motion sensor. I for one am not a huge fan of motion gaming and I fear Sony have planted an over-reliance on this ‘gimmick’. Rarely have I seen a truly innovative utilisation of motion controls, and the new Kinect-type sensor doesn’t instil confidence. Saying that, what’s going on with the Playstation Eye bar? There wasn’t much discussion about it except it acts as a receiver for your Dualshock. Pictures present it as quite a large device about 3 or 4 times thicker than the Wii receiver. Obviously we can’t make decisions about it yet but personally I would like to see a few gameplay demos including the controller being used to its full potential; then I can quell my apprehension.
Over Reliance of Online
I love the idea that Sony are introducing a new digital age through Gaiki and a beefed up online service. They discussed how you’re always connected and your friends can pretty much drop in and out whenever you like, offering you advice or mockery. Paired with the Share button it seems like a great connected idea, pushing the concept of collective gaming even further.
However, my worry here is that Sony have placed an over-reliance on their online services. I fear that if you don’t connect to the internet you’re not only going to miss a few features of the PS4, you’re going to miss a lot. In the UK the average internet speed is around 9Mb, but too many still have a poor connection. To turn over to the truly digital age, we first need to improve our infrastructure globally. I’m not saying the UK should hold back other countries but I feel Sony have placed an over-reliance on an internet connection and for many people, this could be an intimidating prospect, especially with the poor internet speeds in the UK.
No Backwards compatibility
This wasn’t confirmed at the conference but many sources have claimed that the PS4 will not support backwards compatibility. Much like with the PS2-PS3 switch, this is bad news. Millions of gamers have large libraries and they want to be to play their old games on new hardware, it’s that obsessive part of our brain working again! From the online screenshots it seems that Trophies are carried, so why not the actual games?
I think the major concern for me here is if Sony decide to charge for your old game on the PS4. Its potential a console killer if you find Uncharted 2 priced at £25 for PS4 when you still have the PS3 copy on your shelf. I really hope Sony don’t fall into this trap because with their recent Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, we know Sony are aware of their rich history; I don’t want them spoiling that just for money. Likewise, there was a promise for more episodic gaming which on one hand (The Walking Dead) can be involving and sweet but on the other, could feel like a rip-off and structure just to get more money. For me the lack of Backwards Compatibility is a major mistake by Sony. Lets hope there isn’t too much cash grabbing.
No Price or Physical Copy
I imagine that this is the most common complaint about the PS4 reveal. Sony told us what it is, showed us a controller, showed us games and gave us a release window of Holiday 2013, but they failed to present us with a price or even physical copy of the console.
I claimed that this could potentially be a good move; clutching some cards to their chest until Microsoft make the next move but it gave the overall event a slightly anti-climatic tone. Sony will obviously hold back the ‘full’ reveal to a later date, perhaps E3 or earlier, but the mystery of the actual PS4 has got many gamers both tantalized but slightly disappointed. Similarly, prior to the event there were rumours swirling regarding a £300-£400 price range so we expected something, but we got nothing. Sony originally made a loss with the PS3 and that was with a £400 price tag! Let’s hope Sony have planned the pricing well because we know what can happen if consumers are turned off!
As a PS3 owner I was beyond excited for the PS4 reveal, and it lived up to my expectations. It is a shame we didn’t see any console or solid info on date/pricing, but the beauty of Killzone Shadowfall, excitement of InFamous Second Sons and collective connectivity with the Share button makes the PS4 are next-gen powerhouse. Ladies and gentleman, the war has started!
Well that’s my opinion out the way, what did you guys think? Did it live up to your expectations or were you disappointed, let us know in the comments!