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We all know the excitement of checking
the mail only to discover a package we've been waiting for has
finally been delivered. Then sitting down with it in our hands, just
begging to be opened. And as we tear apart the wrapping and lay our
eyes upon the contents, the satisfying new game smell envelops our
As long as I have been a gamer, dating
back to the days of the Nintendo 64, I have never experienced the
thrill of opening a console at launch. Maybe I would receive it a
couple months later, but by then, numerous people had already sunk in
a great deal of time with the system. With that being said, the
Playstation 4 is the first console I have ever bought upon release.
Hearing myself say that is still quite shocking to me, and I'll
Despite my familiarity with Sony gaming
systems, extending all the way back to the Playstation One era, I
would never consider any of them as my favorite. In fact, I had
mainly been a Nintendo kid until I received my Xbox 360 a year of two
after its launch. When I saw the news surrounding the next
generation of consoles, I had almost been certain my money would be
going toward Microsoft's product. Yet here I am, the Playstation 4
in my possession. So what made me decide to purchase this console
before the others? Disregard the companies which had shaped my
childhood? There were a plethora of reasons that convinced me to
take a chance on Sony.
The first and foremost had to be games.
At one point in time, the exclusives offered on Microsoft's Xbox 360
far outnumbered those on the PS3, but lately, I feel as if the roles
have been reversed. Naughty Dog is certainly a strong developer to
have supporting a console. Uncharted and The Last of Us make up a
small portion of the promising exclusives offered by Sony. Games
like Ni No Kuni, Journey, and (hopefully) The Last Guardian are just
some examples. I was also interested in the “Share”
functionality featured on the PS4. With a single push of the button,
my last fifteen minutes of gameplay could be uploaded for all to see.
This was certainly an appealing option for many of us enthusiastic
gamers. But how did the system compare to all the promises made by
Sony and in turn, the expectations formed by the fans? The answer is
a mixed one.
As soon as I set the box down
containing my brand new PS4, I couldn't wait to share my experience.
There was nothing fancy about the packaging, but the clean and simple
layout of the contents inside was rather nice. The first thing I
took out was the controller and boy was I surprised. It felt natural
in my hands. At first glance, it looked like Sony had copy and
pasted the Dualshock 3, and it wasn't nearly as big as I was lead to
believe, but the design was a vast improvement over the previous
controllers. The console itself was much smaller than I expected,
and the lack of a power brick was a nice addition. I was initially
nervous about its durability, but it withstood the beating it took as
I was trying to set it up to my overcrowded entertainment system.
Like others have stated before me, the power button was obscured,
hidden away in a tiny crevice on the front. The body itself was a
fingerprint magnet, even the part with the matte finish.
Upon starting it up, the volume level
wasn't significantly quieter or anything but an attractive light bar
flashed on, giving the PS4 a nice flair. The set up process was
simple and my PSN name along with all the trophies and friends
associated with it were brought onto the system. There was one thing
that stood out to me, however. As I made my way through the steps, I
was asked if I wanted to connect my Facebook account with that of my
PSN. If I wanted, I could even have all of my recent game activity
and trophies posted automatically to Facebook. For people who want
to display their actual name and profile picture, they are given that
option. It's a rather simple idea, by no means something that was
necessary for the PS4 to succeed, but nonetheless, a welcome change.
At the present time, the User Interface
isn't anything special. I was kind of disappointed that there are no
options for themes yet, but I suspect Sony will add that back in at a
later date. For now, we are stuck with the generic blue background.
As for the icons, there are less than what was presented on the PS3.
In particular, I noticed the lack of a dedicated download tab. I
don't know if I simply just haven't found it yet or if its inclusion
has been eliminated, but I do miss it.
Instead, one can check the progress of
his or her downloads on the notification tab. I don't know how long
recent entries will populate this menu but for now, it's a tad
overwhelming considering how many games I've already downloaded,
On the other hand, I do like the
updated friends list. When you click on a friend's name on your PS4,
much more information is displayed - such as a full rundown of their
recent activity, trophies, etc. If you want even more detailed
information, you can simply click on the section, and a whole new
page will come up, displaying all the information you could ever hope
to access. For example, I wanted to check out a certain friend of
mine's recent activity. On his main profile, it only showed what he
was currently playing, so I clicked on it. Here, I was given a full
breakdown of his gaming history, such as what games he played before
it and at what time. If I wanted, I could choose one of these listed
stories, such as one where he earned a difficult trophy, and “like”
it. This was not something I had known about previously, but it was
a nifty addition.
Personally, I've always had some issues
with the online connectivity options offered by Sony. By this I
mean, interactions with friends. While I'm certainly happy that the
PS4 came packaged with a headset this time around, the software still
presents some issues. Say a friend were to come online and invite
you to a game, the notification marker is displayed as usual, but
there's no shortcut available to quickly accept and join their
session, such as simply pressing the Home button and navigating
through a small menu. Instead, you have to go to scroll over to
notifications, click on the appropriate tab, and read the message
from there. I was having particular frustrations when I was trying
to join a friend's game of Blacklight: Retribution. After clicking
on his profile, I was given the option to see all sorts of
information on the game, even the ability to start the game up from
this menu. However, I was not able to join his session through it,
which didn't make sense to me. I suppose it's just a couple more
menus I will have to navigate, which isn't a big deal, but it's still
more complicated than what is offered on the Xbox.
Despite the messaging and notification
system being a bit behind the times on the PS4, I prefer certain
aspects of its implementation. First and foremost, past messages
aren't deleted! I love looking through old messages, especially when
there's important information in them. To this day, I am still
frustrated with Microsoft's decision to erase all message after a
certain amount of time. Hopefully, they change that with the Xbox
One. Furthermore, I am amazed by the Playstation App functionality
when paired with the PS4 console. Instead of buying an expensive
chat pad or suffering through the slow keyboard on screen, one can
type up a message using the keyboard on their own phone. It's much
faster and quite invaluable in my opinion. Having the option to
start downloads on your console, from your phone, is one of the
greatest uses of any app I've ever witnessed.
Going back to the topic of the PS4
controller, there are a couple more things I wanted to point out.
Aside from the more ergonomic feel, the button layout is much more
practical. The triggers are hooked on the end, providing shooter
fans with a better experience when competing online. In addition,
the d-pad is amazing. As soon as I started up the system I was
surprised to see how much the change affected me. It's not quite as
squishy as it was on the PS3 and the clicks are much more distinct.
This improves its accuracy, which is important when trying to type
something on the keyboard.
I also like the light sensor on the
back, if purely for aesthetic reasons. The analog sticks aren't as
loose, providing the player with a greater level of control, which I
so desired. Hopefully this will result in a smoother gameplay
experience, one where I won't accidentally click on R3 only to find
myself knifing at an enemy fifty feet away as they mow me down in a
hail of bullets. Obviously, I'm very happy to see this change. Now
switching between my Xbox controller and my Playstation controller
won't be quite as jarring.
The central touch pad button hasn't
been of much practical use to me yet, but I expect that to change as
we progress through the console's life cycle. During Battlefield,
the touch pad can be used to access one's Battlelog, which I thought
was neat. I do miss having the start and return buttons on this area
of the controller though, but I will adjust. They have now been
replaced with “Share” on the left and “Options” on the right.
They are easy to miss at first glance. Personally, I would have
preferred a design in which they protruded from the controller, such
as on the PS3 controller, versus being flush with the surface. I
feel as if it makes them harder to access, especially in the middle
of a heated battle, where I accidentally pressed the touch pad.
Oh, the Share functionality... There is
much work to be done where this is concerned. Right now, a multitude
of kinks plague the experience. Editing is limited to trimming the
beginning and end of a clip, nothing more. Videos can only be
uploaded to Facebook currently, but there is no sound! Why is there
no sound? I do not know. Maybe I'm doing something wrong. For now,
there is no way of deleting past videos you've uploaded from your
console. My upload folder is already overpopulated to the extent
that I'm frustrated every time I access it.
Another issue I've been having revolves
around the last fifteen minutes of gameplay that the system will
decide to upload. Say, for example, that I pressed the share button
and my Playstation created a clip from the last fifteen minutes, then
two minutes later, something really cool happened. If I wanted to
share this new clip, which would include the new two minutes on top
of the thirteen minutes before it, and just delete the beginning two
minutes of the previous clip, I wouldn't be able to. All I can do is
keep the last clip, then create an entirely new one that is just two
minutes long, but the two won't be connected. I can't tell you how
frustrating this is.
Additionally, when I try to share a
segment of video showing how I earned a particular trophy, then go
back and watch the clip, the trophy icon doesn't even pop up in the
video! What gives? That's probably one the biggest reasons people
will use the share functionality and it doesn't even record it. Yet
it records when some other notification pops up on the screen, such
as when your battery is low... It just doesn't make sense to me.
On a more positive note, setting up a
Playstation camera gives you the option of recording yourself in
addition to your gameplay. This makes the camera very appealing to
me because it could make for some great YouTube videos.
Trophies are back and better than ever.
You still have to go to the main menu to access them, but they at
least load much faster. I like being able to see how much percent I
have completed of a game and the rarity of all the trophies. This is
perhaps my favorite addition. It provides trophies with another
layer of value. What the game developers might label as a gold level
trophy may not be nearly as hard to get, or as rare, as another you
have earned, which might only be listed at the bronze level. Also,
expansion packs and DLC related trophies are listed separately under
the game tab so it's easier to distinguish between which ones you
have to get.
Changing topics for a second, I would
like to mention how useful standby mode has been for me. Instead of
completely turning my console off to prevent it from overheating when
not in use, I can put it into standby mode. The system will continue
to download my games and their updates, while still conserving
energy. Even plugging a controller into the console whilst in
standby mode will charge it for the user.
Earlier in my article, I told you guys
how I never thought the Playstation 4 would be my first purchase of
the next console generation. Part of the reason I switched was
because of Microsoft's careless attitude that they displayed towards
the people who made the Xbox 360 a success, the gamers. On the other
hand, Sony was offering features that had been taken away from the
Xbox One, day one. For example, offline play and the ability to
borrow games from one's friends. Sony went in the complete opposite
direction of Microsoft, which was to become an all around
entertainment system. They did so by making the PS4 very gaming
based. I think this was a mistake.
The PS3 was going in a good direction
when they added the Blu-ray player, which is largely a whole
different sector of entertainment. The PS4 stuck with that change
and barely expanded upon it. I feel as if Sony was trying so hard to
distinguish themselves from Microsoft, that they refused to consider
any of the same entertainment options. The Xbox One allows you to
switch back and forth between cable TV and your game at a moment's
notice. If say, a commercial were to come on, I could go back to
playing my game. And I could chat with my friends on Live via
headset or direct message while watching my favorite show. Or at
least that's the impression I got. Either way, I wish Sony would
have included something like this, as it would have been really neat.
With the Playstation 4 being my first
console purchase at launch, I had some high expectations for it.
Despite all the problems the system has now, I am glad that I didn't
wait. Sony had some creative ideas going into the Playstation 4 and
I think that the majority of them worked out for the better. The
console certainly isn't perfect; only time will tell how many of its
issues will be sorted out. I look forward to live streaming on
services like Twitch, uploading videos to YouTube, and watching my
friends' gaming experiences. There's a lot to look forward to, and
many years ahead of us for change.