I have been thinking since I first turned on my PlayStation 4 on Friday how would I start this review. It had been a while since I experienced the feeling I had getting the package delivered to my doorstep, bringing it inside, and shaking as I was tearing the tape off the box to see what was inside. I felt like the scene in Pulp Fiction where Jules (Samuel L Jackson) asks Vincent (John Travolta) “Vincent, WE HAPPY?”, and Vincent replies with, “Yeah, we happy” when referring to the briefcase that glows right when Vincent opens it. That is the same feeling I had when opening my PlayStation 4 without even turning the console on.
The design of the console is unique in its own special way. Instead of the rectangle shape of the PS2, or the round shape of the PS3; the PS4 went with a rhombus type slant look that does not disappoint. Very slick with very minimal branding. The only branding you see on the console is the PS logo on the top, and in black the words PS4 on the front right. The power button is hidden to make the console look like it is Pandora’s box, and you are about to unleash greatness when you press the secret button. When you press that button you see a beam of blue go from the front to the back of the console to let you know you have awaken the beast. The blu rays slide in on the left in a very undisclosed location. My only complaint that I have about the design is the USB slots. Since there is an indention where the USB cords go it is hard to plug in any USB that is not thin. When I installed my 1TB hard drive my firmware that I downloaded was on a pretty thick USB drive that I have to really push to get in there.
The console comes with an Ethernet port, HDMI port, digital audio port, two USB ports, and a connector on the back for the PS Camera. The console is split with half glossy, and have matte type finish.
The dashboard is the one thing that I am still having to get used to. While it has some similarities of the XMB menu; they have completely revamped the original look. The dashboard is now split in a two tier like display which could cause some confusion but like anything that is new; it just takes some getting used to.
The first tier that you are presented with is the following from left to right:
What’s New: This is where you can see what you and your friends have been doing. Anything from the games they have played to trophies they have unlocked, to even what they are streaming at that moment. I like this feature as it is similar to the Facebook wall when you login to see what your friends have been up to. This is just ALL about games, and none of the drama.
Games: Next is all your available games you have either installed, or the disc is in and ready to play. Personally, I would prefer the old way of how the games were presented in a column list as opposed to horizontally across the menu.
TV & Video: Want to watch Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, HULU? This is where you will go to find these apps which are in a lower tier. This is how I wish the games were presented. Also, keep in mind you are not required to have the PS Plus membership if you want to watch Netflix, or any other TV/Movie service.
The Playroom: I did not get a PS Camera so at this time I am not able to use this. From what I know it is a “kinect” like game where you can play different mini games using your body. Anyone that has more details feel free to comment on this article if I misspoke.
Video/Music Unlimited: I haven’t used this yet but your PS4 will come with a free 30 day trial to Music Unlimited. Not sure if this ties into Video Unlimited as well. Personally I might just give away my 30 day trial as I will be using my PS4 to game only, and watch Netflix/Amazon Instant Video since I am already a member.
Then, above that tier I just described you have another set of options that are similar to the old XMB Menu. They are the following:
Playstation Store: Just like it says you can go to the store, and buy digital content or whatever. No explanation really needed.
Notifications: You will go here to accept friend requests, name requests, and message notifications. I like this new tab as it makes it a lot easier then on the PS3 have to navigate to that specific friend or go to received messages in the Friends list to read your message.
Friends: Like it says you can view your friends list here. If you grant them Name Request, and they return the favor you can see their profile image on Facebook if they have that linked as well.
Messages: You can view your messages here, and send messages back.
Party: The new, and probably most useful feature now that the PS4 has this. Like on the Xbox 360, you can now create a party chat with up to 8 people. This also helps to get into a party with Killzone Shadow Fall after I have been reading some tweets. You do not have to be in the same game to chat with the person.
Profile: Here you can view your personal information as well as edit anything you want.
Trophies: You can view your trophies here. One thing I do not like on the PS4 is that you must be connected to the internet to view your trophies. I understand they want to sync but you never had to sync on the PS3 to view your trophies. You can still unlock trophies in offline mode, but to actually view them you have to be online.
Settings: You can change your network connection, power saving settings, and other things here.
Like I said, this will take some getting used to but not a huge change over what we have been used to on the PSP, and PS3.
The controller which is what defines the true experience on a system is my personal favorite of all the changes that were made to the PS4. The handles on the controller are now thicker creating a better grip. The joysticks are pretty much in the same place but instead of a round top there is an indention where you can fit your thumb on, and it creates a nice groove. The R2, and L2 triggers are not rounded but feel more like an actual trigger when you press it.
The biggest changes on right in the middle of the controller. No longer are there a Select, and Start button. There is now a Share, and Option button. The Share button while in a game will allow you to capture a screenshot, upload the last 15 minutes of gameplay, or start streaming to either Twitch or UStream. I also tested out last night, and if you have your headset hooked up to the controller through the jack you can actually voice command “Screenshot” and it will auto capture for you without having to hit the Share button. The Option button is pretty much now your Pause button. You hit this to make changes in your game’s settings, and other things. The Start button now is your R2 button to confirm the changes you have made.
Also they have included speakers on the controller that work in some games that use this feature. For example, in Killzone: Shadow Fall, you collect audio logs. The audio logs are played through your controller to give you that added sense of being there, and apart of what is going on. I thought this feature was very cool.
The touchpad also is something new that sits right in the middle of the controller above the speaker. I hope this feature does not get overused in every game I play. I have not seen any use for it in Knack or Assassin’s Creed IV yet, however Killzone: Shadow does use it. You use it to select the type of mode you want your “Owl” drone(EMP, Turret, Shield, Rappel). It is almost as tedious as button mashing to open doors, but this is more seamless.
One more thing, you can also now charge your controller while your system is in Standby(Sleep) mode which I love as now I know my controller will never die.
This system is everything I wanted it to be, and more. People have complained about not being able to play CDs, or MP3s, or using external hard drives. To me, those things are not what I require in a gaming console. You buy a gaming console to play games. The features such as Blu Ray, Netflix, Amazon Instant Prime etc. are added features but not requirements to me. I am very pleased with the games out as I just finished Killzone: Shadow Fall’s campaign, and have not gone a day since it released without playing at least one game of RESOGUN. To those that have already bought your consoles; I hope you are enjoying the system as much as I am as this is only the beginning of what is to come this generation. To those on the fence on what console to buy I say this: ONLY YOU can make the decision of what you think will best suit what you want in a console because in the end WE ALL LOSE…..OUR MONEY!