Hardware review: PlayStation 4

ps4-review-007

This is one console you’d love to have front and centre in your living room.

The next-generation is here, and about time too. It seems like an eternity that we’ve been subjected to jagged edges, sub-30 fps performance, texture pop-in and low-res textures to the point where it’s normally accepted that those of the glorious PC master race have held dominion in gaming performance.

That is exactly why console manufacturers have attempted to beat them at their own game. Since its announcement back in February, the PlayStation 4 seemed to a lot of people, me included, to be a PC slammed into a petite case. Is it so or does it manage to be more than that? Read on to find out.

As you may have been able to decipher from our ghetto unboxing, the PS4 is a small piece of kit. It’s gorgeous. This is one console you’d love to have front and centre in your living room. Shaped like an eraser (or rhombus depending on your grasp of geometry), it treads the fine line between the uber futuristic and the immediately tangible. It is abundantly clear that Sony has brought its A-game for industrial design. This is by far the slickest looking piece of tech I’ve had the pleasure of using this year.

ps4-review-006

Veteran PS3 owners will be happy to know that there’s absolutely no lag when it comes to navigating the PSN Store front.

There’s a heady mix of matte and glossy finishes, angular power buttons and a sleek rear end with the bare minimum needed to get the job done. No extra USB ports, no SD card slot, no support for exotic formats like SACD, and perplexingly, no MP3 playback either. It’s clear that Sony wants this to be a gaming machine foremost and maybe, depending on public outcry, allow for certain media functionality via firmware updates (MP3 playback and media server features have already been confirmed by Sony via a future update).

Looks and puzzling multimedia support choices aside, booting it up was quick and going online even more so. Veteran PS3 owners will be happy to know that there’s absolutely no lag when it comes to navigating the PSN Store front. It’s as snappy as it gets. This may also have to do with the fact that there are few items available in the store given that this is still the launch window. Nonetheless, it’s nice to see that Sony managed to fix one of the glaring issues with the PS3.

But this isn’t all; the UI has gotten an overhaul as well. Instead of the XMB interface we’ve all known and (have come to) love, the fine folk at PlayStation have gone with something rather different. What you have in its place are horizontally aligned boxes. Tapping any one of these takes you to details such as a brief overview, recently added content, and of course, the option to fire up an app or game.

ps4-review-003

Even in-game, you’ll never have a problem with operational acoustics. The PS4 is pleasantly silent.

On pressing up on the d-pad, you’ll be taken to the settings section, which is also a bunch of horizontally placed boxes that let you access the PlayStation Store, check your messages, privacy settings, and the like. While navigating the PS4’s interface is manageable, in part due to the fantastic hardware specs, there are a few niggles. I can’t help but feel that certain parts of the UI feel tacked on. Take notifications for example: if you were on a PC, a tablet or mobile, the moment you get notified of a certain action, like someone sending you a message, you can easily access it and reply immediately. Doing so here takes more steps than necessary.

Such minor issues aside, it’s simple enough to get most of what you need done. Installing a game off a disc is instantaneous and surprisingly quiet. I installed Killzone: Shadow Fall thrice and not once was I on the receiving end of that annoying whirring sound that last-gen consoles were notorious for. Even in-game, you’ll never have a problem with operational acoustics. It’s pleasantly silent.

All along the way, you’ll be using the new DualShock 4 controller. It improves over the DualShock 3 in almost every way. I use the term “almost” because if you’re the sort of person who spams R2 to sprint while playing FIFA 14, you’re in for a surprise. You’ll be pushing the R2 trigger a lot further than you’re used to. This aside, it’s perfect for shooters like Killzone: Shadow Fall, shoot ‘em ups like Resogun, and platformers like Contrast. The textured grip is a welcome addition, as is the extra space between analog sticks. And the build quality is solid while managing to be light in spite of having so many features crammed in.

killzone-shadow-fall-001

I clocked in eight hours regularly with the DualShock 4 before having to charge; a let down from what was possible with the DualShock 3.

So it’s a pity that the battery life isn’t up to the mark. I clocked in eight hours regularly with the DualShock 4 before having to charge; a let down from what was possible with the DualShock 3.You may have noticed the front touchpad; it has its uses in games like Killzone to command your drone to do your bidding, and using it was quick and responsive. There’s a built-in speaker to pipe out audio logs and other game related sounds, much like the Wiimote. A 3.5mm jack exists to which you can plug in the mono earphone Sony bundled with the console or something better. Sadly, neither my Nokia Colouds nor my Apple earpods worked with it.

My Vita worked with the PS4 flawlessly. Syncing up was a simple exercise of inputting an 8-digit code that the PS4 threw up on the Vita via the PS4 link app. It works well as a second screen, allowing for easier navigation of the console. I was able to play both Killzone and Resogun on the Vita with no perceptible performance lag. Your mileage may differ due to the fact that remote play is network dependent and that your control options might be hampered as the Vita has less input options vis-a-vis the DualShock 4.

Coming to the much-touted social integration, the PS4 constantly captures the last 15 minutes of your gameplay, and you can edit, trim, tag and upload that to Facebook in a jiffy. Even for someone like me, who loathes most forms of social functionality in gaming, I can definitely see myself sharing how appallingly bad I play video games. Keep in mind that the default settings for sharing enable all your friends and family on Facebook to see what games you’re firing up and Trophies you get. So unless you have a death wish, you’d want to tweak them so as to not spam everyone’s feeds.

ps4-review-002

Even for someone like me, who loathes social functionality in gaming, I can definitely see myself sharing how appallingly bad I play.

If you’re the sort who prefers sharing your jollies on Twitter, you can. It’s limited to photos only given the microblogging platform’s limitations. In both cases, Facebook and Twitter, it’s amazingly simple to get started; all that’s needed is a press of the Share button. The same applies to live broadcasting. Creating a Twitch or UStream account is painless and streaming even more so.

If you were expecting a deeper set of options that go beyond merely broadcasting and basic video editing (in terms of video uploads), you’ll be disappointed. You can’t add audio sources, resize screens or throw in images as needed. It isn’t as full-fledged as what you can pull off on the PC, and if you were looking to capture PS4 gameplay footage to an external device, that isn’t possible due to the HDCP DRM implemented (which will be removed via a future patch). But if you’re looking for the most painless, fastest way to share gameplay videos and live broadcasts, it can’t get better than this. Sony has done a tremendous job on implementing this feature.

The tragedy is that, given the unreliable internet connectivity in India, it would be interesting to see how many of us in India make use of social and video integration. Unless ISPs across the country drop rates and up the ante on service, it’s quite unlikely that we’ll see wide-spread adoption of these features here.

ps4-review-001

Despite having the Killzone: Shadow Fall disc, we were faced with a mandatory installation of around 40 GB.

On the topic of the internet and connectivity, it’s odd that the PS4 doesn’t let you pause downloads. Lose internet for a bit or take your PS4 to a friend’s place and boot it up without connecting an ethernet cable and your downloads will get corrupt, forcing you to start all over again. You’d assume that Sony would take care to ensure something as simple and basic as this was available out of the box, but it sadly is not.

Shipping with 500 GB of hard drive space, it would seem like enough to get you by. That is until you realise that most games have a hefty download/install size, all the way up to 41.8 GB in the case of NBA 2K14. Popular cross-gen games like Battlefield 4 and Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag weigh in at 33.9GB and 21.2 GB respectively. You’d think that getting the disc versions of games would help save hard drive space, but that isn’t the case either. Despite having the Killzone: Shadow Fall disc, we were faced with a mandatory installation of around 40 GB. So if you buy lots of games, you’ll be filling up that hard drive pretty fast. In the case of digital downloads, be prepared to violate your ISP’s fair usage policy if you want to play them anytime soon.

So does Sony’s new black box herald the next-generation of video games in style or is it a damp squib that has you waiting? Between relatively semi-decent digital prices (third-party games at Rs 3,799, Sony first-party games at Rs 3,499), large download sizes, and cost-prohibitive physical copies, there is no compelling reason to bother right now. This isn’t even considering that India has no launch date or pricing yet.

ps4-review-004

Sure, Killzone: Shadow Fall is a competent, fun shooter, but the lack of fresh, new titles is brutally obvious.

Barring a handful of cross-gen titles and a few slivers of download-only goodness in the form of Resogun and Contrast, the launch line-up is sparse. Sure, Killzone: Shadow Fall is a competent, fun shooter, but the lack of fresh, new titles is brutally obvious. Factor in that pricing at retail is highway robbery (EA’s titles are Rs 4,499 a pop) and you have more than a few reasons to give the PS4 a miss. For now at least.  Firmware updates are out thick and fast; it’s barely been 10 days and we’ve seen three already.

It will be interesting to see which direction Sony takes with what they’ve built. The hardware is solid and the infrastructure to connect, play and share exists, so it’s just a question of refining what’s available, pricing it right, and hoping that Indian ISPs up their offerings. But for now, you can’t be faulted for waiting it out. Yes, next-gen is here, but with some strings attached and conditions that apply.

Published by Rishi Alwani

Resident cookie monster and closet furry, Rishi has pitched his tents in a variety of fields, from RPGs to comic books. His favourite time sinks include swapping graphics cards, chugging suspicious mixtures of chocolate mix and energy drinks, and dissing ex-bosses. A true connoisseur of cheap video games, Rishi regularly trawls the deep recesses of IVG's Trading Post to secure the best deals on used games with promises of party favors and stuff, occasionally even cash. A bruised and battered, short service veteran of the Indian video gaming distribution industry, Rishi brings insider news, game shopping tips, biting wit and an uncanny fondness for 'troll'isms to IVG's colorful community.

Join the Conversation

127 Comments

  1. Hey, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, amazing blog!

  2. I as well as my pals were actually viewing the nice key points from your web site and the sudden came up with a terrible suspicion I never expressed respect to the web blog owner for those secrets. All of the boys happened to be as a consequence very interested to read them and have now sincerely been tapping into these things. Thanks for genuinely quite considerate and also for pick out this sort of good issues millions of individuals are really desperate to understand about. Our sincere regret for not expressing gratitude to sooner.

  3. Thanks for the suggestions shared on your blog. Something also important I would like to express is that weight loss is not supposed to be about going on a celebrity diet and trying to shed as much weight as possible in a few months. The most effective way to lose weight naturally is by acquiring it gradually and using some basic recommendations which can provide help to make the most through your attempt to shed weight. You may learn and already be following many of these tips, nevertheless reinforcing understanding never affects.

  4. A person necessarily assist to make significantly posts I might state. This is the very first time I frequented your website page and thus far? I amazed with the analysis you made to create this particular submit amazing. Excellent activity!

  5. Its such as you read my mind! You appear to understand a lot about this, like you wrote the ebook in it or something. I think that you just can do with a few to power the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

  6. Normally I do not read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, very great post.

  7. I haven¡¦t checked in here for some time because I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are great quality so I guess I¡¦ll add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

  8. This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your great post. Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks!

  9. I am just writing to make you be aware of of the fantastic encounter my cousin’s child obtained viewing your webblog. She even learned a good number of things, which included how it is like to have an amazing helping character to let the mediocre ones without problems know precisely various extremely tough things. You undoubtedly did more than readers’ desires. I appreciate you for offering these good, trusted, explanatory and also easy guidance on this topic to Gloria.

  10. Thanks for your publication on the vacation industry. We would also like to add that if you are a senior contemplating traveling, it is absolutely vital that you buy travel cover for older persons. When traveling, seniors are at biggest risk of experiencing a professional medical emergency. Having the right insurance coverage package for the age group can look after your health and give you peace of mind.

  11. Hiya very nice site!! Man .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally…I’m happy to search out a lot of helpful information right here within the publish, we need develop extra techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  12. you’re really a good webmaster. The site loading speed is amazing. It seems that you are doing any unique trick. Moreover, The contents are masterwork. you have done a wonderful job on this topic!

  13. obviously like your web-site however you have to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to inform the reality however I’ll certainly come back again.

  14. Wonderful post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Many thanks!

  15. An additional issue is that video gaming has become one of the all-time greatest forms of excitement for people of nearly every age. Kids engage in video games, plus adults do, too. The XBox 360 has become the favorite video games systems for those who love to have a huge variety of activities available to them, in addition to who like to play live with other people all over the world. Thank you for sharing your notions.

  16. I acquired more a new challenge on this fat reduction issue. One particular issue is a good nutrition is especially vital whenever dieting. A massive reduction in fast foods, sugary food, fried foods, sweet foods, pork, and white-colored flour products might be necessary. Possessing wastes harmful bacteria, and wastes may prevent desired goals for losing fat. While particular drugs momentarily solve the problem, the terrible side effects are certainly not worth it, and in addition they never offer you more than a momentary solution. It is just a known indisputable fact that 95% of dietary fads fail. Many thanks sharing your opinions on this blog site.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *