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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Aggie Arcade

PlayStation 4 First Impressions

My PlayStation 4 arrived Friday evening, and I spent the next few days with Sony’s newest console and a few of the big-name launch titles. Overall, it’s been a successful launch for the company following the disastrous 2006 PlayStation 3 launch. Like any new piece of hardware it has its ups and downs, but at the end of the day the PS4 represents a promising foundation for the new generation of video game consoles.

The PS4 makes a strong first impression right out of the box with its sleek design that features a slanted box shape and well-hidden power/eject buttons. The design does result in some odd utility issues, namely the fact that plugging in cords to the back of the console can be difficult because the slant of the hardware obstructs the user’s view of the back. That may prove a bit frustrating for people who like to move consoles around or change cables frequently.

Also included in the box is the new Dual Shock 4 controller, which stands out as one of the highlights of the entire package. I’ve always enjoyed the PS3 in spite of its flimsy controller, but the Dual Shock 4 improves on that and more. The new triggers and analog sticks share more in common with Microsoft’s wonderful Xbox 360 controller, and the actual material of the gamepad feels incredibly comfortable.

After that I pulled out the included mono headset, which is a first for Sony. The PS3 clearly lags behind the Xbox 360 when it comes to user communication, but the inclusion of the headset and voice chat with the PS4 marks an improvement. On the downside, there’s just one earbud for the headset, which I find uncomfortable. But for a cheap-looking device, it proves functional and the sound appears to be decent.

Once I booted the system up for the first time I downloaded the day-one patch (the wonders of technology!) and proceeded to check out the new user interface. It’s surprisingly similar to the XrossMediaBar (XMB) from the PS3, with a few nice touches. All of the user’s recently played titles show up in icons in the main menu, and there’s a new section that keeps track of friends’ recent activities. It all looks visually appealing, though perhaps too simplistic.

The best thing about the new interface is the ease of multitasking, which was almost nonexistent on the PS3. I had no problem downloading a game while I played something else or took a look at my trophies. Also, the download speeds seem a lot faster than they used to be, which I see as a critical improvement.

Perhaps the coolest new feature with the PS4 is the addition of the share button on the controller. Pressing that button allows users to upload their last 15 minutes of gameplay or a screenshot to Facebook, though other services/websites will be supported in the future. So if I happen to pull off an amazing feat in a game or stumble upon a ridiculous glitch, I can share that moment with friends. In addition, the console comes with Twitch and Ustream support right out of the box, so streaming to the world is as simple as pressing the share button, logging in and starting the broadcast.

A lot of people are disappointed with the launch lineup, and I can’t say it’s amazing. But I had a lot of fun with games like Resogun, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Need for Speed Rivals this past weekend. At the very least, I certainly prefer them to the launch lineup for the PS3 and Xbox 360 some years back. And the new technology shines on games like Killzone: Shadow Fall, which looks stunning at times.

I’m interested to see how Microsoft does with its Xbox One launch Nov. 22, because Sony got off to a strong start last week. More and more games will be coming out for the console in the next year, which should entice those who held off on a day-one purchase. So the future is looking bright for video game audiences everywhere.

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