For the players (and only the game players): Sony’s PlayStation 4 reviewed

Sony has also been silly with the evolutionary options of the PlayStation 4.

Maybe we’re just set in our ways, but the last we checked, evolutionary devices were supposed to include some of the features of the past moving forward, rather than just creating something anew from scratch.

Unfortunately, Sony has done away with nearly everything we loved about our PlayStation 3, reimagining the idea of a games console and turning off some of the beloved features.

Take your old gaming library from the PS3. In fact, take it to the tip, because it is completely unusable on this console.

Microsoft has actually suffered the same fate on its Xbox One, a fact that doesn’t surprise us since both the processor and graphics chip have dramatically changed on both consoles, and would make automatic backwards compatibility damn near impossible.

But there’s more than just that, as your accessories are now useless.

There’s a new controller, which we’re okay with, but there’s also a new camera tracker, and the EyeToy will not work with it. We haven’t tested the Move yet, but Sony says it should work, so at least that’s something.

The menus have changed dramatically, and now remind us of what it’s like to play with a tablet, plus expect lots of installations of games, though to Sony’s credit, you no longer have to wait around and can do other things while the install is taking place.

Just like on the PS Vita, though, installed games stay on the menu screen, even though you still need to pop in the disc to play them. It’s an odd inclusion, and we’ve never quite understood it, especially since most gamers know to grab the disc when they want to play.

Really, though, it’s the lack of media playback that frustrates us.

In the PlayStation 3, we had a proper media playback solution combined with a gaming console. We had Blu-ray and DVD, and we had MP3s on our network, and videos too. At home, we used the PS3 all the time to browse files we stored on our network drives, and watched what we wanted when we wanted.

But in the PlayStation 4, there’s none of that, and it’s clear that Sony is doing this to push its own services.

Want to playback videos from your network? Too bad, because Sony has a video store that you can pay for.

Care to throw a CD in the PS4 and listen to some tunes? No luck here, as audio CD functionality has been removed, but don’t worry, because you can sign up to Sony’s Music Unlimited service and listen once you pay.

And what about if you want to play a 3D Blu-ray? The PS3 had no problems with this, and was one of the most upgradeable Blu-ray players out there, impressing many. In the PS4, however, 3D Blu-ray support is gone, confusing us greatly.

Those are just three examples we’ve found that have frustrated us, key features we used on the PlayStation 3 because it was a solid media solution, and yet in the PS4, they’re gone, without so much as an explanation.

It’s possible we’ll see them return at one point, but really, we’d like to know why a modern gaming console that is taking over from a once modern gaming console that had these features, and the new modern one does not.

Why, Sony? Why?!

Early stages

It needs to be acknowledged that the PlayStation 4 is very new, and it can take some time to develop a game.

With development cycles stretching from several months to several years, it’s clear that the launch titles haven’t exactly been developed to demonstrate the best of what the PlayStation 4 has to offer.

Like all gaming systems, you’ll find the better titles comes along at least a few years into the life of the console. Sony’s “Heavy Rain,” “Uncharted 3,” and “LittleBigPlanet” are all fantastic examples of PlayStation 3 brilliance, and these all came along a few years after the PS3 was first introduced, while third-party titles such as “Portal 2” and “Mass Effect 3” (both of which graced multiple platforms) all demonstrate what developers later learned to take advantage of in the gaming platforms to make the titles better.

Ultimately, this is just the beginning of the PlayStation 4, and there will be better titles coming.

It’s also highly likely we’ll see some cooperation from Sony later on to remove some of the locks that have made it into the new model, such as the removal of networked media playback, and even that of its inability to play audio CDs and 3D Blu-ray titles.

We still find it silly that Sony disabled these features to begin with, especially when the PS4 should have been an evolution of the PS3, not a redrafting that removes functionality that people used, but that’s Sony’s call.

Hopefully the company will talk to its community and find a solution that makes the PS4 better than ever, rather than a compromise.

Games like "Call of Duty: Ghosts" can look amazing, but not all ports will look like they were made for the PlayStation 4.

Conclusion

It’s early days for the console that Sony will carry through for the next five to ten years, and while there’s a lot that it has going for it in the gaming world, it’s in the multimedia side of things that it feels Sony has failed to carry the torch left from the PlayStation 3.

Early adopters will love it, as will big-time gamers and PlayStation fanboys, but right now, this isn’t a console for everyone, and with most games coming out for the slightly older consoles — Xbox 360 and PS3 — there’s no real reason to buy a PS4 yet unless you class as one of the above, or you have to have the latest and greatest thing right right now.

There are few titles for this console that are exclusive and excellent, and some of the ports coming from third-party developers are just that: ports, with little to no advantage taken with the higher graphics and processing power.

In six months, we expect this to change, and the PlayStation 4 could certainly be a force to be reckoned with.

The controller is certainly an improvement, and is now much more comfortable to hold and use, with some advanced functionality that developers don’t seem to have taken advantage of yet. The console looks better than the black basic VCR-like box that is the Xbox One, and there appears to be a lot of nice sharing and social features that Sony is keen to get people using.

But there aren’t many titles, there’s no backwards compatibility and it cannot play PS3 titles at all, the media playback is practically shut off, and Sony has even disabled audio CD playback in what looks like an attempt to get more people to sign up to its Music Unlimited service.

From our time with it, the PlayStation 4 is, as Sony puts it, “for the players,” but if you’re thinking of buying one for the holiday season, we’d probably say to wait until more games for these gamers come out. If you’re thinking of buying it for multimedia, though, wait until Sony fixes everything, because right now, your PlayStation 3 is more capable.

 

Overall
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
Reader Rating0 Votes
The latest version of the DualShock controller feels excellent and is very responsive; Controller is charged over microUSB; Still plays Blu-rays and DVDs!; Graphics look excellent on titles developed for the console;
Menu system tries to look modern, but really feels clumsy; Will not let you access content from your network; Design is kind of misleading, and throws the first-time user a curve when trying to load discs; No backwards compatibility; No audio CD support; 3D Blu-rays don't work yet;
4.1

Previous 1 2 3

  1. This is looking like the most cackhanded console launch in history by both Microsoft and Sony. Neither has a ‘killer app’ game that compels people to buy the console, both companies have either woefully misjudged, or cynically limited, stock levels and both have placed idiotic, paranoid restrictions on media usage that treat their customers like cluless, digital serfs.

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

Overall
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
Final Score