Road Test: Sony PS4

Road Test: Sony PS4

Finweek English Edition - - INSIDE - Si­mon Din­gle si­mond@ fin­week.co.za

Great­ness in wait­ing

Next-gen­er­a­tion gam­ing con­soles are big news given that they’re only re­leased once ever y decade or so. Launched around seven years af­ter its pre­de­ces­sor, the PS4 smashed sales records with 4.2m units be­ing sold by 28 De­cem­ber 2013 fol­low­ing its launch just be­fore Christ­mas – de­spite an­a­lysts’ sug­ges­tions that smart­phones and tablets have de­stroyed the mar­ket for gam­ing con­soles. The Plays­ta­tion is very much alive and kick­ing. Fin­week fi­nally got its hands (read: my) on this next-gener-ation ma­chine and have been fu­ri­ously mash­ing away at launch ti­tles to bring you this re­view.

I was a f irst-gen­er­a­tion Plays­ta­tion owner and re­mem­ber the mas­sive leap for­ward that games seemed to take with the PS2. The PS3 was an­other ma­jor im­prove­ment in terms of graph­ics, per­for­mance and the depth de­vel­op­ers could bring to their cre­ations. With the PS4, how­ever, things don’t seem that pro­found. It’s early days, to be fair, and we’re yet to see the full ex­tent of what can be achieved with this beefy new hard­ware but for the most part, it feels like more of the same. The graph­ics are cer­tainly more im­pres­sive than those of the PS3, but not in­cred­i­bly so, and the PS4 is miss­ing some im­por­tant func­tion­al­ity for any mod­ern con­sole. Now don’t get me wrong – I love the PS4. It’s a beau­ti­ful piece of hard­ware and the switch to x86 ar­chi­tec­ture means that it’s go­ing to get an amaz­ing range of games in time. It’s a pity that you can’t play your old PS3 ti­tles on it, but I’m sure that de­vel­op­ers will even­tu­ally bring across the most pop­u­lar ti­tles from the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion.

In some ways, how­ever, the PS4 ac­tu­ally feels like a down­grade from the PS3 – es­pe­cially when it comes to me­dia cen­tre ca­pa­bil­i­ties. There’s cur­rently no good way for the PS4 to play videos and other me­dia from a server on your net­work, which the PS3 was very good at. This alone means that the PS4 does less out of the box than the PS3 and was a mas­sive let-down to many early adopters. Sony will def­i­nitely nitely beef up the PS4 as a me­dia dia cen­tre de­vice via fu­ture soft­ware up­dates, but for me this was pretty frus­trat­ing.

Not ever yone e uses their gam­ing con­soles for me­dia, how­ever. r. Fair enough. So let’s fo­cus on gam­ing.

There are great launch ti­tles avail­able for the PS4, such as LEGO Mar­vel Su­per Heroes and As­sas­sin’s Creed IV. The graph­ics are amaz­ing, but the games aren’t that dif­fer­ent from ver­sions avail­able for the PS3. There isn’t a mas­sive range of ti­tles to choose from yet and some pop­u­lar re­cent ti­tles such as GTA V weren’t avail­able at time of writ­ing.

Put it all to­gether and it makes it diff icult to rec­om­mend buy­ing the PS4 right now. It’s an ex­pen­sive con­sole with a limited set of ti­tles and lit­tle to no me­dia cen­tre func­tion­al­ity. A lot of the new fea­tures that will ex­cite gamers aren’t avail­able in the f irst round of games for the con­sole ei­ther, so it feels a bit like be­ing stuck in traf­fic with your brand new Fer­rari. These are all short-term prob­lems, of course. More games are com­ing and Sony will un­leash pow­er­ful new func­tion­al­ity via up­dates. I’d wait for that, along with a lower price in the fu­ture – un­less you’re an ab­so­lute en­thu­si­ast and have t o have t he l at­est and great­est be­fore a any­one else.

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