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PLAYSTATION 4 Steps Up The Social Game — First Impressions

Greetings, my fellow nerds! We live in the age of installs, patches and updates, with hardware being altered and expanded upon before the blink of an eye. While I will be touching on some of the PlayStation 4’s current core capabilities, consider this a friendly reminder that these features are subject to change. Game on!

Can you believe how quickly the last generation zoomed by? I remember when the PlayStation 3 first launched, it lacked the ability to access the main interface (known as the cross media bar) from inside a game. Whenever a friend sent me a message, I would receive the notification, but couldn’t view the message without severing ties with my game experience by quitting back to the main interface. This eventually prompted me to turn these notifications off in order to fight the temptation of my friends’ interactions, thus allowing me to enjoy my games without disturbance. The result of that was an anti-social online experience, which seemed like a dull and indolent ghost town when compared to Xbox Live’s vibrant, party loaded online atmosphere.

PS4In comes the PlayStation 4, which capitalizes on many of the things we loved about the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live and expands on these ideals by further integrating the gaming experience into our everyday lives. Right off the bat, you’ll notice how much Sony has improved at producing an intuitive and seamless user interface. The cross media bar has been replaced by the sleeker and smoother running PlayStation Dynamic Menu. Navigating around this bad boy is fun, pleasing to the eye, and most importantly, simple. My only gripe is that switching between different activities appears to be a bit sluggish, which may be partly due to being spoiled by the UI functioning quite fluently otherwise, but nevertheless still obvious.

PS4UISony’s focus on social connectivity seems to be paying off big for the PS4, completely undoing the spiritless atmosphere of it’s predecessor. With the ability to send and receive real name requests, deep social network infusion (Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, Ustream), and a stern emphasis on content sharing (there’s even a “share” button on the controller), the PS4 is easily the most socially linked game console to date. They’re a little late to the party with… well, parties and other features such as voice messaging, mobile-based companion applications, and packaged headsets that come with the console giving people easy access to voice input/output. But they were at least able to expand on these hugely popular features that were introduced and made standard by the Xbox 360. Most importantly, all of these features work without a hitch, depending on whether or not you can sign into the PlayStation Network, which has been periodically suffering from massive server overload since launch.

DS4The Dual Shock 4 controller also adds an extra layer of appeal to the PS4 package. As a person who favored the Xbox 360 controller last gen, it was easy to adapt to the DS4’s elevated triggers, slightly longer handles, and concave thumb sticks. Logging in long hours with the Dual Shock 4 hasn’t resulted in hand cramps nor fingers slipping off of the analogs yet, and I largely credit that to its thoughtfully crafted design. I can’t forget what possibly may be the most intriguing aspect of the controller either, the touchpad. I figured that this would merely turn out to be a gimmicky feature, but the potential for developers to utilize this part of the DS4 is finely exhibited through games like The Play Room and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

WowAs you can imagine, there aren’t many games to be played on the PS4 at the current moment. But where the PS3 did excel was with its mighty hardware and it’s unique variety of exclusive games, many of which were considered benchmarks of excellence in the last generation. The PS4′s graphical leap from the PS3 is noticeable in some of the launch games, but not enough to clearly convince you that we’ve quite arrived in the next generation. Killzone Shadow Fall is easily the game that best demonstrates the PS4′s graphical capabilities and is gorgeous down to every pixel on the screen. The retail launch line up is decent, but the killer apps will really begin dropping at the beginning of next year.

WarframeThe PS4′s heavy involvement in the indie game scene is what gets me the most excited for the console, allowing developers who are absent of big budget publishers to self-publish their games. I believe that you will see many games that would’ve otherwise gone unappreciated make waves on the PS4, especially with how socially involved everyone can be in each other’s gaming experience. At this moment, there are independent titles available for download that can rival the AAA launch releases. Download Warframe or Blacklight: Retribution, two free-to-play games, right now and you’ll get a glimpse of how promising Sony’s involvement with indie developers can be.

PS4aSo far, the PlayStation 4 is cracking up to be everything we had hoped for back when Sony unveiled it back in February. The true potential of the console, of course, won’t be achieved until more games make their way onto the scene. But as of now, the PlayStation 4 is the most socially connected game console to date, with a clean and intuitive interface, strong indie game support, and a controller that rivals the Xbox 360′s as the best of all time. We’ll be digging deeper into the PS4 pot as we learn more about it in our first days with Sony’s new golden child.

So which console should you buy between the PS4 vs Xbox One?

 

When it comes down to it, the Xbox One has expanded on everything the PlayStation 3 set out to do in the last generation in terms of combining everything that is entertainment all into one device. In turn, the PlayStation 4 has basically expanded on everything the Xbox 360 aspired to be in terms of social gaming. Yes, Microsoft and Sony has gone totally Sean Archer/Castor Troy on us ladies and gentlemen, but for the better. If you desire supreme gaming content and an unparalleled gaming experience, the PlayStation 4 is for you. If you desire an unrivaled all around entertainment experience where your movies, music and television play an integral role alongside your gaming to keep you engaged, the Xbox One is for you. Either way, you cannot go wrong and it simply comes down to preference as both systems have a lot more good to offer this time around than ever before. Let’s raise our glasses to the official start of the new generation of video games!

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But don’t just take my word for it, Jessica Chobot and Dan Casey weighed in on the new consoles too in a brand new segment called The DLC. Check it out for yourself for more perspective on which of the new consoles might best suit you.

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10 comments

  • While I don’t think these two systems are vastly different, I had to go with the Xbox One, if only because I like the Xbox’s exclusive game lineup much more than the PS4. Dead Rising, Titanfall, Halo and eventually a new Gears of War are just too much to pass up. The biggest advantage the PS4 has right now is that it is $100 cheaper than the Xbox, and i’m sure that will definitely influence some gamers and parents. I don’t prescribe to the idea that one console is going to be king over the other. Buy whichever you prefer and GAME ON!

  • My PS4 review:

    I love the PS4…that pretty much sums up my feelings. And I am not a Sony sycophant…but after 2 Red Rings of death, I had to move on.

    It is a very small, and sleek game system with buttons that are so low key they are invisible (I had to look in the directions to find them). 

    The system can be easily upgraded so when it is time to put in a 1 or 2 TB HD, you can.

    The Camera is cool (if underutilized ) right now. The facial recognition is nice and easy to use. Turn on the system from your controller, the camera comes online…registers you in seconds, logs you into your account. I set up my wife as well and when she comes into the room, she is logged in and her controller is assigned. I can’t wait for some cool games to come out to use it more aggressively.

    The menus are easy to navigate and the power of the system is impressive. I was downloading 2 games (WARFRAME and BLACKLIGHT), and using Netflix (no issues or slowdowns) and then I was playing Injustice (while the downloads & instillation were occurring) and only the slightest frame rate issue was noticeable.

    Games are the best and worst part of the PS4 right now. The Worst part-There are just not enough of them right now…Sony missed that big time. Since I can’t play my PS3 games (HUGE MISS) the system was not played with (by me) as much this weekend as it should have been. I bet my PS3 games would look AWESOME on it….bummer.

    Best part-The games that are available are cool…Injustice was a fun game to beat (only took a total of 6 hours over 3 days) and now it is just a fighting game to unlock hidden stuff. I have not played any other games (store bought games) yet but I am thinking about picking up Battlefield 4 or COD:GHOST (not sure which is the best game). Watch Dogs would have made the weekend perfect…but alas, it was not to be.

    Best (continued) – the 2 FREE downloadable games Blacklight: Retribution (Beta) and WARFRAME were very cool. Massive games (each over 2 GIG each).
    My only complaint is that they are co-op online games. I am not sure I will join PlayStation Plus (online gaming is not really for me) long-term but these two games were atypical of that type.

    WARFRAME was a co-op mission based game…I did not have my headphones on so I could not hear the commands of the team leader (I was just fooling around and an online game started) and I had no time to get ready. The game missed by not using the speaker on the controller…that would have helped.

    Blacklight: Retribution was your atypical F.E.A.R. co-op type game. Run, shoot, kill and die (re-spawn) and repeat. Fun but you could tell the gamers online were heavy-duty. I got like 1 or 2 kills, yet I died 2 dozen times. Doubt I will play the game if I have to play that way.

    But the games were beautiful…truly a leap beyond a PS3 game…there is so much detail it hurts my eyes to play them for too long.

    And the controller…truly the BEST one ever. The touch-pad is cool and easy to use. Instantly intuitive. Some future games (if played in the dark and with the camera) will utilize the controller as if it is a torch or flashlight…and when you move the controller, that will control where the light goes.

    All in all, for a launch week, my total review is a 9 out of 10 on the system….
    a 7 out of 10 for games,
    a 10 out of 10 for the camera,
    a 10 out of 10 for the look and feel of the System itself,
    a 8 out of 10 for set-up ease
    a 10 out of 10 on the controller.

  • I agree with everything in this article. I have logged many hours since 1:00 am Friday. The new PS4 has so much potential I am really excited about the games coming in 2014. Already finished Injustice: Gods Among Us, and I am itching for some new games but the FREE downloadable games Warframe & Blacklight. I recommend the camera; the facial recognition is spot on and the voice command system is easy to use and actually fun to use (and I can shut it off if I want to). *smirk*

  • […] The only downside to the app is that certain features like entering the PlayStation Store prompt you to launch your phone’s web browser. But the app is still young, and for what it is, it functions quite admirably. Download the app for free on from the Google Play Store or the iTunes store right now and keep tabs on your PS4 buddies. Be sure to check out our first impressions of the PlayStation 4 here. […]

  • Kind of glad I’m broke right now, because this looks pretty great, and if I had the funds I’d be setting mine up right now, but it’s probably better to wait a month or two for the most obvious bugs to be ironed out. Still, can’t wait to see what comes out of this console cycle. I can’t even imagine how they’ll top the last one, but I guess that’s why I’m not a game designer. (Also, math is hard)