While gamers in Europe and North America are now playing with Sony’s new PlayStation 4, the official Asian regions such as: Singapore and Hong Kong have to wait till December, to do the same.
Thankfully, Sri Lanka is not an official region, which is why we now have PS4’s here in Sri Lanka! Yes folks, you read that right, the PlayStation 4 has arrived in Sri Lanka much earlier than expected, thanks to Chelsey Import & Export Pvt Limited.
Being the lovers of technology and the gamers we are, we decided to head over to Chelsey and check it out. What did we think of the PlayStation 4? Read on and find out folks!
The console itself is roughly the same size as the PS3 slim version, which means you can place it on practically any TV stand or table easily.
On the front, inside the tiny gap, you’ll find the almost invisible Blu-ray drive on the left side, to insert the Blu-ray game discs/DVDS, the power button as well as the open disc button along with 2 USB 3.0 ports, just like the PS3 to connect the Dualshock 4 controllers or your pen drives.
On the back, you’ll find the power port, a LAN port, an HDMI port, an optical digital audio output port and an auxiliary connector port for the PlayStation Eye Camera. Sadly there’s no Analogue A/V output port unlike the old PlayStations, so if you want to play on the PS4 you better consider getting an HD TV as well, during the upcoming Christmas sales.
With a new console, comes a new controller – folks say hello to the Dualshock 4, it sticks to the basic Dualshock formula, that’s been tried and tested by Sony over the years so there’s going to be absolutely no trouble adjusting to it if you’re used to the previous PlayStation controllers.
Of course, while it sticks to the basic formula, there are some tweaks to it, such as:
- The modified Analog sticks which are a lot easier to grasp
- The modified L2 and R2 triggers which are easier to squeeze
- The big and thankfully not too bright LED light on the front that identifies player 1 and player 2 with different colours making the process of knowing who’s who easier.
- The touchpad which allows you to swipe options. Sadly we couldn’t test this since we didn’t have any games that used it.
- The start being replaced with the options buttons that allows you to access in-game menus.
- The select button being replaced with the share button that allows you to easily share your in-game screenshots and videos with a simple tap. We’ve explained the process of sharing below.
Unlike the PS3 which uses the XMB (Cross Media Bar) interface, the PS4 being next-gen uses a new interface which is known as PlayStation Dynamic Menu. How does it differ from the XMB?
Well for starters, it goes old school and uses the X button like the PS2 did to select options unlike in the PS3 which uses the O button to do the same, which was a bit confusing for us at 1st when we were setting up the system, but after a few minutes and playing around we were able to adjust to it and easily setup the console with fewer hoops to jump through than the PS3.
Onto the home screen, which makes better use of screen space compared to the PS3 by displaying the number of notifications you receive on the side, and also not displaying all the options in one go – instead it only displays the most important options any gamer would need:
- Quick access to their games along with the latest stats about said games
- Access to shared live streams
- The internet browser
- The what’s new feed
Furthermore, if you’re playing a game and press the PS button on the PS4, thanks to the hardware improvements, there’s a smooth transition from your game or any other application which will be paused in the background to the actual home screen – unlike in the PS3 which pauses the application and simply displays the options on the XMB.
While the PlayStation Dynamic menu is a big improvement over the PS3’s XMB menu, nothing is perfect; there is one flaw and that is, the PSN options being buried in the settings menu – unlike with the PS3 where it can easily be accessed via the XMB.
With the PS4, PlayStation Network aka PSN, Sony’s online service also gets a few upgrades, which makes PSN a lot more social. Such as:
The What’s new option which has been given an overhaul and compared to the PS3 what’s new option, is a great improvement, as it now displays a clean social feed that’s somewhat similar to Google+ and Pintrest, which tells you what your friends are/have been up to on PSN.
With PS4 you can also link your Facebook or Twitter account which means you can display your real name and also share your screenshots with your friends that aren’t on PSN, by simply pressing the share button as we mentioned before. You can also share gameplay videos to ustream and twitch with the share button as well. Here’s a video by PlayStation Mag UK which explains the sharing process:
While PSN has become a lot more social with the PS4, the only issues besides it’s options being buried in the settings is that you need to access PSN to do practically anything online, even using the internet browser……the browser.
Furthermore, unlike with the PS3, to access the all-important online multiplayer component of almost any game except certain free-to-play games, you’ll need to subscribe to PS+, the premium service, just like how Microsoft does with it’s Xbox-live gold service. Like they say though, every cloud has a silver lining here there’s a thin one that is: free games and the discounts which are offered each month by PS+.
According to the ultimate FAQ on the PlayStation blog, the PS4 comes packed with a LOT more power than a PS3. So exactly how much does this improve graphics in games and the in game worlds?
Sadly at the moment we can’t give a clear answer because the only game we were able to play was Call of Duty Ghosts, which ran at nice resolution of 1080p and had better lighting as well as level of detail over the PS3 version which ran at 720p; however it doesn’t look like there’s a graphical leap compared to transitioning from PS2 to a PS3.
Furthermore, most PS4 games will require you to install the games before playing. How much space would they take up then? Well, Call of Duty Ghosts alone takes up 45GB and then there’s Killzone Shadow Fall taking up almost 50GB! Currently PS4’s come with a 500GB 5400 RPM SATA II hard drive, though this may not be enough and considering our internet connections, it’ll definitely take ages to download digital copies from the PS Store.
While the PS4 doesn’t support external storage but with a bit of elbow grease, you can replace the PS4’s internal hard drive with almost any 3rd party hard drive or even an SSD, as long as it’s thicker than 9.5mm and is bigger than 160GB. Here’s a guide by Gamespot showing how simple the process is and how an SSD performs against the standard Hard Drive:
Oh, and when it comes to digital copies you DO NOT have to wait till the entire game is downloaded, instead you can start playing after the 1st level or so is downloaded, thanks Sony!
With the PS4 and PS Vita, remote play has gotten a massive improvement. Not only can a PS Vita be used as keyboard, but supposing if you’re playing a game and someone else in the house wants to watch the match, you can simply use the Vita as a second screen and resume your game on it.
Yes folks, you read that right, you can play a PS4 game via remote play on a PS Vita. The process involves streaming the game from the PS4 to the Vita via a Wi-Fi network. In our tests, if you kept your Vita and the PS4 within the proper range of your Wi-Fi network, you can surprisingly play any game absolutely lag-free.
However, with the hardware limitations of the Vita, the graphics do take a hit. Certain buttons on the Dualshock 4 that aren’t on the Vita, are replaced with areas you can tap on the back touchpad of the Vita, which work but obviously they don’t have the responsiveness of the proper Dualshock buttons.
Nonetheless, the ability to play a PS4 game on the Vita is nothing short of amazing especially when it’s lag free.
Currently you can get a PS4 console at either Chelsey or Kiddies Corner at MC at Rs. 99,500. As for the games themselves, start from Rs. 9000, the same as PS3 games since both consoles use the Blu-Ray format, so if you’re a PS3 owner, you won’t see a change in game costs.
While the PS4 doesn’t bring a phenomenal leap in graphics, it addresses the weaknesses of the PS3 while improving it’s strengths, with a new controller and features such as: background downloading, simplified sharing and proper remote play.
Is it better than the Xbox One? We can’t say yet because we haven’t played around with the Xbox One yet. However the PS4 is still a great gaming console, whether you plan on buying it now or later when prices drop and more games arrive won’t change that.