PlayStation 4 Review: The path to greatness
- PSU Review Score
- Avg. user review score:
You must be logged in to rate a game
Sony's PlayStation 4 is an enthusiastic return to form disguised as a powerful, accessible game console. Equal parts forward-thinking and traditional, PS4 makes few missteps on a path to greatness.
- Marvelous physical design
- Connectivity and ease of use
- Most powerful console hardware to date
- Lack of customization
- Some features are missing essential components
- Underused light bar, touchpad
“Next-gen experience” is a phrase tossed around frequently these days. But what does it mean? Some might cite sharper, more beautiful visuals. Others would say a new console era is defined by the benefits from extra horsepower for smarter artificial intelligence, larger worlds, and more meaningful interactivity. Yet what makes a console like PlayStation 4 feel like technology from the future? Its hardware, features, and design needs to come together to give the gamer a fresh and pleasant experience.
At its core, the PS4 falls into the category of “traditional gaming,” with a console you hook up to a television and a controller with physical inputs. But my time with the console reveals much more: a piece of hardware designed to enable my interaction in new and exciting ways. Sony has successfully done so, with a connected PlayStation experience across multiple platforms. My desire to play has never been higher. While I was waiting around the other day, I popped open the PlayStation App, peeked at what my friends were doing online, and browsed through the PlayStation Store for games I could remotely download on my PS4 back home. Another example involves a gameplay video by Kyle Prahl, PSU’s editor-in-chief, showing up on my Facebook news feed. Kyle had captured footage of a thrilling race around Need for Speed: Rivals' Redview County. As I watched him zip around, I noticed he beat some of my top record speeds caught by speed cameras, and I immediately wanted to get back home to play. The PS4 is all about maximizing your investment, even when life takes you elsewhere, beyond the couch limits of its predecessors.
At the same time, I’ve found the PS4 to be the most convenient console to date. No more waiting around for firmware updates and patches to slowly download and install like they did on PlayStation 3. All of that happens while the system is in Standby Mode, so everything is ready by the time I get home. But what if I forgot to download a game beforehand? In some cases, I can play as it downloads. Even the physical size of the PS4 makes finding a place for it in my packed entertainment center easy. Its connections include HDMI, optical audio, and the same common power cable as the slim PS3 models. Plus, the USB cable for charging the controller is identical to those used with nearly all Android smartphones. A replacement set of PS4 cables will never cost me more than $15--several are already lying around my house.
Above all else, using Sony’s latest gaming machine is fun and enjoyable. Whether it’s getting my game on or kicking back to watch Netflix, I have never had any annoyance with getting to my entertainment destination. The DualShock 4 is the first truly comfortable PlayStation controller for me, and unique mechanisms like the touchpad and lightbar invite future potential. The visuals the PS4 can produce with many of its games still leave me smiling at how stunning and detailed they are.
PlayStation 4 is here, and already it’s reinvigorating console gaming at the beginning of its lifecycle. Nearly three weeks into owning the machine, I can’t fully imagine all the different ways developers will use its hardware and features to create true next-gen experiences. Some of us have a busy lifestyle, but PS4 can keep us engaged while away from the TV. The console's argument is clear: making gaming social and accessible doesn’t have to require watering down the games. Greatness awaits for PS4, which has an abundance of potential ready to be discovered on top of a rock-solid foundation. And I can hardly wait to see what it has in store for all of us.
Timothy Nunes - Response
Multitasking ability should be societal standard used to rate modern technology, because no one wants to be bound to just one thing at a time anymore. PlayStation 4, with the press of the PlayStation button, allows seamless movement between Music Unlimited, games, Party Chat, PlayStation Store, and all available social connections, and now that I have this kind of power in my hand, I can no longer validate anything less. Sure, the games need to be bigger, better, and prettier, but the console itself needs to have that extra something that keeps modern minds enthused. PS4 understands this and executes in spades.
Even if notifications are a bit wonky--as I stated in the Features section of our review--they help bind the social experience together, with a press of the PS button directing the PS4 to wherever that notification came from: Party Chat, game invitations, etc. Really, having one place to manage all incoming content is great, cutting down on having to sift through scattered, disjointed communication. Minimizing games takes no time, either, and there's no more looking at a transparent home screen that takes a long time to load when pressing the PS button.
Notifications have one major negative, however, that revolves around the Friends list. As of now (since we don't know if Sony plans on changing this), no notification pops up when Friends come online. In retrospect, the ability to have 2000 friends would be incredibly obtrusive if PS4 kept you alerted to the comings and goings of all. However, we all have a group of friends that we want to play with the most--and PS4 even allows us to send name requests, which allow the recipient and the sender to see each other's real name. With this in mind, being able to file friends into "Notification worthy" status would be great. Additionally, knowing on which system each friend is would be wonderful.
The constantly scrolling Content section of the main menu really feels disorganized. I include the Friends list when I say that I wish the PS4 allowed us more options for organization, such as the PS3's folder system. Luckily, the negatives that I've mentioned here are fixable with future updates, but reviews don't cover the future; we still have to deal with it, even if dealing with it is a small price for the excitement of the PS4 experience as a whole.
Kyle Prahl - Response
For me, the console "experience" used to begin and end with the startup noise and shutdown beep. With PlayStation 4, I'm not sure when and where that experience begins and ends--or if it ever does. I can send friend requests and voice messages from my phone while setting up automatic downloads at my home console on the road. I can instantly jump between Assassin's Creed IV and Netflix as my entertainment whims demand. I can start a conversation with co-op friends on PS4 and continue our chat (and gaming!) with my PS Vita in another room. Others can spectate my gameplay whenever I dare, and I could wile away an afternoon viewing the action of others. My PS4 is never truly off, which means patches are installing, games are downloading, and a full suite of games and entertainment is always at my fingertips: on the best controller I've ever held.
The only thing about PS4's launch lineup of games that feels next-gen is the visuals, but framed by the connected context that defines PS4, playing these games feels like basking in a creative, cohesive vision for the industry's future. As if overnight, the PlayStation universe has changed. Enthusiasm drips from every surprising convenience. Every moment spent multitasking applications or accessing your profile, games, and PlayStation identity from unexpected places is a breath of refreshing innovation that feels like it will matter and change the way our lifestyle functions. But the most endearing and impressive part of all? Every one of these new conveniences, these new ways of sharing our pastime, these new ways of communicating the importance of our medium, is welcome and well-executed. Very little about the PlayStation 4 experience attains true perfection, but its undoubtedly closer than a Sony game console has ever come.
Thank you for reading our review of PlayStation 4, and for being a part of the PlayStation Universe. Join the conversation in the comments below, or in our official forums, to give us your take on Sony's new console and the next generation of PlayStation.