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Cut the crap – The Verdict on PS4

Cut the crap – The Verdict on PS4

Playstation 4 ControllerYup, the New York press conference confirmed PS4 is on its way. And it seems it will actually BE a PlayStation 4; they opted for that name instead of Orbis. Here we have presented, in a concise article, everything you need to know. We give our thoughts, but keep it short. You’re a busy gamer, and you want someone to cut through the crap for you. Let it be us!

The event was notable for what Sony didn’t announce as much as what they did. Although we didn’t see the console, we did see the controller. They didn’t announce price or release date, but did seem to say that it would be available before the end of the year. They showed a lot of games, but were relatively light on exciting exclusives. Most worryingly, there’s a real problem now for Sony (and anyone else) when it comes to demoing games. Simply put, no one can get genuinely excited about a game without appending “if its not pre-rendered footage” to the end of anything positive they say. Sony only have themselves to blame for this with THAT Killzone 2 trailer, but I confess they are not the only perpetrator of such a lie, merely the most notable example.

Enough preamble, on to the details!

Hardware
PS4 ScreenSony started with this, and its mostly in line with speculation. The most important point here is that they have gone for a much more standard architecture, basing it on an APU with x86 CPU cores. As PlayStation 3 titles always suffered when compared with their 360 counterparts (especially early in its lifespan) this should make it easier for devs to make their games on Sony’s new machine. Developers always cited the PS3’s complex and unique architecture as the reason for the poorer performance of ports on that console.

It was also pleasing to see that it will feature 8GB of memory and uses GDDR5. This large amount of memory will allow a “Sleep” mode that will save game states, and allow the console to boot very quickly and let you continue your game from exactly where you left off.

Sharing was a huge focus at the conference, and Sony really seem to have nailed this aspect for a key next gen console feature. The PS4 includes an additional chip dedicated to video processing as well as its main APU. This is a feature Sony stressed over and over again, and they want users to share screenshots and movies easily. They showed how you could share a video of live recorded gameplay while still playing the game. Very impressive stuff. This no doubt comes from the Gaikai partnership, and like that service there’s lots of talk of how the PS4 will be able to show you others live game sessions, or even let you take over another persons game session and help them get past a hard part.

The Sony press released confirmed the following:

8-core x86-64 AMD Jaguar
1.84 TFLOPS AMD Radeon graphics
6x Blu-ray Drive
USB 3.0 ports
Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n wireless
HDMI, analog AV out, optical audio

A New Dualshock Controller

PS4 ControllerThis matches the prototype images leaked onto the web last week, and shows how some better photography and lighting can make something much more appealing. As you can see, they have stuck a touchpad in the middle. Outside of laptops, it’s hard to think of a device that makes good use of a touch pad as opposed to a touchscreen, and this feature failed to excite us much. It’s hard to see this without being reminded of the similar Sixaxis support shoehorned into the PS3’s controller as a reaction to the success of the Wii, but if this is Sony’s reaction to the smart phone, it won’t cut it. Strangely, the touch screen is also a button and can be clicked, and it supports two point multi-touch.

Elsewhere on the pad there’s some great features though. A Share button is prominent, while the triggers have been made concave like the superior 360’s (at last!).
It also includes a neat little light bar to differentiate players in multiplayer games, or give extra game information, like when your character is taking damage or almost dead in an FPS for example.

They say they have also worked hard to make the (already very good) analogue sticks even better and the controller is heavier overall. It includes a headphone jack, and even has built in speakers.

They have removed Start and Select and instead they have an options button, which will work in conjunction with the touchpad.

Sharing

PS4 Share ButtonNo backwards compatibility. As a result of Sony’s partnership with Gaikai, streaming of all those old PlayStation games will be available though, meaning you will still be able to play those games (as long as your connection is fast enough). There was talk of eventually a library of every PlayStation game (from 1 to 3) being available. Presumably, we’ll have to pay for them all again.

There also seems to be streaming to almost any device possible from the PS4, including to the Vita. Additionally, this offers the possibility of using the Vita together with the PS4 to effectively emulate the Wii U, with extra game features available on your portable device.

The new UI meanwhile is flatter and looks more like the new PSN store or (shudder) the Xbox 360’s. Sony have confirmed that they won’t block pre-owned titles though, so its not all bad news!

PlayStation 4 Eye
PS4 EyeIt’s good news for no one as Sony include the PlayStation 4 Eye and chase some of that sweet Kinect money that Microsoft somehow tricked people into parting with. It seemed like the new PS4 controller will work like PS Move when used together with the PlayStation 4 Eye. Apparently it will do that thing where it recognises your face and logs you in automatically that was supported with Kinect and worked never.

The Games

While exciting exclusives were limited, the mutliplatform releases looked exciting. Watch Dogs still looks great, and more details of Destiny arrived.

Those exclusives included a new Killzone (bleurgh), Knack (?), a new game from Media Molecule (hmmm) and a new inFAMOUS (woot!).

As I mentioned above, its hard to get excited about games footage now (at least for me) as you question its authenticity, but at least you can see some great ideas and art in the videos below.

So that was the PlayStation Meeting. It wasn’t mind blowing, but its hard to know what Sony could have done to blow our minds. The console looks nice, it won’t include draconian content rules to stop pre-owned games working and they’re making it easier for developers to make games on it. It would have been nice for them to focus on the indie space a little more, as opposed to big budget snore-fests like the Killzone series, but they have given the devs the tools they need to make some great games. I can’t wait to see what they come up with!

Oh, and in the world of whining, whingeing idiots, Diablo 3 was announced for PS4, making some PC Diablo players completely lose their shit and proclaim that Diablo 3 is bad because it was made for consoles first. No you sock chewing troglodytes, Diablo 3 was bad because it was a cynical soulless piece of over-designed crap.

MOAR FROM CALMDOWNTOM!