By Kevin Jiang
In today’s society, the ubiquity of high quality, addicting smart phones and free online games like Angry Birds, Candy Crush, and League of Legends seems to undercut the use of video game consoles. Why would people choose to play on a machine only at home when they could carry the game around in their pockets? TO address this technological trend, Sony has launched a comeback with its powerful, elegantly designed, and socially interactive PlayStation 4, which they hope will revolutionize and revitalize the world of video games.
At first glance, the PS4’s design is clean, sharp, and sleek. Its most distinguishing feature is the LED light bar that extends through the whole system; this feature not only adds to the aesthetics of the console but also indicates the system’s functioning status. Another notable characteristic is the weight of the PS4. Weighing only 96 ounces, the PS4 is considerably lighter than the 176 ounce PS3. This weight change makes traveling with the PS4 much easier.
Prior to the PS4, video game consoles had difficulty keeping up with the graphic display of high-end PCs. Due to disparities in image quality, most gamers can even differentiate between gameplay footage recorded on a PC to footage recorded on a console. Consequently, some game developers removed content in games and decreased the graphics’ resolution in order for games to run smoothly on consoles. However, hardware improvements allow the PS4 to have almost the same picture quality and gaming experience as some gaming PCs.
In terms of software, the PS4’s user interface is both a step up and a step down from the previous PS3’s. On one hand, the user interface promotes greater social interaction. Players are now able to view their friends’ progress in certain games simply by scrolling through the user interface. Additionally, the PS4 software has a fantastic platform for players to share their gameplay videos and have live commentaries. This is done through the use of the share button on a player’s controller. On the other hand, I was disappointed when I found out that PS4 does allow its users to customize their own system’s theme and background. This is a let down for those who like to customize and make their user interfaces unique.
Weighing a mere 7.4 ounces, the PS4’s controller weighs just enough to feel comfortable in players’ hands. The two swing sticks align perfectly with players’ thumbs and allow for more control over slight movements during action or shooting games. By far the best improvement is the trigger sticks on the rear of the controller. If you are a shooting or racing game fan like me, you will definitely be pleased with the changes implemented on the trigger sticks by the PS4 development team. Whether it is pulling the trigger or stepping on the accelerator, the instantaneous response and the vibration of the trigger sticks allow players to feel as they are actually performing the action. In addition, the light bar on the controller can be used to identify different players and adds more colors when gaming with others. Despite all the exciting improvements, the controller’s battery life lasts for only 6-7 hours. If you are a regular gamer, don’t forget to charge your controller after each game session.
For many students, the biggest concern is the system’s pricing. The standard PS4 bundle costs $400, a whopping $100 less than its main competitor, the XBOX One. However, the original bundle only contains one controller, with the PS4 camera sold separately for $60. Although these additional purchases are not required, you might be interested in spending the extra money in order to experience games more fully.
While the PS4 may sound perfect, I did encounter some problems while playing. Sometimes I cannot access PlayStation network or type in my redeem code for an online game. I was also disappointed to learn that even though the PS4 supports third party video streaming such as Hulu Plus, Netflix, and NBA, they do not support YouTube. While I have tried to access Youtube through the web browser, videos were unable to load properly. Even though these are minor problems that won’t affect users’ overall experiences with the PS4, I feel that the PS4 should have been more polished before its release to the public and that these complications could have been easily avoided.