PlayStation 4 impresses despite flaws

A&E - PS4 (Public Domain)By: Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor

There are two machines coming to gamers that are going to change the way people experience entertainment forever: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The PlayStation 4, released Nov. 15, is supposed to be the console that is focused strictly on gaming. The PlayStation is the smaller sleeker machine. It boasts an AMD Radeon graphics core next engine, which has 1152 shaders. Also its peak GPU shader throughput is 1.84 teraflops per second, according to IGN. What this means is that the technology is better enabling the PS4 to have better more powerful graphics.

Launch night was a disaster as it almost always is. There was lots of waiting as both systems have updates as soon as you get them home. Luckily, the PS4 allows you to play without the update, but you can’t get online. On the Xbox One you can do absolutely nothing without the update. After getting the update, almost all of the servers were clogged up with so many people trying to access them all at the same time. Of course most of that is understandable although somewhat disappointing.

One of the first things we did was explore the PlayStation Playroom. Not really a game, it allows you to explore the power of the motion sensor, the camera and the controller. Probably an oversight, but I did not realize the controller had a speaker in it until I heard the sounds of the Playroom echoing from my hands. The ability to move the controller and have that impact what happens on the screen is very smooth and doesn’t feel forced. It was very impressive and a glimpse at how this technology will impact games to come.

The graphics are incredible. I played NBA 2K14 on the PS4 and I was impressed from the opening tip. Although all games now need to be installed, which seems to take longer on the PS4 the game let me play in a demo mode in which I could not pick teams and there was no commentary. When I started the game I was amazed at how life-like the players looked. One of the most frustrating things for sports gamers is the crowd, because often it was just a handful of repeated models, but with the PS4 there are over a thousand different models meaning you will almost never see the same person in the crowd twice. Also the crowd is more realistic: they react to good and bad things happening in the game.

Another exciting feature for me was when I got a slam dunk with Lebron James. I looked at the bench and about six players were on their feet jumping around as they would have been during a game. You can even see how the clothes move and it looks life like.

After the initial install, load times are very low and the console allows you to get right into the game. The PS4 does take a while to power on and off. It can also be finicky about moving through the menus. One problem my friend kept having was that he had set his Facebook profile Picture to be the picture displayed, but the console continued to display his photo from the PS3.

The system, which will cost $399, can access internet for apps such as Netflix and Hulu, free to the gamer. To play games on the internet they will need to have a PlayStation Network subscription which will cost $49.99 a year, $10 cheaper than the Xbox network. The online community is largely seen as the lesser players compared to the Xbox group. The environment tends to be more welcoming, though.

Some of the best new features are small, but exciting to new players. The aforementioned controller not only has speakers, but it is much improved from its eight year-old predecessor. The joysticks have been moved farther apart so that gamers will not bump thumbs when the sticks are pointed at each other. The touch pad is probably the biggest change. The touchpad allows players to do so many new things like a repeated swipe which can launch robots out of the controller in the Playroom. It can also serve as an extra button. The final change is the triggers. They used to feel very weird especially for first-person shooters, but now they work much better, more like the Xbox triggers. The improved user interface makes this system a lot easier to use and navigate. The voice command works very well, although it does require the purchase of the camera, $59.99, which comes free with the Xbox. Downloads will still take longer on the PlayStation, although the hope is that the load times in game will be much faster.

The flaws are minor and the console is impressive. It also sold over a million units on launch day, according to Sony. The PlayStation 4 will not be my choice, but it certainly delivers on what it intends to be: a gaming machine.

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