PlayStation 4 Review: Do You Need to Have One Yet?

By Stephen Totilo on November 14, 2013, 12:00 AM

How good is the PlayStation 4? Ask me in five years. Ask me after Naughty Dog's next couple of games, after I figure out whether God of War is headed in the right direction, after I learn whether it has become unfathomable to play a console game without livestreaming it.

That's why, for now, I'm calling this a review (in progress). These days, many game reviews aren't really done when they first run. They can explain parts of the game accurately at launch, but online communities shape these games. That's true, too, for the surprisingly online-centric PlayStation 4. Today I can tell you a bit about what the PS4 is, how it's working in its pre-launch phase, and what, as a device, its manufacturer Sony has situated it to be.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 23

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LukeDJ LukeDJ said:

I dunno about the PS4, but that GIF looks damn sexy on the Homepage :eek:

2 people like this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I guess I'm just too old to fathom the appeal of any console. I'll just stick to the PC until it's or my dying day.

kuroiei kuroiei said:

I'm a PC gamer (even if I don't game really much), but I have to admit - then PS4 seems solid! Small, compact, without any weird stuff attached to it... Good for Sony, it seems like a stable iteration of their console so far. I remember my PS2 days...

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Here's the PS4 FAQ if people fancy a read

Some interesting highlights:

- Can't play MP3 files on the system without subscribing to Sony's "Music Unlimited" service. ($60 a year)

- No audio or video analog output.

- Can't hook up external HDDs/ not supported.

- PS+ is mandatory for online gaming (although most of us already knew that was coming)

- Can't play even simple audio CDs on the system/ not supported.

- Doesn't support Media Servers...so no streaming from the PC directly to the PS4 like you can on PS3.

- No backward compatibility at all, not even PS1 games now.

- Blu-ray and DVD playback not possible out of the box. You must download a patch first.

...of course these things are nothing to the trust issues the Microsoft created with the X1 car crash earlier this year.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I bet all those features will be included in a new version of the PS4 few months down the line, to milk more money.

cmbjive said:

I don't think most gamers need to upgrade to a PS4 or Xbox One because there's still a lot of great gaming on their predecessors. That said, I did upgrade because I wanted to get both systems at launch. Any current gen games also available on PS4 or Xbox One I delayed to get on the newer systems.

JC713 JC713 said:

The only game that I would play on PS4 is KillZone. Any other games can be played on PC.

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ps4 looks very interesting but they are right about the games. Gta v, diablo3 and fifa will see me to Xmas on my 360. Then there's the steam sale

Blue Falcon said:

@ Benny 26,

Some interesting highlights:

"- Can't play MP3 files on the system without subscribing to Sony's "Music Unlimited" service. ($60 a year)"

A downside but who really cares? What household no longer has a BluRay player OR a DVD player that can play MP3 files? XB1 costs $100 more. For $100 savings, you can buy a BluRay player and play those MP3s

"- No audio or video analog output."

HDMI sends audio & video signal digitally. Analog video and sound on a modern console? Ya....why does this matter?

"- Can't hook up external HDDs/ not supported."

You can upgrade the HDD to any SATA II/III drive you want, including an SSD. That's something XB1 cannot do. I much prefer the option of throwing a 512GB SSD for $150 in 3 years from now than have an option for external HDD but no option to upgrade the main system drive!!

"- PS+ is mandatory for online gaming (although most of us already knew that was coming)"

Yup, bummer against the PC but PS+ provides more free games a month and costs $10 a year less than XBLG.

"- Can't play even simple audio CDs on the system/ not supported."

Same as MP3 point you made. The fraction of people who don't have a device that can play audio CDs in their living room is probably very limited. A $30 DVD player can accomplish the same.

"- No backward compatibility at all, not even PS1 games now."

This is not a negative. This is actually one of the major positives for PS4/XB1 generation.

(1) Moving to x86 CPU architecture is the future for consoles. This was necessary to move away from cost-expensive and inefficient customs CPU architectures like the CELL on PS3.

(2) Who buys a $400 console to play PS1/2/3 games? Seriously, just keep your PS3. Playing PS1/2 games is very difficult now since their sound and graphics are atrocious.

(3) Incorporating BC with an x86 CPU architecture and Unified shader GPUs automatically meant including Xbox 360 and PS3 hardware inside XB1/PS4. This would have increased costs, increased TDP, increased complexity (chance of failure). All that to play ancient games? No thanks. At least now with the move to x86 and Unified Shader GPUs, PS5/6 should be BC with PS4.

"- Blu-ray and DVD playback not possible out of the box. You must download a patch first."

This is just a nit-pick on your part. Who buys a console and does not do firmware/software updates?

Sure, compared to PC, PS4 is inferior but compared to XB1, PS4 has it beaten in nearly every category that matters.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

I guess I'm just too old to fathom the appeal of any console. I'll just stick to the PC until it's or my dying day.

Likewise.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

The only game that I would play on PS4 is KillZone. Any other games can be played on PC.

I take it he's falling in line right now :P

Guest said:

Seems the PS4 can't do squat except play games that haven't been released yet. Sony decided that SmartTVs will provide all the streaming and dlna needs for the home entertainment system, and their box will play games and movies. Nothing else. Fair enough, but not for a couple years.

Noone wants 10 different boxes in their living room.. cable box, gaming box, blu-ray player box, stereo receiver box.. The holy grail will be a TV with *everything* built in.. including the gaming hardware :D you read it here first. I want royalties.

Guest said:

Do you need to have a ps4 yet. No I could never need a ps4 at anytime. Do I want one yes. Not right now though as no games on it interest me.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Sure, you can put a $30 cheapo dvd player next to it, but why ?

I'd perfer to just have one box under the TV that can just play anything. Who would want to put 2 optical disc players next to eachother just because you need to use the right one for music cd, dvd, bluray or a game ?

Prosercunus said:

Just reconfirms my feelings on the new consoles. Perhaps I will pick one up in a year or maybe two. It depends on how much their libraries fill out. None of the current games interest me and/or are available on PC.

I would bet I buy a Wii U before the PS4 or Xbox One just based on the first party exclusives alone.

GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

I picked mine up on Friday and here's my quick thoughts:

Pros:

Sleek, beautiful, small and relatively quiet.

Easy to setup

Better controller in most ways (not a big fan of the center having that touch panel and moving the center buttons around)

Better Navigation through on screen menu

Cons:

Charging for multiple services instead of keeping like with the predecessor and allowing the streaming from computer and media disks etc. Playstation+ for online multiplayer is fine, but the movie streaming, music streaming, and stuff add ons to do something so simple for playing music is beyond me and an obvious attempt for more money instead of just allowing like the predecessor did.

Launch Titles are pretty abysmal like the 3DS launch with only one game that has not already been released on previous consoles being worth buying (Killzone).

Lack of inputs (USB only 2)

Sure, compared to PC, PS4 is inferior but compared to XB1, PS4 has it beaten in nearly every category that matters.

Saying that we should just keep all our other equipment even though we have a device that has all the capability sitting 5 feet from us is beyond me. Sony removing these features was a ploy to garner a reason for more "Subscription services" instead of just keeping it as simple to do as it was before.

If you going to argue why the cons listed by another above are not cons, you need a more compelling argument. The point is why are these features "blocked" or "removed" from the console even though its predecessor could do it which is one of the things I agree with that complaint.

Most of your comments are stated at saying the Xbox One is bad compared to the PS4 because it just is (Or as you said in the points that matter) which I do not see...

Better Specs is one argument, however we all saw how well that favored the PS3 last round didnt we...

Xbox live Costing a bit more per year over Playstation+ might be a downside, but it includes more without requiring other service charges.

Xbox One is an all in ONE entertainment system which is better for the fact that we dont need as many devices crowding up our cabinets. Which I wish the PS4 had done as well.

Both consoles will have their ups and down, until the One comes out we cant compare them side by side. My PS4 is in and its great, but we wont see which one until its full release.

Littleczr Littleczr said:

Seems the PS4 can't do squat except play games that haven't been released yet. Sony decided that SmartTVs will provide all the streaming and dlna needs for the home entertainment system, and their box will play games and movies. Nothing else. Fair enough, but not for a couple years.

Noone wants 10 different boxes in their living room.. cable box, gaming box, blu-ray player box, stereo receiver box.. The holy grail will be a TV with *everything* built in.. including the gaming hardware you read it here first. I want royalties.

You missed having a video game store like apple and android. Could you imagine all the developers that will flood the market.

Arris Arris said:

@ Benny 26,

Some interesting highlights:

"- Can't play MP3 files on the system without subscribing to Sony's "Music Unlimited" service. ($60 a year)"

A downside but who really cares? What household no longer has a BluRay player OR a DVD player that can play MP3 files?

Me because I have a PS3. Looks like I can't just replace the PS3 with a PS4.

"- PS+ is mandatory for online gaming (although most of us already knew that was coming)"

Yup, bummer against the PC but PS+ provides more free games a month and costs $10 a year less than XBLG.

No problem here if it improves the PS online gaming experience.

"- Can't play even simple audio CDs on the system/ not supported."

Same as MP3 point you made. The fraction of people who don't have a device that can play audio CDs in their living room is probably very limited. A $30 DVD player can accomplish the same.

Same as with the MP3 issue, the PS3 can do it, so I don't have a DVD player or other device in my living room as the PS3 does it all.

"- No backward compatibility at all, not even PS1 games now."

This is not a negative. This is actually one of the major positives for PS4/XB1 generation.

Completely agree. Whoever is paying the premium price for the latest gen kit isn't going to be crying because they can't play their first gen games on it.

- Doesn't support Media Servers...so no streaming from the PC directly to the PS4 like you can on PS3.

This is a big one for me. I have a NAS and use the PS3 to access photos, videos and music on it in my living room. In fact I've used it more for that, LoveFilm and Netflix than playing games. If it really doesn't support this then it's a big step backwards for me. Another reason for me to skip getting one. Is this because Smart TVs have now moved into this territory and can now provide a lot of this functionality without the same power usage as a console? Who knows but think this is a big let down.

ddelamare ddelamare said:

Personally for myself, I'm now moving away from consoles.

In the early years I loved consoles and still do to a certain extent but as I've grown older and technology has matured and the pace of that maturity is quickening with every year, my expectations on performance and quality has risen quite a bit. The world has gone mad with console obsession and the truth of the fact is that any mid range computer will have more grunt and provide more content possibilities and connectivity options than anything that the big name console providers can offer, unless your willing to shell out 1k for a 'Gaming Grade Console' even then, your still going to be limited somehow.

I honestly no longer think that these new-gen consoles will last the pace, sure I think they will have massive groups of followers and die-hard supporters but considering whats around the corner, technology wise, I believe that they will be obsolete in 2-3 years at the most. With every iteration of console, companies are expecting you to hold onto them longer and longer and longer, then sometimes change the paint to try and freshen things up without pushing things forward and keeping consumers up to date and at the forefront.

I've decided to take charge and move back into the realm of pc gaming because I don't want to be restricted in the content that I can access on a device any more and I certainly dont want to be at the mercy of a 'network outage' because of online drm, or someone shooting the cloud down or whatever. I want to make sure that the device I use is as fast as it possibly can be, or have the options to change that where and when its needed, and not because Sony of Microsoft will dictate that I will have to use this console for the next 5 years or longer, whilst paying extras for services and features that I can already access on the internet connection that I'm paying for already...

I think people are getting caught up with what console developers are telling them is new, unique and bespoke features and these things have existed on gaming rigs for years. Even as of right now, someone please tell me what these consoles have or can do than cannot be done on a standard gaming rig? Anyone? The software is about the only unique selling point here, not the hardware, those specs will be old within 6-12 months.

I already have Microsoft software, and most of the time it works well, but why on earth would I want to have another device with a propriety, cut down Microsoft OS on it when the stuff they have just now on computers still needs a lot of work and struggles with 'up to date' formats.

Just to make things clear and not be one sided, consoles are great though, don't get my wrong. Everything's pre-packaged, it just sits there (sometimes not a discretely as we'd like though) and there's enough friends and colleagues on our buddy lists to make it a good social tool as well. Its convenient, kind of like those little plastic meals thingys you bung in the Microwave.

Now after just spending a lot of money on a complete AMD Rig with crossfire 280x cards, this thing has lots of power and generates a lot of heat. Now I put this together because come the day when the 4k TV's and monitors of tomorrows world becomes yesterdays, which wont take long, I know that my rig is still going to have enough power in it to run games at a 'playable' rate and reasonable quality and failing that, I can always 'boost' the machine without the risk contributing heavily to my electricity bill or making ice melt somewhere in the world faster than it should be.

How well do you think these new consoles are going to be when 4k hits? How much heat do you think these units are going to generate and exhaust at full load for a couple of hours? How long do you think the console is going to last in those really confined casings? Its alright to be disconnected from an online only game or service without ANY information on whats going on and when you'll get it back, is it?

The PC gaming world is the way forward here, proof of that is also that consoles are moving closer and closer to normal pc platform architectures and specs, albeit not as good as they should be but they are getting there. PC Gaming is obviously more expensive but then again you have more pro's then con's as far as I can see. Rigs are getting smaller, more powerful, more efficient and provide you with the ability to do as you please, hell I can even block ads on my machine, you cant do that on a console and with the way that the world is obsessing with ads, I don't want to be on a machine that I can change that or the little things I don't like about it or that annoy me. Pc gaming is the 'better experience'

Consoles, on the other hand, are getting larger, more expensive (for the hardware and features they actually contain) breaking down more due to heat or 'manufacturing' issue and are becoming more and more restrictive by the year. The software is also not that good, again your limited in what you can actually do and you need to wait on these guys giving you software updates to fix things, that break other things...

What you are actually witnessing and contributing towards is the the slow transition and eventual death of a free choice platform that can be changed at will, highly flexible, allowing you to do as you please when you please, online or offline, to an expensive, under powered, inflexible, platform full of information and monitoring you don't want or need or are in control off.

Enjoy your awesome Launch Day Title(s), when it comes, those lists seems to be getting smaller and smaller with every launch as well...

krazykingkush krazykingkush said:

As badly as I want to play the new Killzone asap, PS3 will be relevant for several years yet. I can wait. Heck, by the time I go to buy a PS4 - the 5 will be coming out lol..

Blue Falcon said:

I think Sony recently issued a statement that they will provide a firmware update to bring CD audio and MP3 playback.

[link]

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think Sony recently issued a statement that they will provide a firmware update to bring CD audio and MP3 playback.
What happened to the concept of plug-n-play? Seems the console requires a bit more intelligence, than simply hooking it up after all. There goes the theory of buying a console because it is easier to use.

Guest said:

People still game? All I see is COD version x, AC version x, BF version x, GTA version x, etc and cut scenes seems to be very popular among game developers.

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