Biff Bam Pop’s Holiday Gift Guide – Hands On With The PS4

Sony recently released it’s new console, the Playstation 4, and it’s quickly becoming clear to the early adopters that Tretton and co. have stepped up their game when it comes to features, gameplay and flat-out pleasing the gamer market. With upgrades to almost every component, the PS4 is now the system to beat in the next-gen console war. Find out more after the jump.

Upon opening the box, the PS4 seemed a lot smaller than I had initially anticipated. I had even seen it in stores pre-launch, and I guess the size had never really registered with me. It fit nicely in a space beside my 360 that I figured wouldn’t be big enough, so that’s a plus! It comes straight out of the box with a power cable, a controller charging cable and HDMI cable. The PS4 is all-digital, so you won’t find component hookups on the back of this iteration.You’re also given an ear bud with a microphone, which is your “gaming headset”. I use the term loosely as the headphone (I say phone because it’s just one ear bud, not two) is cheaply made, and the ear bud is huge. As people who know me would attest, I have larger ears than the standard human, and I still found it quite uncomfortable. It’s like the large novelty hat of ear buds. That aside, the sound is relatively clear, and the mic works well. It plugs directly into your controller á la the Xbox 360, and has a microphone mute toggle on the cord, which is handy. The best part about the controller plug in is the ability to switch from chat audio to all audio, which allows you to turn your every-day headphones into PS4 headphones rather simply. This option is a great addition, seeing as a lot of the last generation headsets are having compatibility issues with the new console.

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The real shining light here, however, is the new Dualshock 4 controller. It’s beautiful. It’s essentially the same layout as the Dualshock 3, but it’s the aesthetic changes that really make this stand out as one of the systems crowning achievements. The controller feels heavier and much more solid in your hands. The thumb sticks are concave this time around and have a slight lip on the outsides, making them feel better than the old ones. They’re also much tighter than the previous sticks, bringing a much more responsive, tactile feeling with them. The triggers (R2/L2) are actually trigger shaped (gasp!) now, and they’re pressure sensitive, which makes using them a pleasure and playing COD with them feels much more like the Xbox, which fixes my main gripe with the old controller. The touchpad is also a new addition, but admittedly I’ve only used it once – to navigate the maps in Assassins Creed 4. It’s kind of the same feeling I had when they forced the rear touchpad interactions into PS Vita games, it feels tacked on in that instance. I’ll have to try it in more native applications to really get a good feel for it. Multiple rumble motors allow developers to customize how the controller reacts to certain stimuli in-game, which should make for an interesting experience. The light bar changes colors to let you know which players are which, and also allows for some MOVE functionality. Game developers also have some control that allows them to display custom colors in their games, so it could be interesting as devs get a hold of it.

The PS4 also allows players to share videos and screenshots of their gameplay to Twitter and Facebook, and to stream live video to Twitch and UStream. I’ve tried streaming to Twitch, and it’s easy and fun, though admittedly, the only person watching was my brother, and that was only for demonstration purposes. I have however seen video shared to Facebook, and it looks good, but obviously quite compressed.

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The new interface is a nice step forward from the previous generation. It’s sleek and responsive, and navigating it with the d-pad feels really nice. Your friends list has been updated to hold 2,000 friends, but unfortunately there is currently no way to organize them. The ability to display your contacts by their real names is a plus, and chat and party creation are easy. You can also party chat in games now which is a big leap forward.

Connecting to the Sony Entertainment Network upon receiving my console was a breeze, though a lot of people reported problems with connectivity. This is launch time people, of course there will be problems connecting! Millions of people are trying to do the exact same thing you are, just give it time. I did have issues downloading game files and updates though, which were resolved by trying he downloads at off-peak hours. One thing to note as well (to save you some downloading time): if you’re utilizing the promotion and upgrading from a PS3 version of a game to the PS4 version, you’ll need to go to the PS Store’s PS3 to PS4 menu, and not just re-purchase the game as the instruction card says.

Battlefield 4 on PS4
Battlefield 4 on PS4

As for actually gaming on the system, it looks incredible. Resogun is a great shoot-em-up style game that looks fantastic. I played online co-op with my Recurring Bosscast co-host Jett and it’s fun to blast away and party chat, though at certain points we were so transfixed on not getting killed that we wouldn’t talk to each other for minutes at a time. Assassins Creed 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts look brilliant. Specifically while playing Ghosts, I’ve noticed that the textures are leaps and bounds above what we saw on the PS3/Xbox 360. Bump-mapping makes everything look lively and, well, not flat, which was the case in games prior. I often found myself getting killed because I was just staring at wall textures or listening to the sounds of the metal creaking above my head while standing in a burned out fuselage. I haven’t played Battlefield 4 yet, but I’ve heard that it and Killzone are the best looking games on the console so far. I’ll have to give those a shot to confirm though.

Overall, the PS4 is a big step in the right direction for Sony, who’s marketing and ability to appeal to gamers has already put them in the lead of the next-generation console debate. With Microsoft’s Xbox One now available, only time will tell how the two will stack up in real world application, but so far, Sony is setting themselves up to be hard to beat.

Have a PS4? What are your thoughts? Want one for the holidays? Let us know in the comments!

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