Author: Gabrielle Linnett
Sony indulged audiences across the world with knowledge of PS4, but left them wanting more.
On Wednesday 20th of February Sony held a launch event in New York that had been anticipated with keen interest; namely for the next generation of PlayStation. Considering the Playstation 3 was originally released in the UK in 2007, its slim counterpart in 2009 and a super-slim version released late September 2012, Sony has done well to maintain the high level of interest in the product. However, now is the apparent time to progress and add another console to the line. The PS4 greets gamers with the familiar in new forms, whilst providing many high-tech advancements to play with.
One aspect of the PS4 which combines the past and present is the DualShock 4 controller. As with its predecessors the controller consists of the classic PlayStation circle, square, triangle and cross buttons; but it has also received a technological update with the addition of a touch pad in the centre of the controller face. However, exactly how this will come into play is alluding. When imagining game play it’s difficult to picture using the touch pad whilst the buttons, D-pad and analogue sticks still remain. Particularly when keeping in mind the way a PlayStation controller is held, it is only the thumbs which operate the face of the controller and so, depending on the size of one’s hand, it could be a strain to use the touch pad if needed with speed and accuracy. Furthermore the touch pad appears small, as required by its position on the controller; thus accuracy in use may be a challenge to achieve if it is to be used in relation to an entire screen.
Perhaps the touch pad will be more suited for use within the internet browsing facility, to give one example, as the controller of a cursor. This could be a solution to the current issue of controlling the web browsing cursor with an analogue stick.
In addition to the touch pad, the controller also comes with a light bar which functions with the PS4’s stereo camera to track and indentify the controller in 3D. Fortunately this is compatible with PlayStation Move controllers too.
However the PS4 is not compatible with all pre-existing elements of the PlayStation and possibly most troublesome is the lack of backwards compatibility with games. At this news many gamers will feel distress as their collection of PS3 games, displaying numerous cases with pride, will become fossils with the PS4 release. Of course many will learn of this and decide to keep their PS3, especially if they have purchased the super-slim version, which so (relatively) recently came out. But their game play satisfaction may suffer under the delay of experiencing Sony’s newest creation.
Fear not Playstation fans, there is a compromise to be made! Sony has developed the Playstation Cloud, which is said to possess games of the distant and recent past. Henceforth the beloved games of the PlayStation One, PS2 and PS3 will all be accessible through the PS4’s streaming capability in time. The expansion of the catalogue available to stream will be under scrutiny, if too slow this would be dissatisfying to customers but if too fast will leave Sony and players with insufficient time to savour the retro and contemporary games. With good control the expansion of the catalogue should provide customers with a pace in which they can play games before being presented with a new round of returning and current games.
The games which will be released alongside the PS4, as revealed by Sony, include first person shooter PS3 series continuations such as Infamous: Second Son and Killzone: Shadow Fall. But the attention-grabbing and final presentation was of the first-person shooter contribution from Bungie, Destiny. Being the creators of the renowned Halo, Bungie were accustomed to their hit game being exclusive to Microsoft Xbox. The expansion into both of the heavy-weight games consoles should prove to be a good move by Bungie and can be seen as a placement of faith in the next generation of Sony gaming. Players may fear that the halo-esque game will feel strange played on the Playstation, however it matches Sony’s vision of a ‘social gaming machine’ very well.
In spite of the numerous action games which are already known to be available for the PS4, Sony has also informed us of The Witness, a puzzle game and platform game Knack. The latter is about Knack, a creation designed to help in the fight against an invading power, which can reassemble itself from a small, friendly creature to one of enormous size and strength. Although this appears a softer game in comparison to the gun shooting action ones, it appeals to a slightly different audience and is thus evidence that Sony continues to appeal, not to a single style of gaming, but to both casual and core gamers. To provide such an option in the range of opening PS4 games has to be praised.
In conjunction with the PS4’s game streaming capabilities, players will be able to stream their games to the PS Vita for remote gaming. Although this was the intention for the PS3, reports say that “it’ll be different this time” with the PS4. The perks of remote play are the abilities to access the Playstation’s games and media through Wi-Fi in a completely different location, or play a game from the PS4 through the PS Vita whilst your other half watches something on television – Everyone will be happy!
Remote play to a PS Vita was in fact demonstrated at the launch event with Knack, but Sony will also release apps for mobile phones and tablets in their bid to make gaming ultimately portable away from the living room environment. The remote gaming technology currently available has fallen under much criticism; hopefully things will differ with the PS4 as it appears to be a fantastic capability, especially if, as suggested, the aim is to get all games available for remote play.
As touched upon previously, Sony’s vision for the PlayStation 4 is a social gaming machine, which can be drawn from multiple aspects of the console. Firstly, players will be given the option to link their PlayStation profiles to their Facebook account. Not only can you share news of your gaming achievements via the social networking site, but you will also be able to share clips of your efforts too. Sony wants to develop video clip sharing of game play to be as popular as screenshot sharing is today. Furthermore players will be able to stream their live game-play to friends, allowing them to watch the game exactly as you play it – but with enough distance for you not to blame them for your countless lost lives. However if that is the case, by which I mean you’re losing many lives and are on your way to throwing the controller across the room, the PS4 will enable you to pass the control of the game over to a friend for some assistance.
The PS4 will also be able to present a tailored range of game recommendations based on your current library of games, which players can download in the background whilst playing another game or when the PlayStation is switched off. But if players are very impatient for a game, they can even start playing whilst it is downloading; just imagine the long awaited titles you’ll be able to start playing from the moment you buy them. In addition to this convenience, players will be able to power down the console mid-play and turn it on again to continue exactly at the point where they left. This ability stems from the console’s lightning speed memory.
Nevertheless, Sony’s launch event did not cover everything. Most disappointingly Sony did not reveal how the PlayStation will look. Although this is certainly not the most important feature of the console, it would have added an extra layer of excitement to the audience who will have to wait almost a year to get their hands on the device. Sony have said the PS4 will be released late 2013, in time for the Christmas rush for the newest games console and best games. However the amount you’ll need to set aside for this great purchase has also been veiled for the time being. Best start saving your pennies now to avoid missing out on the first of next generation consoles. Despite Sony deciding not to reveal the price of the PlayStation 4, Zavvi has a pre-order option available to secure customers a PS4. The online-only retailer has labelled the console with a pre-order price of £399.99, alongside the price promise of “order today, we’ll charge you the lowest price”.
Moreover Zavvi have given an estimate release date of December 31st 2013, but once again this can be met with some suspicion. Sony has not specified a date of release, at least not in their launch event, and it would seem illogical for Sony to release their new console just a few days after Christmas. Releasing the console before Christmas would surely win Sony more sales with children of all ages wanting the next console as a gift? If Zavvi are correct in their estimation, many will be unable to afford the console upon release during the aftermath of Christmas expenditure. For the sake of purses and impatient gamers everywhere, let’s hope Zavvi’s prediction is a bit late so we can test the console over the holiday period.
Sony’s launch event has instilled much excitement amongst its audiences for the eventual release of its newest console. What has been shared as yet gives the PS4 a high expectation to live up to, but with more to reveal I hope it can only get better.