Sony's next-generation console—the PlayStation 4—is now on sale. Despite Nintendo's best effort to sell the Wii-U as a next generation platform, in my opinion November 15, 2013 marks the true beginning of the eighth generation of console gaming.
I thought it would be fun to peruse a number of early reviews and articles about Sony's new system and the console war that is sure to follow. I'm also happy to see South Park address the launch in a timely fashion in the latest episode titled "Black Friday." The seventh-gen platforms enjoyed a remarkable 7+ year run, and now the two heavy-hitters in the industry introduce their new eighth-gen platforms a mere one week apart. Surely the future of gaming is looking bright.
When it comes to non-gaming uses, so far the PS4 is not getting the kind of love that the Xbox is enjoying. From voice control, to its stereo rack-friendly design, and the inclusion of HDMI-in, Microsoft's console is an ambitious effort to take over the living room. However, Sony's PS3 evolved into one of the most flexible platforms for video playback—it's still a great choice for Blu-ray and streaming video—and there's no reason to believe the PS4 won’t follow in that tradition.
Without further ado, here's a brief roundup of what I've been reading online regarding the PS4
Polygon published a slick-looking review that gave the PS4 a numerical rating of 7.5/10, citing a lack of available software to back up the impressive hardware. The review itself is something to see, Polygon debuted a new format that is visually striking, interactive, and all around very impressive.
image from polygon.com
CNET praised the system's design, including the new DualShock 4 controller. A lack of launch-day titles dampens the initial enthusiasm. The machine is pegged as the more affordable, more powerful, but perhaps less capable next-gen console—as compared to the Xbox One. Ultimately, CNET awarded three and a half stars (out of five) to the new console.
Sony's new DualShock 4 controller repeatedly earned praise for its improved design
The Verge (among others) published an article about last night's episode of South Park. The show toyed with the idea of a PS4 vs. Xbox One divide, pointing out that groups of friends have to choose one platform or the other, if they wish to play together online. The insults fly, culminating in Cartman's declaration "Let these Sony f***s wallow in their limited voice control functionality." Good stuff, if you are a fan of the show.
Stan Marsh fights for PS4 dominance
The Verge also published an early review of the PS4 system. Noting that the day one update—which enables online connectivity—is essentially brand new, the author still manages to get a feel for what the system offers. The review touches on remote play using a PS Vita, "it just works," and there is praise for the quality of the graphics as well as the design of the new DualShock 4 controller
Update: The Verge published a full PS4 review. Home theater junkies will probably not be pleased...
"As if to fully prove its point that the PS4 is a gaming machine and not a media receiver or a home theater PC, Sony's actually stripped away the local playback functionality that was so useful on the PS3 (though the company may be changing its tune on that to some extent). Even when I plugged in a Sony camera, I couldn’t access its pictures or video. It feels like overkill: why needlessly remove useful functionality from such a powerful, versatile machine?
The answer, right or wrong, is obvious: Because it's not about games. And the PS4 is all about games." source: The Verge
IGN writes about a couple of incidents where hardware issues plagued pre-release PS4s, including one its own sample units. The issue appears to be related to the HDMI output in some way, and might have been triggered by a firmware update.
IGN also reviewed the South Park episode, awarding it a score of 8.7 out of 10.
IGN enjoyed South Park's take on the console wars
Engadget's Ben Gilbert discusses his first 48 hours with Sony's new machine. He finds a lot to like, and the new DualShock 4 once again emerges as a highlight of the new system. He also found that the graphics look great, stating that "the games we've played on the PlayStation 4 so far are gorgeous."
Personally, I'm looking forward to both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. I have plans to buy the PS4 this year, and an Xbox early next year. I'm personally glad to see the PS4 support 3D playback, and I'm baffled by its exclusion on the Xbox One. I'm also enthused about the PS4's promise of support for 4K/UHD streaming—there is a real need for an affordable UHD streaming device that works on all UHDTVs and I hope the PS4 fits the bill. After all, Netflix plans to roll out UHD streaming in the near future.
I'm curious, is anyone planning on picking up a PS4 tonight at midnight tonight? Are you considering buying into both platforms? Do you think a "wait and see" approach more appropriate at this point? Please, chime in…