Setting up the PS4 is a very different experience from setting up any previous console. A better experience. For a start, the unit itself is quite nice, small yet monolithic. The original PS2 and PS3 were both pretty shonky pieces of design.
I hid my PS3 away in a cupboard, which meant I had to drop the door to use it, but Iím going to keep the PS4 out and on show. It fits perfectly with the clean post-modern lines and colour scheme of my lounge.
But, back to setting up. In the olden days of a few years ago, one would take the console out of the box, plug it on to the electricity, and the TV, and shove a game in and begin playing. But these days, you have to connect it to your network, and configure all manner of other options, connect your Facebook account, activate your PSN account, and select whether this is the ďLeadĒ console on your account - to determine how it will behave with respect to purchased items, and how they can be used.
Once youíve done all that, and downloaded a system update, youíre ready to go. It calls for more patience than the olden days, which is fine for adult gamers, but it would drive me crazy if I was a kid on Jebusí birthday morning, and caring parents (and they all claim to be) might consider getting it out of the box and pre-configuring it. Of course, youíre highly unlikely to know your kidís Facebook account details, but these can be added later.
The PS4 User Interface is at once immediately familiar, and also completely updated. Unlike the Xbox, which has undergone several drastic UI updates, the PlayStation XMB has undergone more of an evolutionary process. It is noticeably improved from the previous version, but not unrecognisable.
The gamepad is redesigned, so that it has a touchpad at the top centre. It also has a headphone jack, which means that you get all the benefits of wireless headset without having to buy a wireless headset, which is a nice bonus. The controller also has a blue light on the front side, this delivers 'Move'-like features when used in conjunction with the very reasonably priced PlayStation Camera.
The controller has changed from Mini USB to Micro USB. WHY, for heavenís sake? Micro is only slightly smaller than Mini, and itís a royal pain in the ass having to have both leads on hand at all times. So putting aside the fact that you canít use your old cables and will probably have to buy new ones, the good news is that the controllers will charge while the console is on standby. That's a big improvement over the PS3, which had to be powered up to charge the controllers.
The PS4/Camera combination delivers some fun interactive toys. The one I tried lets you interact with a floating robot head. Tap it, by waving your hand n the air, and it moves around the screen, hit it and it responds with missiles and electro rays. It uses facial mapping to recognise where you are on screen. Itís fun, and I was keen to try some of the other interactive toys, but I could not work out how to get out of that one. No matter what button, or combination of buttons I tried, I could not get out, or get any kind of help or instructions. Using the PS button took me back to the main menu, but when I went back into the Camera section, the same ďgameĒ was already loaded up. It was extremely frustrating,and in the end I just gave up.
On the plus side, PS4 has a 'suspend' mode, so you can re-activate it exactly where you were in a game. It downloads and installs updates while in standby, and we are promised an App soon that will enable us to buy software and media remotely, and have it download and install ready for us to play when we get home.
When the PS4 was announced I was not terribly impressed, nor particularly interested in owning one. It seemed like an incremental improvement over the PS3 - and to make up for that fact, Sony (Microsoft too, with the XBone) was overcompensating by adding a host of mulltimedia features. But now I have had my hands on one, I HAVE TO HAVE ONE. Itís a lovely piece of kit, small and stylish, and with a great feature set.
The launch game line up is hardly stellar. But thereís AssCreed 4
, which looks lovely, and Knack
, which is a fun concept and very well executed. These would be more than enough to keep me happy on Christmas morning, but the PS4 needs more games and soon! They're on their way, look at our release lists to see whatís expected.
Remember to check-out all the upcoming releases for PS4 right here.