- POSTED: 18 Dec 2013 11:56
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The PlayStation 4 has a lot of potential to be a great video game console, but has not fully realised that potential just yet.
SINGAPORE: Sony's “Greatness Awaits” tagline for the PlayStation 4 (PS4) is actually a very accurate description for the electronics giant's latest game console.
Right now, the PS4 has the potential to be great, and does have some excellent features, but isn’t that great yet.
While it boasts superior graphical abilities and has almost 10 times the processing power of the PlayStation 3, the PS4 also comes with a small list of things it won’t do, which its predecessor will.
First off, the PS4 won’t play compact discs (CD); neither will it recognise external storage mediums like USB thumb drives.
This means those who want to add music, photos, or video clips on the PS4 for later consumption can’t do so.
Secondly, even if you somehow manage to, the PS4 won’t allow content to be streamed from a media server like a connected computer, or play any audio clips as well as videos, which are not downloaded or streamed via Sony and its partners’ services (that will become available in the future).
Thirdly, the PS4’s web browser won’t play YouTube videos or any videos that require the Adobe Flash plugin as the plugin isn’t compatible with the PS4 web browser, making the PS4 a less than ideal web-surfing device.
There is a reason the word “Won’t” has been used so far instead of “Can’t” when talking about the PS4’s features.
That’s because the PS4 technically can do a lot of these things, it just won’t do it right now.
Out of the box, the PS4 is unable to even play Blu Ray movies or DVDs until the user spends 15 minutes (depending on your connection speed) to download and install a 300+mb firmware update, which will enables these features.
This suggests that it is likely many of the ‘missing’ features are due to firmware issues, which users can wait for Sony to fix.
But it could well be a long, long wait.
When channelnewsasia.com asked Sony about this, the electronics giant did not give a clear indication when this might happen, or whether they intend to add these features in the future.
In the meantime, those who purchase the PS4 can enjoy the beautiful graphics of its launch titles like “Killzone: Shadow Fall” and “Knack”.
While they may not look tons better than a typical PS3 blockbuster game – so users will have to manage their expectations here - the PS4 launch titles are a testament to the console’s potential.
If launch titles already look this good, what would PS4 games look like another two years down the road, when developers learn how to maximise the PS4’s abilities?
The PS4’s controller is also a big improvement over its predecessor’s.
Although it resembles the PS3’s DualShock 3 controller, the DualShock 4 has more responsive thumb sticks, better trigger buttons, and fits more comfortably in the hand than its predecessor.
It also has a large touchpad which allows players to swipe across its surface or press it, adding a new way for users to interact with the PS4 along with its game content.
Aside from the touchpad, the PS4 controller also has a new Share button which allows users to record gameplay footage or take screenshots by pressing it.
This is a central part of the PS4’s strategy to create a sort of gaming ‘ecosystem’ where users can quickly record and share content with their friends via social media.
However, there is yet another limitation here.
Forget YouTube, the PS4 allows players to share their footage only on Facebook, though users can both create and watch video streams through streaming services Twitch and Ustream.
Other changes found in the PS4 controller include a light bar, which is mainly used by the PlayStation Camera device to recognise the player and track movements, as well as a speaker which can play audio streams separately from the main game.
It also contains a jack for a microphone, to facilitate online voice communications.
Incidentally, the PS4 controller is actually compatible with some PS3 games like “Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition”, when connected via its USB cable, though the PS button does not work.
Unfortunately, since the PS4 is not backward compatible, those who want to play their favourite PS3 games will have to hang on to their older console.
Also hang on to the power cable of your old PS3 as it works with the PS4. This makes the shift from PS3 to PS4 as simple as swapping the new system with the old, while using the existing cables.
Frankly, at S$639, the PS4 is a pricey piece of kit considering all the stuff it won’t do.
In addition, playing online with the PS4 typically requires a PlayStation Plus subscription (though there are some games that allow online play without it), which represents an additional cost in the long run.
Those who absolutely must play a game from the PS4’s launch lineup best hope Sony adds additional features in the future, after picking up a console at launch in Singapore from December 19.
For those who are on a bit of a budget and can’t live without media streaming features, it is perhaps better to wait for the PS4's library of games to expand, and for the console to become great.