on 25 January 2014
I was debating whether to get a next gen console as I have a high spec PC and thanks to the likes of Steam, the game support is now pretty good. But whilst console games are typically now available on PC, they are optimised for consoles and seem like pale imitations of what they could have been on PC. With that, And some money burning holes in pocket, I took the plunge...
As you see, my review is PC vs PS4 for those who may be in the same boat as me. I've not played an Xbox one so I have no idea how they stack up against each other, but the cheaper price, focus on gaming and lack of (what are for me) gimmicky peripheral extras were what sold it for me.
My summary of various attributes is below:
The PS4 looks similar to the PS3, which is by no means a bad thing. It's more compact and neat, but besides that, not much to report other than a light that bisects the top and changes colour based on various states. For me, the style is the least important factor, so I'll move on.
I saw that a spare controller is around 50quid and given that inflation isn't quite that bad you imagine that they've made some additions. I hadn't noticed one addition until it scared me into nearly dropping my very expensive controller when some unexpected sound came from it at high volume (tip: when setting up, go into settings and turn it down a bit, especially because it will no doubt save your battery (see below)). A new addition is a light on the back which changes colour depending on various things, many of which I'm yet to fathom, but often dictated by the game. For me it's superfluous and an unecessary drain on the battery, although I expect that it has some role when using the camera. For the controller itself, I have massive hands so I was pleased to see that it has grown larger since the last incumbent, so it's more comfortable now, although I'd love a BFG version...
I almost forgot the touch pad... Which maybe says something about it. So far it just seems to be a touch screen version of the D-pad but to be fair, I'm sure some developers will find a good use for it that don't just feel like an addition for the sake of it.
Overall, I really like the new pad and only gave 4.5 because of the short battery life, which I reckon lasts about 5hours. No biggy really.
Warning: I'm about to get speccy and nerdy. The cool ones amongst you may wish to turn away now...
To my fellow geeks, let me start by giving you the spec of my PC rig against which I'm making a comparison and yes, I know I'm not comparing like for like, but the bottom line is that I play games on both and there are comparisons in that experience that can be made. Basic spec: CPU i5 3570k @ 4.6 ghz, 16gb RAM @ 2400mhz, GPU 2X AMD 7950 in crossfire, 3048mb GDDR5 each, 500gb SSD.
That rig can run anything on ultra settings, so it's a big benchmark to test the PS4 against. Please also note that it's worth £1300+, compared with the £350 of the PS4.
So, how do they stack up? Well, I would say that the Killzone and Assassin's Creed look as good as anything currently on the PC and really do look a leap above the last gen machines. That said, I can see that anti-aliasing is either set on very low are non-existent and that function chews serious GPU power. Nevertheless, the rendering and textures are sweet, scaling looks very good and the benefit of a standard spec is that developers can set everything up to run as best as possible and can really get the most out of a system.
Solid state for the OS would have been nice and have lowered load times, but that would have popped the price up a fair bit. NB - the load times are fine btw, just not as swift as SS.
Overall, the PS4 is a very good, solid rig for the price (you'd struggle to get an equivalent PC south of 500 or 600 quid) and truly feels like the next step up the console ladder. Whilst the games look as good as my high end PC rig now, my rig has lots of capacity to spare and will be more future-proof. I expect the games of 2017 that I will run on my PC will be out of reach of the PS4, which leads me to the following waffle and conjecture...
Future proofing 2/5
The is purely speculative, but I believe there MAY be a shift soon in how we do gaming in the not-too-distant future. The PS4 is about on par with a low/mid range gaming PC NOW, but the latter has the benefit that you can upgrade to keep up with software developers. In fact, developers have been frustrated recently with being retarded by old console tech. In 3 years time, this rig will be outdated versus latest low-end tech, as was the case with the previous gen. Normally, the devs just have to wait, but... We see new models on the horizon; PC/console hybrids, like the Steam box, which are reported to be upgradable and available in a range of specs and prices. So why should the devs wait for the PS5 when tech continues to move along regardless? Steam have also changed the way we think about digital rights management; scary to think about not being able to lend/trade games, but that's offest by the cheaper game prices this allows. Xbox one announced they would take a similar stance on DRM and the market went so wild that they rapidly did a u turn, so maybe we aren't ready for that yet? Anyway, this is speculative and depends on many things, including whether people want the relative complexity of PC instead of the intensely user friendly consoles and whether they trust DRM models like those on Steam.
For now, the PS4 is strong and will remain so for a while, but if you have a decent PC it may be somewhat surplus to needs. If you don't want to worry about configuration, BSOD after Driver updates and other things that mean a PC gamer also needs to be a low level IT specialist then the PS4 is for you.
Despite the above, I gave this a 5 star as it is exactly what it should be; high performance for the money; user friendly; lots of game support, and; it feels like a next gen system. I especially like that the lack of gimmicks included and the focus on putting the costs where they should be - into the bits that make it look and play well.