The Pros and Cons of the PS4

The PS4 is literally the first launch day system that I have bought since the original Playstation, and certainly the first that I picked up on opening day. I spent all weekend with Sony's bright new hope for the gaming world, and here's the Playstation Pluses and Minus Worlds I've noticed so far.

Pro: The PS4 retails at $399 and comes with the system, an HDMI cable (Finally), an ear bud headset (A nice touch, I thought), and a controller. It even technically came with a game if you pre-ordered like I did. GameStop included both a free 30-day Playstation Plus membership that offers free downloads for games like Contrast, which looks awesome, and $10 to the PSN store. For a 500GB eighth generation system it's honestly a pretty sweet deal.

Con: Though they say it isn't mandatory to use the system, for all intents and purposes resign yourself to paying $4 to $10 a month to join Playstation Plus. Online gaming will be impossible without it on the system, and more and more games are going that way. It's a good deal, honestly, what with the many free downloads, perks, and all, but I do hate that the idea of paying to belong to a system's network is becoming more mainstream.

Pro: I picked up Knack along with the system because I wanted something to share with my daughter who is getting into games now. It's honestly like being inside a Pixar film. Console gaming has never looked or sounded better, there's certainly not argument there.

Con: On the other hand... Knack actually shows just how little non-Nintendo gaming really has changed over the course of the last two systems. Graphical innovations have reached the point where it's no longer a jaw-dropping improvement. It's better, no doubt, but not that much better than a PS3 quality.

While playing Knack, the first thought in my head was, "I'm playing a family-friendly version of God of War... then I realized I was actually just playing a technically superior version of Crash Bandicoot. Say what you want about the Wii-U and Nintendo's gadget fetish lately. They are really trying to shove the act of play in a new direction in a way that Sony isn't.

Pro: I do love how the PS4 has embraced the idea of sharing outside of the PSN. You can connect your User ID to your Facebook, and sharing screen caps and even videos is connected to a dedicated button on the controller! My wife asked what my daughter and I were playing, and I just instantly uploaded a pic right to my wall so she could see. It's been a long time coming, but the perfect blend of social media and console gaming is getting closer.

Con: This is probably not a problem for any significant number of people, but could we please get an all-region Blu-ray in the systems at this point? In this day and age it's hard to believe that we are still making region specific releases anyway. I was really hoping that I'd finally be able to watch a good copy of Dogs in Space.

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Pro: The remote play feature that allows the game you're palying on PS4 to stream to your PS Vita is just a genius idea that I can't wait to try out. Not only will this allow me to play while the television is being used for other purposes, it opens up a whole new experience for my wife who more enjoys handheld gaming.

Con: For the first time ever, Sony has released a system with virtually no backwards compatibility. At least PS3 played PSOne games, and even on some models, PS2. Nor is online content purchased for PS3 necessarily going to be available on PS4. Like my complaint that region restrictions still exist in a world of instantaneous accessibility and cloud-based storage it just seems really archaic that we still have to deal with systems that can't play previously bought content. Is it really too much to ask that I have one machine capable of playing every main Final Fantasy?

Pro: It's a minor triumph, but thanks for making a lateral, flat-topped system again, Sony. Since we need to keep both our PS3s and PS2s to continue enjoying those games, it's nice to have the ability to stack them to conserve storage space on the entertainment center.

Con: The launch title selection is pretty dismal, I'm afraid, especially if you're not a sports or first-person shooter fan. Knack is fun and all, but 2013 saw the release of some absolutely incredible titles like Beyond: Two Souls, Ni no Kuni, and The Last of Us. In short, it feels kind of like everything is backwards. We got the ground-breaking games first, then a system that we can't play them on. The timing just seems odd.

Final Verdict: The problem with the eighth generation systems so far seems to be that they are just incrementally better than their predecessors. It doesn't feel like that there's a huge jump in technological achievement that justifies getting a whole new system aside from the fact that the old technology will be phased out soon enough. To put it another way... console gaming is starting to feel more like PC gaming, which has its ups and downs.

All told, though, I love my PS4 dearly. Its interface feels much more polished than the PS3, there's a more elegant simplicity to using it, and it was really quite reasonable as an upgrade. Plus, the ability to stream to handhelds is a definite step in the right direction, as is the ease to incorporate existing social media for the look-at-me crowd (Guilty). Aside from a few hiccups, which are really more the product of the video game industry in general than Sony's design, it's a worthy bearer of the name Playstation.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner