Sony's PlayStation has reached its fourth generation, but it is worth your hard earned cash? Find out in our full PS4 review. Updated on 15/01/14.
PS4: Design and price
The PS4 looks more like the PS2 than it does the PS3. Whether you like the wedge-shape design or not is up to you, we're not going to spend long talking about it. However, the PlayStation 4 is undeniably slender and compact.
As you would expect, most of the ports are on the back while the optical drive and USB ports are the front. Handily, its power supply is inside reducing clutter around your TV.
Sony's asking price for the PS4 is £349, that's £80 cheaper than its arch rival, the Xbox One. However, that price doesn't include the PlayStation Camera which is an optional accessory. At the moment, this isn't a must-have because while it offers voice control it doesn't do much else. Its best functionality is logging into the console because the Playroom – a set of pre-installed mini-games – which will only keep you entertained for minutes rather than hours, one of which requires two controllers. That doesn't mean some games won’t come along in the further that make it worth the £49 price tag but it worth waiting for now. (For comparison see our Xbox One review.)
Now what's underneath the black exterior of the PS4. It's equipped with an 8-core AMD Jaguar CPU, clocked up to 2.75GHz. This is paired with an 800MHz AMD Radeon GPU and a healthy 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. Sony says its got 10 times the power of the PS3.
It's a powerhouse and on paper it's more powerful than the Xbox One so there's bragging rights there at least. However, with the new console being so, er, new, we've yet to see what it can really do. Its launch titles aren't exactly captivating (see below).
Somewhat mimicking what the Nintendo Wii U Gamepad can do, the PS4 allows users to play games on a PS Vita. That's a pretty cool feature and there's also an iPhone and Android app – Sony had to keep up with Xbox Smartglass.
Switching the console on can be done with a button on the controller and the PS4 interface is slick and easy to use – much improved compared to the PS3. You get a horizontal line of apps/games and you can often delve downwards to expand the menu. At the top is a row of smaller icons for things like the PlayStation Store and notifications.
You'll need to sign into, or up for, a PSN account to really get the most out of the PS4. Long gone are the days of simply putting in a disc and gaming, although you can do that if you like. A PSN account will give you access to the PlayStation Store where you can download games (at outrageous prices), films, music and apps.
It will also connect you with your friends and is necessary to use functions like the web browser. Features such as online multi-player, cloud storage and Instant Game Collection require a PlayStation Plus subscription which costs £39 for a year. Check out concept photos of the PS5, next Xbox and Wii games consoles.
The PS4 is a gamer's machine, rather than an all-round entertainment hub. Although, it does come with Netflix, LoveFilm, BBC iPlayer and Demand 5 support from the off which is more than the Xbox One. For example, though, you can't play Blu-ray discs without downloading additional software and you can't play media content via the PS4's USB ports – they are for charging contollers.
Since the PS4 is for gamers, it's a bit disappointing to find a lack of games at launch. Yes, there are over 20 available but the vast and overwhelming majority of these are available for older consoles and platforms – they're not next-gen games. Examples include FIFA 14 and Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag.
Once you strip away these titles, you're left with only a handful of exclusive games: Knack, Resogun and Killzone Shadow Fall – there's no killer title. The ironic thing is that we've found that the cross-platform games like Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts look and play better than Killzone.
Properly next-generation games will take developers a while to launch so we won't see any until next year. The Xbox One has a better launch line-up with the likes of Ryse: Son of Rome, Forza Motorsport 5, Dead Rising 3 and Killer Instinct.
Furthermore, the PS4 isn't backwards compatible with PS3 games.
It's on this where you need to decide whether buying the new console or not. If you can wait, then you might be better off getting the PS4 when more next-gen games are released and you can, almost inevitably, buy the console itself cheaper. See also: How to play PS3 games on PS4: Is it possible?
PS4: The Controller
The PlayStation 4's DualShock 4 controller is Sony's best yet. It's compact, light and ergonomically sound. Whether or not it's better than the Xbox One's is up for debate.
In my opinion, the analogue sticks are a little small but the rubber coating is very grippy which will avoid those annoying slips where you end up smashing your car into a wall on driving games. The shoulder buttons are also easier to use with a concave design.
Brand spanking new additions are the touch sensitive trackpad (yet to be put to good use) in the middle and integrated coloured 'Move'-style light which can be used with the PlayStation Camera. It is also supplied with a mono headset. See also: Xbox One vs PS4 comparison.
After using the DualShock 4 controller for a few weeks, we're disappointed to report that the rubber on the analogue stick has worn a considerable amount. We would only expect these kinds of tears and rips after many months of use, not weeks.
The Sony PS4 is a good looking and powerful console with fantastic hardware. We like the new DualShock controller and smooth interface. It's also cheaper than the Xbox One but a lack of killer titles mean it's probably worth hanging back for a while, grabbing after a price drop.