A Comeback Console
The PlayStation 4 is a next-generation console to satisfy gamers' appetites for new content, but do its supporting features break new ground for game consoles? We explore this question in the second portion of our PlayStation 4 review.
Part one of Mashable's review discussed the PlayStation 4's sleek design, much-improved controller and slightly anemic launch lineup. Most of the consoles other selling features were still unavailable before the media embargo lifted, so we're hitting on those now.
Presentation and Menus
While we talked about menus a bit, some interesting pieces have unlocked after Sony's update. Your PS4 Menu Bar now includes "What's New," a social grid that shows almost every detail about your friends — from their playing and watching habits to trophies earned to uploaded videos. While the grid layout is great, as you can quickly view videos and screenshots, it offers too much information. Filters don't seem to exist yet to limit updates to only pertinent information.
This theme of clutter permeates all of the console menus. I wish I could have seen less, not more, and that information had been organized more clearly. Accepting a friend request takes a lot of clicks from notification to confirmation. The whole experience needs to be more frictionless, especially if the goal is to draw more people back into gaming.
The PlayStation Store, which generally has a slick digital shopping experience, suffers from the same problem when you drill down beyond the main categories. The movies category not only included new arrivals and bestsellers, but also weekly deals, recommendations, Thanksgiving sales, genres, categories and others. Understandably, digital marketplaces are hard to organize, and no one has a perfect solution. The PlayStation Store does have beautiful art with game box covers in full-sized glory. The amount it has improved from previous iterations is impressive.
Sharing and Streaming
The PlayStation Network, fortunately, is a much smoother experience than the PlayStation 3. Now it's easy to log in with your email and password just once to bring in your PlayStation Network account. During your setup, you can log into Facebook as well, where you can associate your real name and Facebook photo with your PSN ID or opt out. You can then request the real names of people you play with, which will display on your friends list forever.