The Playstation 4 has landed, the midnight releases are over, games are being played, and now the hype turns to critical review. All of the pre-release marketing, as persuasive as it may have been, ends up meaning nothing if the console doesn't please the Playstation faithful and persuade others to buy the console. So is the PS4 worth your $399?
As with many next-generation consoles, reviewers seem to agree that the PS4’s technical capabilities are sound -- though the system still has plenty of hurdles left ahead if Sony wants to re-create the massive success of the earlier PlayStation and PlayStation 2.
Los Angeles Times games critic Todd Martens praised the console’s appearance, its efforts to integrate social functions, such as recording and sharing gameplay footage with friends, and its ease of installation. But a glaring problem remains.
"Whereas the PS4 was fast and relatively painless to hook up -- the system went from out-of-the-box to operational in about 20 minutes, -- the system lacks must-have content, therefore an initial 'wow' moment," Martens wrote.
Others have similar praise, and concerns.
“The PS4 is packed with gaming-focused features and brimming with future-looking, community-driven possibilities,” Entertainment Weekly's Matt Cabral said.
“The Playstation 4 has an excellent controller, decently powerful hardware, some intriguing, well-executed new features and an interface that shows belated acknowledgment of some of Sony’s most user-unfriendly past designs,” Ars Technica’s Kyle Orland wrote.
But at the end of the day, it comes down to games, and the PS4’s launch lineup, particularly its exclusives, isn’t exactly wowing critics.
Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo expressed excitement about the console’s potential, but as he wrote in his ongoing review: “I just wish the launch games were better.”
Flagship first-person shooter “Killzone: Shadow Fall” has been featured prominently in pre-release promotions, and the game has been widely praised for its visual leap forward. But critics are finding, underneath the sheen, significant problems.
“For all the next-gen bluster of its visuals and the repeated blunt-force attempts to ram a message home, [developer] Guerilla’s first shot on the PS4 retreads shooter cliches, and poorly,” wrote Polygon’s Arthur Gies.
“Knack,” a game geared toward younger audiences, has met with even harsher criticism.
“Whether you’re 5 or 25, Knack is boring throughout its 10-hour duration,” GameTrailers said in its review.
The PS4’s launch lineup is rife with other high-profile installments in the “Call of Duty,” “Battlefield” and “Assassin’s Creed” series -- but those same titles, barring some graphical differences, are already available, or soon will be, on the PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PCs.
The lack of must-play titles is common with new consoles, though some shake off that problem sooner than others. Sony, whose Playstation 3 was plagued by the “PS3 has no games” meme early on in the last generation, appears aware that much of its upcoming fight with Microsoft will be decided by whether it can follow through with top-notch titles.
After all, as Martens wrote: "Followers of the PS3 know that the system’s best games were not among the initial wave, and Sony cemented its deserved game-first reputation in 2013."
During its launch event Thursday night, Sony teased several titles, some of which will be exclusive to the PS4, including new installments in the popular “Uncharted” and “inFAMOUS” series and exclusive content from “Destiny.”
Watch the trailers below and see if those titles are enough to persuade you to be an early adopter, or wait a year or two for the PS4 library to grow.