Let's face it, although the PS3 had some great games, the PS4 had to prove that Sony could still make a great console and that they had learnt their lesson. Fortunately, the team behind the PS4 has designed a console that strikes the perfect balance between power, performance and size.
The console itself is quite small, easily fitting into your standard entertainment unit whilst still having enough room for the fans to breathe. It's mostly matte black but does have a glossy streak on the left hand side. It has two USB ports on the front and the rest of the ports, the HDMI and all the usual suspects, are located on the back. The Dualshock 4 has been upgraded from the 3 with the addition of vastly improved triggers, better sticks, that are further apart, the track pad, which is responsive but so far of only marginal use and of course there's the light bar which has yet to be used for very much. The options button is essentially the start button and the share button allows you to send screenshots or videos to Facebook, or stream on Twitch or uStream. Streaming and sharing videos is easy and done quickly, it requires little to no guidance and is made all the easier by the fact the console constantly records your last 15 minutes of gameplay. You can even edit clips if you want to. The controller is comfortable and seems suited to any genre, it's easily the best controller Sony have made.
When it comes down to using the console the experience is great. It boots fast and the UI is sleek, easy to use and incredibly speedy. You can access settings, your profile and the consoles multimedia sections in a flash and if you want to pause a game to check the UI for something then it comes up the instant you press the home button. The trophies have also been tweaked and improved, they now group all PS3, Vita and PS4 trophies together, they sync much faster and they are graded on rarity as well as via the usual bronze, silver, gold and platinum ratings. By being simple the UI manages to be effective and Sony have easily created the best console interface I've ever had the pleasure of using.
The PS Store is an improved version of what was on the PS3. Like the rest of the console it is sleek, neat and easy to use. There's a lot of speculation that this generation could see a dramatic rise in the download market so this sleek store could come in very handy.
It's the little things that impress the most though, like the way things update automatically while you do something else, or the way you can link to your Facebook account and it will provide you with your profile picture or the way you can put headphones into the controller and the sound will switch from the TV to the headphones.
And then there's the remote play. Remote play on PS3 was a joke but here it is amazing. Being able to play Resogun or Killzone on the loo is awesome and I have to say the lag between the PS4 and Vita is only very slight and my internet speed isn't great. The Vita can even be used as a second screen or as a controller itself, something which comes in very handy.
But of course it's the games that make the console. The games available so far are incredible, Killzone and Resogun alone are reason enough to purchase the console but then there's also Don't Starve, Assassin's Creed IV, Battlefield 4 and upcoming games like Infamous: Second Son or Thief. The games all look stunning and the way the PS4 handles such detail without even stuttering is amazing. Sony want to impress people with the fact that this is the most powerful console ever made and they are certainly going the right way about it.
It's very early days for the PS4 but the console is well built, easy to use, filled with clever features and is very powerful. It delivers an experience that focuses on the gamers but delivers what multi-media junkies require. It provides a massive social platform but fully supports a solitary experience, it's a premium console that is reasonably priced. The PS4 is Sony's best console and is a true testament to the power of the lessons learned during the days of the PS3. Though there's no way of knowing how it's game library will stack up, the console itself is simply amazing and impresses me every time I turn it on.