Sunday, 3 March 2013

PS4 Release Date, News & Features

TechRadar had the following to say about the new PS4. 

The PS4 is now an official thing. It officially exists, and from what we've been told so far it looks pretty awesome. With TechRadar in attendance at the event on the 20th Feb, Sony revealed some tantalising details about the PlayStation 4 hardware specs, along with some amazing software features that the new console will have. Sadly, and almost unbelievably, we STILL don't know what the PS4 looks like. However, we do know it's coming out in the US in time for Christmas 2013, we know about the DualShock 4 controller and we've seen the new interface and a lot of the features it delivers. Here's everything we know about the PlayStation 4 so far...

All we know about the PS4 release date so far is "Holiday 2013". That's the only detail Sony revealed at the launch and it's unclear which territories it applies to. Most likely it means the the U.S. and almost certainly Japan as well. We have a feeling the U.K. and Europe may have to wait a little longer, maybe even until early 2014. This is pretty much what happened with Sony's previous consoles - the PS3 came out in the EU in March - and is backed up by various leaks and rumours. At least you'll have plenty of time to save up if you live outside of Japan or the USA. Zavvi has listed a UK release date of 31st December which seems extremely unlikely - launching a few days after Christmas? Surely that's retail suicide.

AMD, as we guessed all along, is coursing through this new system's veins. Post-event, Sony revealed the system runs on a single-chip custom processor and utilizes eight x86-64 AMD Jaguar CPU cores, with a next-gen AMD Radeon based graphics engine powering the way. So it's very much a PC-based system then, which is great news for developers who will find it much easier to code games for the next gen consoles and for PCs. However, that CPU is hardly next-gen - it may have been modified for this system but the AMD Jaguar platform is by no means the fastest of its kind - indeed it's slower than Intel's fastest by orders of magnitude. However, with fewer redundancies than a PC has, the PS4 will certainly be able to make use of every single Watt of power it draws.

The "highly enhanced PC GPU" is another story. It's another AMD part - something along the lines of a Radeon 7850 card - and packs 18 GCN units. That may sound a like a lot of techy mumbo jumbo but what it essentially means is that the GPU packs 18 processing clusters, each packing up to 64 cores. That provides a lot of parallel processing power, and will thus handle the majority of the PS4's grunt work. It hits 1.84 TFLOPS of processing mojo. This is a far more powerful component than the Jaguar CPU and is rumoured to have the edge on the GPU inside the Xbox 720.

Sony announced at the NYC event that the console will even use GPU compute features to take advantage of the GPU's raw power - it'll be used for general computation tasks as well as making games shiny.
The PS4 will ship packing 8GB of GDDR5 memory. That's some super-fast stuff right there and should enable lightning fast performance. Indeed, Sony has revealed that you will be able to power down the PS4 mid-game and then switch it on again in seconds and pick up right where you left off. That's the sort of loading power that this memory enables.

We're also looking at Blu-ray disk support plus good ol' DVD, plus HDMI output support as well as Analog-AV out and an optical digital output. What's really grabbing though is the development of the PlayStation 4 Eye, a newly developed camera system that utilizes two high-sensitivity camera equipped with wide-angle lenses and 85-degree diagonal angle views. Sony said the cameras (amounting to 1280 x 800 pixels) can cut out the image of a player from the background or differentiate between players in the background and foreground, enhancing game play handily. There's also mention of logging in using facial recognition and using voice and body movements to play games "more intuitively." If you want to know how these specs stack up against what we know so far about the Xbox 720 (clue: PS4 is more powerful).

The PS4 controller comes in the form of the DualShock 4 pad. Very much a classic design, the DualShock 4 nevertheless offers upgraded vibrations, enhanced motion sensors and a Vita-like touchpad on the front.

The XrossMediaBar (XMB) interface of PlayStations past has been completely ditched in the PS4, with Sony instead choosing to design a new OS that looks a lot more like that of the Xbox 360 than the PS3.

In a chat with Kotaku, Sony has revealed that the PlayStation 4 will be able to playback 4K/Ultra HD video. However, it will not upscale to 4K or play games at 4K resolution. Sony has also confirmed that it will definitely launch a 4K movie service on the PS4 and is looking at ways it can get around the 100GB downloads required.

The PS4 will definitely not offer native support for PS3 games. However, there will at some point be a service on the Sony Entertainment Network that offers server-side emulation and streaming of games from PS One classics right through to PS3 Platinum Editions. Sony has confirmed that PlayStation Move will play a big part in the PS4 ecosystem. However, it has not yet been revealed whether the PS4 will launch alongside a new PS Eye camera and new Move controllers or whether the peripherals are staying the same with all the enhancements made console-side.

 Sony has revealed that the PS4 will launch with the ability to stream games directly to your PS Vita. In exactly the same way as the Wii U allows you to switch off your TV and continue playing on the tablet controller, the PS4 will wirelessly send your games to the Vita. There will be similar synergy between "all Sony devices" which means Xperia handsets and tablets, Bravia TVs and BD players. Sony hinted that there will be more announcements in this area, too. We think the obvious next reveal in this area is the ability to play PS4 games on your Vita from any location using a wireless connection.

The PS4 will be one nippy device if Sony is to be believed. It will have an instant on/off feature allowing your to shut down during a game and then boot up from scratch in seconds and resume where you left off. The days of waiting 60 seconds as your console loads up are about to end.

We really don't know what price the PS4 will fetch. Some rumours suggest a figure of around $450/£399. But it's pure speculation at the moment. The sake Zavvi page which lists the UK release date as 31st December 2013 has a pre-order available for £399. Again, we'd take that with a pinch of salt, but if it's their best guess, there might be a grain of something in it.

A number of games have been revealed for the PS4. They Are: Deep Down (Capcom), Destiny (Bungie), Diablo III (Blizzard), Driveclub (Evolution Studios), Final Fantasy (Square Enix), Infamous: Second Son (Sucker Punch), Killzone: Shadow Fall (Guerilla Games), Knack (Sony), The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (CD Projekt RED), Watch Dogs (Ubisoft).

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