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Sony PlayStation 4 Gamer Pack (PS4)

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Manufacturer: Sony / Release date: 2013-11-29

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      06.01.2014 18:50
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      An excellent bundle allowing you to jump right in, barring any system updates.

      I had eagerly awaited the PlayStation 4's release on November 29th 2013 since it was announced way back in February of the same year and preordering it soon after. I'd been a PlayStation fan for many years, owning the original PlayStation, PS2, PlayStation Portable (PSP) and a couple of PS3s.

      I had a number of options during the build up to PS4 launch, with a number of 'soft' bundles available to upgrade to from just the console itself. Then in late September Sony announced the Gamer Pack (also know as the Mega bundle at some retailers. For an extra £80 you would get the PlayStation camera (RRP £54.99), an extra DualShock 4 controller (RRP £54.99 and a physical copy of Killzone Shadow Fall (RRP £49.99). This was by far the best option available as the saving is enormous (based on RRP of the bundled items.

      So launch day arrived and I eagerly unpacked the box. The console is a decent size, reminiscient of the PS2 Slim console in size and design. It's also worth noting that unlike the Xbox One, which launched in the UK a week before this, there is no external power adapter instead just a standard power cable. This reduces the footprint of the entire package considerably and leaves everything neat and tidy. The PlayStation Camera included in this set is very small, roughly 20cm in length and an inch tall and back. (20cm x 2.5cm x 2.5cm). It's functionality is yet to be properly utilised in software besides the included mini game/tech demo The Playroom. It does, however, double as a microphone for online gaming and can utilise voice commands for home screen navigation, similar to the Xbox Kinect.

      Also included in the box is a single headphone headset and microphone for online gaming and voice chat. While this is appreciated and will hopefully help to foster a more talkative (and abusive?) online community, something that was sorely lacking from Sony's online effort with the PS3, it is disappointing to see something so cheap included in an otherwise deluxe set. The earbud on the headset is a one size fits all that sits uncomfortably in my ear and the sound quality seems poor. I have since replaced the headset with a third party one, which works much better with a design reminiscent of the Xbox 360 wired headset, but with a closed cup design on the headphone.

      The DualShock 4 is a vast improvement over the previous designs that Sony have used since the original 1995 PlayStation. The control is now much grippier in it's materials, increasing comfort over long sessions and allowing your palms to breathe from the improved ergonomics. The control is slightly wider than the DualShock 3 and now has proper triggers that are now concave, which has resulted in my fingers not slippping off once in over 6 weeks use. The thumsticks have also seen a change, with a different material and design resulting in them being much easier to manoeuvre, and the sticks themselves have been adjusted based on feedback that the previous control pads ones were too lose. The pad now has a touchpad on the front which acts similar to a laptop's mousepad. This is used in a number of games, such as Killzone Shadow Fall to issue commands and navigate menus. In Assassins Creed IV, for example, it allows you to navigate the map and use a smartphone like 'pinch-and-zoom' gesture to zoom in and out.

      I won't review Killzone Shadow Fall here as there are a number of separate reviews available.

      All of the above is only let down by the following niggling flaws: A number of updates were available on launch day, with another one issued since then. These add in missing features such as DVD and Blu Ray playback and system stability fixes. Should you be without Internet or on a restrictive usage deal, then this will leave you without some basic features. Also worth noting is that the included 500GB hard drive can seem restrictive when you consider that every single game must install directly to the hard drive. Killzone Shadow Fall is 39.7GB alone.

      However, should the above not bother you, the PlayStation 4 is all that I have come to expect in the run up to launch. The graphical ability of the console is well above the previous generation, capable of pushing 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second. The new Dual Shock 4 controller is a marked improvement over it's predecessors and Sony seem to have ramped up their infrastructure for the online capabilities of the system.

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