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In the face of modern gaming PCs, Sony's next-gen console loses much of its appeal

OPINION: A PC gamer’s thoughts on the PlayStation 4

Sony last night put months of speculation to bed as it finally unveiled its PlayStation 4 console during its global launch event in New York.

The system’s reveal ushered in the next-gen wave of consoles, as gamers wet their lips at both the system itself and the bounty of new games and IP detailed for the console by big name developers.

But as the specs of the new system were reeled off, I found myself, as a PC gamer, largely underwhelmed.

Sure, I was admittedly blown away by the potential of the device, as developers had the oft-referred to "creative console" show off its motion capabilities – none more captivating than developer Media Molecule’s new title, which allowed for digital sculpting using the PlayStation Move controller.

But in my eyes, the PlayStation 4 is, and always will, play catch up to the PC. This might be an obvious statement to make, but one that should still be made.

Let’s start with the PS4’s innards.

Spec-wise, the console is powered by a "supercharged PC architecture" and X86-based CPU, "enhanced" PC GPU, along with 8GB of DDR5 RAM and HDD storage.

Take away all of the buzzwords and the system already loses much of its next-gen glamour.

A harder look at the device’s supercharged PC architecture reveals the Playstation 4 to be powered by what is essentially a mobile processor, which is reportedly clocked at just 1.6GHz in order to maintain a relatively low power draw.

Next up is the "enhanced PC GPU", which is believed to be based on AMD’s Graphics Core Next tech, offering a custom made GPU that packs 1152 Radeon cores. This would put the graphics unit on par with something similar to the GeForce GTX660 – an already mid-range PC GPU.

And a HDD? This needs little discussion. Nothing about a HDD is next-gen, given that SSDs are readily available. Yes, the PS4 is set to heavily feature the cloud and web streaming, but still, it’d have been a nice touch and one I sincerely doubt would have too much of an effect on pricing.

Following the reveal, PC Gamer priced up a PC capable of mimicking the PlayStation 4, which came in at around £430. Not too far off the rumoured £300 mark Sony’s new console will be offered at.

Moving on to games, and the PS4 didn’t fare much better.

Again, the event did showcase a variety of new IP, which showed off the potential of the device with regards to its motion sensing capabilities.

But one of the key features highlighted was the PS4’s ability to instantly record, share and live stream gameplay. Something that PC games have long practiced in with the explosion of eSports and titles such as League of Legends and Dota 2.

Then came the PS4’s associated publishers and their next-gen titles. Both Square Enix and Ubisoft showed off titles that were already revealed at last year’s E3 show, including Watch Dogs – a game, which even then, was running on a PC.

Even PC favourite Blizzard crashed the event. But only to announce that Diablo III – a title already acquainted with the PC for close to a year now – would be a launch title for the PS4, all be it with a reconfigured control system. Ooooh, aaaah.

And with that, the evening came to a close. Console gamers rejoiced, whilst PC gamers mumbled a collective "meh" and returned to their nineteenth play through of Diablo III on hardcore mode.

The Playstation 4 is, and will be impressive. I don’t doubt that for a second. But temper expectations – it remains a console. A next-gen console, but one living in the shadow of the PC.

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