Okay, so this year I decided to do something crazy and I purchased both of the new “next generation” gaming consoles and holy shit does my wallet hurt. But now that I have finally sat down and really drilled into the heart of both consoles I would like to give my unbiased opinion of both consoles.
So I guess we can start with the Xbox One.
So this generation you could have called me a dedicated Xbox 360 fan boy. Well, you could have until these past 2 years which I have spent playing mostly on PC and PS3. However up to that point, nearly every single multi-platform game that I purchased this generation was on 360. I have dedicated hundreds if not thousands of hours to consuming amazingly crafted stories and game play. There just simply wasn’t anything like it before 2005, the totally unmatched quality of xbox live, the indie movement, the rise of the downloadable games, it has been a great time to be a gamer. Of course I have been distracted from time to time by the newest Mario or Zelda games on the Wii and even Diablo 3 for PC and Last of Us on PS3 but my 360 always found a way to bring me back. So once the rumor mill started up about the new consoles I was as giddy as a school girl at a fuckin Beatles concert to hear any kind of news. Well Microsoft came out of gate with a absolutely terrible reveal event full of TV promo shit and pandering to sports fans and COD fans and then proceeded to constantly shoot themselves in the ass every chance they got afterwards. But to my surprise, over the next several months they have managed to completely flip their image, although I am sure the face under the mask is still the same and they will butt fuck us the next time they get a chance. So now here we are 8 years after the launch of the 360 with the new console hooked up in my living room 69ing with my cable box and I am happy to say this is a great system with some minor kinks that need to be ironed out with patches in the very near future.
The design of this system is very reminiscent of the original Xbox with its big black bulky VCR like structure. Its like the Mr.T of game consoles. I guess they decided they didn’t want to pander to the tastes of the Japanese market anymore like they did with the small sleek shape of the original 360. But I think this airflow friendly shape will save Microsoft from another red ring debacle. As far as inputs and ports go, this thing has everything from HDMI, USB and Optical Audio ports to IR blaster and proprietary Kinect ports. They have done away with the SD support it seems as they do not provide any cables to hook this thing up to a older SD sets, which I believe is a good thing and will hopefully get more consumers to buy HDTVs. My only few complaints are that its huge size severely limits the places it can be stored in a small entertainment center shelf and it has really created a pain for me when I need to switch things around and unhook stuff (I tinker with shit alot). Secondly the weight of this box is nothing to ignore, you could literally crush a grown mans skull with this thing, it is definitely a “go to” weapon in a pinch if zombies invade but it is a bummer that all of this creates very intense situations when holding this box overhead and trying to disconnect and reconnect wires from it.
The User Interface:
The new UI is very nice and responsive. It has a distinct Windows 8 feel to it but in much more user friendly way. Gone are the slow loading times of the 360 dash board UI and now your screen is filled with tons of boxes varying in size displaying a myriad of content. Your games are much easier to find this time around and its easy to jump in and out of game play and back to the dashboard at a seconds notice without ever having to completely close out your game. The next huge leap this system takes is in the Watch TV activity, the console lets you pipe in your cable signal into the Xbox and it is awesome! Though it cannot control your On Demand menus or DVR im sure those capabilities are not far away with all the patches they are planning to roll out over time. The biggest gripes that I have with the Xbox One’s UI are the sorting options just simply aren’t up to standards whether you are looking through your own games list or the market place, there is a lot lacking in this department. Also the inability to simply add a person you just met online to your friends list is a shocking revelation. You literally have to back out to the dashboard go to your friends list and dig into those menus where you can manually add a friend and then you have to type in their full gamertag. This is a major over site for them to make. While it may not seem like that big of a deal to some people, we should all fight for a seamless, quick, and easy experience. Also their is just a little too much going on in the menus and their are times you will spend an hour trying to figure out how to do one simple thing.
The Kinect seems like it has some improvements as well but I have yet to put it to the test beyond simple voice commands which the Kinect has always done fairly well with because it is too sensitive. I moved my Kinect twice and re-calibrated it several times and I could never get it let me try out the one Kinect demo available on the Marketplace and I have PLENTY of room space. But in its favor there is nothing like walking into the room and commanding your Xbox to turn its self on and your TV on and then telling it to tune into your favorite show and you having never touched a remote. I was also able to catch a glimpse of the camera quality which has majorly improved and the gestures still seem to work very well. Once Microsoft get the sensitivity issues under control I will be able to give my opinion on the Kinect game play.
This is an amazing controller, it has so many improvements but they are not all perfect. First off it is very similar to the 360 controller so it would be safe to say if you like one then you will like the other. They removed the back and start buttons and replaced them with Menu and View, it seems both consoles removed these buttons this generation but I believe it is all of the better because who the fuck uses the back/select button? Also gone are the loud clickity clack sounds of the triggers, now they have some type of pad underneath that keeps it from making that noise but doesn’t hinder the feeling of the triggers themselves. The analog sticks have also been improved with better gripping heads and rumble motors under each stick. The biggest and best improvement is the d-pad, holy shit this is an awesome d-pad, it reminds me of the good old NES d-pads but improved even further. My only real complaint is that the LB and RB bumpers are in terrible spots now and it makes my fingers sore to push them a lot. Also for some reason the PC connectivity is not working at launch which is a total bummer for me since I do have a decent gaming pc.
Killer Instinct.. that is all. Just kidding they really do have a great line up of games at launch but it is sadly lacking a really badass must have game. Yeah Killer Instinct is a really really great game but fighting games can only hold your attention for so long before the blisters on your hands make you move on to something else. I also purchased Dead Rising 3 as well and it a fantastic game but it does little to show off your new hardware beyond the massive number of zombies on screen which are all rendered well below 1080p. The only other game I tried was Kinect Sports Rivals which I never got to work because Kinect is too sensitive. I was just hoping their would be this big Halo type game that would blow my socks off and sadly their isn’t one but I am more than happy to console myself with Killer Instinct and Dead Rising 3 until the next big Bethesda game or the next Bioshock. As for all the other launch titles I have been keeping track of the reviews and for the most part their are some very good and interesting games but nothing that seems to stand out.
To wrap things up I will say that I am very impressed and excited to see what is in store for us down the line. Too bad we are about a year or 2 away from really seeing what these consoles are capable of.