Well it’s been about two weeks with the next generation of gaming that is Microsoft’s much hyped XBOX ONE the successor to the highly popular XBOX 360 that actually came out eight years ago! Whether this new generation will last as long, only time will tell, but for now here’s my impression of the new console after a lengthy amount of time with it.
The games I have played are as follows: Forza Motorsport 5, Battlefield 4, Killer Instinct and Dead Rising 3. All pretty cool. Out of these I’d say Battlefield 4 has had the most time played, mostly down to the online portion, which as many will attest, is the real meat of the game – although I greatly enjoyed the single player campaign and consider it one of the more underrated experiences around. The game has been cursed by bugs and issues, such as single player progress getting wiped (happened to me once, when I was almost at the end of the game…grrr) and various issues with the multiplayer, most annoyingly the inability to join a game. Graphically I might say that Forza impressed me the most, with its slick 60fps and 1080p capabilities, something that has been a bit of an Achilles heel for the XB1 so far, with games such as BF4 and Call Of Duty Ghosts suffering from lower resolutions than their PlayStation 4 equivalents (although apparently with more consistent 60fps than PS4 to make up for this). I’m not that taken by Killer Instinct … its just doesn’t feel very polished, despite some nice visuals, and the menus, character select are sluggish. Dead Rising 3 however has been a great deal of fun. Immediately the amount of zombies on screen at one time is a wow factor, and overall I think its a very detailed, very impressive looking game. Strangely the game seems to have a dislike of any sort of water or rain effects – meaning this isn’t included at all … and after the lush water seen in BF4, it’s disappointing. Yeah I know, a small thing … but surprising nonetheless.
The machine itself I am enjoying. I have had a lot of fun with the Kinect sensor, and overall it responds well to regularly used phrases like ‘XBOX ON’ or ‘XBOX PAUSE’ or ‘XBOX GO TO DEAD RISING 3’ and proves useful and a fun part of the whole experience. Apps such as Netflix, 4OD and YouTube work flawlessly in my experience and are a joy to use. The only real issue I experienced recently was with UPLOAD, the built in gameplay capture software that stores all your recorded clips. Now this is a great part of the XBOX ONE and playing a game like BF4 and getting a great moment and saying ‘XBOX RECORD THAT’ is so wonderful, I am surprised it’s taken this long to be included in a games console. However for reasons unknown, one day I went to view my recorded clips and the XBOX just kept trying to load them, sometimes saying I didn’t have any. I have 29 goddamit! I cursed, and of course this got me worried that something was wrong. After a quick Google search that told me a fix if some apps become unresponsive I power cycled my console … which is done by holding down the XBOX logo on the front of the machine until it reboots. This clears the cache on the system and also resets your network card – meaning I had to manually input my wi-fi details again. Then like magic, everything was working again, and has been fine for days now. Very odd. The only other issue I have come across is a slight lip-sync issue when playing Blu-rays. Now this I discovered only occurs when having the 24hz option ticked in the settings. When that tick is removed, Blu-ray plays fine. Some may have issue with not being able to take advantage of 24hz playback which is pretty much a standard for Blu-ray (and works fine on my PS3) and I hope there is a patch to fix this soon … but for now, I am not overly bothered.
The controller in relation to the original XBOX 360 one is similar, but lighter, still requires AA batteries (surprising considering the PS3 and PS4 both use USB charging … but battery life is about a week after causal gaming (2-3 hours each day). I also love the rumble in the triggers, which gives Forza’s driving and BF4’s shooting real immersion. I should also point out the machine runs very cool, only gets moderately warm after a lengthy session of gaming, and despite a small wiring / humming of the fan, is relatively quiet in operation. Other things to note is that game installs (mandatory) are fairly painless, slowed down initially by the games I have played needing a hefty-patch which has to download, but usually the game is ready to play fairly soon (half an hour max? – I haven’t actually timed it). There are things I would love to see added, such as being able to manage hard drive space or see the battery life on your controller, both easily done with a patch … and Apps like Sky Player and BBC iPlayer at some stage. Being able to upload game footage straight to Twitter or Facebook needs to be implemented to I think. Also here in the UK the linking your XBOX ONE to your TV service is reportedly not that well done and something I haven’t even tried or likely to. I see how Microsoft wants it to be an all-in-one entertainment system, but that aspect isn’t something that interests me beyond the already good on-demand services.
For now only a slight games drought bothers me, with many big name titles not due to see light of day until at least March (Watchdogs, Titanfall) or not having a release date at all just yet (Tom Clancy’s The Division, Quantum Break) but this does mean there is plenty to look forward to in the year ahead. Just what the machine is capable of I don’t think we have even witnessed yet. Exciting times.