I’ve been doing a series of “reviews” on my Xbox One since purchasing it in November last year. I’ve told you about it after almost a week of owning it, here, and I gave you a roundup of my opinions a month since purchase, here. I’m of the opinion that, with a games console at least, you can’t decide its fate with a single review a month or so after it first came out. Games consoles are ever changing, especially those made by Microsoft. My Xbox 360 is a completely different beast now to what it was nine years ago when I first purchased it – that’s for the better, by the way. And, just as the 360 has changed multiple times in the past few years, the Xbox One has and will continue to change over the coming months and years. It’s partly down to the fact that Microsoft are rather good at listening to, and appeasing, customer complaints. Though it’s heavily down to the fact that the console seemed somewhat rushed to completion when I first played it in November. Not that I really noticed at the time, but now, looking back, it’s pretty clear that the Xbox One wasn’t ‘ready’ in the conventional sense.
So I guess the big question is; since my last review, how much would I say the Xbox One has changed, both software wise and in my opinion? The short answer is ‘quite substantially’, but to have some sort of substance to this “review” I’d best give you an opinion that is more substantial. Guess you’d call that the long answer. In my first few reviews I was overly positive towards the console. Perhaps I was wearing rose tinted glasses, wooed by the wonders of my next-gen beauty. Since then, I’ve found a few things that have started to grate on me. But, before I get into all of that, I’m going to tell you why I love my Xbox One.
The console works as a seamless entertainment centre. The big black box contains everything that I could possibly want in an entertainment device; it has music, films, television and videogames. What more could you ask for? It all works perfectly and that, combined with my Netflix and Instant Video accounts, makes for one entertaining entertainment system. Microsoft are also bringing out some original TV shows, the first of which being Every Street United, which has been pretty good so far! I use my Xbox One for everything entertainment related and for that, I cannot fault it.
The games have been pretty decent so far, and I’m excited for our first full 1080p game, ‘Sniper Elite 3’, to hit the shelves next week. Though Ryse was amazing, both in gameplay and graphics. Dead Rising 3 was super fun and there were one or two other games, like Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, that came out and pleasantly surprised me. But there haven’t been many convincing exclusives over the past few months. I wasn’t phased by Titanfall, for example. However, E3 was just a week or so ago and it looks like us Xbox One owners are in for an exciting few years. I can’t wait for Sunset Overdrive and Crackdown, plus Halo 5: Guardians, Scalebound and Fable: Legends all look interesting. Games wise, things can only get better! Plus, there are tonnes of cross-platform next-gen exclusives that look incredible, including Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Dead Rising 2… AND the GTA V next-gen reboot. We’re really being spoilt, aren’t we.
In my ‘One month with the Xbox One’ article, I mentioned one or two complaints about the console, the biggest being the party chat system. Well, since then the system has been updated and it’s much better for it. The party chat system now pretty much emulates that of the Xbox 360, which was a smart move by Microsoft – why fix something that ain’t broke? Though by ‘fixing’ it they inevitably broke it and then had to fix it once more by making it exactly the same as the system that wasn’t broken in the first place … classic Microsoft; Windows Vista, anyone? We’ve also had a huge number of updates that have made the console feel more seamless, run much better and just generally make for a more awesome gaming device. These include the controller update, the addition of Twitch live-streaming, the option to turn off the Kinect’s hand gesture sensors whilst watching videos and, my favourite of all, the introduction of Games with Gold. This month Microsoft gave us Halo: Spartan Assault (which is pretty shocking) and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood (which I already had, but is a fantastic game). Not only that but they gave us three free games on the 360, so that’s five free games for us Xbox aficionados at just £40 (ish) for the lot.
But, as with any new purchase, those rose tinted glasses eventually lose their tint and what you’re left with is a £420 pair of regular shades. Obviously, the glasses are a metaphor for the Xbox One and, to be fair to the console, ‘regular’ is a bit of a harsh word to describe it. I’d say that it’s more unextrodinary, though it’s just the same for the PS4 and the Wii U, in my opinion. That’s not to say that I don’t have a few gripes with it, however. My biggest problem was, and still is, the cost. I wouldn’t be too fussed if it wasn’t for the fact that they recently dropped it. I’d be even less fussed if it wasn’t for the fact that the console now comes without the Kinect. Cue grinding teeth and angry face. It aggravates me that Microsoft forced us to purchase the One with Kinect on release and then, just four or five months later, tell us that the console can be played without it. I enjoy using my Kinect with the Xbox One, it works incredibly well. But if I had the choice back in November, I probably wouldn’t have purchased it, and saved myself almost £100. The thing that annoys me the most, however, is the prospect that developers are going to be pretty unlikely to support the Kinect in their future games. I mean, why would they? Very few people will be buying the Xbox One with the Kinect from now on, so the likelihood is that we’re going to be left with a glorified webcam. We can still use it for voice commands I guess, but would I say that the novelty is worth £100 (ish)? I don’t think that I would. Also, my Kinect has been somewhat malfunctioning of late, and I’ve been told that I will have to replace the entire console as “Microsoft don’t sell the Kinect separately” – logic win. Good job at making repairing your own fault more hassle than it’s worth, Microsoft.
Overall, after half a year with the Xbox One, I would say that it’s a slightly flawed console, but I still love it. The flaws aren’t game ending, and they’re not the end of the world either. I’d like better support for the Kinect, but that’s just me personally. I have a number of friends that don’t use theirs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. For me, it’s all about the games, and there aren’t any games on the PS4 that could convince me that I made the wrong decision. I’ve used the PS4 and I prefer the interface of the Xbox One, I think it looks nicer and it suits me better – again these are all opinions, I’m sure you can make your own mind up over which console you think works and looks better for you. The Order 1886 looks pretty good, as does the new Uncharted game, but I’d say that I’m more interested in Sunset Overdrive. In the end, I think that’s what it comes down to. The PS4 has its fair share of small problems; nothing’s perfect, after all. If you’ve not decided which console you want yet, I’m not going to tell you which one to get. What you need to do is sit down and look at the games and decide what sort of experience you want out of your console. Both are great machines, and both now cost around the same amount – so make an educated decision.