I was lucky enough to get my hands on an Xbox One for release day on the 22nd. After spending hours sitting around, eagerly awaiting its delivery, there was finally that knock on the door that I’d so longed to hear. I signed the form, grabbed the box, took it upstairs and started tearing in to the packaging. One hour later, after being forced to play cardboard box Tetris with the tightly packed packaging and installing a good few updates, I finally got to gaming. I bought my console through ShopTo with the Ryse bundle. It came with FIFA 14, Ryse and a play and charge kit and to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t be happier with it. Now, over the next few weeks I’ll be dropping a few reviews on these games (and a few more that I’ve picked up since), so I won’t bother telling you about the games themselves – other than that, in the most part, they’re fantastic.
What I really want to talk about is the console itself. Looks wise, it very much resembles a fashionable VCR (if you could imagine such a thing). Its smooth, shiny black exterior is complemented by parts of matt black, with brilliant bright white lights on both the Xbox and the Kinect. This console is very much to my taste, and I have plenty of room to have it on display, but I would imagine that not every0ne would feel that way. It could be seen as clunky, especially if you’re limited for space, and the silky finish is a bit of a dust magnet. The controllers are of a similar matt / silk desgn, with the bright white ‘home’ button placed in the centre.
The controller feels and looks fantastic. It’s smooth to the touch and the new design to the triggers makes gaming seem much more responsive. If I have one complaint about the new design, it’s that gaming for long periods of time can cause discomfort on your thumbs. This is due to the grip bobbles on top of the analogue sticks. These will wear down with time, but it’s still a little uncomfortable, nonetheless. The Kinect is pretty damn handy. It signs you in as soon as you sit in front of it, recognising your face over the others in the room. It’s also incredibly responsive to voice commands meaning that navigating the menus, playing games, watching TV and listening to music has never been so easy.
The menus are fully customisable, allowing you to pin your favourites to the home screen meaning less time spent searching for games and apps and more time spent having fun! You can even change the colour of the boxes. I opted for blue, but you can have a real range of colours to suit your mood. The various apps are really useful, especially the Game DVR app ‘Upload’. This allows you to upload and edit your game footage, collect different moments from your games, edit them together with the optional addition of voice or video commentary (using the Kinect as a 1080p camera) and shove them on the inter-webs for the world and its mother to watch. At the moment, this is reserved for viewing for the Xbox One community only, but I’m sure you’ll be able to upload them to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, Tumblr, Bebo and MySpace in no time. My friends and I have taken to using Upload to show off the best and worst moments from the games we’re playing. Xbox Live parties now consist of “GUYS! Watch this goal!” or “GUYS! Watch me smash this guy in the face with my shield and then chop his leg off with my sword!”.
Graphically, the games are far superior to the 360 and PS3. The textures have far more detail, the graphics are crisp and smooth and the games run faster and are much more responsive. Comparing FIFA 14 to its current-gen equivalent shows that there’s no contest. It’s the little things that you notice, like the blades of grass that flick up when a player slides or kicks the ball, or the creases in their shirts as they run across the pitch.
But, it’d be wrong to talk about the new console without addressing its current flaws. Parties and notifications aren’t as clear as they are on the 360 and it’s harder to invite people to a party than it used to be. It’s still simple, but not as simple as it once was. Also, the achievement system seems to be loosing a little value, somewhat. You can now gain achievements for rating five films / shows, and so on, on Netflix. I personally think that achievements like these devalue the system somewhat. I personally don’t need achievements to persuade me to use Netflix or LoveFilm, but maybe that’s for you to decide.
A good few people have asked me why I chose the One over the PS4 and which one is the ‘better’ console. To be perfectly honest, the simple answer to which is better is, neither. They’re both fantastic machines, so neither will ‘win’ the next-gen challenge. When thinking about the best console you need to ask ‘which is best for me’. Do you want a console that purely plays games, or do you want a console which is as much home entertainment system as it is games console? Do you use Netflix and LoveFilm a lot? Or are you more concerned with the games you play rather than the T.V. you watch? If so, you need to look at what the consoles are offering. Look at the unique titles to each console and think about which games you could see yourself playing and enjoying. It’s not about what everyone else thinks is best, it’s about what’s best for you. So, read this and similar reviews of the Xbox One and the PS4 and come to an educated decision about the games console that is best for you or your loved ones. You are an autonomous human being, after all.