Yes I disappeared for a while as I received the new Microsoft Xbox One and had to ‘test’ it out for a while :)
To answer your first question, yes it’s good. Very, very good, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Microsoft’s Xbox One is apparently falling behind Sony’s Playstation 4 in pure sales, but I can see that Microsoft have aimed at becoming the entertainment centre of your lounge. With the One, they’re on the way to achieving that aim.
It’s not a beautiful box, it does appear to be very like a 90s VCR, in size and styling. The Playstation 4 does win out on that front. Unfortunately I can’t compare any further to the PS4 since the one my friend got from the US was affected by the Blue Pulse of Death and Sony declined to help him. Go figure? It’s now just an expensive paperweight.
For entertainment purposes, the very first thing I recommend is changing the region to USA. Xbox’s voice control doesn’t work in NZ and there’s not many applications to use. However, if you use the USA region setting, Netflix and many other applications are available. You only need to change the DNS settings ;)
Microsoft have also bundled in Skype and give you a premium account for a year if you buy a Gold membership. It’s pretty cool having a Skype conversation with Kinect as it does follow you around the room and is a more family orientated way to talk as it can fit everyone on!
I do wish the Kinect camera was a little ‘lighter’. It sits below the screen, so it’s always looking slightly up at you. If it was able to sit above the screen and slightly less obtrusive, then it would be better. It is easy to control the Xbox with gestures and voice (even if I don’t have an American accent). I can see that as devices like the Leap Motion gain more and more traction, a standardised gesture control system will be part of our everyday lives.
Now for the real reason we got it, the games.
Umm, I’m not blown away. I thought there would be a massive improvement over the 360 and PS3 with life-like details drawing me more into the game. But nothing made me go wow like it did when the 360 first came out.
I did enjoy Call of Duty: Ghosts and there were some late nights working my way through that one!
However I was disappointed with Forza, Need for Speed and Dead Rising. There wasn’t the improved graphics detail that I was expecting. Hopefully, as developers get more used to the new consoles, we’re going to see some amazing things from them.
The addition of ‘Cloud’ to the Xbox does allow for some cool tricks. On Forza, I can download popular designs for my cars and have my drivatar play for me whilst I’m not on. It also improves the AI of your on track rivals and matches you to similar drivers. There’s often updates for games, so I hope as they understand the console more, they can update and improve the existing games. With the variety of DLC, I wouldn’t expect as many game releases, rather developers will concentrate on creating content for those successful games.
One annoyance I did have was when I first signed up. I was a little eager and wanted to start playing, so skipped quickly through the start up part. However this landed me with a rubbish user name.
So I contacted Microsoft and requested to change it to my Xbox Live account name, however I’m unable to do it for 30 days and even then it’s a convoluted method! I can’t believe that it’s that difficult for Microsoft to change over my details and points to my old account. Hopefully this is just working out the bugs and things like this won’t happen in the future.
The Xbox One is a great device, it’s in its early days and just like the 360, the best is yet to come. It is still worth being the centre of your setup, but just not as a pure games machine. I want to give it a higher score, but the lack of NZ support does lower it.
Score: 3.5 / 5