Xbox One review
At an after hours event at Microsoft’s gigantic E3 fortress, T3 finally got to play some actual video games on the brand new Xbox One console. While some of the console’s inner-workings and capabilities had been shown to T3 at Microsoft’s HQ in Redmond last month (check out our Xbox One analysis), this was the first time we got to see the Xbox One in action.
Xbox One: Size and Build
Microsoft has been investing in design like there’s no tomorrow (with Windows Phone sales being what they aren’t, perhaps there’s a grain of truth in that).
Xbox One: Features
The Xbox One will have 8GB of RAM but the processor and GPUs are ‘custom’ and ‘specially made’. The big tech news is that it will run two virtual machines and three operating systems.
Microsoft Xbox One vs Sony PS4: Next-gen showdown
Xbox One: Controller
The reason for this is that the four rumble pads on the Xbox One controllers on consoles that were hooked up to the games were disabled. As demonstrated back in Redmond and in a tech demo at Microsoft’s E3 booth, the new controller has four vibrating pads situated behind the triggers and where the player’s palms meet the controller.
They can provide a variety of sensations – such as simulating the kick of a firearm trigger, or the steady beating of a human heart – which are meant to better immerse the player with the action they’re controlling on screen.
Xbox One vs PlayStation 4: Next-gen showdown
The central ‘X’ button has been moved to the top of the controller and is also more flush against its surface; it’s light to the touch too, although T3 got told off for using it and inadvertently bringing up the UI.
Xbox One: UI
And since we paid for our nosiness with a mild ticking off, we might as well tell you about the glimpse we witnessed. The menu that flashed briefly before our eyes was laid out lengthways in a series of squares.
We didn’t have time to read any of the labels on any of them before the UI was removed from our field of vision, but the brief sense we got was that of a smaller version of the layout on a Windows Phone 8 handset if you gaze at it sideways.
Xbox One: Kinect
The next biggest change from Microsoft’s last gen machine is most evident in the Kinect Module. Unfortunately there were no games to play with the new sensor, but Microsoft’s booth personnel were more than happy to walk us through a demonstration of its capabilities.
Rather than reading the player as wiry stick figure with boxes for hands, feet and a head, the new Kinect module can pick up muscle texture, the shape of the player's head and register the difference between their thumbs and the tips of their fingers.
It can even pick up strain on the player's body parts, demonstrated to us when we stood one leg and saw our body part slowly turn red on the screen in front of us. Voice activated commands are still part of the package too.
Xbox One: Games
Microsoft is receiving a nasty caning from the entire Internet for its policies about second hand game sales, DRM, online and pricing in the wake of Sony’s press conference. Still, it’s worth remembering that before Sony stuck the boot in and changed everyone’s focus entirely, Microsoft had shown off a robust line up of video games at its keynote that looked absolutely brilliant.
Watch Dogs preview
A lot of the titles that showcased the console’s variety either only exist in trailer form – such as D4 and the new Halo title – or as first-look demos
Xbox One : Forza 5
Still, Forza 5 is available on the shop floor and we have to say it looks utterly gorgeous. The series has always trafficked in car porn for petrolheads, but its never looked as good as it does running on the Xbox One at 1080p resolution with a super-smooth 60 frames per second.
The presentation is also boosted significantly by the intricate detail of the in-game textures; here, leather looks real enough to touch and every reflective surface shimmers as sunlight bounces off it. The draw distance is incredible, allowing players to navigate bends on the horizon the second they come into view up ahead and even the game’s dynamic lighting plays a part – pro- tip, don’t look directly into the sun.
The Crew preview
While this may sound like a game playing with itself – and what would be the point of that – bear in mind that the Drivatar’s performance is based around data collected on the player’s skill level. So, if you don’t play the game very often and show no desire to improve, it’ll be as rubbish as you are.
Xbox One: Ryse Son of Rome
Next, we took a look at Crytek’s sword and sandals epic Ryse: Son Of Rome. First unveiled at E3 in 2011 as a hardcore Kinect title, Ryse has since been re-fitted for the Xbox One’s control pad and given a visual scrub.
Xbox One: Games we want to play right now
It’s fun stuff, although a bit button-bashy, but the main sticking point – as was said earlier – was the fact that the deactivation of the rumble pads caused us to feel a lack of agency with our Roman solider – and when you’re slicing through barbarian bonces with a gladius, this is more important than you think.
Xbox One: Crimson Dragon
Finally, we took a look at Crimson Dragon, the rail shooter from Panzer Dragoon creator Yukio Futasugi. Once again, this title began life as a Kinect game with the working title Project Draco, but it’s now played with a control pad. (The booth assistant couldn’t confirm whether the Kinect controls had been stripped out utterly).
Xbox One: Verdict
This overall sense of uncertainty is a fitting way to round off our assessment of the new Xbox One, as our impressions are pretty inconclusive. A lot of the console’s appeal lies in believing its creators assertions that when it ships, it’ll do everything they say it will and more.
Hands-on pics and additional reporting by Mark Harris
Xbox One review
Xbox One reviewT3
The Microsoft Xbox One doesn’t just want to beat the PS4, it wants to be your ‘input one’ entertainment device. Check out our Xbox One review
Xbox One review
- Robust internal specs
- Oodles of potential
- Improved controls
- Hulking brute of a machine
- Lack of killer launch titles
- Eye-watering price tag
Out of all of the participants in the forthcoming next-generation console war, the Xbox One has the most to prove. Unlike the Sony PS4, which has been championed by gaming industry pundits and media alike, Microsoft’s console met with outright hostility when it was announced back in May and since then, it’s lurched through one PR disaster after another.
In the months since its unveiling, Microsoft has performed a series of policy turnarounds – eliminating daily DRM pings, game sharing blocks and region blocking among them – meaning that, on the eve of its release, what players have is a robust console boasting high-end PC specs and the added power of cloud processing.
However, those loyal to the Xbox brand are also staring down the barrel of the heftiest price tag of any console on the market; at £429.99, the Xbox One is more expensive than both the PS4 and the Nintendo Wii U. So is it worth the extra cost?
Xbox One: Size & Build
The Xbox One certainly doesn’t look as sleek as Sony’s PS4. In fact, it’s a big, hulking brute of a machine that bears more than a passing resemblance to a Betamax video recorder circa 1984. It’s a 263 x 80 x 305 mm slab weighing about 3.2kg. Cast in ‘Liquid Black’, its top is split in half with a reflective surface on one side and a massive vent on the other.
Incidentally, this is a console designed to sit flat underneath your television set, with its Kinect sensor staring grimly out at the contents of your living room. Plonk it on its side and Microsoft won’t be held responsible for your discs getting scratched.
WATCH: Xbox One unboxing video
Kinect slots into the back of the Xbox One, next to a series of ports including HDMI-in, HDMI-out, three super-speed USB ports, an Ethernet connector, S/PDIF for optical audio out and an added IR port.
The front-facing side has a disc slot – that will play Blu-ray discs, once the app is downloaded – a power stud, eject tab and a sync-tab for hooking up the one wireless controller the Xbox One comes packaged with.
Under the hood, the Xbox One is packing an eight-core x86 processor with an amped up 853 MHz GPU, 500GB of local storage, 8GB RAM with 32MB of eS RAM embedded memory. It also has wireless networking capability through its 802.11 wireless radio with built-in Wi-Fi support. It also makes barely a sound when you power it up.
The Xbox One moves gaming out of the bedroom and into the living room - but can TV apps and a beefed up Kinect save console gaming?
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