Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Xbox One review: next-gen gaming is here

As a gaming machine it's a finished package - but voice control and TV passthrough hint that the Xbox One still plenty to offer in the future as well

80m xboxes have been sold worldwide and 38m Xbox Ones will be sold by the end of 2017, according to analysts IHS
80m xboxes have been sold worldwide and 38m Xbox Ones will be sold by the end of 2017, according to analysts IHS

Today sees the much-anticipated launch of the new Xbox One.

So, whether you are that 35-year-old or a teenage gamer you won’t be disappointed as you unpack the shiny Xbox One from its sleek black container.

If you aren’t familiar with rumbling controllers, kill streaks and gamer tags, the Xbox One looks pretty much like any other black box entertainment system.

And that’s equally true of the PS4, which goes on sale next week, too.

Avid gamers will tell you it is what’s inside that counts and the Xbox One get an improved Kinect 2.0 motion sensor, camera and voice recognition for interactive gaming, but slightly less raw processing power than Sony’s rival console.

Booting it up for the first time can be a slightly frustrating experience though – especially if it’s Christmas gift and you’ve only got an hour before your turkey dinner. It’s sold as a brand-spanking-new product, so you could be forgiven for thinking it will work first time.

Wrong, as there’s already a 500MB online update that Microsoft confirmed that is mandatory for all, while some games also require tedious online updates of as much as 4GB. Plus unlike the Xbox 360, which it’s replacing, it seems to need to partially install some game content on the 500GB hard drive before you can get in on the action.

When you do get going though the game play and graphics are clearly a step beyond what the Xbox 360 could offer, with titles such as racer Forza Motorsport 5 and Roman battle epic Ryse: Son of Rome really impressing with super-sharp details and mesmerising landscapes.

Unlike the cheaper PS4, which will cost £349, the Xbox One does include motion- sensing technology as standard in the form of Kinect 2.0 to control games by gestures.

There’s also voice recognition. At the moment these features are still a bit of gimmick and they aren’t a turn-on for early adopters, but watch out for future developments.

Both the PS4 and Xbox One are still aimed at gamers first and foremost, but Microsoft wants the Xbox One to be the “all in one” machine that will the first thing you turn to after switching on your television, whether it’s to play a game, watch a film, stream live television or even chat on Skype.

This assumes it’s won’t be in an upstairs bedroom though and that you’ll be able to wrestle its owner away from their controller and their online Call of Duty slaughter.

Interestingly, the machine’s frustratingly long updates and Kinect’s possible future hint at this unit’s potential.

Yes, it’s the finished package but give it a year of updates, developers working on new titles and Kinect. Only then will we know if it’s the Xbox One or the PS4 that will come out on top.

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