Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Xbox One Review - Part 1: Before....

To say the Xbox One didn’t have the greatest start in life is a bit of an understatement. Announced in the summer, Microsoft chose to focus their event on the TV and entertainment aspects of their new console, rather than on the games. With E3 just around the corner, it was easy to see why they had done this, choosing to hit us with the software at the expo; nevertheless, the Internet boiled over with concern that the Xbox was no longer a console for gamers.

Things only got worse in the coming days when it was revealed that the Xbox One would need to connect to the Internet once every 24 hours to update and that you wouldn’t be able to lend, trade or sell your disc-based games.

At E3, Microsoft came out all guns blazing on the game front and put on a good show, but they were quickly put back in their place by the PlayStation 4. Sony did little to show off their own console, but what they did was react to the negative press Microsoft had received. They assured the gushing crowd that the PS4 did not need to connect to the Internet and you could trade or sell games as you pleased. Also the price. Having learned from over-pricing the PS3, Sony announced their console at $399, a whole $100 cheaper than its rival.

Within a week, Microsoft had back-tracked on a number of their policies. The console no longer needed the 24-hour check-in and you could lend, sell and trade disc-based games as you would the Xbox 360. Things were looking up and it was evident as the months progressed that the Xbox One had the better line-up of games compared to the PS4.

Still, the Internet roiled with keyboard warrior bile and there were several further hits along the way. The PS4 fanboys rejoiced when Activision announced that Call of Duty: Ghosts would run at 60 frames per second on both consoles, but at native 1080p on the PS4 and 720p on the Xbox One – upgraded to 1080p. “The Xbox One can’t do 1080p!!!” they exclaimed, slavering over pictures of their horrendous Dualshock controllers. It mattered little to them that NBA 2K14 and Need for Speed: The Rivals were sporting native 1080p gameplay on the Xbox One or that Xbox exclusive Forza Motorsport 5 was native 1080p and 60fps. Nor did it matter that the framerate of the PS4 Ghosts turned out to be terrible, while smooth as yoghurt on the Xbox. The Sony fanboys simply didn’t care that not even an owl could tell the difference between upgraded 720p and 1080p.

With the Internet being the vilest thing on Earth, even the PS4 - atop this nauseating wave of greatness - had its own knocks to deal with as the console launched on November 15th. The aforementioned framerate issues; the PlayStation-network going down; reports of consoles arriving dead on arrival; and Knack. First-party title reviews were nearer the middle of the road than the fast lane, the console can’t play CDs or MP3s and the only way to capture video from it is to plug it into an Xbox One and record through that. Not to mention the day one update that quietly removed all the nasty game-trade/selling/lending restrictions Sony claimed they didn’t have. The bunch of slimy bastards.

Neverthless, it was clear to any of us in the Xbox camp that the PS4 was going to sell big. Having categorically lost the 7th generation and on it’s arse financially, Sony was back with a vengeance. They had something to prove.

As the weeks to the Xbox One launch turned into days, however, there was a change in mood. Despite all the rumours and the Internet hate, there was a growing surge of excitement. Mega-bucks advertisements started to saturate television. The hype-machine had begun and it would lead us, in our millions, to midnight, Friday 22nd November……..

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