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G1 Previews: The Xbox One

11/15/13 5:30pm

Madhero15: Hello g1's. How are you doing? What's that? A new console just launched? Well that's fun; we still have to wait 2 more weeks for it. In any case, in the beginning of this new console's life, we must not forget its looming rival. Microsoft, lurking through the shadows, waiting to strike with the Xbox One.

All in One

Gear12: Ah yes, the epic monolithic VCR player-looking... thing... that is the Xbox One. It's had its fair share of issues in the past, but that isn't to say there isn't some merit to it. Microsoft had to do a lot of backpedaling to get people to basically not hate it, but it now that it's coming close to release, there's definitely some hype building.

MadHero15: There is, so let's get to it! Can Microsoft, after hilariously messing up on every single turn, and turning the internet into its enemy, come back after changing everything? We'll just have to find out.

 

The Console

MadHero15: As Gear noted, the console itself pretty much looks like a giant VCR, minus the VCR slot. It looks absolutely huge, and honestly, kind of bland. If that Xbox logo wasn't on there, you'd have no idea it was a game console. With the original Xbox and 360, you could tell they were gaming consoles, and that's not the case with this huge block thing. Then again, that may be the point.

Gear12: It has some impressive technology in it. One very important new feature is a multi-part system to regulate the internal temperature of the system. First, it has an internal thermometer to monitor the temperature and will adjust the fan speed accordingly. As a last resort, it can also lower the system's performance. It also has a 500 gigabyte hard drive, which seems a little low for a console with such a focus on digital distribution, but the PS4 has the same.

MadHero15: So basically, it doesn't blow up in your face and Red Ring on your ass in plain English. Good. Now of course, the Xbox One is very clear on not just being a games device, but the so called "center of your living room" So if you're the most attention deficit person ever, you can play Titanfall, then you can watch Pacific Rim by shouting at your Kinect, all the while having a Skype with one of your dudebros. It seems really fast, and according to many its actually legit how quickly it all functions. Of course, what are the chances you're going to use all of it?

Gear12: It all depends really. Though it does make it easy to access Netflix at any time, and apparently the Xbox One will turn on faster than your TV. I can definitely see the appeal of the convenience. Also, the fact that it's so fast probably means that the new Kinect actually works this time. Speaking of which, they're determined to sell you a Kinect even though it isn't required to use the system anymore. Seems a bit dumb if you ask me.

MadHero15: Yeah, it adds a whole lot to the price tag, with it being 500 dollars. That's a big chunk of money, and I can understand selling it more as the thing that's all in one rather than a game console, but that's how most people are going to see it as. Also, it should be noted that the Xbox One also has Twitch integration, so if you want to stream, say, Killer Instinct without making horrible rape jokes, you can. I think that about covers it. What do you think of the Xbox One on its own merits, Gear?

Gear12: Seeing as Microsoft threw a giant 180 on pretty much everything we hated about it when it was first announced, it looks pretty good. The biggest problem I have with it is the price tag. That extra 100 dollars is really discouraging me as a consumer. Also add the fact that The Netherlands isn't one of the countries in the initial launch window. Though the machine itself seems pretty good despite the fact that the hardware is inferior to the PS4.

MadHero15: Exactly, we here in the Netherlands (along with a bunch of other countries) don't have a release date besides a vague 2014. The price is indeed discouraging, especially with the Playstation 4 and the Wii U being much cheaper, and both having gotten much better PR. Still, I think the Xbox One is going to be a fine console. It just needs a sleeker redesign, and a bundle without Kinect (even if it’s better, I have no real interest in Kinect, no matter how hard MS pushes it) and making it cheaper, and I'll bite.

 

The Controller

MadHero15: I think we all agree that the Xbox 360 controller is one of the best controllers ever made. Something about it just feels really right. That's probably the reason why it's also used for a lot of PC games. The Xbox One controller, which I got to try at First Look, doesn't meddle a lot with the original design, yet does some things which in some cases, make it even better.

Gear12: I don't actually have any experience with the controller so I'll leave that to Madhero. The layout is pretty much the same as the 360 controller, which isn't a bad thing because the 360 controller was great. One interesting new feature is that the triggers have independent rumble motors. Developers can program individual features for the triggers, like showing where attacks are coming from.

MadHero15: I didn't get to feel that when I got to fiddle around with it (more on that later). I didn't have a 360 controller to compare, but when I used it, it felt smaller than the old controller. Not much smaller, but enough to be noticeable. The big battery pack on the back has also been more easily stored, giving more room in the back and making the thing look nicer. The biggest improvement is the D-pad (one of the worst things about the 360), which feels like a regular D-pad, like it should.

MadHero15: Now there's also the Kinect for controlling, and as stated, it is much more improved than before. If you're playing some fitness game for example, the thing can even measure your heart rate and how much calories your losing. That heart rate thing could be great for a horror game or something, kind of like the Wii Vitality Sensor, but not nearly as dumb.

We're going to get you to like this thing, whether you want to or not

Gear12: Apparently it's even better at detecting motions for better overall control. Let's just hope that we don't get the same influx of gimmicky rubbish that plagued the first Kinect. As I recall, games like Kinect Star Wars and Dragon Ball Z Kinect were awful. If anything else, it'll give a little novelty to navigating menus. And hey, if it's not your thing, you don't have to use it if you don't want to.

MadHero15: Well we're already getting a new Kinect Sports, so not much luck there. All we can hope for is that they're better and they'll put some actual effort in it.

 

Games

 

Crimson Dragon

  • Platform: Xbox One
  • Release Date: October 22nd
  • Developer/Publisher: Grounding Inc/Microsoft

MadHero15: Panzer Dragoon has always been a series I wanted to get into, but haven't had the chance yet due to not owning a Saturn. I did play a little of Orta on the Xbox though. Why do I say this? Because this game is made by a lot of the team that made the original games, having formed a new company called Grounding. Originally, this was supposed to be a Kinect only game on the 360, but it was changed to be on the Xbox One (and is now with a controller) and it does show in the graphics. That said, it more than makes for it in the art department.

Gear12: The PS4 has a shoot-'em-up and the Xbox One has a rail shooter. What is it with launch titles and obscure genres? Like Madhero said, the art in this game is wonderful. The dragons look really cool and the environments are colorful, while originally for Kinect, the game now uses the controller and its thumbsticks. The game it reminds me most of is Star Fox 64. You can even do aileron rolls.

MadHero15: Despite it being a rail shooter, it does seem to have a slight degree of free roaming involved. There are over a 100 dragons to train, each with their own separate abilities, and there's also co-op for up to 3 players, both online and off. Normally, this would seem like those launch titles to forget about. However, instead of being a full retail, the game only costs around 20 bucks on XBLA. That makes it a much more tempting bargain in my opinion

Gear12: That's definitely a good feature and a great price. It looks pretty fun. I hope it has a campaign that's worth a damn to back up all of the cool features. The soundtrack is very pretty as well. It looks like a great deal for a launch title. Definitely one to look out for.

MadHero15: I want to be excited for it. Like I said, it’s the original team behind Panzer Dragoon, and them making another game in HD sounds wonderful. Still, I think it's best to wait and see what the reviews say. This is a game that could easily be too short, or not all that replayable, or who knows. I'm not saying don't be excited. Just... be careful, especially with 2 more games following the same system.

Gear's Verdict: A Dragon-Riding Thumbs Up

Madhero's Verdict: A Crimson Thumb to the Side

 

Dead Rising 3

  • Platform: Xbox One
  • Release Date: October 22nd
  • Developer/Publisher: Capcom Vancouver/Microsoft

Gear12: Initial impressions of Dead Rising 3 were negative. The graphics got more brown and gritty, and the developers literally stated they were going for Call of Duty's fanbase. But as more information came to light, it turned out that it was really fun. I still remain skeptical, but it doesn’t look as bad as it originally did. Madhero has personal experience with the game because he played it at Firstlook, so what did you think?

MadHero15: Like everyone who saw the E3 demo and heard of trying to appeal to the Call of Duty crowd, I sighed. Here was another game sucking all the life out of itself to make more bank. And then something magical happened. I got to play it, and what I played was a lot of fun. Yes, the setting is more brown, but the game itself is still as silly as ever. I wore a shark suit while using a lawnmower to kill zombies. How is that not good silly fun?

Gear12: That's definitely a good sign. Poor initial impressions seem to be a running theme with the Xbox One. Did you get to create some wacky new weapons as well? Seeing as those are one of the main draws of the franchise. If I recall correctly, there is also a larger emphasis on the open world. Some neat new things are that you can combine weapons on the fly and also combine vehicles.

MadHero15: Not any that I found, but the trailers did show off more crazy weapons, and there seems to be more than in 2. Speaking of the previous games, a bunch of changes have been made to make the game more accessible, like the lack of a timer and the ability to save anywhere. However, if you do want those features, you can play it that way in the game's nightmare mode. Speaking of vehicles, you can apparently combine a motorcycle with a steamroller. I don't know how that works, but WANT!

Gear12: Probably copious amounts of duct tape. On a side note, the game will have optional Kinect and Smartglass integration for little side features. All in all it looks like a great game, especially for a launch title. This could probably keep you occupied for hours on end. It looks pretty great.

MadHero15: I do think this is going to be the best launch title on the Xbox One. Whether Dead Rising is a system seller is up for debate, but I do feel the changes made do help it get a new audience without completely alienating the old one. What I played, the game seems like a lot of fun, and if it can keep up the crazy, I'm sure Dead Rising fans will still be fans. I'm still planning to get a PS4, but I really wish this was also on there.

Madhero's Verdict: A Thumbs Up combined with a Steamroller

Gear's Verdict: A Thumbs Up Rising From A Grave

 

Forza Motorsport 5

MadHero15: This is a hard game for me to preview. I think I've been very clear that I'm not a fan of realistic racing. I got Forza 3 when I got my Xbox, and very quickly sold it after I gave it a try. Sure it looks pretty, but I just find those games boring. That's my fault, not the game's. They're usually pretty to look at, and this game does look very, very pretty.

Gear12: I'm with Madhero on this one. Realistic racing is really not for me. There's a level of dedication to the whole scene that I just don't have. The game will ship with 200 playable cars, but will be adding more through monthly DLC packs. Considering the previous installment shipped with about 500 cars, that's fairly disappointing.

MadHero15: Getting licenses for different car brands is a lot of money, and they've got some very pretty cars in it like the very new McClaren P1 (I'm not a car nut, but damn I wanna drive that thing someday). Also, fans of dumb names, REJOICE, for Forza has the new Drivatar mechanic, which basically creates an AI version of yourself with the skillsets you seem to have, which is then raced by other people online. It's an interesting system. I just wish it had a better name.

Gear12: Besides, this game will never beat Gran Turismo 6, which recently confirmed that it would have the Lunar Rover as a playable car. All in all, this game doesn't really do much that interests me. I have never really cared for the genre, and this game isn't doing much to get me excited.

Madhero's Verdict: A Drivathumb to the Side

Gear's Verdict: A Stick-Shifting Thumbs Down

 

Killer Instinct

  • Platform: Xbox One
  • Release Date: October 22nd
  • Developer/Publisher: Double Helix/Microsoft

MadHero15: ULTRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA COMBBBBBBOOOOOOO!!!!! I still remember when this game was first shown at E3. I had predicted it would show up in a E3 blog I did, but pretty much all my predictions were meant to never happen or bordered on ridiculous. KI was back, and for a while it was glorious. Like many, when I first saw this game, I got excited, but since then, that excitement has come and gone, because what I like what I'm seeing of the game currently, I'm baffled by its pricing strategy, which just seems stupid.

Gear12: Tell me about it. The pricing seems to be focused on selling as much DLC as possible. There's a free demo with a single character which lets you buy each other character separately. The standard version is going to launch with six characters. There will be two characters available post-launch. There will also be sixteen character accessory packs and eight additional costume packs, as well as an emulation of the original Killer Instinct if you're willing to shill out 40 dollars for the Ultra Edition.

MadHero15: It’s a nightmare. This is supposedly Season 1 of Killer Instinct, with Season 2 having more fighters and stages and stuff. This isn't a bad idea, but the way it is implemented makes it feel overly complex. The Ultra Edition (the one you pay 40 bucks for) comes with a few new costumes and stages, and I believe new characters, but that's it. The game itself, it looks pretty fun. Initially it seemed like you could mash any buttons to win, but since then, Double Helix (nope, Rare's not doing this one) seems to have added more complexity, which will probably be appreciated by people in the fighting game community.

Gear12: And if it wasn't bad enough, the official fightstick controller is being made by Madcatz. You know, the people who made the second player controller that was pretty good and 5 dollars cheaper. They're also making the MOJO, basically an Ouya but even more useless. I know that's not really related to the game but there's not much else to say about it.

MadHero15: I disagree. Much has been said about the developer, Double Helix, who aside from not being Rare, don't have a good track record. Besides Silent Hill Homecoming, all they've done is cheap movie license games. After seeing more of the game, and their work on the upcoming Strider, I personally trust them now, but it's a shame Microsoft has made such a mess of it. I'm excited for it as a product, but the way how that product is being treated and going to be supported is something I can't recommend. Sorry, KI. Sorry.

Gear's Verdict: A Thumbs Down With 18 Customizable Skins

Madhero's Verdict: A Combo Breaking Thumbs Down (but a Thumbs Up for the actual game)

 

Lococycle

  • Platform: Xbox One
  • Release Date: October 22nd
  • Developer/Publisher: Twisted Pixel/Microsoft

Gear12: This game looks weird. It's a motorcycle racing game starring a sentient motorcycle voiced by Lisa Foiles. The twist is that you can also sort of change your shape for melee combat of all things, but you also have access to ranged weapons. The main character, I.R.I.S, looks a lot like a TRON Lightcycle and has a backstory ripped straight out of Short Circuit. But it's made by Twisted Pixel, so you should expect a certain level of wackiness.

MadHero15: Twisted Pixel is one of the few studios out there with a clear identity: they make weird games, that usually make you laugh. Looking at 'Splosion Man, The Gunstringer and Comic Jumper, they make some very weird and funny games. Lococycle does look very funny too. I.R.I.S. carries out a guy named Pablo, who just gets carried around by her while complaining in Spanish. There's also Robert Patrick AKA the T-1000 as an evil motorcycle, so that's fun.

Gear12: While the driving definitely looks fast and fun, the combat seems to lack impact. The hits that you land on enemies don't seem to have much effect on them and the gunfire is very basic. It also looks slightly repetitive. Driving forwards endlessly while enemies constantly attack you is going to get old pretty quickly so I hope it offers some more variety than what we've seen so far.

MadHero15: I mostly hope it's not going to be too hard. Twisted Pixel has the tendency to suddenly really ramp up the difficulty, where it becomes almost impossible to beat (looking at you, Comic Jumper). I do think it's going to be a fun game. Like Crimson Dragon, it’s going to be 20 bucks on XBLA, and I do think it's going to be worth that price, if for the comedy alone. I dunno, Twisted Pixel are guys I want to support, even if they are no longer indies. They do something wildly different, and I would always like to support that.

Gear's Verdict: A Revving Thumb to the Side

Madhero's Verdict: A Loco Thumb to the Side

 

Ryse: Son of Rome

  • Platform: Xbox One
  • Release Date: October 22nd
  • Developer/Publisher: Crytek/Microsoft

MadHero15: Ryse is another game I got to try, albeit very briefly (like 5 minutes or so). In any other case, I'd be all over Ryse. A gorgeous 3rd person action game set in Ancient Rome. That sounds awesome, and there should be more games like it. But then the E3 trailers, and the dumb decisions, and the #Rysefacts. Oh dear, this game looks like it’s going to be kind of a mess.

Gear12: This one is probably the most controversial title for the Xbox One. It seems to be a gritty game set in ancient Rome filled with the bane of action games: quick-time events. The combat looks awkward and chunky and not a lot of fun. Frankly, I wish it was better than it actually looks, because there really need to be more games set in Ancient Rome.

MadHero15: I got to play some of the multiplayer and it was..... ok. You just swung your sword around a bit until the other player is dead. Combat felt good, but pretty standard overall. The game did look gorgeous, with a lot of details in the smallest things. The crowd feels somewhat alive. However, I think the game just feels too overly designed. By that I mean it feels like they want to give the player as less control as possible so that they may be able to show off something cool. The other problem is that it looks repetitive and slow. Commanding an army with voice commands sounds fun, but in the E3 trailer, it certainly didn't.

Gear12: That's a pity to hear. There was a lot of potential for something great here but I feel like they squandered it by wanting to show off. I suppose it's intended more as a demonstration of what the next-gen hardware can do. Think about it: the arena crowds, the large-scale fights. They're really pushing the limits of the graphics hardware, and in doing so they sacrificed the gameplay.

MadHero15: I agree. It has SOOOOOOOO much potential, and Ancient Rome hasn't really been explored in anything besides Total War in this current gen, despite the fact there's plenty of stuff to draw from. It feels like such a wasted opportunity, and it really seems Crytek took graphics above everything else. It’s sad, but I guess that's the price for being a launch game.

Madhero's Verdict: Ryse: Son of Thumbs Down

Gear's Verdict: A Not Entertained Thumbs Down

 

Zoo Tycoon

  • Platform: Xbox 360, Xbox One
  • Release Date: October 22nd
  • Developer/Publisher: Frontier Developments/Microsoft

MadHero15: This is a hard game for me to preview. For me, Zoo Tycoon carries a lot of nostalgic value. When you get down to it, the games are pretty simple and don't look all that great, but I used to love animals (still do) and it was one of the few games I could play together with my parents, since they will never get into Pokemon (Not for lack of trying). So I patiently waited for a Zoo Tycoon 3, which never came. But now, Microsoft is giving it the reboot by giving it its first console version. I was initially skeptical, but after seeing videos of it, yeah, it's Zoo Tycoon.

Gear12: This can never end well. Zoo Tycoon has always been a fundamentally mouse and keyboard controlled franchise, and moving it to consoles seems very risky. The last time this happened we got Halo Wars, which if I recall, wasn't all that good. The fact of the matter is that a controller just doesn't offer the precision and speed of a mouse. Navigating the menus with the shoulder buttons just feels slow in comparison.

MadHero15: I can understand that feeling. However, it seems that they've changed the menus around to make it more accommodating for controllers. Not only that, but there's of course the Kinect, which allows for more animal interaction than ever before. That type of animal interaction was only ever hinted at in Zoo Tycoon 2. It does seem that they've made the game simpler than the previous ones, especially in the simulation department. Despite that, it just looks nice to play. This game really stands out in the launch line up. It just seems like a really pleasant game the whole family can enjoy.

Gear12: I'll concede to that. It seems to have the fundamentals a Zoo Tycoon game (I assume) so that's definitely good. The animals all look very well-rendered and the Kinect interactions seem to work pretty well. This is the same team that made Kinectimals, so they definitely have experience. It's the kind of game that you can play casually whenever you want. I'm not expecting an extreme amount of depth, but it doesn't look bad either.

MadHero15: It's easy to be cynical about this game, and all of these feelings I have may come from having the slightest bit of bias. It’s been forever since I've played this series, and I'm glad to see it return for a new audience. Granted, I wouldn't buy an Xbox One just for Zoo Tycoon (there is a 360 version, but its apparently not as detailed as the One version). That said, if you're a fan of Zoo Tycoon like myself, or just want a nice casual game, this game seems right up my alley. Now to wait for that PC port that should come but probably won't.

Gear's Verdict: An Animal Herding Sideways Thumb

Madhero's Verdict: A Nostalgic Thumbs Up

 

Conclusion

MadHero15: And that's it for the Xbox One. It seems like Sony has quite a competitor on their hands. Yes, Microsoft made some stupid decisions and said some things that shouldn't have been said, but after the turnaround, you have to look what's there now, and what's there seems like a system with a lot of potential. Just one that's not worth its high price tag.

Gear12: True. The PS4 and Xbox One both have their own merits, but Microsoft started with a disadvantage because of how much of a PR nightmare they've been. The hardware of the Xbox One is weaker, but it all comes down to the games, and so far, Microsoft wins in that department. While the Xbox One has a bigger launch library, the PS4 has a lot more in the pipeline. It all comes down to personal preference here.

MadHero15: Exactly. And with that, we end the g1 Previews Console War. We'll return to our regular schedule this December. Until then, BYE! and enjoy that PS4 you got if you got one. I'm jealous.

Gear12: Adios amigos! See you all next time!

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