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It has now been over a week with my Xbox One, and I feel like I have a good idea of what I think of it. So now I will bore most of you with a review. Actually, it's now been over a month.
My First Impressions:
When I picked up the box from Gamestop, the first thing I thought was “damn this is heavy.” I have no idea what it weighs, but it certainly compares more to my computer than my skinny PS3. I don’t think it’s as heavy as my computer, but it is certainly in the 15 lb. range (all together console, Kinect, controller, etc.) When I unpacked my new piece of technology, I was mainly unsurprised by it for I have seen multiple photos and videos of it prior to this day. However, the one thing that I had never noticed in any of those videos or pictures was just how many vents are on this thing. The top is half vented, the sides are vented, the rear is vented, there’s vents on top of vents… not really, but you get the point. I think RROD is something they thought about a lot when designing this console, and hopefully those problems are a thing of the past.
When I plugged everything in and set everything up after a short set up process, I was greeted by a very Windows 8-esque home screen. Green windows with Apps, and Upload, and Game DVR spread about, Pins on the left that allow me to pin whatever I so desire on the left, and the Store to the right when I can buy whatever game or app or movie or music I so desire. I downloaded Skype, YouTube, NFL and ESPN apps, used a code to redeem a free fighter in Killer Instinct, and downloaded a demo of Kinect Sports Preseason. I also popped my COD Ghosts disc in and began the install.
Having never used Windows 8 at any capacity (Android phones and tablets, Windows Vista [I know…] home computer and Windows 7 work computer) I found it simple to use and understand. Having only the PS3 OS to compare it to, I like it a whole lot better than that. It’s much easier to use and snappier, and overall a more pleasant thing to look at.
I first app that I really wanted to check out was the NFL app, and was quickly saddened by the fact that I could not use most of the features because my cable company (Comcast) was no supported. So I can say very little unless you like watching NFL videos, which I don’t. I want live action and fantasy updates and got none so far.
The second app I messed around with was ESPN (which my cable company was supported) and got to watch ESPN live on my Xbox. Maybe cool, but I will explain later why it’s kind of meh.
The third app I tried was YouTube, and it is what a YouTube app should be. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
The next app I tried was Skype. I have not yet tried to Skype video or voice chat and play a game or really do anything else at the same time. But I can say that the text messages can quickly become annoying, and so I quickly stopped the app from running.
The final app I tried was the Internet Explorer app, and that, for what it was, was pretty cool. But again, for me, it is pointless. However, especially compared to PS3’s browser, it is very responsive and easy to use.
Other apps available that I did not try: Hulu, Netflix, Amazon VOD, Twitch, Fox Now, that that I can think of off the top of my head. I do not have subscription for the first three, the fourth doesn’t really interest me because my Xbox is connected to my computer monitor, and the final doesn’t interest me at all. However, for someone who has subscriptions to Netflix or Hulu, I’ve heard that some sort of block goes into effect once installed from using PVRs, which can affect use even during gaming. I can’t confirm nor deny that.
The bottom line for me with the apps, the only one I really wanted didn’t work and I was sad. The rest, I really don’t care much for and was not a driving force behind me buying this machine. I do have my Xbox hooked up to my computer monitor, so most of these apps are pointless to me since I can access the actual computer versions of them with out moving from my seat. With that said, if I did have subscriptions to these services, and my Xbox was hooked to my TV, I can certainly see the benefit to having them.
Also, with the above mentioned, I might as well stop right here and say that I have not tried, nor do I intend in the near future to try, any of the TV pass through options. It did not interest me from the start, and still doesn’t really interest me. However, I would like to try the next item I am going to talk about with the TV stuff.
And that is the Snap feature. This sounds awesome, being able to watch TV and play video games at the same time. However, without me having the TV pass through, it has so far fallen pretty flat. I tried snapping the ESPN app while gaming, and the screen didn’t shrink. I could watch the left 1/5 of whatever video or live stream was on the ESPN app, but I couldn’t figure out a way to shrink it down to a viewable size. Same with the NFL app. Internet Explorer wouldn’t snap at all, and I did not try Skype or YouTube (though I guess I should.) The only functional thing I did get to snap was the Game DVR, but since I have a PVR, I have no use for it. I also struggled to go back and forth between the snapped app and the game or whatever I had on the main screen. The only thing I could figure out was to back out to the main menu and select the snapped feature, and then back out to the main menu and select the main screen to go back. Bottom line on this, if I had the TV hooked up, I may have a better opinion of it.
After a month, I have not tried any more apps. Again, the apps are not practical for me due to where my Xbox is hooked up. The NFL app still doesn't support Comcast.
With all of that negativity out of the way, let’s get to the real reason I bought this damn thing. Being a long time PS fanboy, I think my friends were all a little confused when I said I was getting an Xbox One and not a PS4. The main reasons I was always a PS fan boy were all neutralized over the years. I thought Xbox was the only system that had overheating problems. After two different YLODs on two different PS3s, I found that to be incorrect. Though I never cared much that Xbox got the DLC first, the debacle that was Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas DLC on PSN turned me completely off to being second place for DLC. Paying $60 a year just to play online always seemed silly to me, until it was announced that PS4 was now also going to charge to play online. Teetering on the edge, I opted for change rather than more of the same, and no longer needing to worry about whether or not I was going to get DLC for the games I wanted DLC for (sorry, not Destiny, not interested) and of course, Titanfall. Xbox One it was!
The first game I played, while waiting for COD Ghosts to install, was Killer Instinct. I received a free character with my Day One box, which allowed me access to a limited version of the game. Once in the game, I found micro transaction options to buy more characters and arenas, as well as optional weapons and clothing for each character. I actually like this idea, because it allows me to play the game with one character, or two, or the full version if I decide after playing with one or two characters that I like the game. As for the actual gameplay, it’s a fighting game. The graphics look sharp, but there’s little I can really say about a fighting game. They’re all basically the same to me.
The second game I played was COD, but I will do that next. The third game I played was the next day when I played some of the Kinect Sports with my son. I set him up an account (big mistake, will explain later) and logged him in and we played the only game available, which was a jet ski race. For this race, I had to hold both of my hands in front of me like I was holding onto the handle bars. To accelerate, I had to put my right hand into a fist. To decelerate, simply flatten out my hand (no brakes on jet skis.) To turn, pull one hand in and push the other out, just like steering a jet ski. I thought to myself “no way is this going to work.” But to my shock and awe, it actually did. Once it figured out who was player 1, and who was player 2, it was very responsive with all of my movements, even the subtlest movement of making a fist. I look forward to the full game because I think me and my son will have a blast with this.
COD was COD. If you played it on PS3 or Xbox 360, don’t expect a whole lot more, except the ability to begin playing it when it’s only 40% installed! The graphics look better, and the sound is MUCH better. Actually, I may say the sound is the most noticeable difference between the PS3 and Xbox One versions. However, I have not yet figured out whether we’re on dedicated servers or not, but lag has not been an issue almost at all. With only two real exceptions that I can think of, one was a disconnect, the other was a noticeable lag spike that can be seen in my latest YouTube video (shameless plug,) and go figure I chose that particular match for a YouTube video. I’ve logged almost a full 24 hours of play, and to only see those issues over that amount of time is impressive to me. I intend to do a side by side video at some point on my channel, so stay tuned for that.
I do have to mention here that lately I have been having disconnect issues. It usually occurs right when the lobby goes from the waiting room to the load for the match and suddenly I’m at the main menu. Not sure why this is happening, whether it’s an issue with COD, Xbox, or my own connection.
I also need to complain about the Xbox party system. I just don’t understand it. I party up with people, but when I try to get everyone into a COD lobby, not everyone can connect for some reason. It usually ends with me breaking the party and reinviting. It can be annoying.
Overall gaming opinion, graphics look great, no matter what you think of the fact that COD is upscaled or whatever. I play on a 27” computer monitor and I think it looks beautiful. Killer Instinct’s graphics look incredible, and from what I’ve seen of Charlie’s Ryse: Son of Rome video clips, that too looks amazing, graphically. The sound is crisp and clean on everything, with a noticeable difference from COD on PS3. And I don’t use surround sound in anyway. The game selection, overall for me though, appears a little lacking for launch. I do really look forward to Titanfall though.
I have gotten two new games since my initial review. The first, for my son, is Skylanders Swap Force. Not much to say about it except it's a really neat platformer, great for a child his age. I also got Battlefield 4 for Christmas. The graphics are awesome. The size and scale of some of the mulitplayer games is what really wows me. Though I'm sure the experience is similar on PS4, it's really amazing that I can play on these gigantic maps with 63 other people at the same time and have absolutely no noticeable performance issues.
A lot of people loath the fact that this camera was required, and it is really what made the large price difference between the two new systems. I was one of the people who did not loath it, and in fact, embraced it because I think it is going to be a really cool thing for me and my kid to play with. I wish there was at least one game (besides Zumba Fitness) specifically for it available at launch. The only thing I have so far is the above mentioned Kinect Sports Preseason demo. However, gaming isn’t the sole focus of the Kinect for this system, so I will delve into that.
The camera always watching me does not bother me at all. No matter what you think, or even if it’s true that someone from the NSA is watching me, I could honestly care less. I am really a boring person, especially when I play games (though I can imagine watching me play a Kinect game could be good fun.) I’m the type of person, that when my phone vibrates 5 minutes before my shift ends because it’s giving me a traffic report for my ride home, I think “awesome” not “creepy.” So the Xbox knowing who I am and logging me in when I turn it on, to me, is awesome. But as awesome as this concept is, it has been rather lacking in function.
Day One, I set myself up an account, and tested it out a few times to my utter amazement. I would hit the white X button on the front right corner of the machine, and “Hello Daryl!” would appear on the screen in my favorite color. All of my recent apps and games were displayed, and so on. Day Two, I set up my 4 year old son’s account, and I guess maybe I should have been off camera while setting it up. Even though, when setting it up, it picked out my son and asked me “Is this Jason?” and I said yes, the system has since regularly recognized me as my son. I am 6’2”, 30 years old. My son is about 3 feet tall, and 4 years old. For the Xbox to constantly log in my son instead of me was at first humorous, and now it’s annoying. Several times I’ve corrected the Xbox by choosing the “I was not recognized” button when it logs me in as my son. And yet, it still wants to believe that my son is me. However, if my son is actually in front of the camera, it does recognize him as Jason, so at least it gets him right. But this is obviously something that needs more work.
The voice commands, to me, are a neat idea, but kind of silly in practice. There’s nothing that will make fellow gamers laugh more than to shout “Xbox Record That!” in the middle of a game. I have yet to actually get the “Xbox On” command to work, and the “Xbox Record That” command, though I’ve said it plenty, has only worked for me twice. While my computer was going through a complete HD wipe, and my PVR was unavailable to use, it was very disappointing when I went back to look later and my sliding sniper kill was not recorded (it was freaking sweet…) The only command I can seem to get to work most often is the “Xbox Snap…” command, which, like I’ve stated above, is kind of a useless feature for me. I’ve also found that, while chatting online with Charlie or whoever else we’re gaming with, if we happen to be talking about the Xbox and say the actual word “Xbox” the god damn thing hears you and gives you a list of commands you can say. “Stop listening” usually follows. A chuckle ensues.
So, bottom line with the Kinect, in theory, I love the idea. In actual use, it’s becoming rather annoying. If they can fix the bugs (or maybe if I just delete my son’s account) it can be a pretty neat toy. But just not yet.
After a month, not much has changed with the Kinect, though I admit I have attempted little to remedy the situation with the camera. The voice commands seem to be working better now, though I don't really use them outside of "Ghosts: Mute All" when playing COD. The camera still regularly logs my son in while I'm playing. The camera works much better with my son. It logs him in with no issues. And when I walk up behind him while he's playing, it logs me in, which can be annoying. I've received several messages since Christmas asking me why I would be playing Skylanders... I have not played any other Kinect games yet.
With all of the negativity I’ve already stated above, “But wait… there’s more!” Merely days before release, it was announced the live streaming feature would not be available until January at the earliest. Though I have a personal PVR, and I found a really cool (and free!) live streaming program, it would be soooo much easier to do it straight from the machine. I am immensely looking forward to this, and was disappointed when they announced it would not be ready at launch.
The headset thing is something that has really crawled up my arse to this point. Not being able to use 3rd party headsets at launch was a big oversight by MS. First off, changing the connection, secondly needing the connection, and then finally not having the new wire ready for launch are all unacceptable in my opinion. But with that said, for a well established group, it’s not that big of a deal. We can work around it temporarily. We use Team Speak in the meantime, whatever. However, it has made recruiting a challenge. Not everyone plays with a computer by their side. So using Team Speak isn’t convenient for everyone. We start spewing the Team Speak mumbo jumbo, and some people just turn around and go elsewhere where they can play with other people who use the crappy “chat headset” that came in the box. And crappy is a nice way of describing it. Again, this is something that won’t be an issue in the future, but for the meantime, casts a black cloud.
One cool thing to mention here is the Smart Glass app. When you first fire up the bad boy, it doesn’t really appear to do much. You can select your apps from your phone instead of your controller, ho hum. But two key things for me that make this app worth it is 1) I can use my phone as a keyboard instead of using the controller to type a message (brilliant!) and 2) I can access my messages while I’m away from my console (awesome for recruiting!) I have to explore the app a bit more, but even if these are the only things that it does, it’s worth it to me.
After a month, all of the above mentioned problems still exist, and the smart glass app hasn't changed at all.
You guys probably opened this thing up and thought this was going to be a glowing review about how I love my new console and it’s so much better than PS4. In fairness, if it’s better than PS4, I will never know. Just like I never owned the original Xbox or Xbox 360, I will never own a PS4. I just don’t believe in spending that kind of money more than once, especially when most of the games I play are multiplatform anyway. To be honest, Titanfall is really the only exclusive I’ve ever looked forward to, and even that will be on PC. The most important things that anyone should consider when buying a console are “What are my friends buying?” and “Who has the better games that I like to play?” With neither of those really in play for me, I made my decision in other ways, mind you, it was way back in May before I made a bunch of friends on PS3. I don’t believe I made the wrong decision just because I have so many negative things to say.
My overall experience with my Xbox One has been positive. It does what I want it to do, and that’s play games. I know people got up in arms when MS first unveiled the Xbox One because they only showed off “the other features” but everyone already knew it was a gaming system. Though the execution was terrible, the overall marketing of the Xbox is really a good idea. Regardless of what you think, discs are becoming a thing of the past, and there’s more casual gamers than hardcore gamers. Xbox wants to cater to everyone, and I don’t see why that’s a bad thing. The hardcore games will still be there, and now you can drop a 60 spot on Angry Birds too (my jaw dropped at the price.) (Was on sale at one point for $50!!!)
The only comparisons I have made in this review have been to PS3, and that’s because that is the only thing I have to compare it to. It was not meant in anyway to suggest that the PS3 is anything like the PS4 and suggest that is why the Xbox will be better, so please don’t misconstrue what I’m trying to say. My goal for this review was to give my overall honest thoughts and impressions of the Xbox One. And I think I have done that.
Launch day consoles are a risky investment. We’ve all heard of the Sega Dreamcast, though I’m sure few of us owned one. Though the negativity surrounding the Xbox leading up to launch, and the negativity that I may or may not have created with this review may make it appear that the Xbox is doomed, I firmly do not believe that to be the case. The Xbox has the bones to be a very, very strong and cutting edge machine. The unfortunate thing for me, and people like me who bought a Day One version, is that not everything is there and fully functional yet. I am one of those suckers that feels the need to have the newest and coolest things all of the time (i.e. my phones.) That is why I own a Day One Xbox One. But if you’ve waited, you will likely never experience the pains that I am enduring now, though in full retrospect, aren’t really all that painful. At least the damn thing works. It’s not a brick. It plays games!
I do love my new console. It’s my new toy, and my wife’s new object of disdain. When all of the bells and whistles are working, it will be a fantastic machine. Right now, it’s only kind of fantastic and mostly unfinished.
After a month, I still love my new console. Though, now that I am starting to gain a collection of games, it annoys me more now that they had to go back on some of the DRM things. Though minor, having to switch discs everytime I want to play a different game feels stone aged, especially since the game is installed on my HD. And I think the family share thing would have been really cool, and I hope that the still intend on bringing this feature to light in the future.