sat 13/08/2022

Microsoft Xbox One | reviews, news & interviews

Microsoft Xbox One

Microsoft Xbox One

The opening shot in the next generation battle for dominance of your TV

'Microsoft Xbox One': It's watching you, but are you watching it?

Today sees the first of the truly "next generation" consoles launch – the Microsoft Xbox One. It promises to revolutionise gaming. But in fact, it could well be the last gasp of a dying form of interactive idiocy.

The Xbox One is perhaps the most intriguing of the new console launches – it does something totally different in controlling your entire TV. Aiming to be a one-box multimedia solution, the Xbox One will control your TV viewing, using the built-in Kinect motion-sensing and voice control (this service doesn't come to Europe until 2014!). So plug in the new console and you can play games in one portion of the screen while watching TV in another, you can control your set-top box or change channels with your voice. All your other telly-connected kit is rendered subservient.

Microsoft Xbox One controls your TV with KinectThe technology is amazing, but largely pointless. There's the rush of controlling gadgets with your voice that smartphone users may have experienced, then rapidly the return to using the remote. For Americans whose cable connections are infamously complex, this may be great, for Europeans it's certainly not worth the entrance price of the box alone (from £429).

The same technology – motion-sensing and voice control – is usable by games. And it's far more accurate than before. But it's worth remembering that very few games, from very few genres, have ever successfully persuaded gamers that waving their arms and shouting at their TV is a good idea.

Little surprise then that the technology is sparsely used in the launch games – a pedestrian collection simply 20 percent shinier than the last generation of dull games.

Yes, the cars in Forza Motorsport 5 look stunning, but only a bit more stunning than they looked in Forza 4. And yes, it's nice that rival racers in single-player games are now real people – their laps chosen to match your skill and streamed into your game – but the end result still feels like fairly well-balanced and predictable racing (that may change as more racers are uploaded by real players, rather than beta testers).

Microsoft Xbox One's Forza 5 the best in a weak launch line-up including Ryse, Killer Instinct and others.Beyond the flagship game, there's worse. Ryse: Son Of Rome is bloody but brutally boring action. Dead Rising 3 scrappy zombie fighting that at least is fun. Nothing looks, let alone plays like anything new.

That's the real problem here – a collective failure of nerve among console games makers. Traditional consoles preside over a shrinking and divided kingdom – they're fighting for scraps while their empire has deserted them.

Gamers have increasingly embraced the high-concept, simple-graphics approach of games on smartphones, tablets and innovative and unusual "indie" titles on digital PC services like Steam. The real "next generation" starts when tablet games come seamlessly to your TV, or the Steambox launches, when emotion and story and character intelligence are foregrounded over graphic flare.

What's here will appeal to a laddish "hardcore" of gamers. But that's a shrinking percentage of the population. The real innovation, it seems likely, lies elsewhere.

For the cost, there's certainly little to recommend the Xbox One so far. But who knows what tomorrow holds? Titanfall, the over-the-top walking tank shooter from the people who created Call Of Duty, is an Xbox One exclusive – while it's hardly radical in approach, its execution looks stunning. That may yet prove to be Xbox One's saviour, as could some other as-yet-unannounced title.

The real "next generation" starts when... when emotion and story and character intelligence are foregrounded over graphic flare


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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