Microsoft Makes The Jump Into Next-Gen With The Xbox One
The Xbox One was released on November 22, 2013 and I was lucky enough to get my hands on one early Friday morning. My local GameStop actually opened two hours early on Friday morning and I had my Xbox One hooked up by 10:30am EST.
I had followed the Xbox One closely since its first announcement and I was one of the people disappointed by Microsoft's controversial decisions about the Kinect, used games, and 'always online' functionality that was announced at E3 2013. So disappointed in fact that I had commented that I would not be buying an Xbox One due to the decisions made by Microsoft.
Microsoft soon back pedaled on their decisions due to the negative response they received in the days following E3, and when Microsoft announced the launch date for the Xbox One I was admittedly very excited. Now, after a weekend of getting to know the Xbox One I can give an honest review of the console.
The Console Itself
First off, the Xbox One is a probably one of the biggest consoles released in recent memory. The area I had set aside for my Xbox 360 S was not big enough and I had to make room for the Xbox One due to its size. Also, the console is not exactly light either and it is my goal to not have to move the Xbox One unless it is necessary (based on the console's weight and the fact I do not want to break it...)
The Xbox One features buttons that are similar to those on the Xbox 360 S where a sensor picks up when you place your finger near the button to activate it. I was taken aback when this happened when I first cut on my Xbox 360 S years ago, and it is something I am glad to see return on the Xbox One. Not that pressing a button is a taxing event but there were times when my Xbox 360 Elite would slide when I pressed the button, and if it slide off my desk and fell to the floor...not a pleasant thought.
The white Xbox symbol is the Power button and the disc eject is right of the disc drive.
One of the interesting features of the Xbox One is that it has a HDMI out port that sends the signal to your TV or monitor, and it has a HDMI in port that allows you to run a HDMI signal into the Xbox One as well. This port is intended to allow gamers to run their cable boxes through the Xbox One and use the Xbox One as a media hub. This is not a feature that I have taken advantage of because I use a monitor to game, but I might run my Xbox 360 through the Xbox One if I even want to play some of my older games.
Xbox One: Better With Kinect?
The Kinect is also quite large and is surprisingly heavy for its size, but the stand that the Kinect sits on is a bit of a disappointment. The Kinect is meant to sit between two to six feet off the ground, so it could ideally sit on my TV but the stand does not sit well on my TV. And the last thing I want to do is have my Kinect fall off my HDTV and hit the ground...so it sits on my desk and tends to get in the way.
However, Microsoft has said for months about how the Xbox One was going to work better with Kinect...but does it, really?
"Don't mind me...just going to sit here...and watch you."
Actually, besides being awkwardly in the way the Kinect really does make my Xbox One experience more enjoyable. It may sound gimmicky but being able to control aspects of the console with voice commands works great, and is something that makes me feel way cooler than I really am. Who can put a price tag on that?
Another cool feature of the Kinect is that when you turn on the Xbox One the Kinect can sign you in if you are in front of the camera. When you set up the Xbox One for the first time, the Kinect will see what you look like and it will be able to recognize you later on. This is a feature that I would not complain about if it were not a possibility but it is definitely something that is kind of neat.
More importantly though, the Kinect serves its purpose in several of the Xbox One exclusive titles such as Ryse: Son of Rome and Dead Rising 3 where voice commands actually perform in-game moves. The moves can still happen with button presses in some situations but others are triggered only by voice commands through the Kinect, and it makes having the Kinect more worthwhile.
Overall, the Kinect is something I might not have purchased separately (if it were possible that is), but is something that I am glad to have now that I have used it. I like it so much that I might even invest in a proper stand for it so that it can fit better onto my TV.
The Xbox One Controller
The last piece of important hardware for the Xbox One is the newly redesigned Xbox One controller that Microsoft invested so much time and money on. But how has Microsoft's investment turned out?
Well, the Xbox One controller is very similar to the Xbox 360 controller in general shape and feel but the changes are clear. Firstly, the Xbox One controller is slimmer than the Xbox 360 controller due to the smaller battery compartment and it is weighs less as well.
The bigger changes are in the thumb sticks and the triggers on the controller as Microsoft has made some significant changes in these. The thumb sticks of the Xbox One controller are taller than those from the Xbox 360 but they are also smaller in diameter. This change takes some time to get used to and it makes first-person shooters a little more difficult to play at first.
The triggers have also been redesigned as the RB and LB bumpers have been increased significantly in size. There is no longer any gap between the bumpers and the triggers and it does help the controller feel a little better in my hands. The LT and RT triggers are also slightly larger and feature a more dramatic curve to them than the Xbox 360 triggers did.
The triggers also feature their own rumble motors in them to give players feedback in-game with the new "Impulse Triggers." In first-person shooters, firing a gun will cause the triggers to rumble and it is a pretty cool feature. Forza Motorsport 5 uses a similar mechanic in that the triggers will vibrate whenever you accelerate or use the brakes.
Generally speaking, the Xbox One controller improves upon the finer points of the Xbox 360 controller while still keeping the best parts. Some of the changes take some time getting used to but overall I like the Xbox One controller more than the 360 controller.
I have really enjoyed learning the new changes that Microsoft has made with the Xbox One and have also enjoyed using my Kinect to operate the console. I was skeptical about how the Kinect would work with the Xbox One but Microsoft has done an excellent job incorporating the two together.
The newly redone controller takes some time to get used to but feels good to hold. The more compact design is lighter and the bulky battery pack of the Xbox 360 is a thing of the past. And finally, the new Impulse Triggers add another dimension of feedback for gamers and is something I hope game companies use more in the future.
Microsoft earned itself some serious criticism with some of its controversial plans for the Xbox One, but it has released a very good next-generation console. I look forward to seeing what Microsoft has planned for the future and remain pleased with my purchase of an Xbox One. I give the Xbox One a nine out of ten in terms of the console's functionality and its peripherals.
I will begin to review Xbox One games starting tomorrow so if there is a game that you would like to see me review, then let me know in the Comments below!