My Evening with the Xbox One
So, thanks to the gadget show I was able to spend an evening with the Xbox One at the ‘Xbox on Tour’ Event, the games that were on demo were Ryse, Killer Instinct, Forza 5, Zoo Tycoon, Battlefield 4 (watched extensively but didn’t play), Kinect Sports Rivals, Dead Rising 3 and FIFA (didn’t play). Here is an account of the evenings gaming delights that were on offer, but first the…
My first touch of the controller was a really pleasant surprise, solid, light and extremely familiar to its 360 brethren. The triggers felt tight and responsive and the shoulder buttons have a solid click when pressed, I did notice that they seemed easier to press with the same trigger finger rather than using two fingers to use both trigger and shoulder. The biggest joy was being able to properly cradle the controller in hand without the obtrusive battery compartment of the 360’s getting in the way. All around this is a beautifully crafted, sleek bit of kit.
The console itself was nowhere near as big as I was led to believe, they were all secured with a Perspex plate across the front so no fiddling. I can’t comment on the sound levels of the console as there was just too much noise at the event to hear. Other than that, It’s a box, not much more to talk about really.
The UI was the same as show on various screenshot across the net, and was accessible by pressing the familiar but different big X button on the face of the controller. The consoles all seemed to go to the menus so I can confirm there was no trickery going in with hidden pc's in cabinets. The Xbox's were real! I noticed the reps having to constantly go around and put the games back on as people were pissing around with the menus.
They had the Kinect tech demo on show which was strangely fun, probably due to the Rep who was totally into it. 5 of us making complete fools of ourselves while she flicked through the different modes, such as muscle man, box man, skeleton man… I was desperately trying to assess the lag, punching really fast, jumping from leg to leg, waiving my arms around, doing the crane kick, generally making a fool out of myself. The lag falls somewhere between seeing it but not making you stutter due to the delay. It’s there but only just behind you, if that makes sense. Almost like a ghosting echo of you.
On to the games...
In a nutshell...
Shiny as Hell
Tight & Precise Controls.
I raced with a McLaren, Ferrari and a Ford Focus lol. Three... Two... One.... Holy shit haptic triggers freaked me out! As the McLaren laid rubber on the Tarmac the controller felt like it was exploding in my hands I actually looked down at my hands calling out ‘woow’, amazingly responsive feeling. I really wasn’t expecting this, as many websites have posted that the experience is subtle, this was far from. The only way I can accurately describe it is the controller feels as if it has four corners of vibration, a corner for each wheel. As the car finally gained traction my hands stopped vibrating and I got into the race, every experience on the screen seemed to create a different sort of vibration in my hands. When I drove the Ferrari the feedback was even stronger! The Focus felt the least, so from where I’m standing, it seems as if the cars have different strengths of feedback from the triggers.
I played Forza six times on two different Xbox One’s, and I have to say, it was more fun than I thought it would be. Not surprisingly, it looked iffy on some screens and beautiful on others, clearly due to the monitors all having been fiddled with. Some had the contrast too low or high and same with the other settings, bit of a mess really as this extended throughout the screens on offer. One thing to note is that I did notice jagged lines on the edges of trim on some of the cars on the beauty shots that really caught my eye due to the fidelity of everything else. The details though, are incredible. Uneven paint jobs, small lumps and ripples, amazing translucent carbon-fibre, paint flecks, blingin chrome, dirt… the works. There were all views available, full-car (looks nice but didn’t convey a sense of speed), bonnet cam (intense) cockpit (immersive), road (Fast).
I would recommend this to any petrol head.
Next Up Kinect Sports Rivals
I tried the Jet Ski race and Rock Climbing Events. I played this on three different Xbox’s in different locations with hardly any lights on in the area yet it just worked every time. I also watched many people playing and it was interesting to note that the controls seemed to be very responsive. The people who were having trouble playing and there were a few, didn’t grasp the controls and kept leaning left and right and crashing constantly, the Rep kept saying that the steering works like a jet ski handlebar where you actually turn your hands, some listened, some didn’t. The ones who didn’t obviously walked away meh, which made me laugh, as they were blaming their inability to follow a simple instruction on the Kinect.
The water was beautiful, with amazing wave physics complete with water splashing over the screen… beautiful. The rock climbing was not as impressive. The graphics were good but not mind-blowing and the gameplay worked but wasn’t all that fun, until you had three climbers all yanking each other to get a better footing only to be thrown from the face of the cliff, that was fun. Like with any game there is a learning curve and by my third go, I really started to understand the mechanics and powered to the top very quickly with quite an energetic and timed windmill motion of my arms. Luckily no one was too close or they would have gotten slap in the face.
I also had the chance to have a go at being ‘scanned’ in and its quite mesmerising seeing the shape of your face appear on the screen, (I was reminded of ‘The Lawnmower Man’) the end result was pretty good, I can see this feature being developed on in the future as it has great potential.
Not Bad at all.
Ryse Son of Rome
Well… what can I say but, this is the one game that I kept going back to. It’s so much fun!
One round of the gladiator mode was available. I played close to 20 rounds, over an hour! Each time the formula was the same but the variation was clearly evident.
The controls: B-Roll, X-Sword attack, Y-Shield Attack, A-Block, Shoulder-Taunt, Shoulder-Glory, Trigger-God Power. (could have gotten some the wrong way round as I didn’t write them down)
The Arena: It always started with ‘warm up’ on the screen and 3 or 4 basic thugs to cut your teeth, a couple of strikes with the sword and they were down. From there though things were randomly selected to happen, each wave of enemy stronger and more cunning with different weapons and armour sets. They get tough, very tough. The AI was very crafty and quite unforgiving with multiple strikes coming in from different angles and the roll was the only option to get out quick before you were cut down. They almost always surrounded me and I had to pay very close attention to their body language to know where to strike or block next. One thing was very clear, button mashing gets you nowhere fast. The enemies dodge your sword attacks beautifully, parrying left and right, just getting out of the blades reach. Each new type of combatant required a different strategy which made the game very rewarding for taking the tougher opponents out.
There are many objectives mixed in to the swordplay such as having to take out catapults that are firing at you while battling the thugs, pour burning oil down hatches that open, letting out wave after wave of enemy till accomplished, takeover and defend an area, 7 foot tall barbarians wearing bear skins over their head, Climb platforms and take out archers firing upon you. The great thing is that splash damage is your friend. As I was being fired upon by the catapult and chased by about 5 thugs a red circle appears on the ground showing the area of destruction from the fireball, it’s possible to rollout at the last moment and have the shots obliterate the enemy, all very entertaining.
The two God Powers (chosen prior to the round) I noticed were a shield bash on the ground causing a fiery shockwave of pain and destruction and a super speed mode that slows down the enemy and allow you to hack and slash at a satisfying pace, excellent against the giants!
Health depletion was a permanent thing it seemed, so I always felt a sense of self preservation, having to choose whom to strike and who to block was key to surviving till the end of the round.
The things that really made me feel like I was playing a ‘next gen’ game was the damage physics. Slashes that my blade left across flesh of the enemy, the tougher ones take some serious damage before going down and they are brutally hacked. I could see deep cuts across their bodies, covered in blood before they finally feel the final plunge of cold steel through their throats. I actually have no idea how the QTE’s are activated as I played for ages before some popped up, but when they did they were really satisfying. The graphical brutality is very intense, excellent camera work helps to really intensify an arm being cleanly severed or a sword plunged from under the jaw through the back of the head. There is no spray that lingers from the severed limbs which is a shame, but other than that this game is BRUTAL!
A final note on this game is that there was NO tearing of any kind that I saw, it is a Beautiful game that completely surprised me with the challenge of battle.
Stunning, Satisfying, Brutal.
Dead Rising 3
WOW, just amazing fun, stupid amazing fun. It was a timed demo of about 10 mins. There were no objectives; it was just you, and ZOMBIES! Bloody hundreds of them. This is how I have always imagined a zombie game to be, just completely and utterly overwhelmed. At one point I found a sports car and started tearing down the streets ploughing through crowds and crowds of them with zombies hanging all over the car it was just too much fun. The great thing was that the car slowed down to a crawl the thicker the crowds got, resulting in a zombie pileup, with them all trying to pull you out of the windows. On one attempt I had killed more than 2000 zombies in the short demo, this really is a next gen feeling game, I am really surprised with how good it looks and how smooth it runs when there is just total carnage on screen. This alone has shown me that there is some serious power within that black square box. This is a secured purchase for me now that I have had a chance to see and play it for myself.
This is the game to get for pure stupid enjoyment.
Not so much fun, this one. The framerate was choppy, the graphics were not a huge leap, and the gameplay was slow but this isn’t really a pick up and plays game. The only time I was even slightly impressed with the graphics is at the elephant enclosure, I was spraying a water gun and a baby elephant came running to play in the spray, cute and the animations were impressive. This is the only time I noticed some fidelity in textures and environment. I didn’t hang around long to play this one as it’s not really my sort of thing.
I only played this for 8 rounds, it was really enjoyable but I could only take so much, the seats were way to close to the screen so the experience was a little headache inducing.
Very Flashy, Very Colourful, Very Busy.
This just looked gorgeous; It was buttery smooth, so sharp, really impressive. I just watched people playing for a while, stunned by how crystal clear everything looked. I would not be disappointed if I were buying this game on launch, that’s for sure. As this is a multi-plat there isn’t much more to know until the inevitable comparisons are done. At it looks, this iteration is seriously good looking.
By this time I was fatigued from the blaring gameplay of 4 hours so after my final victory on Forza, I quickly jumped on the podium, being dressed in a fireproof racing outfit by the Forza 5 Pit Girls, got our picture taken and then I hightailed it outta there. This was a very satisfying evening that has left a lasting impression on me; I simply can’t wait to get my hands on Ryse, Dead Rising 3 and Forza 5 after tonight. I can say, hand on heart, that even just from the demos, I am very relieved to have seen, played and observed some amazing gaming, The kinect worked! The Controller worked! The games worked! The Xbox One worked!
I hope that this has provided some light on any questions that people may have had, I have zero doubt about my purchase of an Xbox One after having an amazing opportunity to play for over 4 hours on it, I already miss it. These next four weeks are going to be painfully slow.