Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Top Ten things you need to know about the Xbox One

So Microsoft has unveiled its new console, the ‘Xbox One’. It looks like a late 80s VHS player, and has ambitions of being the centre of your living room – and it might just do it too – if it works. I’m betting right now it won’t. So, here’s a sarcastic bluffer’s guide to the launch if you missed it

10) There’s a new Call of Duty (Naturally)
What an enormous shock, the new console will ship with a new Call of Duty- Call of Duty: Ghosts, this one featuring slightly shinier men to shoot at, and a dog you’ll build a ‘close bond’ with – so say goodnight Fido… It will no doubt feature a Pavlov’s Dogs-style drip-feed multiplayer and be largely identical to its forebears.

9) It responds to your voice
“Xbox on” turns it on, and the rest is pretty straightforward after that. It can switch back and forth between games and the console’s many other functions on command – so you’ll be able to look doubly stupid in front of your friends. (Am I the only one who’ll stick to a controller, thank-you?)

8) It’s got Blu-Ray Blu-ray! 
In your Xbox! It’d be even better had the PS3 not already got that feather in its cap.

7) It can do Skype, and picture-in-picture
In its drive to make its games console into a multi-media computer-you-like, Microsoft have teamed up with outside developers to feature their programmes. This means you’ll be able to Skype using the Xbox One, and keep on gaming or watching a film at the same time, which is cool, I admit – especially for those of us who can multitask (so not me…)

6) It’s a powerful beast (about the same as the PS4…)
I won’t go into the details – it’s plenty powerful, and will be able to make games even shinier than before. It’s got plenty of RAM, so it should run smoothly, and more chips than the East End on a Saturday night.

5) Kinect comes in the box (and it might work this time)
Wave-your-arms-a-lot peripheral Kinect is an integral part of the system this time around (not a half-arsed attempt to capitalise on the Wii’s casual gamer market). Hopefully this will mean it actually works properly – and Microsoft believe it should work in the dark, recognise individual users and have good games for it. Of course, the fact that it’s always on when the Xbox is on might freak us out a little…

4) 15 new games in year one, eight exclusives
I bet you this shiny sixpence the number of exclusives drops once the PS4 rolls up its sleeves and really kicks off this latest generation of the console war.

3) It thinks it’s a TV
You can plug your Xbox into your digital boxes, and stream live TV from the net. Microsoft have also entered into deals with big sports names to stream live matches.Of course, you could always just turn over manually using your TV remote. Rather shortsighted, that, Microsoft…

2) Microsoft has ignored its core audience
If there’s one thing the launch showed, its that Bill Gates’ former empire has forgotten what the Xbox is – a games console. While I can see the sense in such a move to push the console as the ‘heart of the living room’, launching without a roster of new titles was always likely to put gamers’ noses out of joint – and it’s gamers who will buy this beast (at a massively inflated price, no doubt).

1) It’s going to be tricky to play preowned titles
What was more telling by its lack was talk of pre-owned titles, and backwards compatibility. Microsoft have been deliberately vague about all that, but I wouldn’t hold out hope. There was also talk about digital rights management, and not being able to swap games with friends, as they’ll need to be installed on the console, and may well link themselves only to that unit. Time will tell if these fearful rumours come to pass…

So that’s my quick look at the Xbox One – expect a more insightful (and hopefully less sarcastic) examination of the facts at E3 later this year.

Questions Microsoft didn’t answer:
How much will it cost?
When will it be released exactly? (Later this year is the best they can do so far)
Why didn’t you make it look less like a big, black brick?