Now that initial consumer anticipation has climaxed with the release of Microsoft's third outing in the console wars. The Xbox One, has now had its first month on the market...no real milestone here. Still, it is enough time for me to express my opinions on the strength and weakness of the system to date, after a solid month of dabbling with the Xbox One.
Console Design: The Xbox One overall design seems to be an homage to 80's Betamax boxes. You will undoubtedly feel the difference when you place it on your television stand, this thing really takes up space. The console design is an overall failure because it feels like a regression of the Xbox 360 and a mild exaggeration of the first generation Xbox consoles. There is no evolution here, the piano black gloss and matte finish do little to compensate for the Xbox design team lack of creativity or passion. I personally believe they were on to something with the Xbox 360 Slim, the redesign helped refine what the original Xbox 360 fell short. Why did someone at Microsoft decide to go with the current Xbox One design over possibly hundreds of others will probably be subject to a documentary.
Hardware/Kinect: The main supplier is AMD, this company is powering the 8th generation of video games for all parties concerned (Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony). Under the Xbox One's hood is a Jaguar eight core CPU/GPU solution and 8 gigabytes of DDR3 ram. This roughly translates to middle/high end tier PC gaming performance, it is more or less identical to Sony PlayStation 4 specs. This isn't particularly troublesome as long as the games look and feel great. The Kinect is a more novelty hardware component than the processor or graphics chips powering the Xbox One. The newly revised Kinect 2.0, opens up a world of possibilities, light years ahead of what the first generation Kinect had to offer. I realized this as soon as I powered on the system and Kinect took over. Voice and gesture controls are more intuitive and precise, eliminating the erratic behavior of Kinect 1.0.
Operating System: The Modern UI which dominates all contemporary Microsoft platforms is also implemented into the Xbox One. The UI feels very much like Windows 8, nothing of real hindrance. The screen snap feature is a very welcome addition, moving from app to app is a breeze. Still, there are instances where the system stutters or slows down drastically. This seems more of a firmware issue, as some of the glitches make the Xbox One feel like a product rushed to market.
Xbox Live: The premiere online gaming marketplace irrespective of game consoles has been updated for Xbox One (Thank God). Noticeably the friends list, taking away the restriction of a hundred friends cap and allowing to add a thousand friends if needed, is a very welcomed feature indeed. Communication via headsets online sounds more crisper and clearer, thanks to more servers dedicated to the platform. Xbox Music and Video is quick and navigating through is easy. Third party application are more profound, Now the Xbox One can act as your set top box as it has the capability of meshing with your cable provider, Xbox One is turning out to be the entertainment hub Microsoft always wanted.
Games: The Microsoft marketing machine promised a stellar game lineup at launch, it has been nothing short of a colossal failure in terms of what they promised. I've spent time playing Ryse: Son of Rome and Forza 4 Motorsports, both great looking games. However, they both fall short in terms of game play, I have a bigger gripe with Ryse since it's been showcased in television commercials none stop. Yet despite all the graphical eye candy, Ryse game mechanics and plot are dismal at best. I've enjoyed playing Killer Instinct more than any other fully fleshed out next generation title.
Potential: Do I recommend people to buy into this platform? No, the games simply aren’t there yet in terms of volume or quality. Despite Microsoft effort to position the Xbox name as a general entertainment device, the Xbox name was built on gamers’ backs. When titles like Metal Gear Solid Phantom Pain, Halo 5 and Grand Theft Auto 6 hits the market than it will be a good time to invest, Great games and hopefully a much cheaper console than the $500 Microsoft wants for their new shiny Xbox One. Not everything of value is tangible, for the Xbox One, the future seems brighter than the present.