Review: The Xbox One at GAME Camden’s lock-in

Is the Xbox One worth your hard-earned student loan? Jennifer Simpkins puts the console to the test ahead of release.

game gaming ps4 review xbox xbox one

The Sony/Microsoft war has raged fiercely throughout the last year, peppered with snarky video banter, hasty one-eighties about DRM and smack talk over whose hardware boasts the best resolution. Sony have recently confirmed that the Playstation 4 has sold over one million units, and with the release of Microsoft’s Xbox One just around the corner, both next-generation consoles will be on the market and ready to do battle for the hearts and thumbs of gamers across the country.

With console-exclusive games for both the PS4 (see Killzone: Shadowfall and Resogun) and the Xbox One (think Halo 5, Titanfall, Dead Rising 3 and RYSE: Son of Rome), it was time to check out whether the Xbox One had the edge on Sony’s latest offering at GAME Camden’s lock-in event last Saturday.

 

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As we all ate gratuitous amounts of complimentary pizza and chicken nuggets whilst waiting for the Xboxes to connect to the GAME store’s Wi-Fi, the majority of the guys outside told me that they had already pre-ordered the Xbox One. Max and Hari, both 18 and UCL Maths students, had forgone the PS4 release in favour of the glossy beasts just out of our reach. When I asked if the new console would ruin their degrees, they replied, “Probably.”

We trickled into the store and were met with a introductory video and presentation on the Xbox One explaining new and improved features such as Smart Match – setting you up online with competitors who have a similar level of skill to you, SmartGlass – innovative smartphone integration for games like Dead Rising 3 and the highly anticipated 2014 title Watch Dogs, and the updated voice recognition software – no more screaming yourself hoarse at your console to try to get it to turn on. This all seemed largely unnecessary and a formality, as any gamer worth his/her salt has watched an E3 video or seven on these features, and fingers were a-twitching and a-flexing as we waited for it to be over.

 

Ricky did keep us somewhat entertained with some interpretative dances moves as the video played

Ricky did keep us somewhat entertained with some interpretative dances moves as the video played

 

There was a collective groan as we were informed that RYSE and Killer Instinct were off the menu due to technical difficulties, leaving us with just FIFA 14, Forza Motorsport 5 and Dead Rising 3 to try out. Eventually we were allowed to fan out and get our clammy digits on those controllers; plenty crowded round FIFA like moths to the proverbial flame, some trotted over to Forza 5, and I joined the line for Dead Rising 3.

 

UCL students Max and Hari get stuck into zombie fest Dead Rising 3

UCL students Max and Hari get stuck into zombie fest Dead Rising 3

 

Fellow Dead Rising enthusiast Alex, 19, told me that he studied law at UCL, and also admitted that he’d be paying for the new Xbox One system out of his incoming student finance loan, explaining “I’ve got about a grand coming in, so that should cover it”, and mentioning that “I was writing my essay on the tube over here! My deadline’s tomorrow!”. I pushed my approaching deadline to the back of my mind as I solemnly reasoned aloud that there were priorities in life, and continued to smack the sh*t out of a zombie with a Saints Row-esque weapon that had all the appearance of a pink dildo.

 

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Down to the nitty-gritty on a few points:

 

DESIGN

This one’s an easy one. To be blunt, the Xbox One puts the “box” in Xbox. It’s a box. It kept looking at me coquettishly, like it was begging me to put a videotape inside of it.

Here we can see the box inside another box

Here we can see the box inside another box

 

CONTROLLER

I wasn’t expecting too much of a difference between the Xbox’s 360’s controller and the Xbox One’s controller – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, Microsoft – but I was pleasantly surprised at how much more ergonomic it seemed and how high-quality it felt. The textured rims of the analog sticks meant that my frenetic thumbs remained resolutely in place through every frantic escape from AI zombies, the impulse triggers offering a lightning-fast response and a satisfying, realistic click when gleefully shooting them in the face.

 

RESOLUTION AND FRAMERATE

A recent (and in my opinion, largely superfluous) point of contention between the PS4 and the Xbox One has been the native resolutions of certain titles on each console. I was informed that all three games in the lock-in were running at 1080p.

Although we didn’t get our hands on Call of Duty: Ghosts, the game apparently runs on 1080p on the PS4 to the Xbox One’s 720p, which is certainly something to consider – although bear in mind that a higher resolution may actually affect framerate and your COD experience. Also bear in mind that unless you’ve got next-gen eyeballs, both resolutions are going to look next-gen anyway.

Undeniably, Forza 5’s Aston Martin Vanquish paint-job looked glossier than Cheryl Cole’s locks, Dead Rising’s disemboweling scenes played out in exquisite clarity, and FIFA 14 was still a fundamentally unchanged and uninspiring football simulator, except now I could observe Lionel Messi’s sweaty brow in delicious detail. Groundbreaking stuff.

 

The “team cuddle” mechanic on FIFA 14 looks to be vastly improved

The “team cuddle” mechanic on FIFA 14 looks to be vastly improved

 

After 2 hours of unbelievable fun trying out the console and excitedly discussing 2014 lineups with fellow gamers, we trudged out of the store into the Camden cold amongst promises of exchanging gamertags and setting up servers. Like it or not, GAME’s lock-in and Microsoft’s new console had already made me part of a community – no easy feat when dealing with the chiefly antisocial gamer type. Perhaps this is the Xbox One’s true innovation; with vastly upgraded features and a host of exclusive releases that are wickedly enjoyable, you can’t help but share the fun. All for One and One for all is the verdict from the Tab.