Although, I have never waited until midnight for a console lunch before, I waited at the Freehold, NJ Microsoft Store for the launch of the Xbox One. Like most of the people in the line, I had previously pre-ordered my system and was promised a “Day One Edition” that I was happy to receive as promised. One might wonder why I am waiting to post a review of the system now, so many weeks after the launch of the system, especially when so many others had posted their reviews on our around launch night. The answer is simple — I did not get the console early and wanted to make sure that I had ample time to use the system before writing my review.
The Good: In a lot of ways, the Xbox One is a console designed with me in mind. I like gaming but I don’t have the time that I used to have to game all the time. In fact, like the majority of Xbox 360 owners, my 360 was mostly used for watching Netflix and other multimedia experiences rather than gaming. So far the gaming experience delivers and the Kinect-powered voice recognition seems to work at least seventy-five percent of the time — a figure that I would like to see higher but is better than anything else of its ilk on the market currently including Apple’s Siri. In terms of gaming, the system delivers and, as was the case with the 360, Xbox Live is clearly the killer gaming feature of the system. Being able to suspend a game, do something else like take a Skype call, and still have my game’s state saved is a killer feature and probably my favorite feature of the system.
The Bad: Still not all is well in the state (err city) of Redmond. The indie game story is currently non-existent. In fact, the AA and AAA game story is not much better and there is not killer title that represents “Xbox” on the market right now — this is something that the PS4 lacks as well and I feel that this is a mistake of the generation — that is the platform vendors are relying on third-party publishers far too much when they ought to be supporting smaller studios in exchange for exclusives.
The Ugly: The 1980′s called and would like their VCR back. Yes, the system itself looks pretty ugly from a hardware perspective and this is not a shocker when you consider that Microsoft is a software company and does not have a pedigree of industrial design. I’ve also noticed that I can occasionally hear the fan running while playing games; it should be noted that I often mute games in order to listen to podcasts. The sound isn’t too bad, but on the verge of 2014, these systems should be silent; for instance, if the One ran an SSD rather that a spinning drive, there would be a reduction in heat generated.
Conclusion: All in all, I like the One and it is a great 1.0 product. Despite Microsoft’s bumbling PR, the system itself has a great story to tell and I recommend it to all but the most “hardcore” (read immature) gamer — that of course is not to say that all PS4 owners are immature, but, sadly, there is a pretty vocal minority of “hardcore gamers” that behave worse than your average five year old after having his lolly stolen.