Is the Xbox One for your Groom?

By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock in Grand Theft Auto, you would have heard about the latest console wars between the major gaming companies.    

In case you haven’t heard, Microsoft and Sony are launching their next generation consoles this week in a flurry of marketing hype with the launch of Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4.

I was one of the lucky ones to be selected to come along to the launch of the Xbox One event in Dublin last week and view the latest in Microsoft’s aim to be the top gaming console.

The event itself was held in the Ambassador in Dublin, a venue usually associated with exhibitions like those of the touring Body Worlds; showing cadavers in various states of undress. It seemed fitting that this was Xbox One’s venue, as those other lucky participants, at the event, looked very much like they should donate their bodies to science!

Upon entering the venue, we were advised to remove our coats, (possibly because we may have looked like the type to fit an Xbox One under our jackets, ahem!) and as it was a cold day we were initially hesitant. After being reassured that the heat was indeed pumping at ’11’ and that we were going to be warm from the heat of over 100 consoles in one room, we handed them over.  

On the first floor we were greeted with a line of 32 inch LCD TV’s, all displaying the small avatars of an English football team side by side to a Zombie Apocalypse. {Very apt some would say ;)} I spent a number of minutes ‘attempting’ to kick a virtual ball at a number of boxes stacked in strategic displays. My attempts were lackluster at best. I would like to consider that I make a better real life footballer than a digital one but that is also untrue.    

The first impression of the games console was that the controller felt (to me) like putting on an old pair of slippers on a winter’s night, only to discover they now had a new vibration feature to sooth my toes.    It was easy and similar in shape to the previous Xbox 360.  Although there are reports of Microsoft spending $100 million on developing this controller, which in the grand scheme of things appears to be a lot of money, only to arrive back at the original design. It just proves the old adage, if it ain’t broke why fix it?

After my continuously embarrassing skills at Fifa 2014 (especially so, as a member of the Xbox Event team was standing behind me viewing my attempts with obvious merriment), we proceeded downstairs to a much larger room. Surrounding the room was another selection of LCD’s, only this time we are shown all the other gaming delights Microsoft had to offer. This included, Battlefield 4, Ryse, Son of Rome, and others. 

Around the middle of the floor, were even more TV’s but this time lower so the participant were forced to sit on a somewhat very low but yet comfortable bean bag. This may have been exciting for the student, who enjoys sitting close to a floor so as to not fall over, but not for someone with a bad back {like me}!  

On a stage situated at one end of the room was a young lady flaying her arms around as if she was having a seizure. On closer inspection, it was in fact her playing a particularly ‘groovy’ (yes I am down with the kids) dance using Microsoft’s unique selling point; The Kinect.

For those of you who are unaware what the Kinect is, this was launched for the Xbox 360 in June 2011 in response to the popular Wii Console. The Kinect is a camera and motion detector which mimics your movements in certain games. Most of us ‘gamers’ believed it to be a fad but Microsoft stuck with it. 

The latest Xbox One has a new upgraded Kinect, this time with more accurate movement detection and a HD Camera. It also has the facility for HD Skype and voice control.  

Never being one to shy away from a dance off (ask my wife), I tested the new Kinect and I was extremely impressed. Microsoft claim the latest Kinect is so accurate that it can monitor your heartbeat. From what I saw, it didn’t show that but it was incredibly accurate displaying my not too shabby dance moves. I did not have the opportunity to test the voice capabilities but from reports they are apparently more accurate than its predecessor. This makes the console unique, in that you can control what you want the Xbox to do with requests, such as simply saying ‘Xbox Skype’. This will launch Skype immediately onto your TV screen.   More commands can be viewed here and list of gestures, here.   

Following my ‘impressive’ dance moves, I said I would like to go for a drive so I took my seat on a bean bag and decided that I would take my red Ferrari out for a spin with the game Forza Motorsport 5. The first thing that struck me about the game were the graphics. They are incredible. So much so, I got lost in simply staring at my chosen vehicle for ten minutes.  The graphene finish, the leather interior, the bright red colour all had me transfixed. 

Once I got into driving the vehicle, I was amazed at the sensitivity of the controller and the car to my reactions. The triggers on the new controller have a vibrating function which provided feedback on every turn, every brake and every time  I ended in the rough of the racetrack (not as often as you think). I spent the majority of the rest of the day playing this.

is xbox one for your groom

So, after all of this, should this be a present you want to purchase for your groom?

Well, first of all, here comes the science bit – The Xbox One comes with an 8 core custom AMD processor – that is 5 more cores than the Xbox 360 making it able to handle over 5 times more on screen than Xbox 360.   It also has 8GB of RAM, 500GB of internal memory and a Blu-ray drive. It also has the facility to connect with your cable television provider (although this is not fully implemented in Ireland or Europe yet) so technically it could be or Microsoft hopes it will be, your all round media entertainment box.    

If you/your groom already has an Xbox 360, then they will love the Xbox One but don’t give up the 360 yet as backwards compatibility (the ability to play Xbox 360 games on Xbox one) is not installed on the new system.   

If they have a PlayStation, the PlayStation 4 maybe the best choice (review on this coming soon).

If its their first console, then I would still side with the Xbox because it is easier to use their system.

If they are a PC gamer, then its probably best to get them a new graphics card.   

If you are still unsure, well so is everybody. There are advantages to Xbox (more initial exclusives on games) and to Playstation 4 (slightly faster graphics and processor) so it could come down to the flip of a coin.

In summary, to pick the perfect console for your other half, you need to strip it down to what will be played most? What games will be to their taste?  Will they use the Kinect?  Will it be used as a media center for your living room?  Once you answer these questions, you should have the answer on what console will suit you best.  

So much like the idea behind Body World, you need to take away the skin and delve deep into the psyche of who you are buying it for.  

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