Posts Tagged ‘kinect’

Kinect-less Xbox One–Issues, Issues, Issues

May 17, 2014

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This week Microsoft announced they would be releasing a Kinect free Xbox One.  This has been met with great internet back lash.

This is showing yet again Microsoft are doing yet another u-turn on an executive decision.  My problem with this decision however is just how much of a U-turn this is.

Back last year when the Xbox One was near release, Microsoft were going on and on about how this is the future of gaming, how that by supplying every Xbox One owner with a Kinect sensor that developers will be utilising this amazing piece of tech.

6 months on and we have just a handful of games utilising the tech and most of these aren’t great.  Kinect sports is ok and a vast improvement on the previous Kinect Sports games but there were still things lacking, that I believe with time and research could be improved.

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However now that gamers will be able to buy the Xbox One without the Kinect the incentive for developers to utilise this has been removed.  I feel this was one of the main reasons the Kinect v1 wasn’t very successful or improved over it’s short life span.

Whilst I am not a massive fan of the Kinect games, it did offer some nice features to games, for instance in Battlefield 4, the leaning function felt very intuitive (you leaned on you chair, the first person view leaned).  The voice commands were also very good, although this was not so much of a draw for me as I play in the same room as my wife watching TV so I don’t really get to utilise this feature often.

phil sPhil Spencer is still saying that developers will utilise the tech but really it just means that any developer wanting to use the tech will also have to come up with a non Kinect alternative for the new owners.

I do understand why they have done it as they are falling way behind the PS4 sales, however by removing the Kinect I feel that they are not offering anything different to the PS4, other than a same priced, less powerful machine, so i don’t understand how that will draw people in.

Whilst it is refreshing to see a company listen to feedback and make major changes, it does also put the company in a bad light and make it hard to trust anything they say.  When the console was launched last year they said the Kinect was an integral piece of equipment and it was essential to the consoles success.  6 months later and apparently it is not essential and you don’t really need it.

So whilst they cannot please everyone, they should at least stop the rubbish they are coming out with regarding developers still wanting to use the Kinect when there has been little evidence of this before it was no longer a requirement for the console.

What will happen, who knows, if it does draw new crowds in then great, I am an Xbox gamer through and through and anything that prolongs the console’s life is fine by me, but please just stop the bs declarations Microsoft!

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Dead Rising 3 – Thoughts So Far…….

December 18, 2013

Pre Xbox One launch I couldn’t decide whether to get Ryse: Son of Rome or Dead Rising 3.  I eventually went for Ryse as I had read that DR3 did not really show off the graphics of the next gen console. Yesterday I completed the excellent, but short campaign of Ryse and with no interest in the multiplayer I looked to trade it in at Game.  After some discussion I got a good price for Ryse which gave me the cash for a pre-owned copy of DR3.

I had played the recently released demo on the Xbox One and I have played previous versions briefly on the Xbox 360.  However once installed I have been very pleasantly surprised.  Agreed, the graphics look like last gen to a certain extent, however the sheer number of zombies on the screen at one time has to be seen to be believed.  there can be literally hundreds of the undead on your screen at one time, ready for you to mow them down in the method of your choosing. 

Dead Rising 3–Short Clip of a Zombie Slice and mowing down loads in a car!

Now this feature wasn’t a real surprise to me as I had read reviews of the game however seeing it for the first time is incredible.  A particular section of the game found me trying to avoid the mass hoard of zombies by cutting through a shop, however as I approached the front of the store I saw hundreds of zombies outside wandering the street, I knocked over an object making a little noise and suddenly the zombies attention was drawn to me and they all started to storm the store, creating an intense fight or flight situation.

After an hour or so of playing the game I discovered that this is one of the first few games to utilise the Xbox Smart Glass to it’s full capacity.  By opening the app on your the device of your choosing you turn it into an in game smart phone.  Whereas calls for side missions would normally come through your speakers or headphones, they will now come as phone calls through your device.  In my case I was using my Kindle Fire.  You can reject or answer these calls as you would do a normal phone and it just adds to the immersion into the game.  You can also look at maps, objectives, etc similar to an everyday smart phone which is a really nice addition to the game.

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The game also allows the use of voice commands through Kinect which works well, you can call zombies from across a ravine to make them plummet to their death, it all just adds to a great gaming experience.

I feel that this game should have been promoted better as a great launch title using all of the consoles new features to the max, making you realise just what a powerful console the Xbox One really is, it may not be the most powerful graphically wise, however it is still amazing graphically, but the additional features just add to an all round great gaming experience.

Xbox One Happy Chappy!

November 29, 2013

Well it has been a week now since I received my nice shiny new Xbox One, today also being the release of the PS4 in Europe I thought I would give my thoughts on the Xbox.  I have now got to grips with all the new tech and have played a fair bit (mainly FIFA14) on the console so I thought I would share my thoughts on my new toy.

machineThe first thing you notice when opening up the box is the sheer size of the thing.  It is approximately an inch or two larger all round, but this is hardly surprising with the hardware beneath this outer shell.  The Kinect is of a more solid build than it’s predecessor, in part due to the removal of need for movement.

Once set up the expected software update began which didn’t take long at all.  This update apparently removes all of the ‘always online’ and other stuff Microsoft quickly changed after initial public uproar at the original Xbox One announcement.

Next I logged into my existing Xbox Live account.  This brought over all of my existing records, friends, etc. and now with the use of Kinect I am automatically logged in when in front of the camera.

Whilst no Kinect specific games are available at launch (well, worth mentioning) the Kinect is used in a number of launch titles and I have to say there is a massive improvement in the speech and movement recognition which is near perfect, as I had hoped.

The first place I looked at was the apps store.  This is currently limited to a few apps but they are pretty good ones.  Upload studio for example enables you to use the DVR recordings of your games and edit the clips for upload to Xbox or your own Skydrive to share with anyone you wish.  There are also a few TV ondemand apps, plus the Twitch app, although this is only for viewing other  broadcasters at this time (streaming will be available via the Xbox without additional hardware early 2014).

The store also contains full games, available from day of release and after a quick view the prices are thankfully very similar to buying from Amazon and much cheaper than in store prices unlike Xbox 360 games which sold games over a year old at full RRP.  Within this part of the store was also the ‘Killer Instinct’ free to play beat’em up (you can pay for more characters) and the Kinect Sports ‘preseason’ demo which is a good introduction to the power of Kinect 2.0 in full use prior to the games release later next year.xb1

Next I looked at a couple of the cards that had come with the Xbox, one was a Day One achievement, whilst a very minor benefit the new way for entering codes or gift vouchers is brilliant.  Simply hold up the code to the Kinect camera and it automatically reads it into the system.

Another of the new features is the snap function, this didn’t seem to be that great when announced but I have since enjoyed this functionality by playing FIFA whilst having the live Barclays Premiership goals streaming to the side.

You can also snap your TV to the side but as my Xbox is not connected to our main TV this was of no use to me, however I have since used my Kindle to stream live TV to the Xbox and therefore can now watch TV at the same time as playing games, which whilst isn’t that exciting in my mind, could be quite cool say if you wanted to check up on sports whilst playing a game.

As with the PS4 the Xbox One has gameplay recording facilities, enabling you to upload gameplay videos to Xbox Live or even to your Skydrive to share with your friends or perhaps on to Youtube.  As an experienced gaming Youtuber I often found it inconvenient to have to connect my laptop up to my Xbox360 to be able to record it, also to keep deleting clips I didn’t want so that I just had the golden moments.  Now with the XboxOne this is all a dream.  Some games such as FIFA14 will automatically record the last 30 seconds of gameplay for particular events, what triggers these I do not know, however it seems to have a mystical sixth sense to know what goals I actually want to record and which to ignore.  If it doesn’t notify you it has kept a clip you can always simply say “Xbox Record That” and instantly it will save your last 30 seconds of gameplay to the drive.  If you want slightly longer clips of up to 5 minutes, ytyou can use the snap feature of game DVR, which is constantly keeping your last 5 minutes and you just instruct, via controller or voice how long to keep and when you want to keep it.  Later on you can review all of your clips using the upload app and save any you want to keep for editing or that you don’t want auto deleted as the hard drive feels up.  I am loving this feature as I simply edit the clips afterwards and then upload to my Skydrive where I can then edit them on my laptop for uploading to Youtube which is far superior to the nightmare of my old 360.  Those wanting to record longer clips will need to use a capture card, or join numerous of clips together using the in built software but so far I have never really felt the need for longer clips.

Now to the main event, the games.  In the week leading up to launch I started to get very nervous with all reports of the PS4 managing 1080p but the Xbox only having 720p for the games Call of Duty:Ghosts and Battlefield4.  However now that I have played them, it does not bother me in the slightest, they all look and play amazingly well.  The Xbox One does play at 1080p but the aforementioned games developers made the choice to keep it downgraded to keep the frame rate high with the tight launch deadlines.  As developers get more time with the hardware they will be able to code them to a higher resolution which will bring the (hardly noticeable difference) between the two consoles on par.

So if you couldn’t already tell (did you not read the title) I am over the moon with my new console and I am looking forward to many years of gaming fun!

See my next blog for brief reviews of the games I have played so far on the Xbox One.

Microsoft and the Xbox One – The War Isn’t Over Yet

August 27, 2013

blogLet me start this blog by making it clear that no matter how hard I try this blog will be a little biased as I am undeniably a bit of a Xbox fanboy.  However give me some credit as I have owned a PS1 & 2 and I am also trying my best to stay unbiased.

So over the last few months I have driven my wife, my friends and work colleagues mad with my thoughts on the next gen consoles.

Just a month ago I would have stated that I was well and truely now in the Playstation camp, almost certain I was going to pre order a PS4.  However a month on and that has all changed (yet again).

After the initial Xbox One launch I like many others thought this is ridiculous, how can they not allow indie games, or the sale of preowned games etc.  I also was strongly swayed by the number of friends (real life) who have always been and have stated will still be Playstation.

I had to agree with them, after the initial Xbox One launch, some of the messages coming from Microsoft HQ and the followiing comi-con annoucnments there wasn’t a lot to be excited about.  Microsoft also had made themselves look like money hungry fat cats.

In hindsight I can’t actually remember why I was drawn to the Playstation other than more of my friends would be on it and that it was much cheaper.  I am not a fan of the controller and the exclusives that appeal to me are few and far between.  Many of the Playstaion exclusives are often Anime/Japanese style games which do not appeal to me.

However in the last couple of weeks, particularly after gamescom in Germany I have started to swing my allegiance back towards the Xbox (all be it not fully).  My reasons for this change of heart are due to a number of reasons which I list below:
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The extra £80 on the Xbox is really caused by the inclusion of Kinect, whilst not a huge fan, I did like some of the functions of the v1 Kinect and so wouldn’t mind it being made a staple part of the Xbox, thus making it more worth while for developers to include Kinect functionality in their games.  I have since read on various websites that the PS4 would benefit from the use of their own camera for many functions and this itself would cost currently £50.  Firstly this would bring the cost of the PS4 within just £30 of the Xbox but without the full backing of developers as it is not necessarily going to be on every machine their game is played on.

Now mainly due to my friends all being Playstation fanboys I was desperately trying to find reasons to be excited by the PS4, however I could only find a few items (even on the Official Playstation magazine website) that even warranted a second look.  According to many sources (however yet to be proven) the PS4 is supposedly more powerful, Microsoft have tried to blind people with jargon to argue this case but nothing is yet concrete proof.  Microsoft say that their 500,000 server data centre will compensate for this slightly lower power, but surely this is dependent upon your internet connection?

They also state that the PS4 will be much faster than the PS3 for multi-functioning as they have allocated a large percentage of the RAM to background processing thus making friends list access quick amongst other things.  This however when judged against what is commonly reported as a very slow background processing PS3, which many claim is why the 360 won the current gen war makes you have hesitation about any real excitement by this announcement.

So the reasons for my swing back to Xbox has been caused by the following factors:microsoft-xbox-one

The launch game exclusives on Xbox One have taken my interest much more, perhaps it is because they are more western developed games but games such as Forza, the exclusives for FIFA and Battlefield all have taken my interest.

Microsoft seems to be listening to feedback and have quickly U-turned on many of their original decisions, this makes me think of Microsoft no longer as a corporate fat cat (which I know they are) but of a company that actually listens to the fans.  They have always seemed to listen to feedback and have kept their Gold service running very smoothly over the years I have owned a 360.  This would appear to be continuing into the next gen with the massive data centre investment and all of the new functionality to be available at launch.

I am however, contrary to popular belief no fool, and will not take any reports as concrete evidence at this stage.  I am going to, as hard as it is, wait until both consoles have launched and wait for the consumer/independent reviewer feedback.

Until the consoles are both in the hands of the gamers we cannot be sure of anything, only time will tell.