Posts Tagged ‘video’

Xbox One & The Propriety Headset Connection

February 11, 2014

Since the Xbox One’s launch back in November I have loved the console.   I had never had a console from launch before so it was a special time for me. 

3 Months on and I am still loving the console, however one thing has really annoyed me, the propriety headset connection!

I own a less than one year old Turtlebeach XP500 headset.  At the time of purchase I looked into the compatibility with the upcoming 417RqdCulALXbox One and most websites indicated that an adaptor would be needed for in game chat, but that the game sounds would work as per the 360, but the chat adaptor would come out soon after release.

3 months on and still no adaptor, I contacted Turtlebeach a couple of times over the past few months to see if there was any news on the adaptor as there were rumours it would be out in February but I received the response

“Microsoft has not, at this time, licensed the sale of a standalone control unit”. 

I feel this is an obvious money making initiative on behalf of Microsoft, whether it be to direct gamers to buy their own accessories (of which I’ll come to an issue with that) or whether to push the bidding up for external companies to gain exclusive rights to create the accessories.

xbox-one-logo-wallpaperThe Xbox One did come with a communications headset, however this is purely for chat, no game sound comes out of it, you are either left with playing with the TV sound on and the chat headset, this not being an option for me as the wife watches TV in the same room, or you need to wear two pairs of headsets, which is uncomfortable to say the least.

Why can’t Microsoft put the gamers first, with no real first party headset, they are not making any money out of holding out on the licences and it just leaves gamers like me not being able to make the most out of what otherwise is an amazing piece of hardware.

UpdateSince 07/03/14 the adaptor has finally become available, I now am able to freely use my XP500 headset to chat, I am very happy but why has it taken this long?

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Xbox One: First Week, Mini Game Reviews (Updated 16/12/13)

November 30, 2013

Here is my brief run down of a few of the games available on the Xbox One on day one with comments on their use of the Kinect functionality.

Killer Instinct

killerinThis is a free to play Beat’em up available from the Xbox Live store.  I downloaded this as it was free, I am not really a major beat’em up fan.  I have of course dabbled in the worlds of Street Fighter and more recently the Mortal Kombat update.  When I downloaded this I didn’t expect much, it was free with one character and the option to purchase more as time rolls on.  This game looks very clean, crisp and the frame rate is perfect.  It is extremely fast and from the little time I have had with it I think any beat’em up fans should definitely look into it.  With more characters coming as time goes on (for a fee) this may be the only beat’em up you need. 7/10

UPDATE: After having played this a lot more I feel that this game is very good however there does not seem to be a career mode so until all the characters are released I cannot see this game keeping anyone’s interest.

Kinect Sports Rivals: Preseason (Demo)

sportsI owned both the Kinect Sports games on the previous Xbox360 and they were probably the best Kinect games you can get, I was therefore very interested to see what the new Kinect could achieve with this edition of Kinect Sports.  The demo consists of just the wake racing (jet skis to you and I) and I have to say it is very impressive.  The Kinect controls are very responsive, it looks great in it’s amazing bright colours.  You also have to be very impressed with the tech, a simple clasp of the right hand accelerates with a pull of your right and left hands to turn, plus a lean to make a sharper turn.  If the other sports that will come with this release next year are anywhere near as fun and accurate with the Kinect, then this will be the Kinect title to own, with an avatar created from a quick scan of your body the future of this tech seems endless. 7/10

Ryse: Son of Rome

ryseThis Xbox exclusive game when seen in numerous gaming shows appeared to be a just a game full of quick time events.  Whilst there are quite a few quick time events, this is not a bad thing.  The game looks amazing, the fighting is smooth. quick and gory.  The quick time events are interactive and I feel are great.  The game also has a decent story.  If you are looking for a game to show off the graphical capabilities of next gen, then this is the game for you.  I have yet to try the multi-player aspect of this game but from reading numerous reviews I think this will raise my feelings of this game to an all new level, competing in massive roman colleseums against other online players sounds amazing.
Kinect:  This game has the choice of using voice commands along the way, there is nothing major being used here but it is a nice addition. 8/10

UPDATE: After having played almost all of the story mode I have to lower my original rating. The story mode is compelling and is one of the best stories I have played through, however the fighting is too repetitive.  The graphics and story I feel are just enough to keep you playing but if it wasn’t for the story you just would bore of the gameplay.  Therefore I am dropping my rating to 7/10.

FIFA 14

fifaNow this game was a surprise to me, having owned it on the Xbox360 I wasn’t expecting much, other than to continue my perhaps unhealthy addiction.  However upon first booting up this game I could not believe what I was seeing.  It felt like a completely different game.  The players look real, the stadiums look amazing.  The menus and loading is so much faster.  There are many new player animations all adding to the already great game.  The whole game just feels better, it is perhaps hard to explain exactly what is different, apart from the graphics of course, but the game just feels better.
Kinect: As with the 360 version you can use Kinect voice commands to make formation changes, substitutions, etc.  While not major it feels good to not have to exit to the menus every time you want to make a change and it is particularly useful whilst playing online when pauses are limited. 10/10

Forza 5

forzaI have always had an interest in driving games, but I have never been a fanatic or motor head.  Forza Horizon on the previous Xbox however got me to take an interest in this iteration of the Xbox exclusive franchise.  I was not a fan of Forza 4 as I felt whilst supposedly a simulator, it just wasn’t fun.  However in this generation the game feels amazing. from the vibrating triggers to the super shiny metal of the cars.  There is a lot to showcase the features of the new Xbox, from the utilisation of the cloud power, creating real drivers to race against based on the Xbox community (even when they are not online) to the head movement of Kinect.  This games just has the wow factor.  I can see this game getting the interest of non gamers interested in cars thanks to the realism and also the association with BBC’s Top Gear program.
Kinect: In Forza, Kinect can be used to get a better view to either side of you by simply turning your head to the left or right.  This can feel a little weird, looking forward whilst turning your head but once you get used to it, it is a nice little touch to an already very comprehensive game. 9/10

Call of Duty:Ghosts

codWell having owned this on the 360, and being a massive fan I was unsure how I would feel about this version of the game.  All I can really say is that if you like COD you won’t be disappointed, but if you are expecting anything particularly ground breaking, you will be disappointed.  I immediately jumped into the multiplayer as I always do these days and it does look much better than the previous gen, the level of detail of the characters, buildings and dogs is fantastic.  All helping to make this a great game.  The campaign also looks great and from what I have seen so far it is a standard COD affair with amazing set pieces and explosive moments.  However with all COD games the premise is starting to wear a little thin so I am unsure how this will sell.  The new gen version does have the advantage of dedicated servers, meaning no more lag due to others internet connections, or game migration as the host has quit, which is a definite benefit of moving to the new gen version, however apart from this there is no real difference from the last gen, but there was nothing wrong with that so you can’t complain. 7/10

UPDATE: I am inclined to drop my rating of COD due to the poor maps, they are all of a similar colour bar one and it just doesn’t feel as exciting as previous editions.  At this stage I have no desire to sign up to the season pass unless there are some signs that the new maps will introduce something that looks different from the other maps.  Also compared to BF4 this just feels like a substandard game, so with great disappointment I am lowering this score to 6/10.

Battlefield 4

bf4Now battlefield has always been a beautiful looking game and like COD there isn’t a huge difference between the current gen and last gen versions.  However the graphics are amazing, unlike COD there is such a look of realism it is astounding.  With the term ‘Levolution’ being used to describe the massive events that can occur during multiplayer games this is a game that will just astound, whether playing or watching.  The campaign has been criticised yet again, however I am enjoying what I have seen so far and just see it as another great feature of this game.  If you want a quick game I will always revert to COD but for when you have more time on your hands I will always revert to battlefield for a truly epic game.
Kinect: Kinect is used very well in this game, whilst not intrusive it provides some nice little touches for a more enjoyable experience.  Team commands can be said, which get spoken by the in game characters, and whilst aiming down your sight, a slight lean to the left or right will make the character lean, useful when looking around corners, overall these are nice little touches to this great game. 9/10

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.

Console Wars – Be Happy For Each Other

November 7, 2013

Call of Duty:Ghosts was released this week with devastating reports that when released on the next gen consoles it would be native 1080p on the PS4 but only up-scaled 720p on the Xbox One. 

This is obviously a marketing disaster for the Xbox, however can they ride the storm and get through this.  The answer should be yes to the informed but it is the uninformed that could be the issue.  The issues are apparently that whilst the PS4 is a little more powerful than the Xbox, this is not the main contributor to the downscale.  The PS has not come out unscathed either, in the last few days it has been reported that the PS4 version has dropped frames, hinting that it is struggling to cope with the 60 frames per second at the native 1080p.

XboxOne1As with every generation of new consoles, it takes time for the developers to get to grips with the new operating systems and patches are sure to be rolled out overtime fixing these issues.  We are still seeing ground breaking games being released on the current gen of consoles just going to show that developers will constantly improve what they can achieve from the hardware over time, the Xbox360 being over 8 years old.

The thing I don’t understand is all the arguments between each camps fan boys.  The Xbox guys will always refer to the PS accounts being hacked and the PS guys will always refer to to the early versions of Xbox 360 with the red rings of death.

Currently it is a fact that the PS is more powerful than the Xbox one, however there are many things that in my opinion are a benefit on the Xbox.  However whilst I feel my choice of pre ordering the Xbox One is the best decision, it does not at any stage make me hope for PS4 people to have issues or to be disappointed with their decision.PS4_lg

However looking over social sites like Twitter, various forums and particularly some friends it seems to be a common theme to feel superior by stating their choice is the right one and that others should be ashamed if they do not agree.

If it wasn’t for competition neither Microsoft or Sony would continue to work on adding things to try and make their device the more desired.  Therefore all gamers should embrace the other, acknowledge when the other has something good “The Last Of Us” looked amazing on the PS3.  But lets just as gamers be happy for the other side.  It gives us something to talk about.  Owning one does not make you superior to another, lets face it you just handed over cash for it, you had no input into it.

Just game and have fun and stop all the bitching!

Far Cry 3–Greatest Game Ever?

September 14, 2013

So after many months I finally completed Far Cry 3’s main storyline today.  This is a game that for some reason dropped in price very quickly, it received many great reviews but I can only assume the sales were not as expected and thus the price fell quickly.

pnl_mex_farcry3In my opinion this game contains everything you’d want from a game.  The game is taken from the first person perspective of Jason Brody.  The game consists of many different elements, each of which is done to an extremely high standard.

The story is gripping, drawing you into ‘just playing a little bit longer’.  The story also has a few branches with choices you can make which will affect how the story plays out.

The game has elements of first person shooting, some truly exhilarating driving, hand gliding all across the beautiful island.  When I say this game is beautiful I have to reference ‘Red Dead Redemption’, that game at the time was an amazingly picturesque game.  Far Cry takes that beauty and cranks it up another ten notches.  Checkout my Youtube channel for clips of the island.

Not only does the game have a compelling story line but there are also numerous side missions, plus tasks you can come back to during or even after the main story is completed.  I quite often will complete a game’s main mission and not bother with any of these tasks but with Far Cry, it is just another excuse to explore the island.  There are also numerous hunting missions, with numerous animals you can hunt and kill which can then be used to craft items to help you in the game.

The number of weapons is also huge with various customisation options.  There are also many side missions of differing types, from taking over enemy bases to allow your allies to set up camp (plus providing you with a new area of the island to fast travel too), wanted poster missions located at the taken over sites, medical missions consisting of driving at extreme speed through check points in buggies and quad bikes plus many more.Far-Cry-3-hangglider

There are also missions to take down radio towers which not only are fun and challenging but also give you awesome views of various sections of the island.

Never have I played a game that has such a wide range of activities done so well and in such a great setting.  Similarities can be drawn with GTA and Red Dead Redemption but this game just seems to do everything in a more crisp, gorgeous way.

After having finishing the main story and still wanting to continue playing this game I can not recommend a game to friends more highly.

My Call of Duty Music Video – Project

September 3, 2013

I finally got round to making this video which I had envisioned for sometime now. I think it came together pretty well, if you like it click the like button and show some appreciation, thanks!

I found it hard work to get all the clips and time them to the music but it came out pretty well.

Shifting to The Dark Side – Why I am ‘Currently’ Leaving Xbox for the PS4.

July 9, 2013

playstation-4-release-dateWell the E3 news and rumours has now died down and it is time to reflect on all of the news that came out from it, particularly relating to the next generation of consoles.

As I have previously posted I was finding it difficult to decide which next generation console I thought I would be going with but I believe I have finally made a decision, although I am still keeping a toe in the Xbox pool.

Many of my reasons could be applied to a PS gamer looking to switch to Xbox but there are also a few other factors that have swung my decision and I list them below:

1.  The most powerful reason of all is my friends.  I have many more current gen Playstation friends and there has always been the usual banter between the different console owners.  However it seems that all of them will be staying with Playstation plus some other Xbox friends along with me are making the switch.  More friends means more chances of having games with people I actually know in real life.

2.  The rumours are that the Playstation is actually more powerful than the Xbox.ps4-rhombox-cropped

3.  Whilst the Xbox is supported by a powerhouse of servers which apparently will compensate for the lack of power, these servers will only ever be as good as your internet connection, therefore whilst these servers were keeping me interested in the Xbox, they have now lost their pulling power to me.

4.  I have no interest in the entertainment aspect of Xbox, I do like the current gen Kinect and the ability to use voice commands but that is really not enough to swing a buying decision.

5.  The Playstation is cheaper, no more no less.  If the Xbox turns out to be better and more expensive they may win back some fans but I suspect it is more likely to be a level playing field and therefore the price does matter.

6.  I do not know much about Playstation exclusive games, and I have to say the Xbox launch line up is the only thing niggling at the back of my mind.  The Xbox launch exclusives so far look amazing, and I have read little on the Playstation ones, however if the “Last of Us” is anything to go by, then there should be no concerns on this front in the near future.

7.  Whilst I have to admit, I prefer the Xbox controller, reports indicate the Playstation controller is larger and therefore hopefully won’t mean a re-occurrence of my old PS2 left thumbs strain, but only time will tell on that one.

8.  Whilst this could be applied to Ps3 owners, I do find the lack of backward compatibility for old hardware very frustrating, whilst I am not bothered about game backward compatibility, the hardware is a major outlay and therefore it is frustrating to find none of it will be compatible on the new console.

Well there you have it, those are my reasons for ‘currently’ looking to switch, we will only really be able to comment once the consoles are actually released but with 4 months still to go, there is a lot that can change in that time!

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Next Gen Consoles – Thoughts So Far – Part1

May 24, 2013

xbox one vs ps4

Let me start this post by making the statement, I am currently an Xbox360 user.

I have not played on a PS3 but many of my friends own one and in my opinion there is little difference between the consoles bar the PS3 Blu-Ray.  There will always be the fanboy wars over which is best but in general it is just down to personal preference.  I chose Xbox360 after owning a PS1 and PS2 as it was cheaper.  I also prefer the controller as I am not having to stretch my left thumb to the analogue stick, but as I stated before, this is just my personal preference.

Over the past couple of months both Sony and Microsoft have made major announcements about their next gen consoles, both presentations (as I presume they planned) presented more questions than answers.

Now both consoles have very similar specs and the varying combinations of RAM type and CPU/APU pretty much makes it a level playing field as far as you can tell at this stage.  The real test will come when the consoles are in the users hands, or more importantly the independent reviewers hands.

However I am guessing the actual games are going to be very similar, I cannot see publishers spending huge amounts of time making one version of a game significantly better than another.  There are of course the exclusives but it really depends on the type of games you are into.  Xbox may have the advantage of being more similar to a PC operating system and therefore easier to port from PC (which most developers use) to Xbox.  But this probably won’t have any impact as they rarely release a game on one console before the others.

Overall I was more impressed with the Xbox One presentation, from the limited game snippets we saw, there does not appear to be much difference between the two consoles when  it comes to gaming, yes this is what the main purpose of the console is for despite all of the new functionality.  Partly due to the similar specs and partly because we cannot assume anything we have seen is genuine, often previews are pre-rendered making them look even better than they actually are.

microsoft-xbox-one

The Xbox presentation was better for me purely because  they showed the improvements from current gen and also they numerous new features.  Sony however spent much time talking about the social side of the system, I have never found the need to let a friend take over a game for me as once completed I cannot say that I completed it if a friend had to help me.  Sony spent much of their focus  talking about the social aspects and with the (in my opinion) fatal marketing error of only showing the controller,  I completely lost interest.

That is not to say I was amazed by the Xbox presentation, whilst I must admit I probably am an Xbox fanboy, I did find some of the presentation a little underwhelming.  For example, Kinect 2.0, whilst much improved on the current system, I rarely get the chance to use it as you cannot have other things going on in the room or others talking whilst you use it, therefore with my current setup I only really get to use it whilst my wife and I watch films or when she is not in the room.  This leads on to the new TV functionality, whilst it is pretty amazing, I cannot imagine many households where the Xbox would be connected to the main TV.  If you are a single person living alone then this functionality is pretty impressive however many families, couples would have the Xbox connected to a different TV to allow others to watch TV whilst others play games.  Therefore impressive but not a major consideration for someone like myself.

Also the ability to use multiple applications together, again impressive but just how much would we use it?  I am not so sure as I very rarely use internet explorer on my Xbox as it just isn’t as user-friendly as on my laptop.  However the ability to leave a game and come back to where you left off is pretty cool, especially if the speed of switching is as impressive as the presentation.

Dual-Shock-4_contentfullwidthThere are still a number of ongoing debates regarding pre-owned games, Xbox has given some information none of which is particularly clear, however it does seem that games will have to be installed (as currently on PS3) and each game will be registered to a user profile, so no lending games to your friends without a fee.  This is however all guess work and without Sony making any announcements yet I am sure it is a strategic waiting game between both companies as to exactly what will happen as whichever makes a wrong move will knock their own market share to disastrous levels.

No prices or release dates have been announced so it is now just a waiting game whilst we sift through the numerous rumours and snippets of information out there.  Roll on E3 where hopefully many of the outstanding questions will be answered, although I am not holding my breath!

UPDATE 25th May 2013
Since publishing my post yesterday I have watched Woody’s Gamertag on YouTube who raised some more concerns. Will our existing accessories work on the new console? Allegedly the Xbox has a new connection on the controller so does this mean our headsets will need to be replaced? I have a new set of Turtle Beach XP 500s and I can’t afford to replace these yet again! I am hoping that they bring out a new connector which would be far cheaper than a completely new headset. The theory behind this change is so Microsoft can take a cut of any accessories for the new Xbox as the connection is proprietary to them. Alternatively they may be looking to only allow some companies to produce items for the console which wouldn’t be good news for consumers as competition would be all but eliminated.

Another concern raised in the video was privacy. If the console can be always online could hackers switch on the Kinect’s camera without your knowledge? I am sure these questions will be answered in time but for now it is definitely food for thought!