Well, next gen is here in the form of a shiny new Xbox "One". So, how does the next gen look? Well, at least for Microsoft, it looks like a big black box. But at least it's a quiet box. In fact, its nearly silent unlike any of the previous generations consoles.
Its not About Power This Generation
As far as "power" the new Xbox is not great in terms of CPU/GPU when compared to a high end PC but it does has enough memory, bandwidth and processing power to support true multitasking of games and other applications (apps). And the game performance can keep up a mid-range PC. I am disappointed with the power ceiling of the Xbox One and PS4 after such a long previous generation but I think I know why both companies did not step up the performance. One reason is diminishing returns for the typical 1080p display. The other reason, of course, is the serious cost savings using less powerful hardware. PCs are different and need more graphical power because the screen resolutions are typically more than double 1080p. PCs will continue to "wow" PC enthusiasts with there higher resolutions and better graphics so PC fans can continue to rejoice. Keep in mind, this is cumming from a console enthusiast who no longer plays PC games. With this limitation in mind, it makes sense to build the console with just enough power to drive 1080p and no more (less in fact) . Until TVs move to 4K, which won't happen in time for it to be a selling point, the Xbox and PS4 have just enough power to make great games at 8 feet away on a 1080p display.
I Still Don't Need (or Want) Kinect
While I am a bit more impressed with the 2.0 Kinect I still just don't feel comfortable using voice commands and I don't need or want to use them. Fist of all, they don't always work. You have to keep you voice up and clear for this to work and it often just does not respond or responds incorrectly. While this will certainly improve, even if the voice commands were 100% accurate I just don't like the experience of barking commands at my TV. The only good news here is that the new interface "pins" make it so that all my favorite things are just one or two clicks away. The whole Kinect experience is like a feng shui nightmare. Its big and ugly and makes you act loud and obnoxious to get things done. Seriously, I can't say how much I still dislike the Kinect and voice commands in my gut. Sure, voice commands are kind of "cool" at first but I quickly realized that for every time I had to figure out what to say, how to say it, and have to say it twice, I could have done much more with a remote and it could have been done in silence which is golden.
There is Not Much To Do (Depending on your Tastes)
There are simply not that many games that I want to play or pay $60+ dollars to play. In fact, I struggled with deciding what to buy since I was not looking forward to most of the launch offerings. Forza? Love the graphics but I never play Forza for more than a few hours. Dead Rising? Didn't like the first two, not going to get the third. Killer Instinct? I am not into fighters. Ryse? This looks to be an average brawler with great graphics but I will wait for a price drop. So, I ended up picking up NFS Rivals because I really enjoyed NFS: Hot Pursuit and I liked the idea of seamless multiplayer. I have played for a few hours and I certainly enjoyed it but there is nothing "next gen" about this game. So now, I am left with a bit of post-purchase depression but I am still looking forward to the games that will certainly be coming in the upcoming months.
The Good News for the "One"
Even though I am waiting to be impressed with games, overall, I am impressed with the Xbox One...
- For the first time, I don't hate the GUI and there is one main reason for that; a customization page (i.e. pins). Just don't put adds on this page and I will be happy.
- Plays all your disc based media without any fuss.
- The System is fast enough to switch tasks and do downloads in the background. The GUI is also snappy.
- Kinect still has potential. Its more accurate and could do cool things. I am crossing my fingers on this one.
- The controller is great with only one minor improvement needed. The shoulder buttons are just a bit too stiff and I suspect this can and will be fixed by MS with a tweak to the design.
- Apps run better and have huge potential.
- 8gig memory and more bandwidth should improve load times significantly over last gen. Unsurprisingly, most of the launch games do not seem to fix the load-times but I believe they did not have time to truly optimize these early games.
Keep the 360 Connected for Now
With GTA V still in progress and Diablo III characters to play, I have plenty of gaming left on the 360. And its a good thing because, I don't see a lot of games coming that I really want to buy other than Watch Dogs which looks like 4+ months away or more. So, I sit and wait on the new games.