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Posted by isomeri (3114 posts) -

UPDATE: I've added some more impressions on Dead Rising 3, Contrast, Need for Speed: Rivals and Killer Instinct in the comments below.

As the title would suggest, I finally got my hands on some hot next-gen iron at Digiexpo. Sure there was a lot of interesting stuff there like the new Nokia tablet, 4K televisions and so on but the main attraction was surely the lines of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles just waiting to be played. Here are some of my thoughts after spending a few hours with both machines and their respective games.

First of all let's talk about controllers. The DualShock 4 is a massive improvement over the DualShock 3. Pretty much everything about the controller has improved. The pad is heavier and bigger than before and feels much more balanced in your hands. The DualShock has always felt a bit top-heavy in my hands, but Sony have managed to draw a lot of the mass and weight down to the grips. The thumb sticks have more resistance and travel than before and most importantly of all they've been moved further apart so that you can't bump your thumbs together anymore. The triggers are actual triggers now, and while they still don't feel as good as those on the 360 or Xbox One pad I had no issue with them while playing Killzone. While the controller has improved massively over the DualShock 3 I still do have some gripes with it, mostly regarding the features which have been added to the controller.

Using the touchpad to switch abilities in Killzone felt relatively natural, but I kept accidentally hitting the touchpad which resulted in my robot buddy doing things I didn't want it to do. I'm sure that your hands get used to not going near the touchpad at some point, but it definitely will take some getting used to. The second complaint I have are the replacements for the select and start buttons (I think they're now called share and menu). The two buttons are tiny, completely flush with the surface of the controller and tucked away in the corner between the touchpad and the circle surrounding the face buttons. I found it really difficult to hit these buttons with any sort of consistency and kept again hitting the touchpad accidentally. A third negative would be the light on the top of the controller. Even in a brightly lit expo hall I could clearly see the reflection of the colored LED on the screen. As someone who doesn't want any unnecessary light sources around me when playing games I would imagine that the brightly colored LED will grow annoying quite quickly unless a patch is released deactivating the thing. The final reason why I noticed myself preferring the new Xbox One gamepad which I'll get to in a minute is that the two grips have much less of an angle to them than on the DualShock 3 or any of the Xbox controllers. This means that your hands end up sitting at a pretty unnatural angle, which again may be something that you can grow used to but it's sad that Sony probably had to do this in order to make the already enlarged and elongated controller feel more compact.

Now the Xbox One gamepad on the other hand was pretty fantastic. It's a little smaller than the 360 gamepad, but at the same time manages to be more comfortable. The lack of the battery extrusion in the back is probably the major reason why the controller feels better in my hands than the 360 pad. All of the buttons feel nice, except for the bumpers. I didn't really play any games which required me to use the bumpers (or the D-pad for that matter) but while fiddling around with the thing I noticed that the bumpers only click in when pushed from the outside edge. If you do try to click the bumpers with the tops of your fingers they just sort of mush about. After playing a few laps of Forza 5 I noticed however that my fingers were resting so that the second joint of my finger was always on the outside edge of the bumper, even while using both triggers. I would imagine that you could learn to use the bumpers without actually moving your fingers up and down at all. The textured edge on the thumb sticks felt really great although I can imagine all kinds of finger funk collecting on the finely textured surface. And the impulse triggers were much more aggressive than I was anticipating. My first lap of Forza 5 ended up being a bit of a mess because my hands were constantly surprised at all the different vibrations going through my fingers under acceleration, breaking, steering lock etc. Overall the Xbox One controller feels fantastic, and the DualShock 4 is great as well as long as you're able to live with a few of nitpicky things.

The game boxes for both consoles are the same size.
The game boxes for both consoles are the same size.

Now on to the games. I only had a chance to play Forza 5, Ryse, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack and Rezogun at the show but I'm aiming to go back tomorrow or Sunday to at least test out Dead Rising 3 and Killer Instinct. One game which I didn't get a chance to play but which I was surprised to find there was Trine 2: Complete Story running on a PS4. The game is coming out at or near launch for the PS4 and features touch screen and 3D support. I talked at length about the game with one of the developers who happens to be an old friend of mine and he was clearly excited about the self-publishing possibilities on the PS4. Sadly the game won't be cross-by due to the change of publishers. Two other stand-out games which I didn't get the chance to play yet were Dead Rising 3 and Lego Marvel Super Heroes for the PS4. The amount of zombies being pushed on screen in DR3 is really astounding and seeing thousands of zombies in every direction really telegraphed the horror of a zombie apocalypse shown in movies like Dawn of the Dead for the first time. That Lego Marvel game on the other hand was probably the most graphically impressive PS4 game I saw at the show, which may sound a tad ridiculous but it's true.

And as for the games I did play. Well Forza 5 looked and felt great. The graphical leap is not a huge one over something like Forza Horizon, but I really sensed how every little detail from the suspension and tire simulation to the way reflections effected your driving had been improved upon. And as I mentioned earlier the trigger vibration really brings a lot of depth to the driving feel. Ryse was an absolute surprise for me. I've had zero interest in the game from the time it was announced up till now, but actually playing it sort of made me think about buying the game at launch. The combat was surprisingly entertaining and challenging and the Microsoft rep actually said that nobody had passed the demo at the show. That is until I sat down and completed it in my first attempt with most of my health. What may have aided me was playing five hours of Devil May Cry the previous night. The quick-time events only really came into play when finishing off enemies, but I only played the arena battle mode and I can imagine that the campaign will have more of the pre-scripted QTE nonsense. Still the game looked better than just about anything I played on either new console and if the campaign comes together in the end I'll definitely be buying Ryse at or near launch.

Moving on to the PS4 stuff I'd say that Resogun was the probably the game I had the most fun with. The game has the same sort of addictive nature as something like Geometry Wars where you just have to keep trying again and again to reach a new high score. Again not to brag too much, but I managed to pull off a new high-score on my second attempt. Well ok maybe I am bragging intentionally, but that's because I'm usually not great at these kinds of games. The game looks great and the controls are snappy. Killzone: Shadow Fall left me a little indifferent. To my eyes it didn't look that much better than the previous two games in the franchise and everything about the gameplay is totally predictable. The only real addition is this flying drone which you can order around the battlefield to create diversions and fight for you. The concept wasn't explained super well in the section that I played but it might end up being what raises the game over a sea of mediocre shooters. And finally Knack. Well it's a pretty entertaining and nice looking (although the build I played wasn't stable at all frame rate wise) platformer action game with the kind of annoying fixed camera you usually get in these sorts of things. What surprised me most was how difficult the game was. At least in the section I played Knack only has a few basic attacks (punch, dash, double jump) and I wasn't really able to effective fight the varied ranged and quick moving enemies with these attacks. Still I'm sure that the game will go down well with plenty of families, and I definitely got a real Kameo vibe from it like a lot of people before me have seemed to have gotten as well. And I really liked Kameo!

Oh and one thing I forgot to mention earlier on was a weird thing with red lights on the Kinect sensor. I didn't get any sort of clear answer from the Microsoft reps to this, but there were three somewhat faint red lights in the middle of the Kinect sensors hooked up in the dark room where Dead Rising 3 and Ryse was playable. I have no idea if these lights will be on at all times or if they're even going to be in the final retail units but if they are then they might make me want to unplug the Kinect when I'm not using it.

You can see the red Kinect lights on both sides of the screen in this very blurry photo.
You can see the red Kinect lights on both sides of the screen in this very blurry photo.

I'll write some more impressions of games I didn't get a chance to play yet in a couple of days. Go ahead and ask me questions if you want to and I'll try to answer the best I can.

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#1 Posted by GERALTITUDE (5989 posts) -

Sweeet. Nice right up duder. Thanks for ye impressions.

I'm still deciding what to do with my PS4 pre-order (mostly for financial, non-game reasons) but I'm also getting more and more excited about the XBO. I wonder if I would like Ryse if I played it? I can't help but be bored by it at this stage. As someone who had little to no problem with the PS3 controller I'm super pumped for the new one, warts and all.

I'll be very curious to hear about Dead Rising 3 if you get a chance to play it, though I'm pretty burned out on zomboids.

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#2 Posted by isomeri (3114 posts) -

@geraltitude: I really hope that they'll put up a demo for Ryse at launch. I was deeply bored by the game before today just like you. The combat is really deliberate and surprisingly difficult like I said. You can attack with your sword or your shield, dodge and block with the shield. But you have to time your blocks pretty carefully and different enemies require you to dodge around and use a combination of the shield and sword. I'm sure that later on in the game different weapons like spears and axes will provide even more variety. The easiest way to describe the combat would be to say it's kind of like playing one of the new Batman games, but with men in loincloths rather than bodysuits. Oh and the demo didn't have blood effects enabled, but some of the executions were pretty gruesome even without the rouge.

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#3 Posted by JackBurt0n (115 posts) -

Great post, @isomeri! Really surprised to hear about Ryse. How does the weight balance on the Xbox One controller feel? Top-heavy or pretty centered? That's the one concern I have with them getting rid of the big battery pack.

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#4 Edited by isomeri (3114 posts) -

@jackburt0n: Thanks! The Xbox One controller feels pretty evenly balanced. Maybe a little weighted towards the bottom even. The bulges which rest in the bottom part of your palm are slightly more pronounced while the bridge to the triggers has maybe been slightly decreased. I found myself gripping the controller a little more from the top than the sides which explains how the bumpers now rest under your fingers while using the triggers. Oh and I forgot to mention that the face buttons require less force to push in. Sort of like the DualShock face buttons but more clicky. And it's a little lighter, but definitely not as light as the DualShock 3.

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#5 Posted by flippyandnod (758 posts) -

I'll have to see about the hand angle on the controllers. I didn't have any problems using it at E3. But I do know in extended use the hand angle can be a big deal. For example, the Xbox controller was by and large taking from the Dreamcast one, but the Dreamcast one pushed your wrists together in a way that made it very uncomfortable to hold for long periods. Just changing that angle made all the difference in the world.

I found the exact opposite with trigger vibration as you. Adding more rumble never adds much real info. And that's all this is, there is no fine control (such as direction or pattern), the triggers just have generic rumble like the rest of the controller. All they can do is turn it up and down. And for the length of time you'll be playing a game like Forza, the only sensible setting is for anything like braking or steering lock that happens frequently is off.

The flying drone is not a new addition to Killzone. In Killzone 2 the Tactician character used drones. The MP was actually quite deep and I wouldn't be surprised if this followed in the footsteps. The multiple types of characters interacting really added a lot. It must have been hell to balance.

Knack reminds me of Kameo too. And I didn't like Kameo.

Sounds like some people will be putting black tape on their DS4 lights. I didn't have any problems at E3, but the play situation there is nothing like a couch-based setup. You stand in front of a much smaller TV and much closer, so reflections weren't a problem.

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#6 Posted by Blu3V3nom07 (4496 posts) -

Oh man, those Ryse commercials are looking crazy good. I imagine it plays out like an HBO show, or something. Very cool stuff. But the controller I'm most excited about. That's just the daily-driver, go-to headshot marker. Good stuff.

And I myself am getting Dead Rising 3. I'm leaning into getting the DR3 season pass. I'm crazy, and I don't give a shit. The way it sounds, they're supposed to be expansion packs, rather than just DLC or item-packs.

Anywho, can't fucking wait for release. Fuck that, I can't wait for this time next year, to see where we are post E3 2014, pre Halo 5 hype. :D

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#7 Edited by flippyandnod (758 posts) -

And I myself am getting Dead Rising 3. I'm leaning into getting the DR3 season pass. I'm crazy, and I don't give a shit. The way it sounds, they're supposed to be expansion packs, rather than just DLC or item-packs.

Capcom.

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#8 Posted by isomeri (3114 posts) -

I found the exact opposite with trigger vibration as you. Adding more rumble never adds much real info. And that's all this is, there is no fine control (such as direction or pattern), the triggers just have generic rumble like the rest of the controller. All they can do is turn it up and down. And for the length of time you'll be playing a game like Forza, the only sensible setting is for anything like braking or steering lock that happens frequently is off.

The flying drone is not a new addition to Killzone. In Killzone 2 the Tactician character used drones. The MP was actually quite deep and I wouldn't be surprised if this followed in the footsteps. The multiple types of characters interacting really added a lot. It must have been hell to balance.

The trigger rumble did feel a little overdone at first, but I started to get used to it pretty quickly. I remember playing games with my brother on the Xbox for the first time and him asking to turn off the rumble on the controller because he'd never used a controller with rumble before and it was distracting him too much. Ryse used the rumble in a much more subtle way, just giving you a slight nudge when thrusting your sword into the throat/spine/belly of an enemy.

And I remember the drone in Killzone 2 and 3 being a big bugger. This new one was maybe the size of a football and was able to quickly fly around tight corridors and stairways. Then again it's been such a long time since I last played the previous Killzone games that I may just be forgetting stuff.

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#9 Edited by flippyandnod (758 posts) -

Wow, the GB quoting is working against me.

It isn't so much about getting used to the new rumble, it's what does it add? Before you get used to it, it's sensory overload and after it's just tuned out. The key to feedback like this is it has to be used enough to be meaningful and no more. So rumbling all the time you accelerate (as many racing games do) is right out. And anything even mostly normal like braking or steering is also not a good idea. Using it for rumble strips is great, something that is abnormal and requires action on your part to correct.

I remember being annoyed by the KZ2 drones more than finding them useful myself. I was well up the Engineer tree, so I was in charge of putting the rockets out to down them a lot of the time. This made me quite popular. But nonetheless, in a game with high level players, there would usually be drone in the air one side or the other. I can't remember if you could control them at all other than selecting the initial deployment area.

@isomeri said:

@flippyandnod said:

I found the exact opposite with trigger vibration as you. Adding more rumble never adds much real info. And that's all this is, there is no fine control (such as direction or pattern), the triggers just have generic rumble like the rest of the controller. All they can do is turn it up and down. And for the length of time you'll be playing a game like Forza, the only sensible setting is for anything like braking or steering lock that happens frequently is off.

The flying drone is not a new addition to Killzone. In Killzone 2 the Tactician character used drones. The MP was actually quite deep and I wouldn't be surprised if this followed in the footsteps. The multiple types of characters interacting really added a lot. It must have been hell to balance.

The trigger rumble did feel a little overdone at first, but I started to get used to it pretty quickly. I remember playing games with my brother on the Xbox for the first time and him asking to turn off the rumble on the controller because he'd never used a controller with rumble before and it was distracting him too much. Ryse used the rumble in a much more subtle way, just giving you a slight nudge when thrusting your sword into the throat/spine/belly of an enemy.

And I remember the drone in Killzone 2 and 3 being a big bugger. This new one was maybe the size of a football and was able to quickly fly around tight corridors and stairways. Then again it's been such a long time since I last played the previous Killzone games that I may just be forgetting stuff.

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#10 Posted by Seppli (11232 posts) -

Thanks for the write-up. Exciting times.

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#11 Posted by Blu3V3nom07 (4496 posts) -
@blu3v3nom07 said:

And I myself am getting Dead Rising 3. I'm leaning into getting the DR3 season pass. I'm crazy, and I don't give a shit. The way it sounds, they're supposed to be expansion packs, rather than just DLC or item-packs.

Capcom.

No Caption Provided

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#12 Posted by bigjeffrey (5282 posts) -

Great Impressions

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#13 Edited by isomeri (3114 posts) -

@flippyandnod said:

It isn't so much about getting used to the new rumble, it's what does it add? Before you get used to it, it's sensory overload and after it's just tuned out. The key to feedback like this is it has to be used enough to be meaningful and no more. So rumbling all the time you accelerate (as many racing games do) is right out. And anything even mostly normal like braking or steering is also not a good idea. Using it for rumble strips is great, something that is abnormal and requires action on your part to correct.

I feel that the trigger rumble was pretty well tuned in Forza. The triggers started to vibrate as your wheels started to lose grip during acceleration (wheelspin) and the same thing applied under breaking. With ABS off the trigger vibration increased as you went closer and closer to the threshold of grip and once your breaks locked the things vibrated at what seemed like full power.

But we'll probably have to wait for a few months to let game developers experiment on different uses for it. I still feel like feature has more to add to a wider variety of games than the DualShock 4's touchpad and speaker.

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#14 Posted by flippyandnod (758 posts) -

DS4 speaker is nearly useless. I think the touchpad has a lot more potential than 4 corner rumble. I mean, both consoles already have 2 corner rumble. So did both last gen (well, most of last gen). Given the very low fidelity of rumble (as opposed to real force feedback) I don't see how having 4 rumblers instead of 2 is going to make a big difference.

Why does the flushness of the option and record buttons matter? It's not like you're going to use them much. Option is the pause button, so it'll be dedicated. Record is an OS-dedicated button, games can't even use it, IIRC. They seem about as flush as the back and start buttons on the 360 controller, were those a big problem?

It's strange no one completely likes the bumper buttons on the Xbox One controller. Everyone has the same complaints (including me). If everyone has the same complaints, didn't the team that made the controller? And if they did too, why didn't they fix the mushiness?

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#15 Posted by micemoney (188 posts) -

Cool beans. Even though I'm not planning on getting any of the new consoles at launch, the Xbox One have games that are a bit more tempting than the PS4 right now. Killer Instinct, Dead Rising 3, and as it seems, Ryse won't be too horrible either. Knack looks like pure fun though.

Thanks for the write up dude!

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#16 Edited by jimmyfenix (3941 posts) -

Man i need the dualshock 4 in my hand. I am surprised to see Lego look good! Good write up duder!

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#17 Posted by Vinny_Says (5914 posts) -

good write up! I'm guessing the new Need for Speed wasn't at the show right? About Deadrising 3 though, did it seem to run at a constant 30 fps or is it still all over the place?

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#18 Posted by Sergio (3625 posts) -

@isomeri said:

The easiest way to describe the combat would be to say it's kind of like playing one of the new Batman games, but with men in loincloths rather than bodysuits.

They must have made some drastic changes from the build I played, because the combat paled in comparison to the Batman games.

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#19 Posted by Sergio (3625 posts) -

I'll have to see about the hand angle on the controllers. I didn't have any problems using it at E3. But I do know in extended use the hand angle can be a big deal. For example, the Xbox controller was by and large taking from the Dreamcast one, but the Dreamcast one pushed your wrists together in a way that made it very uncomfortable to hold for long periods. Just changing that angle made all the difference in the world.

I found the exact opposite with trigger vibration as you. Adding more rumble never adds much real info. And that's all this is, there is no fine control (such as direction or pattern), the triggers just have generic rumble like the rest of the controller. All they can do is turn it up and down. And for the length of time you'll be playing a game like Forza, the only sensible setting is for anything like braking or steering lock that happens frequently is off.

Yeah, I didn't have any problems with the DS4. The Xbox One controller caused my smaller-than-average hands to cramp up with little usage. So I have the opposite opinion of the OP, where I find the DS4 to be superior to the Xbox One controller.

I think the rep demoing Forza for me turned off rumble on the triggers, because neither my friend or I noticed anything, and we were purposely not driving the best that we could to try to get some feedback from the triggers.

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#20 Posted by isomeri (3114 posts) -

@sergio: You're right in that the combat is not as nuanced as in Batman, but they clearly have borrowed some ideas when it comes to crowd management and comboing your attacks.

And the controller stuff always comes down to preference and hand-size. For reference I've got reasonably large hands. I mean I actually loved the Duke controller because of how well it fit my hands. The great thing is that I don't think anyone could have major issues with either controller this time around. I played most of my multi-platform games on the 360 this generation because I preferred the controller so strongly. I don't see that happening this time around.

good write up! I'm guessing the new Need for Speed wasn't at the show right? About Deadrising 3 though, did it seem to run at a constant 30 fps or is it still all over the place?

I didn't see Need for Speed anywhere. I was actually impressed at how smoothly Dead Rising 3 ran considering how much was going on at any one time. There some dips during large explosions, flamethrower use etc. but nothing which annoyed my eyes. I'll have to get my hands on the game today or tomorrow to be sure.

Most of the games I played there had issues with their frame rate, with Knack and Killzone being the worst offenders. But I'm sure that issues will be fixed in the final code.

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#21 Posted by Verendus (363 posts) -

Good post, I agree with majority of your points about controllers. Shorter sticks on DS4 compared to DS3 could've been worth a mention. It was my biggest gripe with DS3, while it made the aiming more sensitive, it necessarily wasn't a good thing on most games. This is why 360 controller beat DS3 easily this gen.

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#22 Posted by isomeri (3114 posts) -

@vinny_says: Good news! I was able to find Need for Speed: Rivals there after all, hidden in the EA booth. My experience playing the game was a little strange though, because it was the PC build hooked up to an Xbox 360 controller but the prompts on screen were for the DualShock 4. Interestingly enough the setup looked identical to all the PS4 stands that were there (no PS4 consoles were actually visible) so it may be that all the PS4 games I played at the show were older builds on some sort of PC platforms.

Anyhow Rivals looked great, but had some slight issues with the frame rate. I don't know if I have much to say about actually playing it except that it played and felt a lot like the two previous Need for Speed games. And I did like those new Need for Speed games quite a bit. However I doubt that I'll be picking this up because it launches so close to Forza 5.

I was also able to get some actual gameplay time with Dead Rising 3, Killer Instinct, Contrast and a few more minutes with Killzone. What I hadn't realized before about Killzone was how much faster the controls felt. In a way it feels closer to something like Call of Duty now, which is kind of sad because I really liked the heavy feel of the previous Killzone games.

Dead Rising 3 also felt faster and more fluid than it's predecessors but in a good way. Crafting weapons on the fly was really fast and intuitive and the weapons themselves were a laugh, like the gun gloves with a barrel coming out of each of your fingers which I immediately took into the middle of a heard of zombies and started spinning around shooting in all directions. And the vehicle stuff was pretty hilarious as well. Ramming smaller groups of maybe two dozen zombies or so only slowed you down a bit but if you tried to get through a dense pack the zombies would crowd on top of your car and totally engulf you in seconds. I thought that the frame rate was surprisingly solid as well even with hundreds of zombies on fire around me.

I didn't get a real good grip of Killer Instinct because I didn't check the controls before getting into a match. The game looks pretty nice though and playing it finally thought me to use the bumpers properly (without really moving my fingers).

And I also played Contrast, you know the game which replaced Driveclub as the freebie PS+ game for the PS4 launch alongside Rezogun (which still felt great). I've heard great things about the story in Contrast which I sadly didn't really get a grip on in the short, maybe 10 minute, demo. The gameplay focuses around your ability jump between a shadow world and the real world. In the shadow world you're able to platform on top of shadows being cast around in the environment, and you need to switch between worlds to complete the puzzles. What I found most interesting about this mechanic is how even while playing as a shadow you need to constantly be aware of the 3D space around you to figure out what things are casting shadows where and how you should manipulate light sources and objects around you to progress. It's all a tad hard to explain but I suspect that people might be positively surprised by Contrast when they download it at launch. The only disappointing bit were the graphics, which if I'm to be honest looked like they could have been achieved on a PSP.

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#23 Posted by jasbir (108 posts) -

When is the Xbox One release date?

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#24 Posted by Nictel (2697 posts) -

Two things I take away from this:

- 1 logo on the Xbox One game boxes isn't enough

- About the red lights on Kinect:

No Caption Provided

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#25 Posted by isomeri (3114 posts) -

@nictel: I'm pretty sure that someone just stuck a bad copy into the Xbox One box. The actual retail games won't have the double logo.

@jasbir said:

When is the Xbox One release date?

November 22 in the first markets (North America and major European markets) and sometime next year for the rest of the world.