Xbox One equals Xbox Fun!! a review

Column on video games from Gazette reporter Craig Lindsay.

The Xbox One has now been available for a couple of months. For us early adopters, it’s been mixed results so far. The much-maligned Kinect is actually not bad. It’s pretty cool that it recognizes your face and says hi to you. That’s pretty cool. It’s also nice to be able to use voice commands for simple things like turning the machine off or switching games. Usually when I talk to the TV nothing happens and everyone things I’m crazy, but now it actually serves a purpose.As for the games, I’d say it’s pretty disappointing at this point. Like most system releases though, I guess it’s to be expected. There’s less than 30 games available on Xbox One and that includes plenty of titles like Zoo Tycoon, Zumba, Forza and Ryse that I just don’t have much interest in.I have played Call of Duty Ghosts, Dead Rising 3 and NBA 2K14 and must say they are all very good. Dead Rising was much better than its two predecessors. You get to combine different items and make cool combo-weapons to destroy lots of zombies. New this time around are combo vehicles, some of which are pretty wicked such as the steam roller/motorcycle. Needless to say, I crushed many, many of the living dead under my spikey roller of doom.Ghosts is similar to every other Call of Duty game. Multiplayer is the big selling feature here. What is new is Extinction mode, which features a team of four (online or off) who work together to fend off wave after wave of aliens as you try to destroy their hives. The scorpions are particularly tough as they shoot deadly acid out of their tails. Extinction is a lot of fun and a fresh twist on the old, tired zombie mode.I found NBA 2K14 somewhat buggy but, overall, lots of fun. Unfortunately, the number of modes is reduced from the PS3/Xbox 360 version. But MyPlayer and MyGM modes are there and those are very solid. The gameplay and graphics are great.Online multiplayer is present but I find it lags a few seconds behind which makes it essentially unplayable for me. This is unfortunate because I think it could be a lot of fun as NHL 14 multiplayer is on PS3.The biggest thing that strikes me about the graphics for the Xbox One is the depth on the screen. In Ghosts in particular, you can see clear across the map for miles (sorry, kilometres) and it still looks crisp.For those who are waiting for more Xbox One games, you’re the smart ones and you will be rewarded soon.Titanfall, which is expected to be the next ‘Big’ game, is expected to come out in March. It’s exclusive to Xbox and features giant mechs fighting each other. Other anticipated games coming out in the next few months are Watch Dogs, Destiny, Thief and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zero.Two aspects of the Xbox One that have not impressed me are the built-in DVR (digital video recorder) and the lack of backwards compatibility. The game DVR was supposed to be a big selling feature. It does work. You just say, “Xbox, record that.” And it does. Unfortunately, you can’t seem to upload to YouTube or Facebook or do anything useful with it. At least I can’t figure it out. Not that anyone would want to watch a replay of someone else’s video game but still. So that’s pretty disappointing. Maybe it will in the future.The backwards compatibility means that it won’t play any of my old Xbox 360 games. That wouldn’t be a problem if there were a lot of Xbox One games available, but there aren’t.Switching gears to Sony’s Playstation, I recently played two popular games on the old PS3: Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and Battlefield 4.Black Flag is the latest in the yearly Assassin’s Creed franchise. Early entries were mostly about stealth: sneaking around and stabbing people – that kind of thing. I usually would get bored quickly and get rid of the game, particularly after those enfuriating missions where you have to follow someone; But not too close, or too far. Or the mission ends and you have to start over. Controller meet wall time.But Black Flag keeps those missions to a minimum and adds a sea-faring element as you play a pirate who controls a ship and must attack other ships and seize their booties. The catchy sea shanties are an added bonus.Battlefield 4 is meant to be the sophisticated alternative to the Call of Duty series. I’ve never really got into the Battlefield games. I try them but get fed up mostly because they’re different. Battlefield has vehicles such as tanks, helicopters and planes that you can operate and battle in. I think that’s great, but usually there’s only one or two per map and they’re never available. And when I do find a helicopter or plane, I’m not used to the controls so I usually fly right into the side of a building or a mountain.The other downside is, with the bigger maps to accommodate the vehicles, person to person combat is much smaller and farther away than in Call of Duty. So I find that very frustrating.As for the new system, Playstation 4, I still haven’t played it. The PS4 has had similar sales and is supposed to be a little superior to Xbox One in specificiations.The most anticipated upcoming game for that system is likely Infamous: Second Son, which is due in March as well. Infamous is a series which I’ve really enjoyed. You play as Cole McGrath, a regular fellow who ends up getting super powers for some reason I can’t remember. Cole (and you controlling him) is able to fire lighting bolts and ride on power lines and much more. It’s all done very well. You really feel powerful as you take down waves of bad guys and bosses as you build your powers up and add more.

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