Welcome all, Crisco here. I have an Xbox One, a Playstation 4, and a Wii U. Rather than enjoy these pieces of hardware for their individual strengths, I have decided it would be way more fun to throw them into a winner takes all fight to the death through needless comparisons. Keep in mind that this comparison is not a standard review. This is not meant to be an in-depth analysis of each console's features. It is a broad painting of my opinion on each console's strengths and weaknesses in multiple areas. Also, it is obviously tongue-in-cheek and is not meant to start a fanboy war (maybe just a little…).
NOTE: As I wrote up this review/comparison, it became clear that there was too much to discuss to cram into a single review. So, I am splitting this comparison into 3 parts. Part 1 is going up now, part 2 on Thursday evening/Friday morning, and part 3 on Monday (I am setting these dates specifically so I will not miss them. Nothing makes you stick to a schedule more than an actual deadline). Now, without further ado, let's begin!
Obviously, the most important thing to do with any object is to needlessly sexualize it. CONSOLES ESPECIALLY! So, how do they stack up ?
PS4- Winner: The PS4 has some sexy sleek angles. The design is not really meant to pop out so much as blend in perfectly. The exception to this is the light bar running down the center of the console, which gives it a futuristic flare and personality. I ended up getting the vertical stand for space saving reasons, and I have to say it is a waste to display it this way. This console was meant to be on all fours for maximum sex appeal.
Wii U - 2nd place: Meanwhile, the Wii U is completely in the camp of "forget I am over here." That is not a bad thing of course. It is just a very tiny, all black (unless you got the basic version, in which case "HAAHAHAHA") rounded rectangle. From the right angle, one could mistake it for a modem/router box. That is not a good thing, but it does not take up any space, which makes it forgivable. It may not have the sexiest curves, but it is perfectly serviceable.
X1 - lolno: Never has there been an uglier beast than the X1. That's right, I said it. It cannot be displayed vertically, so you have to have it laid down. That would be fine if we were talking about a Wii U sized box...we are not. The X1 is gigantic. The X1 is the only thing in my set up giving my A/V Receiver a run for its money. That does not make me a happy Crisco...
Even the design itself is ugly. This is not a box that wants to meld into the shadows. This is a proud box that wants to devour your entertainment center like Crisco at a cheap Chinese buffet. All the edges are fairly sharply angled, and the top of it has a gigantic fan panel on it as if M$ is proclaiming "WE REMEMBERED VENTILATION THIS TIME, SEE!!!!!!" It ends up looking like the love child of a VCR and a cable box, which is not sexy. Not sexy:
Verdict: If you are looking to do inappropriate sexual things with only one next-gen console, then make it the PS4. The Wii U is a find rebound. Never the X1. Never...
So, we now know which one is sexiest on the outside, but what about within? While you can argue you are going to spend the vast majority of your time playing games, there is one thing you will load up far more often: the console's main menus/interface/UI/whateverthehelltheycallitnow. Each console took a vastly different approach to these interfaces, and some turned out better than others. Note, we are talking about the interface here, not the raw power of each console (more on that on a future day) So:
Wii-U- Winner: I might get a lot of flak for this, but I like the Wii U menus and navigation. The need to flip between items on the gamepad and main menu screen is annoying, but everything is clean and well-organized. I have never once had a moment in which I went "how do I get to menu x" or "why is this so cluttered and non-user friendly?" That is perhaps the best strength an interface can have: simplicity. Thankfully, the Wii-U has it in droves, and so I give credit where credit is due. It can be fairly slow though, which is almost enough to knock it from its perch. Still, when the only criticism I can level is "it is kinda slow," then I cannot really argue its place at the top.
PS4- 2nd Place: The PS4's UI/menu system feels right. That feeling says a lot even if it sometimes does not succeed at everything it sets out to do. Everything is basically organized by two bars running across the screen. One is in your main view-sight and the other is more or less invisible unless you scroll to it. Within these bars is just about everything you would ever use your PS4 for and nothing feels like wasted space. Also, it is lightning fast. It is sleek and useful and almost perfect...
Almost. The PS4 UI/Menu thingy has two problems, one of which is really potentially bothersome. The minor concern is that the ordering of items in the bar is a little annoying. The intent was to have system functions be in the secondary bar and more immediate gaming stuff to be in the main bar. That makes sense on paper, but the reality is that things like the web browser end up in the main tab while things like your friends tab end up in the secondary tab. That is no bueno. The friend tab icon especially should be in the main bar while things like the web browser should not be given the front page treatment (does anyone frequently use this browser? Really?). Other little hiccups include placement of things like the PSN store. The PSN store icon on PS3 is to the far right of the XMB. On PS4, it is the far left in the secondary tab. Why mirror it like that and put it in the secondary tab? Just cuz. But, as I said, this is a minor issue to a great UI. Yes, I would rather have the icons be slightly differently placed, but they are easy to navigate to and cause no problems. Except...
There is a problem... a potentially very annoying one. I have downloaded a lot of games since launch of the console. Too many, in fact. How do I know too many? Because the console LEAVES THEM ALL IN MY DAMN PRIMARY BAR OF ITEMS. This seems useful initially. "Oh, look, my recently played games are front and center in the crossbar for me to have easy access! I said to myself after playing game #2. At game #6, I was less pleased. It does not seem to just be your recently played games. Any game on your hard-drive, including downloaded games, are front and center in the crossbar. This is a problem if, for example, you want to go to netflix in the TV tab since that is to the far right beyond your sea of games. At 8(?) games, this is a minor annoyance. BUT, as I continue to fill my collection, this could potentially become a nightmare. On my PS3, I have 50+ downloaded games. If I have to navigate 50 icons to get to netflix, I will be a very angry Crisco. I will be angrier than Crisco at a cheap Chinese buffet at closing.
X1- lolno: I hate the Xbox One interface. It is, for my purposes, terrible and un-intuitive beyond all belief. Let's start with a general description though. The interface is fairly similar to the 360's interface, which is itself based on Windows 8. In lieu of a grid type design, the X1's home screen is occupied by a large box which is usually the thing you last played/did, a large rectangle with your profile to its left, and a series of tinier boxes below and to the right.
The problem is that only the most basic of basic functions appears on this screen. For any item other than the thing you have most recently done (the last 2-3 basically) or the thing in your disc drive, you have to "pin" to another screen. Even this is okay because, after the initial pinning frustration, it works adequately.
EXCEPT. Most things have been optimized for Kinect. So, doing pretty much anything requires you to use kinect or do a ton of button presses for the same result (usually for actions that could have been whittled down to 1 or 2 button presses). If you like Kinect, then that is fine. If you don't, then prepare for disappointment
Also, one final note about X1's UI: it is slow. Like, realllly slow. Rather it is loading an app, loading a game, downloading something, installing something, or randomly clicking around in menus: everything feels chuggy compared to its fellow compatriots. Now, I am not saying it is slower than the current gen, but putting a PS4 and an X1 side by side in terms of UI speed is not wise. Even the Wii U installs/loads things faster in some areas (or so it feels). Most of the time it is not noticeable, but there is one glaring area where it becomes frustrating: installs. Installs are painfully slow and noticeably slower than even the 360. The best comparison I can make would be downloads/installs on PS3. That is not a comparison you want M$. If you try to install something on the X1, then:
Verdict: If you want a nice interface that is clean and works exactly right, go with a Wii-U. If you want an interface that is fast, sleek, but with a few potential flaws, go PS4. If you want to smash your head repeatedly against concrete as you wait for installs to finish while screaming at kinect to take you to the menu you wish you could have just clicked, then go with X1
Sadly, the days of consoles just playing games is over. Every console now needs myriad tv connected features to give you the maximum amount of connection to your cable box or other tv features. In some ways, this is really neat since we are inching ever closer to a time when gaming and watching tv can be done simultaneously, but we are not quite there yet. In the meantime, we get well-meaning but lacking efforts to integrate them.
X1- Winner: Let me begin by saying this: The X1 tv integration has problems. In fact, it has so many problems that I unplugged my cable box from it after about 4 days. It is ambitious though and could potentially start a whole new era for gaming. The Xbox One has an extra hdmi port you can insert your cable box into. The idea is that the Xbox One can act as the medium between all your content and can allow you to multitask anything.
Let's start with the positives. When the tv connected features work, they are stupendous. There was a moment when I was watching television while playing Powerstar Golf (we will get to that another day) via the snap function, and it just felt so "next-gen." For the first time, I felt like I was doing something really different with a console that was an improvement over the way things are now.
Even when not "snapping" the content, assuming things are going as planned, watching cable on X1 is a pleasant experience. You use the controller/kinect as your remote (trust me, just use your cable remote...) and everything works like you would expect. When not using the snap feature, the cable features feel superfluous. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing spectacular. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from having all your media coming from the same box. It is not THAT impressive, but it is nice.
Sadly, this is not a feature ready for prime-time. Kinect often could not hear me that well over cable programming, and so it felt like I was rarely reaping any benefits from talking at my tv since I had to sternly repeat everything like my Kinect was a pet that had peed on the carpet. In addition, the controller is a poor remote substitute. My favorite thing to do is touch the d-pad. For some reason, on my cable box, the d-pad causes my cable box to go into epileptic spasms that result with the channel being changed to 990, going to on-demand, or flat out dying at a black screen. Again, no bueno…
These problems could be forgiven if the snap feature worked like I imagined. Sadly, that is not quite right yet either. There is currently no way to manually mix the sounds of your snapped tv and the game you are playing. As a result, both audio sources come out, but cable is given a heavy preference. Generally, you can hear only the faintest sounds of your game as cable blares through your speakers. It baffles me that they did not add some kind of mixing option since it completely hobbles an otherwise stupendous feature.
Still, it tries, and that is something. Kinect fueled cable snapped gaming may very well be the way of the future, but it needs some time to work out the kinks.
PS4- 2nd place: The PS4 snags second only because it succeeds at the scant features it sets out to provide. You have your netflixs, and hulus and whatnot, and they work fine. There is really not much to say here. PS4 is not trying that hard here, but it is at least making sure that the included features work well.
Wii-U - lolno: I am not even going to try to defend this. The Wii-U's idea was basically to provide a TV guide type of overlay thingy…only it did not really work at release and kinda sorta barely works now. The problem is how needless it is. It adds absolutely nothing except to your tv or your gaming. It is cumbersome and…just blech. On the brightside, the Wii-U gamepad lets you turn your tv on now. THAT COUNTS! RIGHT? RIGHT?
Verdict: Xbox One wins with a blowout victory. PS4 does fine for the paltry efforts it attempts, but that means little, and Wii-U....yeah
Part 1 conclusion
Alright, that is it for today. Notice each console won one of the three categories? That's right, we have a tie so far. Check back Friday morning to find out which console is going to pull ahead and inch closer to stealing my heart (and yes, we will have a winner…no lame "they are all winners!" here :P ).