I'm really feeling it!

Xbox One Hands-On Impressions

Hey TAY,

I had my hands on with the Xbox One. So, shall we begin? Before getting into the pros and cons, here is a rundown of the day (if you want just the facts, then skip to the PROS area). It all began in Burlington mall. It looks like this:


My brother and I got there long before the presser. So, we hung out in the mall. We shopped, went in the Lego store and gawked at the lego stuff until we realized we were being creepy adults in a kids store, had a long conversation with a man about sponsoring a child in a third world country (seriously guy, I wish I could and I am sorry!!), and then had a punishment lunch of salad because of feeling bad about not sponsoring/adopting said child. Then we lined up for the event. We were standing towards the front and got a decent view of some guys from the line challenging a store employee to a game of Madden on a tv that had been set up. I think the challengers won every time.

Then, things began. Larry Hyrb (MAJOR!!) showed up and took photos with the L33T gAm3R5 who were first in line (we were about 15th of 400, which was apparently not good enough...). My brother, having never heard of this man before today asked me who he was. I responded he was Larry Hryb, but he forgot his name almost immediately and accidentally referred to him as Dick Cheney a bit later in the night (when he was standing about 15 feet away from us no less...SORRY!).

When we finally got inside, we were greeted by Mr. Cheney, who shook our hands and gave us each 12 month gold cards for being one of the first 25 (50? 100?) people in line. THAT IS FREAKIN SWEET!


The lines were supposed to be set up so people could break off into a controller demo, a Forza demo, a Killer Instinct arcade cabinet, and a Killer Instinct game demo.Unfortunately, the line did not really break up right, and so the line for Killer Instinct (cabinet and demo) ended up being ludicrously long. So, I could not play it. I did play the Forza demo and the controller demo though, and I was able to speak with quite a few employees/gawk at a floor model.




Perhaps the best thing that the Xbox One has in its favor is its stupendous controller. I cannot describe the amount of right it feels in one's hands. Describing it is difficult, but I am going to give it a try. Imagine an Xbox 360 controller. Now, imagine it being made with a smoother material that feels perfect in your hands (the 360 controller S is almost the same consistency, but not quite). Now, imagine the controller's angles being cleaned up just a bit so that it is more defined at the shoulders and easier to rest your fingers on it. That is kinda how it feels like.

But wait, there is more! The way rumble occurs in the controller has been overhauled. Instead of a semi-standard rumble like we have come to expect, the controller has multiple different areas within the controller in which rumble can be triggered individually. It does not sound like much until you see it in practice. This means that the right grip area of the controller might be rumbling if you have your right tires going over the dirt in Forza. It means that the trigger on the gun you are shooting gives a hint of rumble as tension in the trigger or goes ballistic as you spray burst fire. It means that the revving of an engine feels more authentic. Seriously, this is one sexy vibration function, and one sexy controller.


Pro 2: Not humongous

All of the promotional images and comparisons I have seen for the X1 until now have made the thing look gigantic. So, I was expecting a gargantuan behemoth. In reality, it was much smaller than expected (that is what she said, et al, etc.). While it is very long for a console, the width is surprisingly thin and is pretty much in line with the width of a slim PS3.


Pro 3: Games run smooth.

Forza 5 was running at 60 FPS, and looked beautiful. I could not get many great still shots, but here is a nice one:


Yes, that is a menu still since any in game shots were a little too blurry from the camera, but I promise that the in game footage looked just like the menu stills, which is quite a feat.

Pro 4: The console looks sexy


Again, the promo shots do not do it justice. In promo stills, this looks like an ugly black box. An extremely ugly black box. Up close though, it is sleeker than it lets on. Perhaps it is the already noted slimness and the light up Xbox logo on the right hand side. Whatever the reason, it actually looks nice when functioning, and that is a big plus.

Con 1: Ugly Kinect


It is sad then that an otherwise pretty console is marred by the ugly, ugly kinect 2.0. Did I mention it is ugly? Cuz it is. The shot below can give a slight sense of its ugliness (it is just a promo still). Kinect 2.0 has very sharp angles in strange places and looks kinda like the eye panel for the robot in Short Circuit. That is not a comparison you want Microsoft...


Con 2: Was it THAT pretty?

Games look good on it. There is no doubt there. But how significant a graphical leap are we looking at here between 360 and X1? I do not know. From Forza alone, it looked like a marginal jump. Noticeable on a beautiful 65 inch HDTV, but not to the extent that made me go "Whoa" (I think I may have said whoa actually, but that is not the point damnit!). I would not worry too much about this con though since it is the start of the generation. The "whoa" graphics take time.


Con: Kinect mounting options


Probably not a huge deal for most people, but there is no mounting options for Kinect out of the box according to a few MS employees. This means no crazy wall mounting, above the tv mounting, or ceiling mounting outside of the box. Personally, I want my kinect above the tv, so this is a minor bummer.

Con: Event specific stuff

The aforementioned line situation was kinda a pain. They just expected people to disperse equally into the many lines, and this just did not happen. People just stayed in the Killer Instinct line since it was basically kinected (haahaha...I will show myself out ;.; ) to the main line. If you dispersed though, you then had to try and gel back into that line, which basically threw you to the back of a line much longer than the others. They may have fixed this after I left, but it was a problem that caused me to have to skip that demo, which was unfortunate.


Con: Menu Interface

One of the biggest things I was looking forward to about this event was seeing the interface of the system itself. That was not on display much, but the bits I did get to see looked almost identical to the 360 layout. Some may like the 360 layout, in which case this is a plus for you. I am not a fan though....


Con: Runs Hot


I have saved the scariest con for last. While waiting to play the Forza demo, one of the (very astute) gamers in line asked about the heat being thrown off by the console. The employee did not seem to understand the implications of the guy's question and marched over and stuck his hand on the top vent. The employee's response was "whoa, that is hot." Keep in mind, this is a console that had been on for about 30 minutes. That is a little soon to be giving off a lot of heat like that, methinks. It may, nay probably, is a sign of nothing, but having been burned (hur hur...I will stop) by MS before makes this detail really concerning.


So, I guess that is it. Overall, I was mostly impressed by my time with the Xbox One. I am looking forward to launch when I can compare it to the PS4 side by side and give a real rundown. The pros and cons presented here are indicative of a really short time with the console, and I hope to have a more educated opinion when it releases.


Feel free to throw out any questions, comments, or tangentially related things below!

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