I've been a gamer all my life. I got into fights over Sonic the Hedgehog in the playground, I snuck a copy of Night Trap home despite it being deemed a video nasty in the UK and I've owned a number of consoles including the Sega Master System, The Sega Megadrive, The Mega CD, Sega Saturn, The Dreamcast, the SNES, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo Wii, Sega Game Gear, Gameboy, Nintendo DS, PS Vita, PS3, Xbox and Xbox 360... I'm pretty sure there was a Philips CD-I in there too.
My gaming life has been varied but after being burned by SEGA I saw a glimmer of gaming hope when Microsoft announced the Xbox for a March 14, 2001 release! It was a strange one as Dial-up internet was making way for Broadband and if gamers wanted an entirely new experience in Xbox Live then 'high' speed internet was the way forward. It was a truly entertaining experience and that generation lasted up until 2005 when the Xbox 360 hit the shelves. That too introduced gamers to new technology, HD TVs!!! in fact I know a number of gamers who bought a TV to go with this new console and I was one of them!
HD Gaming was a whole new world and bugger me was it a wonderful place to be! Haven't things progressed quickly over the life of the Xbox?
Now twelve years after the first Xbox hit the market, XBOX ONE makes its debut and the rumours are debunked, the truth is revealed and the man behind the emerald curtain comes to say hello!
The Xbox One has already taken a right bashing from gamers and fans of the previous consoles, not because it's not what they expected but because the look and feel isn't as console like as they thought it would be. However, are these gamers missing the point? This is the machine that will hopefully replace the set top box; an all-in-one symphony of technology bringing services together in one place so you don't have to have so many cables cluttering the back of your TV stand, so you don't have to worry about the number of HDMI ports your TV may or may not have.
Whilst the announcement targets US services like the NFL, imagine Sky or Virgin Media offering an online streaming subscription so you don't need to worry if you're out of area for the Virgins cable service or having to wait for an engineer that never shows up to install your Sky Box. The possibilities are endless as we move into an era where everything you might need is just at the end of an ADSL/Cable line. This is a social media consuming age where hashtags are king and texting is old hat!
So what's on offer with this new 'console'? Well Xbox Live is back and it's bigger than ever, promising to give gamers a more involved experience with larger battles and over 300,000 servers worldwide in order to provide the gaming experience that subscribers deserve. It's more of the same but then again it's not up to Microsoft to come up with the games, it's up to companies like EA and UBISOFT to innovate and mold their games into something that the XBOX ONE can be proud of.
With Xbox One, your system won't only act as a console, it will become an all inclusive entertainment system which will recognise voice commands and play TV through a connected Sky/Cable set top box. Your world of entertainment isn't separated by remote various remote controls, it's one machine with one purpose; to make your entertainment choices easier and more accessible.
The more you interact with your Xbox One, the more it gets to know you and learns what you like. Here are some of the features that will make you feel like you are actually in control for once.
- TV: Navigate and Watch live TV from your cable or satellite set-top box on your Xbox One. It's as easy as connecting your box to your Xbox One and opening up a whole new way to watch TV with the added interactive features of your Xbox One keeping you connected to the world at large.
- Home: Turn on your entertainment system with two powerful worlds "Xbox On", the voice recognition will pick up the correct user and welcome them with a custom-tailored Home Dashboard featuring favourite games, TV and entertainment. Along with the recommendations that come with these sorts of features.
- SNAP: No not the the card game...Do two things at once on the biggest screen in your home. use snap to jump into an Xbox Live multiplayer battle whilst watching a movie, chat with friends on Skype, tweet about your next kill, watch TV, the possibilities are practically endless. I always like to watch TV whilst playing Minecraft and now I won't need to use the PiP feature on my TV!
- Skype for Xbox One: Specifically designed for the next generation Xbox One, talk with friends on your TV in stunning HD or for the first time ever, hold group Skype calls on your TV. Why stick to personal use, businesses can enjoy the all inclusive system as well with this great new function.
- Trending: Stay on top of what's hot on TV by discovering what's popular among other Xbox One users and your friends!
The other important thing? What titles can you expect to see within the first year of the Xbox One's life. I know I became a little frustrated with the Xbox 360's focus on First Person Shooters and it was only with intervals of Skyrim and the new Tomb Raider that I actually returned to my Xbox to play some more games!
Here are the titles we know about so far:
- Forza Motorsport 5: from Turn 10 Studios the latest edition of Forza burns rubber to be one of the first games to launch on the Xbox One when it is released in Q4 of this year. Get behind the wheel once more for the most realistic simulation ever seen on a console. You thought Forza 1 -4 were hot. Forza 5 will grind your gears until you can grind no more!
- Call of Duty: Ghosts: Oh no, it's an FPS but then again it is from the Call of Duty franchise so it will be an instant hit no matter what. They could replace the soldiers with knife wielding Teletubbies and this game would still be a success! With an all new cast of characters and an all new story built especially for the Xbox One Next generation engine, the Call of Duty franchise takes a courageous step into the unknown with GHOSTS.
- Fifa 14, Madden NFL 25, NBA LIVE 14, EA SPORTS UFC: A strong outing from EA who promised similar delights on the Nintendo Wii U. With sporting titles proving sure fire hits for the gaming powerhouse at EA will their titles meet the high expectations of fans or will it be a case of PORT central?
- Quantum Break: from Remedy Entertainment is a revolutionary experience from the creators of Max Payne and Alan Wake that blurs the line between gaming and TV. Integrating drama and gameplay into one seamless and uniquely immersive experience. This one is set to be a launch title but then again Alan Wake was also a launch title on Xbox 360... someone missed the date on that one by... oh... five years or so! Hopefully Remedy can make the deadline on this one!
- Halo The Television Series: Award-winning filmmaker, director and producer Steven Spielberg with executive produce an original live action series based on the hit gaming franchise created in partnership with 343 Industries and Xbox Entertainment Studios. This will be an Xbox One Exclusive series, you see... the entertainment is already locked to the machine!
And what of the online experience? Xbox Live lives on in Xbox One with a few new tweaks intended to make the experience so much more than it was before.
- Smart Match: A new matchmaking system virtually eliminates the time waiting in lobbies by estimating wait times and finding the people you want to play with while you are enjoying other activities.
- Game DVR: Want to be a YouTube sensation? Share your latest kill on facebook? A dedicated game DVR captures those magic moments and saves them to the cloud. Along with sharing tools you will have access to a set of social networking tools that will allow you to brag until Twitters fail whale shuts you down!
- Living Games: Dynamic, Living worlds evolve and improve the more you play and advanced AI can learn to play like you, so if you're not around friends can play against your 'shadow' (CREEPY!).
- Expanded Achievements: A new and expanded achievements system captures video of your epic moments, continues to grow a game's achievements over time and rewards you in new ways. Your gamerscore will also carry over from the 360!
- Xbox SmartGlass: Natively part of the Xbox One. It's been part of the Xbox for some time now and with the Xbox One, SmartGlass evolves into an integral part of the machine and how you enjoy you entertainment.
Doesn't sound good enough yet? Well here comes the science part... this bit includes Blu-ray and to be honest even though blu-ray has taken hold of the market, I still loved HD DVD a whole lot more!
The new Xbox One may not have the design that gamers were expecting but this is a machine designed for integration into any home. Coming with Kinect, the system has been redesigned to be more precise, more responsive and more intuitive. Its unparalleled vision, motion and voice technology will allow users to interact and access content like never before, drastically changing the way users access their content.Now able to work in nearly any lighting condition and recognise precise motion control from a slight wrist rotation, and distinguish your voice in a noisy room, the Kinect is an all purpose tool to make accessing content and playing interactive games a lot easier.
With a blu-ray/DVD drive included along with the streaming capabilities on offer, why would you want to look to other devices in your home for your entertainment needs?
It's been a whirlwind ride of speculation and finally that chapter of the next generation battle has come to a close. With more games and Xbox One details set to be released at E3 in June, it looks like we're in for one hell of a console war!