Thursday, December 05, 2013

XBox One (and some comparisons to PS4)

XBox One

- Downloads are a lot slower on Xbox one compared to ps4. On the ps4 overnight I had ghosts, bf4,Resogun, Killzone, contrast, dc online, blacklight, warframe, and a bunch of apps all done by morning. In contrast I really couldn't play anything the first night things were downloading so slowly. I got enough of crimson dragon to try out the first level and then it was too late and I was too tired and went to bed. By morning ryse was done but Fortza was only half done and dead rising was still in the queue. Hopefully when I get home tonight everything will be downloaded. What happened to those 300,000 servers they bragged about?
- Xbox one really needs a reboot option.  Sometimes things get laggy coming out of sleep.  The only way I know how to do that through the menus is going into settings and turning on power saving mode, power cycle, then put it back on suspend.
- You can't stream your own custom music in the background during games currently unless you snap the music app but then you aren't full screen anymore.
- Tried getting subsonic to work through IE but couldn't.  I even tried mini mode.
- Party chat was a bit fidgety to get working but once it did voice quality was quite good.
- There needs to be a way to sort/order your pinned apps.
- There needs to be a way to manage storage space or at least mark apps you want to always keep.  500GB is way to small.  I hope they add external drive support soon.
- Dead rising 3 looks and plays fine.  There were no framerate issues that impacted my play or enjoyment.
- Kinect sports rivals does show off how sensitive the new kinect is but your arms just get tired after awhile.  I miss wave race 64.
- Scanning the QR Code for the launch day edition achievement with the Kinect was worth $100!!!!  (ok maybe not but it's still way cool).
- Kinect isn't really used in any meaningful way in the major games currently.  Voice command works ok I guess.  The face recognition for sign in works pretty well in a kind of scary freaky way.
- Both new systems are very quiet but still push out quite a bit of heat.  Make sure the area you keep it in is well ventilated.  As always I drop extra 120mm fans into the cabinet to keep airflow going with a minimum amount of added noise (in fact you can't hear them at all with the doors closed).
- I don't think I've gotten far enough into Dead Rising 3 for the second screen stuff to kick in yet.
- Xbox glass app is still great for typing.
- I still much prefer the use of standard 2XAA batteries for the xbox one controllers.  Just drop in a couple of low discharge NiMH rechargeables (like sanyo eneloop) and you are good to go.  Keep a few sets always charged up so you can quickly swap whenever you want so there is never any downtime.  Contrast this to DS4 where I have to remember to always plug in the controllers when I'm done for the day (I have drained a DS4 completely in a single day before, good thing I have 2 of them).  Also, if they are anything like DS3 even voiding the warranty replacing the batteries yourself once they no longer hold a charge is not that easy.
- The new Kinect has a fan (though I can't really hear it).
- Ryse, forza 5, and even dead rising 3 really show off what the system can do.  They really are some graphically impressive games.
- No twitch live streaming yet.  Recording clips are too short at 5 min (vs 15min on ps4).  There is NO background uploading (which ps4 has).  You are stuck just watching the upload progress.  Sky drive support is nice and I was able to watch the few clips of Ryse I put together and uploaded on the iPhone app.  They also play nicely in a browser and the quality is quite a bit better than ps4 facebook.  It has a few more editing features than ps4.  Here is a sample:
- Load times for games seem quite a bit longer than PS4.
- USB Keyboards only work if plugged in before a cold boot.  You can't hot plug a keyboard.

For the hour I played ryse I really like it. I liked it quite a bit more than I expected looking at the reviews. I like the timing and counters and chaining. The graphics are great. It kind of feels a little like assassins creed combat wise. The clip saving and uploading to sky drive worked ok but WTF no background uploading like ps4. Just sit there and watch an upload bar. I then used the sky drive app and watched it on my iphone. Clip is limited to 5 min compared to 15 min on ps4. 1:48 clip was around 55 mb.

So after some significant time with xbox one (ryse, dead rising 3, forza, kinect sports rivals, crimson dragon) I'm pretty evenly split between the two systems. I really don't care about the media stuff since I have far superior dedicated streaming boxes for that.

Forza 5: This is probably the first more realistic driving game I've played since the first forza games and a tiny bit of dabbling in early Gran Turismo games. I'm loving all the risk reward trade offs you can make with all the assist toggles and drivatar AI settings. I'm trying on veteran now (figure I should learn things the correct way from the start) except with damage on cosmetic b/c if my Drivatar is accurate I'm the opposite of Xemu and tend to run into lots of things on accident and on purpose. The Drivatar thing really is a game changer and makes this game so much more addicting. I might have to check out the trueno because I did watch pretty much everything Initial D. Instead I picked the Acura Integra Type R because the Integra (stick, non type R, was poor) was the first car I drove out of college. Mine was an earlier model than the one in the game (the one with the rectangular headlights) but I loved that car. The rewind feature really does take a lot of the frustration out of the game but the penalty does stack up pretty high if you use it a lot.

PS4 - More horsepower, vita remote play which is all kinds of awesome, drastically improved controllers but still not great. With all the hype and praise around the new DS4 I was expecting something that would at least be as good as xbox 360. That just goes to show you controller preference is pretty personal.
xbox one - games look and play pretty much as well as ps4 though I'm playing different titles on each, xbox downloads take forever, great controllers (the new bumpers don't bother me all that much, and didn't take long to get use to).

Something about DS4 still bugs me. It feels too small and cramped in my hands. After a few hours I get claw hands and odd pain points where pressure is applied to my right hand middle finger. It's a combination of the triggers feeling a bit too close and a bit too small (would want a slightly taller controller), the wings need to flare out a bit more and be a bit longer, the lower positioned left analog stick doesn't feel as natural, L3 and R3 are a bit too hard to engage (think lots of running in cod). My hands aren't all that big but the DS4 really doesn't fit all that well. Maybe I can get use to it or adjust my grip but it doesn't seem likely. It's not horrible but the XBOX One is just so much better at least for me. I was going to make the ps4 my primary platform for cross platform titles but now I'm not so sure. Vita + better framerate/graphics/resolution vs a better controller. It's a really tough call, and I'm not sure what to do yet.

Right now I'm going of leaning to getting cross platform titles on PS4 as I continue to adjust to dual shock 4.  Out of the current launch games I think XBox one has better exclusives lineup: Forza 5, Dead Rising 3, and Ryse are all very different and IMO good solid games worth playing.  I'm sorry PS4 but as beautiful as Killzone is it's not really a system seller.  Meanwhile I'm surprised how deep Forza 5 has it's hooks into me these past few days.

Both PS4 and Xbox One are Highly Recommended!  I'm really enjoying all next gen has to offer and have no regrets buying either system.

Finished Ryse:
- I have no idea why this game is scoring so low with the reviewers (62%) but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
- Graphics are really great.  It's nice seeing crytek engine being used in something other than a shooter.  The environments and characters are gorgeous.  Some faces are still a bit odd looking though.  I think the only thing that looks slightly better would be frostbite 3.
- This game is gory.  I mean really violent and bloody.  I love it.
- Combat felt good to me.  There is a nice rhythm and timing to it.  Sure, you could button mash but you'll do a lot better timing your rolls, blocks, attacks, and bashes.  Things get a bit more challenging later on when you have more difficult enemies that vary up their attack.
- Difficulty and pacing felt just right.  I never got bored.  There was just enough variety in gameplay to keep things interesting.  I especially liked the formation segments which were at least something new I haven't seen before.  The turret stuff was less so.  Length felt about right at around 6 hrs.  It could have probably used another couple of hours.  I didn't feel like there was any padding though.
- It could use some more enemy types.  It can be seen as either cutting corners and reducing assets needed or as a gameplay feature.  It's sort of like final fight.  You can quickly recognize the enemy you are fighting by how they look and know what attack patterns they will use and how to counter them.  If they all looked different it would probably make the game a lot harder and frustrating.  So I'm ok with the land of a 1000 clones.
- Sound effects are great too especially all the slicing and dicing.  You really feel the impact of your hits.
- Music was appropriate if a bit forgettable.
- Story wasn't that bad if very predictable.  I thought it serviced the game just fine.
- The last bit of gameplay on the last level is a bit weak.  Think farcry 3 boss battles and I'll leave it at that.
- The character progression and upgrading in single player was a bit meaningless.  None of it had that big of an impact on gameplay.
- Tried some multiplayer which is basically gladiator arena co-op combat.  There is the whole leveling thing too.  It's actually pretty fun.

Highly recommended.  This is a very competent and stunning game though not all that original.  Sure, it's not masterpiece like Last of Us or Tomb Raider but I still found it very worth playing.  It's like a big summer blockbuster with the production values to match that is easy to digest.  This is one case where it seems most reviewers had their mind made up even before playing it (probably based on the E3 showing).

Here are some observations from finishing the game (default middle difficulty):
- A is a priority button and overrides every other action and animation. As soon as you hit it, it will interrupt whatever attack animation you are in and block/deflect and open the enemy up for counter attack.
- The timing for hitting A is pretty lenient especially if you aren't going for perfect blocks (timing a block right before it hits). You can hit it very early in the enemy attack animation and you will still block. In fact if you aren't too sure on the timing you can kind of mash A to ensure you get a block and is also handy when 3 or more guys are all chain attacking you.
- So typically if you get mobbed you wait for somebody to attack and hit A. Then I lead into a counter shield bash, attach, bash, attack, etc. Usually while I'm doing this attack sequence another enemy will attack, and I'll have to hit A to block, sometimes twice in a row b/c they are chaining attacks on me. After blocking everything you can start a counter and attack on the last person you blocked or use the analog sticks to go back and attack the first dude to try and finish him off quickly. This is very similar to how I play Assassin's Creed. Basically every attack begins with a block so you always (well most of the time, I do make some exceptions) wait for the enemy to make the first move.
- I left execution bonus on health gain for 90% of the game. It just makes things easier and the character upgrades aren't all that helpful. So you really want to get in as many executions as possible to keep regaining health.
- For the bigger warrior guys after a block I usually open up with a charged strong shield bash into a couple of strong attacks.
- I suck at blocking arrows with A so I usually roll dodge instead after I fire an arrow. That seemed to work better for me.

Overall, I found this game quite a bit easier than say god of war with it's rapid fire button mashing QTE that got old really fast. Most of the timing is very forgiving IMO. Even the colored execution QTE is optional except to keep your chain bonus multiplier going. As long as you get the execution started, that target is going to die with or without your continued input.

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