Xbox, Go To…

So what might you be playing on an Xbox One?

monocle XBox
“I say, old chap…what shall we play today?”

Ryse: Son of Rome (exclusive): I watched my husband play the story, which was surprisingly interesting, though short.  The combat system is pretty cool and the graphics are great (they are also…graphic).  The game tries to integrate voice commands, but they’re pretty superfluous.  I’m pretty sure I annoyed B by yelling “Fire volley!” to his archers at inopportune moments…also, this is not how boobs work.

Zoo Tycoon (exclusive): I only played about 5 min of this game; I should go revisit.  I love love love the Zoo Tycoon franchise, and I told B he had to get me this if he bought an XB1.  I just haven’t been in the mood for an open-ended world-building type game.  Also, I prefer the aerial viewpoint of the old PC version.

The LEGO Movie Videogame: Charming as we’ve come to expect from LEGO games.  We bought this over LEGO Marvel after seeing the delightful movie.  The story is of course fun, and has voicework from the movies, but the real fun is the open world parts, and I found it easier to unlock/buy fun characters as you progress than in other LEGO games.

It has an unfortunate occasional glitch in multiplayer mode where the two screen halves swap back and forth rapidly, which renders it briefly unplayable.  But that’s really nothing compared to the LEGO Harry Potter glitch that prevented me from ever using Polyjuice Potion, and then got me trapped in the Potions classroom permanently when I tried to correct it.

Zumba Fitness World Party: An excellent game to have fun dancing and look like an idiot in the comfort of your own home.  I think it has a good selection of songs and difficulty levels for routines.  The little image that shows how the Kinect sees your body is quite accurate, but the game doesn’t seem to pick up on whether you’re actually doing the correct moves or not.  Pretty much as long as you’re moving, you’ll get a “Great!” or whatnot.  And the motion menu controls are a little touchy, but it is nice to not have to reach for a controller in the middle of a workout.

Also, I played this while B was logged into Xbox Live, so he now has several Achievements for Zumba.  Tee hee.

Need for Speed: Rivals: I watched my husband play the tutorial level for both racer and cop–the cool thing about this game is that it encourages you to play both.  Seems to me to be a standard online multiplayer racing game with pretty cars and sweet graphics.  B bought this after we saw the Need for Speed movie, which was not horrible, so congrats EA! Your shameless marketing ploy worked!

Amazon reviews indicate some server connection bugs; we personally had the game freeze during install, which forced us to look up how to actually quit the game, because a typically-useful feature of the XB1 is a nuisance here: whenever you return to the home screen, and then start an app again, it returns you to the spot you were at previously.  So we kept returning to a frozen screen.  To actually quit an app, hit the Menu button (3 horizontal lines) and select Quit.

If you want more opinions, here’s Kotaku’s list of the 12 best games for the Xbox One.

Xbox One Awaits Your Command

On the evening of November 21, 2013, my husband happened to be in Redmond, WA for a developer conference.  He and some colleagues for some reason thought it would be fun to stand in line at a mall for hours as strangely-dressed Microsoft XBox dev team employees ran around gleefully.

So he went and bought a XBox One.  Which he then had to fit into his suitcase for his flight home to Ohio.  Boys are silly.

The result of this is that, for the first time in my life, I owned a gaming console at launch.

We’re getting to the point in the XB1’s (or Xbone hehe) lifecycle where I can recommend it to others without sounding like a fangirl.  So here are some things that I’ve enjoyed about the XB1.

I am a fairly casual gamer, but the games I do have are mostly for the Xbox 360 (we have one of those as well).  While the XB1 is NOT  backwards compatible, it does allow you to feed a game system (or your cable TV) input through the back, so you can access that input via the XB1 interface.  This lets me still play my 360 games easily without taking up another HDMI slot in the TV.

The new bundled Kinect has received a major upgrade.  It is so good, it’s creepy.  If B walks by while the system is on, it signs him in via facial recognition. The voice commands are surprisingly accurate.  It gets B’s voice better than it does mine, and it sometimes doesn’t understand when I say “Netflix” (it helps to emphasize the x).  Naturally I have tried speaking to it in a British accent, and that works, too.

WALL-E and EVE
WALL-E and EVE. We called our old Kinect “WALL-E” because his warm-up movements kinda looked like WALL-E re-calibrating his eyes. Therefore, we named the newer, sleek Kinect EVE.

The voice commands are my absolute favorite thing about the XB1–it makes watching Netflix so easy.  You can go from turning on the console to selecting your show in a matter of seconds without moving.  Perfect for when you have a cat sleeping on you and no controller in reach.  And you can instantly pause in the middle of your 2-hr movie, long after the controller has gone to sleep.

The game selection for the XB1 continues to improve, so my next post will talk about some of the games B and I have played, including exclusives.