With both Microsoft and Sony’s latest entries into the console market breaking sales records worldwide, the war over who has the prettiest and shiniest monolithic black boxes is finally underway. The problem is they have not been the astounding commercial success that have taken the headlines. In light of a recent string of delayed content, suspect decisions and broken promises, all signs point towards a hurried and premature launch for both systems.
To kick this off, let’s sit the Xbox One on the naughty step. Kinect is pretty nifty isn’t it, Xbox? What happened with all your convenient voice commands and seamless integration into your games? Sadly, for now Microsoft’s vision of an effortless Borg-like assimilation of player and machine is in need of a much needed tweaking. Suffering from a rigid list of voice commands and weak incorporation into launch titles, one can’t help feel that the much flaunted Kinect 2.0 isn’t quite ready for prime time.
Now, I see you sneaking away PS4; don’t think you’ve gotten out of this… At least Microsoft’s camera can actually be used for something other than allowing people to get banned from Twitch for live-streaming a bit of slap n’ tickle via The Playroom, as miniature AR Robots watch on in horror. Sure, Killzone: Shadow Fall may have picked up some pretty good scores but there is no dodging the unfortunate truth that Knack is barely more exciting than chatting and playing snap in a dark room with Peter Andre’s agent.
Unfortunately, it’s been a rather mediocre line-up from Sony, with flagship titles like DriveClub being pushed back to 2014. Whilst it may be accurate to say third party multi-platform titles such as Assassins Creed IV, Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts are the superior versions, many running on 1080p rather than 720p, like on Xbox, in practice these differences are negligible with very little to differentiate between the two. So even though Xbox One technically has gloating rights over its game library, Microsoft seems to have outlined a rather unsettling next-gen trend that apparently does nothing more than raise a stubborn middle finger to consumers. I speak of course, of micro-transactions.
Be it paying for content to add to Forza 5’s massively stripped-back track and car selection, being spammed with messages to buy points to upgrade your characters in Ryse and Crimson Dragon or having to fork out just to unlock characters in Killer Instinct’s anaemic roster of fighters, it’s a worrying feature that has reared its ugly head in the majority of Xbox One launch titles. Features on both systems may be incomplete such as content sharing or may even be outright missing, like PS4’s ability to jump into a friend’s game or the Xbox One’s Twitch and Sky functionality, but essentially forcing gamers to play incomplete games when they buy an Xbox is a sad state of affairs.
With all these problems laid bare, it would still be irrational to get too discouraged by the Xbox One and PS4 launches. Yes, there may be teething problems, and yes, things will always need adding and updating, but these are necessary evils that define every console generation. One only has to look at the PS3’s massive development issues and the Xbox 360’s original 68 per cent failure rate to understand this, but now they both stand as two of the greatest systems of all time. For those of you out there who have bought or are planning to buy a next-gen console, don’t be disheartened. The best is yet to come.
Rob Harris, Sreen Editorbookmark me