Introducing the Xbox One S

ScreenHunter_91 Jun. 14 09.41

It may be hard to believe that it’s nearly 3 years since the Xbox One released. Before that, my 360 had been replaced by the Slim version with a shiny gloss finish, far quieter noise output (remember those fans and the disc drive on the original?!) and a built in wireless adapter. The first gen Kinect also had a dedicated port but remembering back to that, maybe the less said the better – I still have the theme to Disney’s Kinect Rush in my head!

And so there is little surprise that at this weeks’ E3, the Xbox One S was showcased and, as you can see from the header picture, has a bit of a redesign. Firstly, the dimensions are considerably smaller, approximately 40% in terms of physical space being used up by the current behemoth. The colour change to white with the right side gloss finish being replaced by a textured mesh-look (fan intake on either side) should stop those fingerprints being so apparent for those that love perfection. All the ports on the back are condensed down alongside the move of the left hand USB, sometimes less-than-handy for your charging output, being moved to the the front of the console instead. And for those that have missed the option for keeping your console in the vertical position, a stand is also included – pictured below.

Xbox One S Console Vertical Right Angle

What about hardware changes? Well, as with any “updated” versions of the console don’t expect your games to look any better, but there are some worthwhile additions. But let’s start with a subtraction in that the big “power brick” is no more – cheers all round #highfive! Without spamming this article with loads of screenshots, the unboxing below shows that we no longer have to make space for that black brick of doom, and regular noise with the integrated fan that came with it. If you’re wanting a 4K video output for your TV the S includes this too and, considering you’d be lucky in purchasing a 4k blueray player for under £100, the current RRP of £299 for the 500GB Xbox S (£349 for the 1TB, £399 for the 2TB) could be attracting more than us gamer types. The new controller is also including the popularity that the Lunar version has introduced with the textured backing for additional grip.

If you’re a fan of the Kinect though, you’ll have to look into a usb adapter as it’s not included in the newer version. Whether it was just to keep it as small as possible or if it’s another visible step to the Kinects’ demise only time will tell, but it’s not news that the backtrack on how good it is, how it should be and with the lack of Kinect features in newer games could see the end of voice commands until it gets that much better.

What may also put you off is that this is NOT the Scorpio console, due to be released next Fall. Although the specs on the Scorpio are minimal (addition of being VR ready) with it being only a year after the official release of the Xbox One S may deter many on having to buy a third console within the space of four years.

http://www.xboxoneuk.com/xbox-one/news/introducing-the-xbox-one-s/

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Games that make you, you

There’s nothing  wrong with loving a whole load of games. A melody of genres probably makes up the collection of many, depending on what mood you fancy. But there are those that simply make you tick, that as soon as you see or get your mitts on know that reality will fall away as you tumble into something that will consume many hours to come. There are those games that define us, that will forever bring a sense of nostalgia just by seeing or hearing it again. For me, these are those games that defined my “way of life”.

Final Fantasy 8

The only one I actually completed, even though FF9 took over 120 hours, Eight was probably the first big rpg I spent hours into the night playing. Released in 1999 it had a lot to live up to with Final Fantasy 7 being such a big milestone in gaming history. From the free-roaming ability to having awesome weapons like the gunblade (Lionheart anyone?) it hit all the buttons for my early pubescent years. And the cut scenes were a pure delight with the final space scene, including the soundtrack, instilling that sense of completion achievement I’ll never leave behind.

Half-Life

When a theoretical theorist turned action hero by the name of Gordan Freeman becomes one of the few survivors of an experiment in a secret lab, what is there not to love?

This wasn’t the first FPS I played, but it may have been the first I played on my PC – the heap of junk it was back then with it’s 256mb of ram. This was one of those games that paved the way for its’ predecessors with the story depth being layered so well even the sci-fi nature of it, pushing the boundaries of how real it could be, scared the bejesus out of me at times. This was mainly down to the entire game being from the viewpoint of Freeman, all the scripted scenes, all the conversations. You were Gordan from the start and to the end, through the labs to a teleportation to an alien planet. Simply awesome – and the long-awaited sequel did a similar job at breaking rules!

Dungeon Siege

The above image was possibly my first ever desktop background – that I can remember at least. Released in 2002, this RPG was another of my early PC gaming experiences and an early third-person RPG that most follow today.

This time it’s a farmer, not a scientist, so the chances of being transported to an alien planet is instead replaced with bumping into a fellow farmer needing help along your story. Farm-sized arachnids do make a guest appearance. XP, gear, potions, it was all here with yet another example of seamless play and no loading – what every new game seems to struggle with these days. It was an open-world game with the odd bit of humour and it just tickled me pink.

Unreal Tournament

Another PC FPS and my first ever experience of a LAN centre  when I was 14 but what this brought to the table was a competitive multiplayer experience. The whole game is based around multiplayer action with some bot rounds to help practice with or if your dial-up connection was taking longer than it’s usual 20 minutes to connect to your ip.

Although the original was fantastic, my fonder memories were of the 2003 edition. Other than a massive graphic and mechanic overhaul the highlight of the game was the announcer for the characters. It was just hilarious and “Mr Crow” and “Romulus” became a regular call sign for a college mate and I. Here’s a link I just found and luckily, the juice in my mouth at the time only just missed my laptop after hearing it for the first time in 10 years or so – blimmin’ priceless! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ82zI_In90

Halo Wars

Jumping forward a little but also to get a strategy game in the mix Halo Wars has become one of those new-age cult games. Set in the Halo Universe 21 years before Master Chief’s first appearance the detail in keeping to the original story and a few familiar faces alongside some impressive cutscenes make this one of my all-time played games. RTS had been tried on consoles before but the controls were both easy to learn, impressive to master and fantastic to battle with.

What was so surprising to me is that there never seemed to be that many players online when on the 360, but now that backwards compatibility has announced its arrival (even though it has been delayed!) the request votes have reached about 50k which is a ridiculous comparison to the 2k players maximum I probably ever saw on the multiplayer. You can pick up a copy off ebay for around £5 at the mo and if you’re interested the long-awaited (on my behalf) sequel is released later this year, developed by Creative Ensemble, the guys that brought us the Total War series.

 

That’s not it of course, there are plenty of others to ramble on about such as an endless setlist achievement or progressive raiding on WOW – that will need a whole article of its’ own – but these have created fond memories that will stay with me forever.

Also find this article over at 1001up.com with a few videos! http://1001up.com/2016/01/19/games-that-defined-my-way-of-life/

Are gaming genres fading away?

With over 20 years of gaming under my belt the thing I’ve enjoyed most is seeing the progression of gaming and the future prospects of new hardware, software gaming engines; you name it, I enjoy not just playing the games but marvelling at the weather, lighting, dialogue and facial emotions that can be portrayed in games nowadays. For those who have played Time Crisis, those two words “My God” has proven how far it’s all come, now having voice actors that can actually act!

But it all [genres] seems to be mixing together in a big pot of variable archetypes. First Person Shooter used to be just that. Half-Life, Duke Nukem – these show how well a story can truly submerge a player into a game and scare the crap out of you. You picked up a weapon and shot at your enemies until one of you died true FPS’. But now, there are levels, progressive weaponry, an experience system previously seen in RPG’s. The open-world games of Far Cry and Fallout are the current pinnacle, Fallout 4 including a truly customisable experience of third or first person, base-building and management. Destiny and the upcoming The Division proves that an MMOFPSRPG is becoming too ridiculous even in an abbreviated, acronym form.

I’d say the answer is yes. A good yes though. Where the best parts of different games are mixed into a cocktail of layered genius. I’ll stop now before sounding even more like Cilan.
For now I’ll look forward to the first FPSRPGMMOSTRATPLAT…..There will be one day, mark my words!!!