Same old Blood: Wolfenstein

After picking it up a few weeks ago I finished off Wolfenstein: The Old Blood on Xbox One. Prior to selling my Xbox the first time around I had played through Wolfenstein: The New Order and found it just OK. The story was novel, reminded me a little of Resistance on PS3 for some reason, but it was again suffered the FPS grind of non-stop shooting… stuff. Wolfenstein has become synonymous with violent graphical content during its cut scenes, which New Order certainly didn’t fall short of and Old Blood doesn’t step out of this trend with torture, dismemberment and other unpleasantries.

I’m sure it isn’t a case of getting older – I found the entire Dead Space franchise dull as a result of its 80s ultra-violence chique, Wolfenstein The Old Blood was kinda lame. The only reason it took me more than a day to finish this edition was because I couldn’t be patient in the more stealthy sections failing to see the value in not killing everyone, I mean, why would your character, a sole-surviving American Soldier want to spare the lives of a few Nazi troops, or not dismantle the numerous killing machines littered throughout the map?

So far 2015 has had a piss poor release schedule for Xbox One, Ori And The Blind Forest being the only game to have come out this year that has stunned me with how challenging and great I found it, and with Project Cars feeling like a long time to produce something inaccessible to most with it’s twitchy handling, excessive menus and load times and claim to be ‘for the simulation enthusiasts’, I’m starting to once again feel like console gaming has hit a rough patch. We’re now into the second year of the current generation consoles and sales are continuing to grow in their millions, but what is there to offer? The service my Xbox One still provides me more than anything else is access to Youtube with a great autoplay feature on my subscriptions, Netflix, and other television apps.

I’d say we’re swinging back towards the original intention of the Xbox One team of it being the single black box in your living room and if there was a way to receive Virgin media cable TV straight into it without the need for the receiver box it would quite possibly serve that purpose in my household.

Returning to XboxOne

Last November I had made the decision to pre-order XboxOne for launch. I had been sold on the idea of an entertainment system over a games console, with various features outselling it for me against the PS4.

By the end of January I was swaying back towards the PS4, frustrated at the lack of content, slow progress on launch features that were still on their way and the buggy nature of Kinect. When Microsoft announced that Kinect was going to be removed from the mandatory list for developers my faith in the big black box was all but gone. So much so that after spending a week with the Kinect in a box, I headed to Game and traded in for a PS4.

Two days ago, I reversed the process, returning to Game and trading in again for XboxOne.

The PS4 is certainly a superior games console. I didn’t buy many games having done the majority of major titles on the XboxOne, but made my way through Strider, Resogun and exclusives Killzone and Infamous Second Son. Like the XboxOne, the PS4 has its own unique features that have died at birth. The touchpad and share button do virtually nothing. During Infamous Second Son, the touchpad has minimal usage for triggering QTEs, and the motion control within the new controller is used for spraying tags on walls throughout the city; the only use of it in Killzone was a single free-fall level where it was used to steer yourself through obstacles.

The share button seemed to there just for me to accidentally tap once in a while and be booted out to a config screen. There are some other issues I found with the PS4 controller when it came to buttons. The push states of the two analog sticks felt awkward under my thumbs, and the option button became hard to target in the same way as the start button of old, or the menu button of the new XboxOne controller. Although the controller looks sleeker than its predecessor, it’s small design presumably intended for the Asian market first, as with Nintendo’s devices, became fiddly and I routinely paused by my thumb dropping to the option button.

But interfaces aside I found a far more rooted issue with the PS4. It has no personality.

With the use of Kinect, XboxOne instantly has a persona, most of the time that of a petulant child, you tell it to do one thing, it will do something else, but even so, this behaviour is somewhat endearing. I find the idea that this little guy is desperate to try and take me where I want to go and occasionally gets it wrong. The interface is instantly brimming with content, whether it is in part adverts or not doesn’t bother me so much as it is on the whole content that I genuinely may be interested in.

The extended features such as auto-playing games that you are downloading after a percentage has been obtained is fantastic, something I was frustrated with on the PS4. I have a Yamaha YSP-600 Sound bar which all my devices run through. The XboxOne is able to detect this and pass remote commands to it meaning one less remote control to use, and fewer actions to be up and running. Xbox On pretty much activates my living room. I watch a lot of TV, but new mediums, Youtube and Netflix being the heaviest and the Youtube app for XboxOne is spellbinding. PS4 has none.

There is of course still a distinct lack of really great games on either console. But this is now in the process of change. with my re-purchase, I picked up Titanfall, now around £25, and it came with Destiny at the cost of an extra £10, both of which I played in Beta and felt underwhelmed, however when you having nothing else to go by, I am sure that the very casual pick up and play demeanour of Titanfall could see me sinking a lot of hours in as my get home from work mainstay to remove the fugg of web life.

This is my last switch, I wont be going back to PS4, not for a very long time to come at least, until that day, you can come play with me on XboxOne – AvangelistXMB.

What happened to game demos?

With the latest generation of consoles comes a new paradigm to encouraging software sales for the Xbox One and PS4 and it involves hoping owners will purchase all games based on the limited library to-date.

I don’t really remember what PSN Store looked like back when I managed to get a PS3 in exchange for a mobile phone contract. The console had been out a while by that point, and I went straight out and bought Uncharted which had only just been released. But what I do remember is that almost every game that was available on the high-street had a demo available through the store.

Since trading my Xbox One in and trading up (or down, yet to be confirmed) I have noticed that there are virtually no demos or trial versions available for new releases. This is a format that even app developers for IOS have worked out – you’re more likely to convert a customer if they can at least see if they like your game.

So how come Sony’s new console is still only showing demo’s for launch title games released last November?

The other thing I have noticed about the PS4’s PSN Store is that it is using a subtle trick of showing ‘content’ in the catalogue by displaying titles available to PS3 and PS Vita. This makes bugger all sense. Yes, there has been a way to transfer games to Vita via he PS3, but the best way has always been to download direct to the device, and as for PS3 titles, well they can’t be played or viewed in any way on PS4 so why are you showing me this?

The Xbox One without Kinect from an owner

In a whirlwind of madness, last year I pre-ordered an Xbox One, something I wrote a lot about at the time.  The whole furor over the always on idea of the Kinect last summer forced Microsoft to do a complete 180 on their entire product, whether they admit to it or not, the backlash they received meant the entire business model changed seemingly overnight.

When the team entered the stage to announce the machine its mission was to make the Xbox One the sole device under the TV, replacing your PVR, and all other multimedia devices and become the singular entertainment centre in your home. Within 48hrs always on technology was dropped and Microsoft realised they had failed their core audience – gamers. Continue reading The Xbox One without Kinect from an owner