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Review: Xbox One

Review: Xbox One

The latest console launched by Microsoft is more than simply a gaming platform.

Nearly a year since its global launch, the Xbox One, the latest console from Microsoft, made its highly anticipated debut in the GCC on September 5th 2014.

The Xbox One is more than simply a gaming platform, and was always meant to be so. For years now, Microsoft has touted its multifaceted nature. According to the software giant, the latest iteration of the Xbox will be the centre of all entertainment in a household, encompassing movies, television, music and social media.

The machine packs a lot of muscle, with a dual quad-core AMD CPU and a whopping 8GB of DDR3 RAM – imperative for multitasking in today’s centralised living room multimedia environment. The result is a machine that runs seamlessly and delivers a sublime visual gameplay experience. Accompanying this is a mammoth 500GB internal hard drive, although much of this is utilised for the required game installations.

In terms of design, Microsoft has opted to go back to basics. The Xbox One’s flat, horizontal layout is reminiscent of the first generation Xbox, rather than the upright configuration of its predecessor, the Xbox 360. In the same vein, the Xbox One sports distinctively sleek edges all around, and the ridged, black exterior is a sharp departure from the wavy aesthetic of its predecessor.

Even the controller has a more streamlined profile and sits comfortably in the user’s hands. Although the controllers for both the Xbox and the Xbox 360 were universally praised, the latest one differs slightly from the 360 and has newly configured joysticks and d-pads. Battery life is highly impressive and will last several intense gaming sessions.

An all-new user interface makes managing applications much faster and simpler. The tiled menu on the console desktop is easy to navigate, especially if the user is familiar with Windows 8 devices.

A crucial component of Microsoft’s vision for the Xbox One is Kinect. This has been reiterated time and again by the software giant. With the Xbox One, the device really delivers.

The new Kinect is slightly bigger and features a larger sensor – a welcome addition, to say the least. It also runs much more smoothly than the first edition, which came out in 2010. It really is something else to say ‘Xbox on’ and watch the system come to life – all without the help of a remote or a controller. Of course, should a user prefer the more conventional route, ‘Stop listening’ exits Kinect’s voice command mode.

The Xbox One sports a wide array of features, such as movie streaming and Skype services. It also has a built-in Blu-ray drive, thereby eliminating the need for an additional movie player. Snap is a revolutionary new feature that allows users to perform two tasks simultaneously. Imagine playing Forza Motorsport 5, while watching your friends’ updates at the same time. Skype calls can continue in the background while the user has other applications running.

Yet at its core, the Xbox One is a pure gaming platform. The console is more appealing now, than it was at launch a year ago, with a slew of must-have titles coming out in the next few months.

Supplementing the popular Titanfall, Battlefield 4, Dead Rising 3 and Call of Duty: Ghosts are the upcoming Arkham Knight, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Star Wars: Battlefront reboot, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and the next instalment in the critically acclaimed Halo franchise, Halo 5: Guardians.

However, in terms of drawbacks, the Xbox One’s massive power unit tends to take up a lot of space and the tiled user interface can be a tad complicated to those unfamiliar with Windows 8.

Updates and game installations are also extremely time-consuming (keep your favourite paperback handy, or a couple of episodes of The Big Bang Theory on standby, just in case).

On a whole, it would not be inaccurate to say that the Xbox One represents Microsoft’s realisation of its ambitious vision to fuse gaming with mainstream entertainment. When a console allows you to record your favourite game sequence and upload it to YouTube, while you surf through Netflix, you know that the next generation is well and truly here.

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