Xbox One v PS4: Game On

WHAT’S IN THE BOX: The Xbox One console comes with the external supply similar to the Xbox 360 but with a proprietary power cord.

You also find a really nice and beefy HDMI cable, Mono Chat Headset, and wireless controller with non-rechargeable AA batteries and the greatly enhanced and improved Kinect 2.0.

GAMES: A gaming console is all about games and the Xbox One has over 20, including exclusives like Crimson Dragon, Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, Xbox Fitness, Zumba Fitness as well as Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, Battlefield 4, Call of Duty Ghosts, FIFA 14 and Just Dance 2014.

Like the PS4, the Xbox One is constantly recording video and by using the Upload app you can also edit and share your gaming videos, including sending them to SkyDrive, where they’re stored as a 720p MP4. Xbox Live is still mandatory for online gaming and other benefits and costs €50 a year.

CONTROLLER: The Xbox 360 controller was the best of the last generation of consoles and the Xbox One looks and feels very similar. It feels great to hold and ergonomically it’s almost perfect, for my hands at least. The new d-pad is recessed slightly into the controller and the analogue sticks are rubber but slightly smaller too. Also, the battery compartment on the back is now flush. The left and right triggers feel better and now include haptic/tactile feedback.

XBOX ONE KINECT: Although the Kinect was not all that well received by hardcore gamers it did bring the rest of the family into the Xbox generation. Kinect 2.0 has been completely overhauled and now features 1080p sensor with infrared that allows it to see you in the dark, and new technology that bounces photons to gauge the finer movements of up to six gamers. It can even detect facial expressions and heart rate.

Although a sticky point for us here in Ireland since it doesn’t work here yet, Kinect has advanced voice control options using a multi-microphone array. When it does become available in Ireland you will be able to turn the Xbox on or off, open apps and games, multi-task, record game clips and perform endless other functions just by speaking commands.

I was able to test the Kinect as a controller with free downloads of Kinect Sports Rivals preseason. The full version of Kinect Sports won’t be available until spring 2014 but pre-season is a good taster for what the Kinect 2.0 is capable of. You don’t need as much room as you did with Kinect 1.0 and the precision and fine control is incredible. Face recognition is amazing and as soon as you walk into the room the Xbox One will detect your presence once you set up the initial user profile.

APPS: Apps like Skype and Netflix are preloaded and work very well. Other apps available are Internet Explorer, SkyDrive (Microsoft cloud storage), Xbox Music, Xbox Video, Euro Sport player and Machinima for video game news.

One of the more interesting new features of the Xbox One is the TV integration, which allows you to connect your cable or satellite box into the HDMI on the console. You then launch the TV app on the Xbox One where you’ll find your TV channels. You should be able to fully control your TV and box with voice control but unfortunately it isn’t available in Ireland yet. OneGuide, when available here, will download the TV guide for all your channels. This is a great feature that even hardcore gamers will appreciate in time as it matures and improves.

Sony PS4

WHAT’S IN THE BOX: One of the nice things about the PS4 is that it’s small and doesn’t require a bulky power supply like the Xbox One. Instead you connect the standard two pin power cord that was used way back in the PS2. Also in the box you’ll find the DualShock 4 wireless controller, Mono ear bud headset with mic, USB cable that can be used to charge the controller and a HDMI cable for connecting to your TV or monitor.

GENERAL FEATURES: Getting up and running requires downloading a mandatory update prior to use and before you can play a game from a disc, at least part of it needs to be installed on the hard disk. This doesn’t take long and only happens once so no real issue there. The new PlayStation 4 interface is intuitive and easy to find your way around. &

GAMES: From launch day there are around 15 games available to buy, but there are a few free games for Plus members to download from the PlayStation store, including Warframe and Contrast. Top titles like Killzone — Shadow Fall, Fifa 14, Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty Ghosts provide some solid gaming for early adopters.

UNIQUE FEATURES: If you happen to own a PS Vita then you’ll be able to use Remote Play or second screen modes by wirelessly connecting your Vita to the PS4. Once connected you take control of the PS4 and can play any game on the PS Vita with PS4 graphics quality. This is an impressive feature and an incredible feat of technology.

Having 500GB may sound like a lot of hard drive storage but when you consider that 92GB is already used by the system and game installs can take up 50GB, a hardcore gamer is going to have to do a lot of housekeeping eventually. However, you can easily upgrade your hard disk as long as it is of the 2.5inch variety like those found in notebooks.

CONTROLLER: The PS4s new DUALSHOCK 4 controller has been improved dramatically over the previous PS3 edition. It feels great to hold but is packed with incredible features, including rechargeable batteries that can be charged via the micro-USB port. There are also two new sockets below the PS button on the underside of the controller. One is for connecting a wired headset, the other labelled EXT whose purpose has yet to be revealed by Sony. The Start and Select buttons are replaced with Share and Option buttons, the first of which enables easy uploading of the game footage that the PS4 is constantly capturing, while the latter acts like the Start did, but offers additional contextual options.

There’s now a clickable, multi-touch-capable touchpad located between the Share and Options buttons. There isn’t much use for it yet based on the games I played but this may change as developers find creative use for it. Also new is the new light bar on the top edge of the controller. This can change colour and can be used by the optional PlayStation Camera to track you in the same way that the PlayStation Move works.

The included mono headset and mic, works but it isn’t great. However, you can plug a standard pair of headphones into the socket.

NETWORK PLAY: PlayStation Network Plus is mandatory if you want to be able to play online multiplayer games. It costs €6.99 for a month, €14.99 for three months or €49.99 for 12 months, but additional to the online gaming you also get exclusive member discounts and free games. Another plus is if one person in the house has subscribed, everyone else who uses the console gets it too – and they can even have their own profile and this includes games that have been bought and installed.

APPS: There aren’t many apps available for the PS4 yet.


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