Archives For XBOX

When the Xbox One and PS4 pricing were both announced, I made my decision instantly. For me, my path into the next generation was to be determined exclusively by price. Price is what pushed me to pick up an Xbox 360 over the PS3, and price again determined how I’ll be spending my next few gaming years with the PS4. I preordered it literally seconds after the price was announced and preorders were opened. In the months that have followed, my wife and I have had ample time to tuck $400 (plus tax, thanks Maine!) away for the day Amazon ships that sweet, sweet hunk of gear.

But I think I made a mistake. I just finished reading an excellent piece from Eurogamer’s Martin Robinson on USGamer.net. In it, he makes the case that the Wii U is actually the most compelling next-gen console to pick up this holiday season. I have to agree with him, but there’s a catch.

See, the PS4 is supposed to be the “big gift” under this year’s Christmas tree. It’s a fine tradition in the Macy household. Last year saw the Wii U, and the year previous to that saw a pair of 3DS in blue and red. If there isn’t a video game console under the tree, it wouldn’t feel like Christmas. What a lousy precedent we’ve set.

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The pair of 3DSes and the Wii U get used a lot. I mean, a lot. With the release of Wind Waker HD, my oldest son has dove head-first into the entire universe of The Legend of Zelda. He spends hours poring over Hyrule Historia, sometimes late into the night. He dressed as Link for Halloween, and leading up to the holiday, he wore the costume many times to bed. To say he is obsessed might be understating it a bit. His 3DS gets equal Zelda time, with my old copy of the DS title Phantom Hourglass. My youngest son will spend hours on the Wii U playing the Metroid missions in Nintendoland, a charming set of minigames disguising a thorough tip-of-the-hat to Nintendo fans through the ages. Myself, I am enjoying Pikmin 3 much more than I ever expected, along with the aforementioned Wind Waker HD, and a slew of Virtual Console games.

And that’s why I think I made the mistake preordering the PS4. Looking at its launch line-up, I see nothing that my kids will be excited for. There’s really nothing at launch on either next-gen console that excites me. Lego’s Marvel game will satisfy them on any console for which I purchase it, so why wouldn’t I just buy it for Wii U?

The PS4 is sorely lacking a compelling reason for parents of kids under 12 to buy it. It might just be since all the other kids on the playground will be talking about their next-gen systems when the school break is over, but is that really reason enough? I know that, in the life of the PS4, we’ll get plenty of use from it. But the idea that it will make a good gift for my kids, or anyone’s younger kids, when there is the Wii U, seems unlikely.

Nintendo has, and always has had, an ember of magic burning within its properties. Ask someone on the street to name a Nintendo character. I bet nearly everyone you asked could at the very least name Mario. Ask someone to name a Sony character. Or a Microsoft character (that isn’t Clippy). You, reading this, might be able to answer those two questions. But this is NerdSynq, come on now. Mario is a pop-culture icon. He is bigger than the games in which he appears. People have a familiarity with Nintendo’s properties, a fondness, that the other two console makers lack.

Cats and Mario, two of the Internet's fav things

Cats and Mario, two of the Internet’s favorite things

That’s why I feel like the Wii U is THE console of choice for Christmas this year for anyone who has kids under 12. Young kids like the characters, the story, and believe it or not, the history, of the characters with whom they’re playing. For a kid, playing a game is more than just navigating the pathways and puzzles set out by the developers. For them, it’s imagining a whole world, with intricacies that expand beyond what is being presented on-screen. Whether it’s the Mushroom Kingdom or the planet Zebes, or Hyrule, the worlds and characters Nintendo creates resonate with kids and grown fans of Nintendo, alike.

If you’re on the fence over which console to buy, and you have kids, just get the Wii U. They will enjoy it much more. You will enjoy it, as well. There is some modest 3rd-party support. The Eurogamer piece above points out that the Assassin’s Creed IV port on Wii U is great. If you already have a Wii U, as is the case with me, and can’t decide which one of the other two consoles to get for your kids for Christmas… long and short of it, who cares? They’re basically the same. Just pick the one you like more, whatever that reason may be.

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I think I’m in the minority by saying I for one am excited about this. If you missed the reveal or don’t want to watch it, don’t worry because NerdSynq will tell you all you need to know. Let’s start with the name, Xbox One, most people hate this name, I personally like it. It represents unity between you and all your entertainment; you are now one with the Xbox. Now let’s get down to what it looks like and what it can do.

Hardware
Again in the minority about this but I like the way it looks; it looks like a sleek, ultra-modern NES. It also now comes with 8 GB’s of RAM (which is how much is in my computer); 500 GB’s of hard drive, Blu-Ray player and built in Wi-Fi and HDMI ports. I know the last two have already been in the Xbox for some time but because I have an older version I am happy these things will be built in, and I haven’t gotten to experience these. The Blu-Ray is perhaps the best addition to the Xbox One considering that was the only thing Sony had over Xbox. Onto the Software!

Home screen
The Windows 8 display, I think it works for a game console or a touch screen. Considering that the Kinect (which I will get to in a minute) is mimicking a touch screen I think the Windows 8 like display will work flawlessly. Besides which the Xbox 360 is running a similar like display already.
Another cool thing added is Snap Mode; this allows you to multitask with the Xbox One. For instance you can play a game and browse Facebook at the same time or watch a TV show and Skype with a friend. However for some of the things, such as the fantasy football line-up, it looked as if the guy was using Smart Glass to manipulate it. Which begs the question why not just use the Kinect?

The Kinect
Okay, here is one of my biggest gripes about the Xbox One. The Kinect comes with it, regardless if you want it or not, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to use it. Of course this hasn’t been confirmed yet but it seems like with all the hype they are putting around it you are going to have to install it and keep it active if you want to have your system running. My first thought is ‘Oh, well Microsoft will be changing its name to Skynet soon.’ I’m very concerned with this; I don’t want some guy at Microsoft to watch me playing my games naked.
The Kinect looks to have a similar function to what it does now, basic voice command and hand movements. However they introduced something that new that doesn’t seem to promising, the Instant Switch. Which I don’t think I will work really well just because of the Kinect I’m using now, it has lag and a lot of it. This allows you to “instantly” switch between your games, movies, apps, music and TV.

Entertainment
“TV you say?” TV I say! That’s right they are now allowing us to watch TV through our Xbox, are you tired of switching between inputs to go between your Xbox and TV? No? Me neither. I know what some of you are thinking, “I can just use my Xbox to watch TV, I don’t need cable!” you’d be wrong. From my understanding you still have to go throw your cable provider which kind of sucks.
Tonight was a night filled with partnerships, one of which being the NFL. So now you can watch every game through the NFL and get real time updates, they already had ESPN so I don’t see the benefit to also having a NFL app. Though I’m not a huge sports fan so I won’t be using either app.
Lastly they announced Wake Up, John. A new series directed by Steven Spielberg about, you guessed it, Halo! They didn’t go into what it’s going to be about, but I know people are already going to be pumped just because it’s Halo.

Games
Perhaps the most disappointing part of the night was the games section; they did not once show actual gameplay, just cut scenes. For instances Forza 5 looked amazing the detail of the paint on the car was just stunning… for a launch trailer. Only two other games were mentioned one of which “stole” the show and will be talked about for a little while, that game was Quantum Break. I don’t know how I feel about a live-action trailer for a game that no one has heard of but the couple seconds of the actual game looked pretty dang cool, I love me some time manipulation. The rest of the trailer was just two people talking about some pretty vague stuff. I am excited to see more however; and the last game that got a lot of people pumped up, Call of Duty: Ghosts. They showed a lot of what the game is going to look like now that it is on the Xbox One. It looked fantastic (for a Call of Duty game), and the doggy was adorable; y’know as adorable as a blood thirsty dog with titanium fangs can be. The story is to be written by Stephen Gaghan and the concept sounds interesting enough. However nobody plays the Call of Duty games for the story they play for the multiplayer! It sounds like they are trying to go all out with this; interactive levels, character customization, “better matches”. Plus with the announcement of the built-in recorder for Xbox One, I know this will be a fun experience (even if it is only for 10 hours). I for one hope they can accomplish all they set out for though and I know a lot of people don’t like Call of Duty and say it is killing the gaming community but I disagree.

The Bad
Among the NFL partnership EA also agreed to some sort of partnership with Microsoft. To which I let out an audible “Uh-oh”. Though they won’t say what it entails they have said that they are working on making the Xbox One more “developer friendly” which greatly concerns me. I’m afraid that EA will do their best to ruin Xbox and online game play. But I can put one rumor at ease, the always online factor. This has been confirmed as a fallacy though they never directly said anything about it during the reveal; you can read more about this at http://news.xbox.com/2013/05/qa . Another rumor currently going around is that you will have to pay a fee for used games. This was also not in the reveal however I have looked into it only a little bit. From my understanding you’ll only have to pay for the used game if you want to install it onto your hard drive, which makes sense that way you can’t take it to a friend’s house have them install the game and keep the disc for yourself and both play the game even though only one of you bought it. I don’t have a complete understanding of this because no one has official said anything about it yet, and it looks like we are going to have to wait till E3 to hear more.

Until then I remain hopeful that the Xbox One can live up to my and Microsoft’s expectations and still be a good console. I am super excited to find out more and to buy the system later this year!

Check out our First video for Injustice. Our commentary track is gone, but it’s still a fun watch.

Check out the Launch Trailer for Injustice Gods Among Us, Stay Tuned for our coverage coming soon!!

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Adam Orth, who started a fervor with a series of tweets about an ‘always on’ console has departed from Microsoft. According to Game Informer, Orth resigned, but it is unclear if “whether this was a voluntary or forced resignation.” After the Twitter debacle, Microsoft commented “we apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers.”

It’s probably a safe assumption to infer that he was forced to resign, considering Microsoft had to come out and clean up his mess the next day. It’s probably not good business to tell customers to go fuck themselves and “deal with it.” What do you guys think? Did his comments rub you the wrong way? Let us know!