Yesterday (23rd Nov 2013) I attended the invite only Xbox One Tour in Manchester (UK). I was made aware of the event a couple of days before it hit the UK (a month or so ago) and was able to snag myself and a plus one to the event.
Getting into Manchester early Saturday morning we wandered the streets looking for where it could be and after 45 minutes strolling around the bloody freezing streets we discovered (on a back street) a shop where every window had a subtle, giant green #XboxOneTour poster occupying every bit of window space and removing any possibility of the outside world seeing in. Security occupied the door, three burly but funny fellows all with ear pieces in talking with the crowds; though as with all security guards they moved their shoulders every twenty seconds like a violent nervous twitch, so you knew if you tried anything here you’d be enjoying a quick visit to Manchester A&E.
We were issued with wrist bands (grey in our case) but others had green, I had a fear that the Green bands meant free XboxOne (luckly it didn’t) and our QR invite codes where scanned which allowed us through the doors and the extremely thick black curtains. More security guards were inside, but so where oodles of Xbox wearing staff and we were quickly rounded up and an Xbox staff member quickly went through the ins and outs, to have our picture with Holly (a booth girl (sort of)) and told us to run free. So I did. First thing I did to secure myself a lanyard (as I’m a nerd) I went to Holly and had my photo taken; we were told to secure our free lanyard or t-shirt we had to Tweet or FB the picture with the tag #XboxOneTour. There were two problems with this –
1) Morally – Not two hours before I’d had a conversation with my wife on the selling of sex with booth girls and the fact that in today’s age we should be looking at this and saying, “If a game/hardware isn’t capable of selling itself without a perky pair of tits and a tiny waist it shouldn’t be on sale!”
2) There was hardly any bloody signal in the place to get the Tweet/FB message out. You could see all over people walking around the darkened room trying to get the slightest sign of a signal bar.
I then discovered that the grey wrist bands indicated I was over 18 and could go downstairs to play the grown up games, at that point I felt sorry for the poor buggers with Green who were stuck with Fifa14, Froza and Kinect Sports.
I began filming and walked around upstairs, making my way to the Kinect Developers corners I was quickly (but politely) asked to stop filming the developers section as this was very secret. So I did, but stayed for the presentation and I have to admit the new Kinect alone has drawn me back to wanting an Xbox One. The technology inside this device is unbelievable so many leaps and bounds have happened since the original, it make Kinect Mk.1 seem like nothing more than a paper weight that sits at the bottom of your television.
I took to the games and I’m sorry to say but I’m not overly impressed with the initial release games:-
– Froza Motorsport 5 – Looks extremely nice however when you’re playing it the feeling that it’s just another racing car games but with extra shine can’t escape you and after two laps I was quite frankly bored and wanted to stand up and leave it.
– Fifa 14 – I’m not a football fan so my review could be taken as biased but playing this was not different in my mind from any other blinking football game I’ve played by accident, my +1 (Jim Bob) however loved it and he exuberance for it made me question my own negative thoughts about it all, but in the end I settled myself and was convinced that here was just a football game.
– Kinect Sports – This, thanks to the new Sensor, is outstanding. Every movement, hand twist action (all within 4 ft of space) is picked up, I was even in a dark are and still the Kinect spotted me. The game I played was the Jet Ski race this wasn’t overly exciting on its own, but the Sensor brought the fun element right to the top.
– Dead Rising 3 – This game is initially a blast and extremely funny to play, though after 5 minutes of massacring hordes of the undead I was ermm a bit bored. This would be an excellent XBL game at £12, but I certainly wouldn’t be paying £50 for it.
– COD: Ghosts – You all know this so I don’t have to go into it. You have COD Ghosts with (to be honest) not many noticeable changes from the 360 version. Perhaps it seems smoother, but you’ve got COD and if you like those games (which I do) you’ll enjoy this (which I did).
– Battlefield 4 – Having not played a BF game for years and being a COD fan boy I wasn’t overly interested in trying the competition, but I am so glad I did. I a converted! To me this is the game to get if you’re stuck between deciding on Ghosts or BF4 as it feels smarter, better, a touch more real.
– Ryse Son of Rome – Watching people play on this I wanted to get my hands on it, when I got a seat I was rather let down by it. The loading times are awful, the fighting system is just as bad it really isn’t a good game. The only saving factors are the way it looks and some of the fighting finishing moves; this however isn’t enough for me to go and buy it.
– Killer Instinct – Side on fighting game that looks pretty. Honestly that’s it; if that’s your bag go and get it. I myself am crap at fighters, but that didn’t stop me taking up the challenge laid down by the Xbox Staff, and he beat me so well I actually thought my controller wasn’t plugged in.
So to round up the day was great, I had four hours of play on around about 50 Xbox Ones. I had no seat to wait for, internal Lan battles on COD: Ghosts and Battlefield4 (which both myself and Jim Bob on one game came 1st and 2nd in our team). The on hand Xbox Staff were fantastic, getting involved in games, knowing their stuff about the machines and being around to answer questions either about button presses or the console itself. All in all a great day.