Xbox One review: next-gen gaming is finally here (well, at least some of it)

As a gaming machine it's a finished package - but voice control and TV passthrough hint that the Xbox One still plenty to offer in the future as well

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The Independent Tech

You don’t need to have touched a video game controller in your life to know the battle between Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation has dominated the console world for more than a decade. And if you have a gamer in the house or are a 35-year-old man with a job and a family – the average gamer according to a recent study - you’ll know that tomorrow sees the much-anticipated launch of the new Xbox One.

So, whether you are that 35-year-old or a teenage gamer you won’t be disappointed as you unpack the shiny Xbox One from its sleek black container.

If you aren’t familiar with rumbling controllers, kill streaks and gamer tags, the Xbox One looks pretty much like any other black box entertainment system. And that’s equally true of the PS4, which goes on sale next week, too.

Avid gamers will tell you it is what’s inside that counts and the Xbox One get an improved Kinect 2.0 motion sensor, camera and voice recognition for interactive gaming, but slightly less raw processing power than Sony’s rival console.

Xbox One or PS4: which deserves your loyalty? Click here to read our comparison of the new consoles

Booting it up for the first time can be a slightly frustrating experience though – especially if it’s Christmas gift and you’ve only got an hour before your turkey dinner. It’s sold as a brand-spanking-new product, so you could be forgiven for thinking it will work first time. Wrong, as there’s already a 500MB online update that Microsoft confirmed that is mandatory for all, while some games also require tedious online updates of as much as 4GB. Plus unlike the Xbox 360, which it’s replacing, it seems to need to partially install some game content on the 500GB hard drive before you can get in on the action.

When you do get going though the game play and graphics are clearly a step beyond what the Xbox 360 could offer, with titles such as racer Forza Motorsport 5 and Roman battle epic Ryse: Son of Rome really impressing with super-sharp details and mesmerising landscapes.

Unlike the cheaper PS4, which will cost £349, the Xbox One does include motion- sensing technology as standard in the form of Kinect 2.0 to control games by gestures.

There’s also voice recognition, that works better than any The Independent’s non-regional accent has tested – call centres and mobile phone companies could learn a lot here. At the moment these features are still a bit of gimmick and they aren’t a turn-on for early adopters, but watch out for future developments.

The landscapes on ‘Forza Motorsport 5’ shows how far Xbox One’s graphics have improved on Xbox 360 (AP)

Both the PS4 and Xbox One are still aimed at gamers first and foremost, but Microsoft wants the Xbox One to be the “all in one” machine that will the first thing you turn to after switching on your television, whether it’s to play a game, watch a film, stream live television or even chat on Skype.

This assumes it’s won’t be in an upstairs bedroom though and that you’ll be able to wrestle its owner away from their controller and their online Call of Duty slaughter.

Interestingly, the machine’s frustratingly long updates and Kinect’s possible future hint at this unit’s potential. Yes, it’s the finished package but give it a year of updates, developers working on new titles and Kinect. Only then will we know if it’s the Xbox One or the PS4 that will come out on top.

Click here for 10 things you need to know about the Xbox One