Zoo Tycoon Xbox One Review

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I’m a ‘Tycoon’ fan, I love this genre of games and Zoo Tycoon on the current generation of Xbox One hardware is simply superb. A magical game for children, teenagers, Tycoon fans and everyone in between. It emerges as one of the strongest launch titles from Microsoft albeit amongst over heavy weight likes Ryse and Forza Motorsport 5. It’s a bright game offering up a menagerie of superb animal game-play.

Zoo Tycoon is a game which let’s you release you imagination and quite literally build your dream Zoo. It’s a game you can play alone or invite (up to) four of your friends via Xbox LIVE to help you. Zoo Tycoon has its heart in the right place and Frontier Developments have worked hard to deliver a game that is entertaining as well as socially conscious in its efforts to demonstrate that running a Zoo isn’t just about displaying exotic animals for Joe Public to stare at whilst we (the player) make a quick pound or two. Frontier Developments have ensured that Zoo Tycoon does a stand up job of educating players about the animals in the game including their natural habitats and behavioural habits. Frontier haven’t just stopped there though, they’ve also ensured that whilst players enjoy everything Zoo Tycoon has to offer, they soon realise that increasing the Zoo’s fame and profit is just a small step to achieving a environmentally conscious park that looks after it’s animals as well as helping preserve their way of life and reintroducing them back to their natural habitats after successful breeding.

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Don’t worry, being socially aware and minded isn’t all that hard and stressful. In fact Frontier have made sure that this console sim title remains fun and interesting without the hassle and delicate intricacies of more advanced PC sims. Zoo Tycoon has been developed to play to the consoles strengths, of which we are aware there are a lot, this includes menus that are easy to navigate, fluid building mechanics, snappy, flashy and readable visuals. A couple of features have been added to the latest title in this franchise which are purely aimed at console players, the most fun of which is the ability to navigate your Zoo at ground level. You can either jog around the park on foot or jump in a buggy and drive around. Don’t worry, your visitors will automatically move out of the way. Whilst on foot you’ll be able to take pictures of your exhibit as it grows and evolves under your leadership. Being able to experience the Zoo you are building like this, as your visitors do, may seem like a gimmick, but the overall experience is a pleasant one and it really contributes to the overall enjoyment of the game.

If you have played Tycoon games for a while, especially on PC, you’ll know that sometimes developers leave the user interface as ugly cumbersome behemoths that we need to deal with. Unlike those games, Zoo Tycoon is is enjoyable from moment-to-moment because you never struggle navigating with the interface and this means it is quick and easy to keep with duties associated with running a Zoo.

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Zoo Tycoon includes Kinect functionality and the implementation of this is brilliant. Long gone are the days of players waving their arms and hands frantically in front of the TV, Zoo Tycoon manages to make your Kinect seems fluid and natural. You can feed your animals, or play with them via facial expressions and hand gestures. As gimmicky as it may seem, I can’t deny how adorable it was to pull faces and play peek-a-boo with a chimpanzee. But putting this to shame is the extremely clever way Frontier Developments have implemented voice commands via Kinect. Being able to say commands like ‘Ping Animal hunger’ and have that particular animal need overlaid across the entire park immediately made it extremely easy to spot which enclosures needed their feeding stations refilled. Almost every statistic you could need is available via various voice commands including the ability see which animals are ready to be released to the wild. These added features, with their clever implementation made the micromanagement of my Zoo a breeze.

It’s quite straightforward really, you’ll need to spend your profits made from ticket and concession sales on expanding and improving the Zoo. You’ll achieve this through creating new exhibits that replicate various examples of habitats from around the world, then helicopter in some animals before ensuring they have enough food, water, facilities to clean and entertainment. You’ll of course be able to keep bumping up your profits by improving other aspects of your park including shops, restaurants, food stalls and sideshow entertainers. Keep your animals and guests happy and your Zoo will become more popular whilst gaining fame. The higher your fame level the more types of species you’ll be able to house in your Zoo.

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I am worried for Zoo Tycoon however as it seems undoubtedly fated to fall off the radar of most adult gamers who will be looking at the flashier and mature games out at present. It’s a shame, because this could be an even greater game when shared and played together as a family. The game itself might not be perfect, and I will be admit I found a few bugs here and there including glitches in the tutorial which left me confused as to what I was supposed to be doing. But when all is said and done the game does a superb job of showing off what the Xbox One can achieve, it offers hours of free-style game-play and is like I said at the beginning, fun and enjoyable for all ages.

If you’re looking for an addictive alternative to the First Person Shooter or racing titles in Xbox One’s launch line-up, then Zoo Tycoon is a game you should invest in.

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WRC 4: FIA World Championship Rally Review

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In 2010 the Italian developer Milestone brought back the WRC titles to our home console(s) after 5 years since the last game. This year’s edition is the fourth instalment from Milestone, when you include the Xbox LIVE title WRC Powerslide, and is the only official video game of the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship, featuring cars and rally courses from the 2013 season including support categories also.

For a long time it seemed like every title Milestone brought out was an improvement upon the last. Better mechanics, controls, features and graphics. Each time ironing out bugs and removing those small annoyances that didn’t break a game, but could remove the fun aspect. They were on a roll but with WRC 4, it seems like Milestone have released their foot from the  gas and dramatically reduced the speed. Apart from removing features like the Road to Glory feature from WRC 3, to concentrate more on the Career mode, not much else has changed… graphics included. It’s simply quite ugly and looks very outdated.

In a very focused Career mode, you create a driver and a co-driver, then join a junior WRC team, in which you must work your way up the rankings to finally hit the big time by joining a team in the World Rally Championship class. The junior WRC aspect of the career only features two locations, featuring six stages each. This actually helps and pushes along the progression, because the start of the career mode is painfully slow. The junior WRC cars struggle to hit 70mph for most of the event, and this is represent with an awful sense of speed that makes the early part of the career boring. Slug your way through that and you open up the chance to join the WRC Group 3 or WRC Group 2, where the sense of speed is better represented and competitors more challenging. Become successful and you’ll be able to join the WRC, where the cars feel much more aggressive as you try to become the world champion by winning the calendar year, which includes all 13 rally countries for this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.

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Similar to titles like DiRT and GRID, you are able to look around your office during downtime and select various pieces of information. This all looks great on the surface, but the truth is there is nothing here. The information you can find is really basic and not helpful. The Latest News area includes a sentence about whoever won the last event in each of the WRC categories. Standings, well, it does what it says – shows what position the player currently is within the season, while Crew Information tells you the smallest detail about the current car being driven. Emails, which should and could have been be an interesting feature, are mostly just the Manager and Team Principal commenting on what position your aim is to be in for the next race, which driver is your rival and making remarks about the performance in the previous event. Overall it all just feels meaningless, and a lot of work needs to be done to flesh this out and make it feel more important.

With a genre such as rally, it’s the course design, the feel of the car and what you do on the track that makes them exciting racing games. The cars feel lightweight, and the friction between car and surface are clearly different based on the environment you are racing through. Mud and snow will cause you to slide much more than driving on tarmac etc etc. It’s still not fantastic in WRC 4, as it’s still less challenging than you would expect it to be in such extreme conditions, but it’s an improvement for the franchise in an area that a rally game has yet to get right.

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WRC 4 sits between simulation and arcade. People who aren’t confident in their ability to drive cars fast around dangerous courses can turn on assists, such as stability and breaking help, turning down simulation damage and tuning the AI from ten difficulty settings. The amount of rewind can be adjusted as well, with the normal setting at 5 and advanced at 0. For pros, this can all be turned off, allowing you to live the threat that one crash could potentially ruin your rally dreams, as simulation damage is no joke when it comes to having a collision with a wall or a deviously placed tree.

All 13 countries that make up the World Rally Championship are represented here, with each one containing six stages, tallying for a grand total of 78. Some courses will only be a couple of minutes, while others will last around five, meaning you, the gamer, have to keep paying attention, as the longer races means more chance for mistakes that cost valuable seconds, and in Rally a fraction of a second can be all it takes to lose the championship. Weather is featured, but it’s scripted to tracks, rather than being dynamic and available on every stage. New to WRC 4 is the inclusion of three time settings for all tracks – sunrise, daylight and sunset – which affect the visibility one has to deal with when driving during the morning or evening.

Create an account on WRC 4 and you’ll unlock the multiplayer portion of the game. The online component is basic, but it gets the job done. You can pick from creating your own match or finding other players in lobbies. When online, WRC 4 has the option of creating a championship, a rally or just one stage. This being a rally game, it means that you don’t physically race the other opponents, but instead, you’re on the track racing against other players’ ghostly presence. This keeps it true to the nature of the sport, and with some tracks featuring incredibly narrow paths; it would be ridiculous to try fitting all 16 players on the track. Ghost racers also means that lag is kept to a minimum.

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Graphically, the car models look pretty enough, but the environments look shabby and rough cut. It certainly doesn’t rival other similar titles, such as Dirt 3, but it looks good enough. One thing that spoils the track locations are the awfully modelled crowds. These are extremely low in detail and are likely to be some of the worse graphics you’ve seen in a long time.

WRC 4: FIA World Rally Championship feels like it should be a good, solid attempt at a rally game but there are a lot of problems with it and areas where it feels the developers become lazy. Because of this, it means that like last year’s title it can’t come close to being called fantastic. There are slight improvements,  like the handling handling but the franchise is still along way away from reaching top gear. Maybe next year?

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Battlefield 4 One-Shot Kill Bug On Xbox One Fix Incoming

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The ‘Official’ Battlefield forums have released information about an upcoming patch for Battlefield 4 on Xbox One. There is said to be a One-Shot Kill bug doing the rounds and a brief internet search shows freezing issues which will soon be fixed.

Just a quick note that we’re finalizing the upcoming Xbox One Game Update and aiming to have that live the week of Dec 2. We will share the patch notes for this update soon. The update will focus on stability and performance, and includes a fix for the so-called “one-shot kill bug”. Stay tuned for full patch notes.

Battlefield 4 was released on November 22nd for the Xbox One at launch and we will have our review published shortly.

Via Battlefield.com

Call of Duty: Ghosts Xbox One Review

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Back with a bang and a vengeance, Call of Duty has launched alongside the Xbox One this week. For the first time in its history the same game is available on both a current and a next-gen console in the same year from the same development team. Call of Duty 2 was Infinity Ward’s launch title for the Xbox 360, whilst Treyarch developed Call of Duty 2: The Big Red One for Xbox Original (dare we say Xbox 1); eight years on the same core mechanics of the popular franchise has made its debut for 2013 with Call of Duty: Ghosts. Available now from the Xbox One games store and at retailers in the Xbox One launch markets.

Call of Duty: Ghosts on Xbox One feels upon first impressions like a complete refresh to the franchise; it is as if some of the futuristic and modern elements have been stripped bare from the game to give you a completely new start for the newer consoles. Gone are the big dramatic moments and over-the-top action sequences in favour for a subtle sci-fi themed story based around a tight knit family unit and the star of the game himself ‘Riley’, the well trained military dog who is quite handy at ripping the throat from unsuspecting near-by enemies! We’re sure you’ve heard of the famous canine addition to the game in the build up to release in the media, and in the game he has many uses. You can tag an enemy for him to grab, control his movements with an attached spy cam and have him as a handy companion in multiplayer through the Guard Dog KillStreak.

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If you haven’t yet experienced Call of Duty: Ghosts because you are ‘still’ awaiting the arrival of your Xbox One, by a refresh I don’t mean that everything has changed – just subtle differences between past titles and Ghosts itself. No need to panic if you’re wondering if missions that involve following a tank and some huge skyscraper building collapses around you; those notable signature missions and sequence of in-game events since the birth of Call of Duty – they are still in there! (phew) Where Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare shaped the biggest change for the game in its entirety shifting players out of the World War II era, I’d like to say that Ghost’s has done the same with another risk on Infinity Ward’s part taking us out of the Modern Warfare scenes and into this newer Gears of War style war torn humanity-breaking environment, but it lacks the same magic and surprises that Modern Warfare had reducing the game now to an enjoyable experience, but a little too bland in some parts. Where you might be looking for innovation and a game changer, it’s just sadly not there. This is Call of Duty, but back to basics!

Despite a more simplistic presentation with a lack of HUD in campaign and the compass direction assist is not there anymore, the game doesn’t lack the majority of familiarity of the Call of Duty you’ll know and love already – it just feels slightly different and opens up potential for the player to explore more of a given area rather than just follow the line of sight and arrow directions. The intensity of some chapters that involve remaining stealthy could have your nerves in shatters with your lead character crawling slowly on the ground surrounded by a team of enemy soldiers; it’s like the famous Ghillies in the Mist sequence (you should be ashamed if you don’t know that scene) but more tense and on the edge of your seat. Fantastic moments that involve blending in and integrating with the enemy as you’re dressed in their uniform is one of the more enjoyable missions, but there is a noticeable difference in the length of chapters – each mission in Ghosts feel very short albeit well integrated to the plot which is relatively easy to follow and offers a few twists along the journey into the unknown. The shorter missions are not a complaint considering there are more of them which evens the games campaign out to a length on par with previous Call of Duty’s, but shorter missions do not leave as memorable an impact on you. Wider views of environments, shiny glossy next generation visuals with both rocks and water you could literally rub your soldiers ass all over they look that damn good. If you have the Xbox 360 version of the game, expect a lot more finesse and finer detail throughout the entire eighteen missions on Xbox One. Improved lighting and particle effects ensure that no Call of Duty has ever looked this good on a console!

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In terms of the campaign gameplay, the action feels perfectly balanced as you’re eased into most missions on false hopes that it’s going to be plain sailing. Unpredictable A.I, decent staged firefights with the enemy for the most are challenging and occasionally overwhelming. The environments are often split between huge external surroundings or on the flip side quite tight little corridors and alleyways with little room for escape. It may not be the most ostentatious of shooters this time around on its new generation home, but if the bold and brashy outrageously over the top warfare doesn’t make a return in future releases, Call of Duty might be on course for a bland death if Infinity Ward doesn’t put some oomph in their next development. It’s by no means boring, yet you can’t help but feel that expectations were high considering the impact of Modern Warfare and Black Ops, Ghosts is just not on par with the quality of story and content as each of the others first introductions.

Let’s be totally honest, although you expect a great campaign to sink your teeth into and the odd moments of controversy surrounding plot lines – Call of Duty is massively famed for its addictive Multiplayer due to the pick up and play setting where anyone who knows how to hold a controller and just about participate in the map crawling shoot-outs. Multiplayer on Call of Duty: Ghosts has changed (for the better) the way you select your load-outs, the Prestige system and on Xbox One those sweet beautiful maps have never looked so good. As one of the best looking multiplayer games on the Xbox One, there’s certainly no let down for the online element!

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ThisisXbox’s very own Halim recently reviewed the Xbox 360 version of the game and previously pointed out the new online game modes which have also made the transition to Xbox One. There’s Cranked, a hilarious game mode that sees you kill an enemy, then gives you 30 seconds to kill another before you explode. This mode completely negates camping which is a breath of fresh air for a care-free run ‘n’ gunner. Blitz sees an objective zone at an enemy base, you need to enter this base to earn points, the longer you stay, the more points you earn. Infected is another bag of fun, you eliminate survivors, they become infected. You infect everyone or survive to win. Any Halo player will tell you how much fun this is. Search and Rescue is my favourite new addition to the game though. It’s just Search and Destroy, but you collect enemy Dog Tags to stop them from respawning. If your enemy team collects one of their comrade’s tags, they’ll respawn. This adds some technique to Search and Destroy and once again attempts to negate camping. The usual suspects make a comeback; modes such as Team Deathmatch, Kill Confirmed, Domination, and Free-for-all are all here to make for a well-rounded online experience.

Call of Duty: Ghosts Multiplayer, comes complete with some beautifully crafted Maps, and mostly quite large scale. This includes a prison deep within a jungle, craters in the heart of Texas, abandoned industrial islands, Tank Assembly plant, a baseball stadium, but the most spectacular map of all – Stonehaven, a ruined Scottish Castle with an open layout. The scenic view and detail of the castle is outstanding on Xbox One, it’s like running through the open fields of the highlands and possibly the best Call of Duty map ever created on this earth! There are fourteen all in all before extra drop as Downloadable Content next year – first on Xbox LIVE!

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If you were hoping for some Spec Ops, you’ll be disappointed as Infinity Ward is obviously keen to home-in on the success of Zombies with their own similar new game mode, Extinction. A kind of futuristic alien invasion is at war and your team role is to keep them at bay. It is all about survival and endurance, and although it lacks the story imagination that Treyarch crafted with their Zombies experience, Extinction is actually more fun and more addictive. Halim also touched on this with the Xbox 360 version. You start off with a team of four, grab a drill that’s dropped off to you, and use that drill to take out alien hives while you fight off hordes of beasts from another world until you get to move on to the next area. In order to keep up with the defences you are forced to spend money earnt from kills to protect yourself and your team making this a less selfish experience than Zombies. It is a shame that Spec Ops Survival didn’t make the grade into Call of Duty: Ghosts as its arrival on Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 3 was a welcomed approach to some hard-hitting heavy action packed team work. As said, Ghosts feels like a refresh for Infinity Ward and all things “Modern” is well and truly in the past.

Call of Duty: Ghosts is a great game, it is the best looking Multiplayer first person shooter on Xbox LIVE and currently the most played and purchased Xbox One title at the time of writing. The campaign is average and lacks the epic momentum and spectacular conclusions to the sub plots within the main story. It’s like going through the motions without the emotion, it’s Call of Duty, you know it’s Call of Duty – but you’re wondering around from one mission to the next thinking when is the big shocker about to come! Multiplayer though as always is a top designed affair and exactly the online Call of Duty experience you’d want delivered on a next-gen console. Bright and heavily detailed maps you’ll not be able to help yourself but play again and again. Multiplayer has great improvements to customisation and a much needed change to the Prestige system – now at per character created rather than player as a whole, it seems less chore-ful.

It just wouldn’t seem right to own an Xbox One without Call of Duty: Ghosts – so we’ve decided it is not to be missed!

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Gears of War Free in December as Part of Games With Gold

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Now a permanent fixture on the Xbox 360 as “Games with Gold”, the next free Xbox 360 games coming to Gold Subscribers in December are Gears of War and Shoot Many Robots.

Starting Dec. 1st download the original “Gears of War” and be thrust into a deep and harrowing story of humankind’s epic battle for survival against the Locust Horde, a nightmarish race of creatures that surface from the bowels of the planet. Engage in a cinematic campaign as Marcus Fenix, as well as fire team co-op and multiplayer action that features hyper-realistic and intense combat.

From Dec. 16th, download “Shoot Many Robots” – an onslaught of innovative cross-genre action that has multiple players working together to fight through an intense and chaotic robot uprising.

Via Xbox Wire

Call of Duty: Ghosts is Top-Selling Most Played Xbox One Title

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The next generation Xbox console is upon us and Activision’s blockbuster addition to the Call of Duty franchise ‘Ghosts’ is the number one most played Xbox One multiplayer game worldwide, according to Microsoft, and has become the top selling Xbox One title in retail sales in North America and in the United Kingdom! (probably other places too)

Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Marketing & Strategy, Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft.

We congratulate our partners at Activision and Infinity Ward and are proud to continue offering the best and most engaging Call of Duty online experience to our fans globally by launching all Call of Duty: Ghosts map packs first only on Xbox.

So far more than one billion multiplayer matches of Call of Duty: Ghosts already have been played across all versions. Ghosts’ players have Prestiged more than 2.2 million times, earning over 3.3 trillion Experience Points (XP), according to internal gameplay statistics.

Call of Duty: Ghosts launched for the Xbox 360 on 5th November, and on 22nd November for the Xbox One.

Xbox One – The Dashboard Is Currently Absolute Rubbish

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The mighty virtually sword-wielding behemoth of a console, Xbox One, launched worldwide on November 22nd shifting well over One-Million-Units in a space of just 24 short hours. That is quite an impressive number given the Xbox 360 for its own launch weekend (2 day) sales was at seventy thousand in the US! Whilst no ‘official’ review of the Xbox One hardware is or will feature on thisisxbox.com as we are concentrating on the review batch of launch games for the unit – it is felt that something should be said for the Xbox One’s current dashboard state and the important features it lacks that make it feel like a step down from the Xbox 360 UI.

No Voice Messaging

It was already known that the Xbox One would not support cross console communication except for text messaging, but you might be surprised (as was I) that Xbox One to Xbox One gamers also can not send each other voice messages and are limited to text messaging only from the dashboard.

Missing Profile Options

Xbox 360 gamers can edit their profiles, view the profiles of others, read Bio’s, Motto’s and identify newly added friends requests. On the Xbox One, there is no option to edit any profile information other than Appear Online/Offline, Set Gamerpic, Privacy and Avatar settings. Viewing another gamers profile only tells you their gamertag, Friends, Followers and Rep. It does include recent activity, but information that might give you a bit of personality is missing. Friends are broken down into Friends and Followers – the system identifies how many new followers you have (those who sent you friends requests, but not requested back) but fails to give any indication as to who. The only way to find out is to go through and check if you are mutual friends, although now the 100 limit has been increased this will be somewhat of an effort in the near future.

Avatars

Xbox One gamers have the same Avatars as Xbox 360 gamers but no Avatar store. Avatars have no real prominence of the Xbox One dashboard and only generally visible now when you decide to use one for a gamerpic. Gamerpics have been improved and since the option to report an inappropriate gamerpic is available this gives some suggestion that gamers will be able to set their own pictures with Kinect (maybe) in the near future.

Snap / Unsnap

It’s actually really annoying because to Unsnap with a controller is long winded if you are using the larger part of the screen. Having to go back to the Home tab, select the Snap panel and then B button out of it is awkward. The whole UI of the dash is a little bit awkward, a great start but definitely lots to be improved over time

No HDD Space Options

There is no way to see how much space you have used or have available on Xbox One, this may be to limit the shock that whilst 500GB seems a lot,  with some games racking up 40GB before updates and DLC – that 500GB could be swallowed up very quickly.

Games and Apps Grouped All Together

Oh yes, although you can Pin your favourites to the Pins tab on the front section of the dashboard (it is great) the console lists all games and apps side by side together as bloody great big squares. No view by options to show recently played, games only etc – think of the Windows Phone 8 app list when you swipe the start screen, but only this is horizontal!

Long Install Times

If you didn’t know before, you will now. The Xbox One does not play games from disc and every single game has to be installed to the HDD. Where as on the Xbox 360 this was a really quick process, on Xbox One it is absolutely painstakingly slow. RYSE: The Son of Rome took around 45 minutes to install from disc, Dead Rising 3 took around 30 minutes – it is an excrutiating wait for a gamer, but ultimately worth it as next-gen visuals (well current gen now) are amazing to see!

It Does Have Good Bits

Xbox One does have a lot of great features such as better voice control, UPLOAD studio to edit game DVR clips, use of Kinect to film you alongside those clips. The ability for multi-tasking between the games and the dashboard with no interuptions – and perhaps the best feature ever, the use of Kinect to scan QR codes for DLC and paid content! The outstanding quality of the games on offer is just fantastic (look out for our reviews), but with less dashboard features than the Xbox 360 it does in some ways feel like a step down.

Assumptions

It is rightfully assumed that Microsoft must be working to include better dashboard features in the near future, given that the Xbox 360 has received dash-updates for a number of years it is bound to be a matter of time before new planned additions are rolled out on Xbox One.

We’ll keep you posted, but if you have an Xbox One – why not share you thoughts in that little comments box below…it wont bite you!

FIFA 14 for Xbox One Graphic Engine To Power Future Sports Titles

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EA Sports latest football title FIFA 14 has pioneered the new Ignite Engine for Xbox One and all future EA Sports titles will utilise this next-gen graphics engine. This means that NBA Live, Madden NFL 25 and the new mixed-martial arts franchise UFC will all be powered by Ignite and all available on Xbox One.

Ignite was unveiled at a Microsoft Xbox One Games Preview Showcase recently and EA confirmed that they plan to utilise the engine for all sports gaming releases over the next 8 years. The visual difference on a game utilising Ignite is immediately noticeable and EA has tripled their investment in animation in the last year, purely to create more hyper-realistic effects and AI. In FIFA 14 over 1000 new animations where created, with 200 of them specific to goal scoring, and the crowds and players actions are now more in sync than ever before.

Fanboys are going to have to be even faster in response times as player actions will change according to the situations they are placed in, and there are 4 times more calculations per second than in previous EA Sports games. Gamers who need to work on getting reaction time up and acclimatise themselves to a faster pace should try playing the best Canadian mobile casino games at MobileCasinoCanada.ca to ensure they are ready for games that demand lightening fast reflexes and instant decision making.

Ignite is set to improve animation depth and detail, and for the first time ever 3D crowds and dynamic sidelines will have a massive impact on game play. The atmosphere will change according to the progress of the match and a player’s sense of urgency will increase as the pressure builds. The perks of the next-gen software are huge and new camera angles, clothing movement, facial expressions and physical movement go way beyond the current grade.

EA Sports have created virtual athletes in a hyper-realistic environment and Ignite fuels this dynamic to the max. Everything about FIFA 14 is more realistic and believable, and on Xbox Live the daily stream of new content will impact the game as it’s played.

Ignite-powered Xbox One versions of FIFA 14 is out now, but Madden NFL 25, UFC and NBA Live 14 are all launching over the next 12 months- The wait is almost over!

Dead Rising 3 Xbox One Review

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Capcom Vancouver’s latest survival horror adventure has launched as an exclusive Xbox One title. Dead Rising 3 continues the trend for zombie smashing action and proves that seven years on from the original Xbox 360 game, you still just can’t beat smashing the crap out of a horde of zombies – and no one quite does a horde of zombies like Capcom. To be totally frank, you are not likely to have ever seen a zombie infestation on the scale of what lurks on the streets of Dead Rising 3 with thousands upon thousands after your guts in the biggest Dead Rising open world adventure yet!

Launching on a brand new platform should surely guarantee it’s success on a console that has sold more than one million units already in its first 24 hours at retail, it is the ideal fun smash ‘n’ grab game that ensures you get as much enjoyment as you can for your money without being disappointed by a lack of action, humour or variety of challenges. Due to the stunning nature of next gen visuals and the colossal scale of the open world environments there is a magnitude of gorgeous action packed brutality as you attempt to survive for at least another 72 hours. Just like previous games in the series, Dead Rising 3 is paced over a number of chapters broken down into days and time. Every hour counts and the clock is ticking before a forthcoming military strike is set to wipe out the city and all of its inhabitants – oh the drama! It’s not only your own life on the line, but the other survivors stranded out there. You have a lot resting on those shoulders and a few surprise twists to embrace as the countdown draws to its end.

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The story in this new instalment is set around ten years after the events of Dead Rising 2 (did you pick it up when it was free on Xbox LIVE earlier this year?) which had about six different endings for Fortune City, but Dead Rising 3 takes the player to Los Perdidos, California; a fictional city with very little survivor rates as the hungry zombie infestation spreads its love across the town. Taking on the role of the main protagonist Nick Ramos, (he’s apparently awesome at building things being a Mechanic) the idea is to find and aid the survivors that are still in the living and get to safety before ‘THAT’ military strike hits, wiping out the town whether you’re a zombie or not! Due to the mass-scale open world nature and what looks like a record for the most digital zombies on screen in the world ever, it is easy to forget about the story and just focus your efforts on your smashing the zombies to bits with every little weapon you can find. It does not feel as serious a plot as Dead Rising or Dead Rising 2 because it is all about the exploration and kill count, which certainly isn’t a disappointment in any form. It is basically about getting from A to B and killing as many as you can in the middle of it, though relying on the cut scenes to fill you in on the point in time you’re currently at to lead you from one mission to another.

A lack of a decent story in Dead Rising 3, other than ploughing through a survival against all the odds missions set has meant it appears dumbed-down a little, and a little less engaging than its predecessors . On the flip side, because Dead Rising 3 is more ‘arcade’ style in its gameplay presentation it definitely feels like the open world is now a centre piece for more fun and havoc than ever before in Dead Rising. Split into Main Missions and Side Missions, the Main Missions are more about progression to other areas within the city whilst Side Missions are aiding survivors, exploring other areas you may miss and finding objects. Completing Side Missions will bump up the completion timescale period and earn you some all-important PP points which allow you to Level up your character and earn some nifty Attribute Points. This is where it all goes a little RPG-esque since Attribute Points can be spent on how you develop your characters skills in the options menu allowing you to upgrade Life, Inventory, Agility, many others, but most importantly Combo Categories – so that you can build all kinds of amazing and randomly weird weapons. Not only that but you can combine vehicles to create Combo Vehicles which can mow down a horde in the most insane ways. Usually, combining something speedy with something massively heavy will give you the ULTIMATE zombie killing-machine on the open roads.

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With weapons in general and your combo and super combo’s (the even more insanely powerful kind), each has their own style and special ability attached which can be launched once you’ve killed enough of the undead. You can easily knock up some decent weaponry using a Cross Bow with some Candles, or even with an Afro Wig and some Dynamite – the imaginative ways of killing en-masse doesn’t stop there, but you will need to find Blueprints scattered throughout the environments before combining any two objects. The same works with vehicles, if you can locate the Blueprints you could be cruising down the street in a RollerHawg in not time by combining a Steam Roller with a MotorCycle and just watch the splatters of blood spill and splash as you casually drive on to your next location marker!

There is never a dull moment in Dead Rising 3 and the objectives whilst mostly straight forward are a matter of getting from one location to the next in one piece. It is really quite imaginative with the weapon combo’s, vehicle combo’s and some frantic moments of escaping what appears a never ending mass of zombies. There are zombies EVERYWHERE, and not as in just everywhere, but I mean absolutely totally unmissably everywhere imaginable except the crack of your arse.  Next gen capabilities for Dead Rising 3 absolutely allows for bigger environments, more on screen zombies than ever thought possible and the icing on the cake has to be its impressive visual quality. With the Xbox One having only just launched, it would be a bit critical at this stage to say that visuals do not impress – whilst they aren’t ‘Jaw Dropping’, they are sharp with some heavily detailed set pieces spread throughout. At times there were noticeable flaws that included getting stuck for short times behind vehicles during some really manic moments, but this was all very minor issues.

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In terms of longevity, you will have endless hours of fun just smashing, mowing and brutally attacking zombies all over the town. Added Multiplayer comes in the form of co-operative gameplay for up to two players who can share the fun too. It’s easily adaptable from the options where you can choose your Play Style from a Single Player experience, or from Speed Run, Casual, Hardcore and Completionist. What you select here will help best match the other players who will be able to drop in and out of your current game. Two players also get to share riding around in vehicles and enjoy the scenes of horror at every given corner of Los Perdidos. It’s a game made for multiplayer mayhem doubled up as a complete over-the-top action packed zombie splatter spree that is both entertaining and an amazing launch game for the Xbox One. Everyone should at least own this because it doesn’t disappoint – it is incredible.

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NBA 2K14 Xbox One Review

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When I was a younger, fitter more idealistic teenager I watched an episode of the hit American TV Show One Tree Hill and decided I would have liked to have played basketball and even fooled myself into thinking I might have been good at it. If my performance in NBA 2K14 from developer Visual Concepts and publisher 2K Sports is anything to go by, I couldn’t have been more wrong. But even though the jury is out on whether my personal performance in the NBA is one to be proud of, the courtroom have agreed 2K14 is a smash hit.

Another franchise under the 2K Sports umbrella and one that stands out for quality and putting fans right where they want to be, in the middle of the action. It seems however that for next-generation 2K have hit the reset button and gone at it from scratch. You’d forgive the team behind them game to have simply given the next-generation title a visual upgrade from its 360/PS3 version, but they have gone all out in creating what is still a tightly finished and complex game, yet something all together different. For NBA 2K14, 2K have ripped back the skin on several of its biggest modes. In some cases, this has resulted in considerable improvement, but not in all.

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Let’s get started with the visuals. 2K have gone all out for Xbox One and NBA 2K14. Body models are extremely detailed and realistic and more so than any other sports title I have played to date. It’s been reported that 2K scanned 80% of all the players faces in the NBA to achieve an incredible level of detail. I did notice a distinct difference in the quality between the popular and less popular players, the latter seeming that little more robotic and less emotive. In fact the further down the NBA you go, the more recycled and uncanny the faces become. That said, the vast majority of the players you will encounter will undoubtedly look excellent. The animate fantastically, too. The truth is, if you were to catch the game from the corner of your eye, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a real broadcast. The arena’s are detailed, the crowds react wonderfully, the graphics of both are mind blowing. Pause the game, hit replay and suddenly even more minute detail comes alive, as you spot the glistening sweat dropping from the player to court.

The games on the court mechanics revolve around using the right-stick to control the ball, similar to the other platforms. The AI is strong, clever and quick to ever change and adapt to your game-play style, keeping you thinking fast on your feet. The only real on the court issues I noticed were a few ball-oriented physics glitches. Specifically, every now and again, a shot will hit the rim and continue spinning around it for several seconds while every player just kind of stands around. You’ll also periodically see passes or blocked shots bounce off players and go flying off in some bizarre, unnatural direction. The commentary from trio of Kevin Harlan, Steve Kerr, and Clark Kellogg is as good as it’s ever been–if perhaps a bit more repetitive than usual–adding to an already stellar broadcast presentation.

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MyGM is comparable to Manager Mode in FIFA. It’s an attempt to personalise the experience of being a General Manager in the NBA. So instead of being sat behind a desk, clicking through menus and completing the most boring of tasks, MyGM adds a bit of personality to the role. You’ll be able to interact with the franchise’s owner, other General Managers, staff and of course players as you deal with their over bloated egos whilst managing every aspect of your team. You’ll be delving deep, yet not quite micro-managing your team as you juggle contracts, set instructions for coaching staff, set prices on the games, merchandise and food for fans whilst in the arena. You’ll need to do all this whilst maintaining a balance between building trust with the team owner and also building trust with the players, coaches, media and of course fans. Unfortunately an overwhelming amount of this is handled via dialogue which reads pretty badly. It’s stiff, robotic stuff that has no place in anything resembling a conversation between humans. That said, if you can deal with the sterile feel of the mode, you’ll find quite a lot to play around with. Keeping everyone happy is a pretty intense process that requires some smart thinking, and while the UI is a little ugly, it’s easy enough to do what you need to do in the mode without getting lost or wondering why the hell anything is happening.

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So you’ve tried managing an entire team, what’s next? MyPlayer mode has been of the best features in the 2K franchise of NBA games, and for Xbox One it has been given a massive overhaul in terms of features, mechanics and the way it plays through. Your next-generation NBA career includes numerous cut scenes, a storyline with branching paths, and in-game challenges that provide you objectives to hit as you play. The storyline itself however isn’t anything spectacular. You open up events by heading off to the Rookie Showcase in NYC with your agent and long time best friend, from there, regardless of your performance which in my case was horrific, it is off to the NBA 2014 Draft. Here at the Draft there is a couple of cut scenes designed to develop a rivalry with a fellow rookie which will undoubtedly continue as your career progresses. During your career you’ll be able to react to situations which will dictate the direction you go. Be a princess and only care about minutes on the court or touches of the ball, or become a real team player. This are basic choices and options and are binary in outcome, there is very little nuance to it.

There are a few bugs and things that should have been ironed before release. For instance during one cut scene in MyPlayer I was presented with one particular player who was acting the role of 3 different players. There he was talking to me, whilst also leaning against a locker in the background and also walking past down the corridor. There are a few issues with the in-game objectives too. Most of them are great, and make total situational sense. But sometimes it’ll ask your player to take over a game and score ten straight points, even if up to this point you’ve just been a selfless, pass-happy point guard who assists more than he scores. These problems aside, the mode was great fun and feels more like a framework for something much better and fleshed out in titles to come.

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You can also take the action on and off the court in online modes. Head-to-head battles are back but also a new mode, The Park, which features street games in 2-v-2, 3-v-3 and 5-v-5. There is also MyTeam which is 2K’s equivalent of EA’s Ultimate Team mode in FIFA. Collectible player cards including rare player and a special mode only found on next-generation consoles, Domination, where you play matches against real life NBA teams and all-star squads.

NBA 2K14 is a great sports title and made even better through exquisite graphics and fantastic game modes. It’s a solid roster of features and helps make the game an easy recommendation for all new console owners. NBA 2K14 not only signals great things to come from 2K on the Xbox One but it also blurs the line and makes it difficult to distinguish video games from reality it terms of features, news reports and content. This is an exciting prospect.

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