Xbox One Review Part 10: Overall Impressions – Should You Buy an Xbox One?

By December 6, 2013
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  • To access all the previous parts of our comprehensive review of the Xbox One, click HERE.

We’ve finally come to the end of a long journey, and I sincerely hope that those of you who have followed this review series from the start have gained a lot of useful information about every aspect of Microsoft’s new Xbox One. We went over the experience of unboxing and setup, took an in-depth look at the system’s new controller, tried out its user interface and its impressive (if flawed) voice control, answered lingering questions about the new Kinect sensor, and examined what it’s like to watch movies and TV on the purported “all-in-one” entertainment device.

We showed you what it’s like to use the SmartGlass app to control the system from your mobile device, took an in-depth look at what it’s like to play a number of different types of games, how you can connect with fellow gamers, friends, and family through Xbox Live and Skype, and even reviewed one of the launch titles, Dead Rising 3, just for good measure. If you’ve been at all thinking hard about picking up one of the newest video game consoles to hit the market, then we here at GeekNation especially tried to give you a wealth of pertinent, diverse information to help you in making a decision.

So, after all of this, and digging through everything that the 12-pound, $500 box comes with, it all comes down to one question: should you buy an Xbox One? For the purposes of this review series, do I think you should buy an Xbox One?

Ultimately, it all comes down to the kind of experience you want in your living room. Make no mistake, the Xbox One will do it’s damndest to dominate your living room, especially if you’re a cable subscriber. Chances are, the included feature of the OneGuide will prove to be convenient, and adding the ability to call friends and family over Skype can definitely help to turn that living room into the bridge of a starship a little bit more. The inclusion of a Blu-ray drive means that you can ditch your standalone Blu-ray player, and the integration of VOD services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video will be convenient, especially if you want to consolidate two or three devices into one.

Xbox Live Gold is required to play online, as well as access VOD apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus, which kind of sucks.

Xbox Live Gold is required to play online, as well as access VOD apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus, which kind of sucks. On the plus side, a single subscription works across both an Xbox One and an Xbox 360, if you have one.

Many of those extra features, including accessing the VOD apps and Skype, require an Xbox Live Gold subscription, which is understandably a deal-killer for some. The PS4 and Wii U don’t require a subscription service to reach those apps that you’re already paying for, though if you also want to do some multiplayer gaming then you’d have to shell out for Sony’s PlayStation Plus service anyways. Nintendo doesn’t have as many multiplayer offerings as Sony and Microsoft, but for the ones that they do have, they don’t have a pay-for-play service of any kind connected to the Nintendo Network.

It also comes down to the games. As noted before, the Xbox One currently has the more robust game library when compared to the PS4, but both Sony and Microsoft have exclusive IPs that may end up pushing you toward one or the other. You’ll be able to play new multi-platform blockbusters on either one (like Call of Duty or Elder Scrolls), but if you find yourself leaning more toward Halo than Killzone, then the Xbox One may just be the console for you.

The inclusion of the Kinect sensor should also be a deciding factor either way in your ultimate decision. I happen to think that the Kinect’s positives far outweigh the negatives, with the voice control features and video calling making for a pretty awesome and convenient addition to the living room setup. You can go from watching a TV show or playing a game to receiving a video call from a friend across the country, and can then “snap” the call to the side while still playing your game if you wanted. These abilities of the Xbox One, and the multi-tasking ability you have between so many different types of apps and games is definitely a great feature that outdoes the multi-tasking abilities of both the PS4 and the Wii U.

That’s not to say that there’s no room for improvement. I largely think that the user interface could use a good once-over, and should pay particular attention to the current setup found on the Xbox 360. The same can be said of Xbox Live and its ability to observe and interact with your friends: the Live interface on the 360 seems to be superior to that on the so-called “next gen” console, but we’re also at a critical point in future development for any new platform. Microsoft has said that they’re listening to what their fans want, and the early adopters will likely be one of the primary groups of people that help shape what the future of the Xbox One will look like going forward.

Especially when directly comparing the friends interface on the Xbox 360 (top) and the Xbox One (bottom), it seems like the young buck can learn something from it's older brother.

As talked about in Part 8 of this review, Xbox One’s interface could use some work. The Live infrastructure is still the best when it comes to online gaming, though.

Getting a new console is exciting, no question about it. The Xbox One is definitely one of the most ambitious consoles ever made, but there’s also room for improvement before that ambition comes closer to reality. If enough of the features spotlighted and the promise of some of the forthcoming games (like the aforementioned Halo and the incredible-looking Titanfall) appeal to you, then go get an Xbox One. The Xbox 360 proves for its successor that the new console stands on a solid institutional foundation for whatever evolution the Xbox brand takes, and if you find yourself to be satisfied with the way that your Xbox 360 has treated you, than the One may be the console for you. That’s what ultimately guided my personal decision to go with the Xbox One, but every gamer has different sensibilities, and with this generation there are even greater things to consider: do you want a machine solely designed to play games, or do you want a machine designed with the other parts of your living room in mind?

Any answer you give to that question is perfectly valid. With the amounts of money that new consoles cost, you can’t be nitpicky enough. If the companies ask you to make a $400-500 purchase for their new machine, then you owe it to yourself to make the decision carefully among all factors, and the companies owe you their unending loyalty. I know gamers who have told horror stories in their dealings with Microsoft, and I am not one of them. Listen to all sides, though, and please peruse these reviews a few more times for a specific feature you want to know more about.

I truly hope that these pieces over the last two weeks have made your upcoming, or perhaps already-made decision a little less painful. If you want a fully-developed game console with all of the kinks worked out, then it may be worth it to hold off on buying a new machine. Either way, though, there’s no wrong way to play video games. Whatever you end up deciding to do, have fun. And if we cross paths online, then may the best player win (which will probably be you).

Very special thanks to editor Ben Pearson, and to Clare Kramer and Brian Keathley for letting me take up two weeks of valuable space here at GeekNation so I can talk about video games. A special thanks also goes to those that read these pieces and provided their valuable feedback. Have a great Holiday season, and whatever your ultimate decision, happy gaming!

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.