March 07, 2014 | 2:37 p.m.

‘Titanfall’: Xbox One is gunning for next-gen dominance

Vince Zampella is the game mastermind spearheading "Titanfall," due March 11 for the Xbox One. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
It was Valentine’s Day, and I was afraid someone was watching me die. On a night when most are finding ways to celebrate (or curse) romance, I had opted to spend the evening curled up on the couch with a game, a first-person shooter. At least I wasn’t alone. I was one of many worldwide who were playing “Titanfall,” a game in beta testing that Microsoft has declared the showcase title for its recently released home console, the Xbox One. Connecting to strangers via Microsoft’s servers, many of whom were engaged in midgame conversations, I was outgunned, anxious and nervous about letting down my new teammates. In eight minutes, I would be killed 11 times by people I will never speak to. Once, a giant robot stepped on me. Moments later, a giant robot fired a rocket into my chest. […]
Dec. 19, 2013 | 2:19 p.m.

‘Doki-Doki Universe’: Video games make a play for emotions in 2013

“Doki-Doki Universe” begins with heartbreak. A robot is left alone on an asteroid, dumped there by his human family. The robot has only a sentimental, hug-happy balloon as a companion for the next 32 years. Then things get abstract. The game, released this month across numerous Sony platforms by the Bay Area’s HumaNature Studios, has one main objective — to make players feel as much as to challenge them. Like many of the most intriguing of 2013 games, the bright, colored-crayon-like world of “Doki-Doki Universe” wows not by being a technological showcase. Instead, in a year that brought us fancy next-gen game consoles from Sony and Microsoft, “Doki-Doki” impresses by illustrating how a still-growing medium can provide a moving, affecting experience via simplicity. (Check out our picks for the top 10 games of 2013 in the gallery above.) “Specifically,” said […]
Nov. 21, 2013 | 9:44 a.m.

Xbox One review roundup: Critics praise ambition, question Kinect

The Xbox One hits stores on Friday, and the reviews are pouring in. Game critics are weighing the pros and cons of Microsoft’s next-generation video game console, and, much like last week’s reaction to Sony’s PlayStation 4, the reviews are overall positive, with a few notable shortcomings. Critics praised the Xbox One’s ambition, its relatively seamless integration into existing media centers, its launch game lineup and its potential as an all-encompassing media hub, while complaining about its seemingly uncreative console design and several flaws with the Kinect’s voice-recognition capabilities. Reviews were divided on the elegance and functionality of its new user interface. The Times’ own Todd Martens notes that the PS4 and the Xbox One focus on different aspects of a video game console’s potential. “Their presentation — the arguments they put forth about how games can and should be […]
Nov. 20, 2013 | 5:00 a.m.

Review: Microsoft’s Xbox One wants to speak to more than gamers

Sony's PlayStation 4, left, and Microsoft's Xbox One. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
“Go ahead,” the screen on Microsoft’s Xbox One will tell you, “say ‘Xbox.’” “No,” you may very well think, “I am an adult, and I will not talk to my video-game console.” Oh, but you will. That’s because Microsoft’s $500 all-in-one entertainment system is the first video-game console ever made that can utilize your voice to go from zero to playing Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video in 47 seconds. One simple command, “Xbox on,” brings your hardware and television to life; three more commands and you’re on YouTube watching her get fierce with a sledgehammer — all without pressing a button. The Xbox One terms such ability “automagical,” and while that’s a marketing buzzword that probably shouldn’t be attached to anything that doesn’t involve Tinker Bell, it’s admittedly pretty neat. But what does it have to do with games? Well, […]
June 19, 2013 | 4:07 p.m.

Xbox One: Microsoft reverses stance on connectivity, sharing

Microsoft has pulled the plug on many of its controversial network connectivity policies surrounding the Xbox One. No longer, wrote Microsoft executive Don Mattrick today, will the company impose many of its earlier stated requirements in regard to offline gaming and the sharing and selling of used games. Most important, the company has backtracked from its intention to have users register a game every 24 hours in order to play. Just two weeks ago Microsoft stated that the Xbox One would only allow players to utilize a game for 24 hours without an Internet connection. “After a one-time system setup with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc-based game without ever connecting online again,” wrote Mattrick, president of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business. “There is no 24-hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want […]
June 12, 2013 | 10:27 p.m.

E3 2013: Conan O’Brien will weigh in on PS4 vs. Xbox One

Conan O'Brien at E3 speaks to Telemundo. (Jevon Phillips / Los Angeles Times)
Conan O’Brien’s familiar pompadour of red hair stood out at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) at the Los Angeles Convention Center as he made a stop at the small SnailUSA booth Wednesday. O’Brien was among fans, retailers, media and industry professionals who took to the aisles to get some up-close time with new offerings, many of which they’ve been hearing about for a few days. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all hosted big press events, including the introductions of two new consoles in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. FULL COVERAGE: E3 2013 When asked why he was visiting the SnailUSA booth, he shrugged. “I was here just to cover E3 and mostly to try to settle the controversy between the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One consoles — the Hatfields vs. McCoys argument of our time,” O’Brien said. “I haven’t […]
June 11, 2013 | 7:48 p.m.

E3 poll: Xbox One vs. PS4, plus 5 things to know in the console wars

Microsoft and Sony are showing off their next-generation video game consoles at E3 in Los Angeles. Here's a closer look at the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. (Microsoft / Sony)
If the console wars between PlayStation and Xbox had been languishing the last few weeks, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) media presentations by Sony and Microsoft launched gamers back into the brawl. On Monday, Microsoft revealed more details and new games for its upcoming Xbox One console, unveiled last month, and Sony finally gave gamers a glimpse of its next-generation PlayStation 4 console, announced in February. The companies traded barbs during the press presentations, game enthusiasts argued online, and the battle continues as critics and industry professionals converge on the Los Angeles Convention Center this week for E3 — the largest video game trade show in the world. The war’s outcome will likely be decided at the cash register; both consoles are slated for release in time for the holiday shopping season. PHOTOS: Scenes from E3 2013 In the meantime, […]
June 10, 2013 | 2:29 p.m.

Xbox One: Microsoft unveils new games, price

Attendees await the start of Microsoft's Xbox E3 2013 media briefing in Los Angeles on Monday. (Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)
Microsoft on Monday pulled back the curtain on its games coming for the Xbox One, giving glimpses of a number of titles destined for its successor to the popular Xbox 360, including “Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain” as well revealing that a new “Halo” title is coming in 2014. Xbox One will be released in November and retail for $499. The Xbox 360 was released in 2005 and different editions were priced at $299 and $399 at launch. As if to temper the sticker shock – the price reveal was the one time Microsoft wasn’t met with cheers at this morning’s news conference – the company sandwiched the news between a brief glimpse of a new, snowy “Halo” scene and the official confirmation of “Titanfall,” the first game from the “Call of Duty” veterans who head Respawn Entertainment. […]
June 06, 2013 | 6:52 p.m.

Xbox One: Microsoft will require Internet connection for new console

Microsoft’s new Xbox One home video game console will require a periodic network connection in order to game, the company stated on Thursday. As a sort of prerequisite to play on one’s home console, the Xbox One will need to be connected to the Internet at least once every 24 hours if one wishes to game offline. If a user tries to access a game library on a friend’s Xbox One, then the system will require a network connection at least once per hour. Microsoft said that a “persistent connection” is not needed to game on the Xbox One, but the company is limiting how long one can play offline. “With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your […]
May 21, 2013 | 5:39 p.m.

Xbox One: Microsoft focuses on managing content, not gaming

PERSPECTIVE At this morning’s Xbox One reveal in Redmond, Wash., the new “Call of Duty” game received an extended preview and a new game titled “Quantum Break” was given a giant promotional push. But the biggest star of Microsoft’s news conference to showcase  its Xbox 360 successor was a film director, one who spoke only via a pre-filmed video. Steven Spielberg, it was divulged this morning, will executive produce an original “Halo” television series based on the popular video game franchise that’s long been tied to the Xbox ecosystem. “For me, the ‘Halo’ universe is an amazing opportunity to be at the intersection where technology and storytelling meet,” Spielberg said, adding that he’s been interested in games since the era of “Pong” and that they have now evolved, technologically speaking, to a point where interactive storytelling is at its most […]
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