June 09, 2014 | 10:44 a.m.

Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4: Charting the video game console evolution

The world’s largest annual video game trade show, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, kicks off in downtown Los Angeles this week, with more than 45,000 people expected to converge on the L.A. Convention Center for the event. Now in its 19th year, E3 has become a mecca for video game developers, retailers, industry professionals and journalists. The trade show, which is to run Tuesday through Thursday and is not open to the public, often serves as the pulpit for the industry’s biggest announcements, such as last year’s reveal of two next-generation video game consoles — Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. Buzz on the show floor often revolves around the rivalry between the major consoles, and though the wars between the systems couldn’t be more contemporary or contentious, the modern-day brawl has been more than three decades in the making. […]
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

“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 15, 2013 | 8:48 a.m.

E3 2013: Selling the Xbox One, PS4, Wii U in a tough climate

The just-completed Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles is an extended tease. It began early Tuesday with a promise from Nintendo, that an extremely important announcement would be coming at Nintendo’s E3 booth at 11:40 a.m. Press had been gathered before the Los Angeles Convention Center doors opened at noon for early looks at some of Nintendo’s fall slate of games. Nintendo execs walking the floor ensured the media that no one should leave before 11:40 a.m. “You won’t want to miss this,” one of them told me. Except by the time the announcement came and went, I wished I had missed it. The info-disguised-as-news was simply that the human avatar in Wii Fit would serve as a playable character in “Super Smash Bros.” for the Wii U and the recently unveiled 3DS editions of the game. Cute, but […]
June 12, 2013 | 10:27 p.m.

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

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 12, 2013 | 10:41 a.m.

E3 2013: ‘Titanfall’ puts ‘Call of Duty’ vet back in the game

Vince Zampella is a name awfully familiar to “Call of Duty” players. As one of the principal designers on “Call of Duty,” the video game executive/developer helped define the modern first-person shooter. This week, Zampella found himself back at Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) with a new game in “Titanfall.” Building “Titanfall” wasn’t always an easy process. After splitting acrimoniously from Activision in 2010 — a divorce that resulted in a two-year legal dispute — Zampella and his team found themselves wondering what to do for an encore. First, Zampella said, you spend a year debating. “It was a process — in some ways painful,” he said, speaking at E3, the largest video game trade show in the world. “It was a matter of relearning how you do things when the restrictions are off and you can do anything. There were a lot […]
June 12, 2013 | 9:13 a.m.

E3 2013: Xbox One’s ‘Quantum Break’ wants to marry games, TV

On the first full day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, those releasing games on next-gen consoles over and over again touted the little details. The realistic paint on a car, the blurred reflections on a puddle, the shifting camera angles as a character soars through the air, the shading in a human eyeball and so on and so forth. But few put forth an argument that games, as a medium, could evolve into something wholly different. The creative team behind Remedy Entertainment’s “Quantum Break” was an exception. Confirmed for a 2014 release for Microsoft’s Xbox One, the game was shown briefly when Microsoft unveiled its successor to the Xbox 360 in late May. Then, viewers were given a glimpse of what appeared to be a filmed, scripted television episode that quickly switched into the graphical world […]
June 11, 2013 | 7:48 p.m.

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

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 11, 2013 | 7:00 a.m.

E3 2013: Sony takes aim at Microsoft at PS4 event

At a presentation Monday night in Los Angeles, Sony unveiled the look of its next-generation PlayStation 4 console, showcased a slew of new mainstream and indie titles and threw down the gauntlet before Microsoft, one of its two main competitors in the console space. The PS4, an upright standing box with two shades of black and diagonal edges, is due to be released this holiday season and retail for $399. It will not enforce digital rights management restrictions on those playing offline, single-player games — a stance in direct opposition to the one taken by Microsoft for the release of its Xbox One. The Xbox One is set to hit retailers in November and carry a price of $499. From a consumer perspective, the key differentiating point between the consoles appears to be Xbox One’s inclusion of motion- and voice-detecting Kinect […]
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