Throughout October and November over 60 GAME stores across the UK are holding Lock Ins for Xbox One and PS4. These allow gamers to get some hands-on time with the next generation of consoles before they launch next month. Last night we attended the Xbox One Lock In at GAME Blackpool where we were able to spend some proper time with the console.
The event was due to run from 8-11pm and we optimistically turned up at 7:30pm hoping to get in early. Sadly due to the Blackpool Illuminations the Xbox One team and consoles were stuck in traffic so the event was slightly delayed. We chatted with some of the other gaming fans and GAME staff whilst waiting patiently and taking advantage of the refreshments. Things finally kicked off just before 9pm.
There were six Xbox One consoles on display running a selection of launch titles – Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, Dead Rising 3 and Killer Instinct. The setup allowed 7 gamers to play at a time before rotating every 5 or so minutes. We were pleasantly surprised at the size of the console which looked smaller than we had expected. Kinect was on display but we weren’t given the opportunity to try it out, instead all games were controlled with the new controller. Sadly we weren’t allowed to take photo or video during the event.
Forza Motorsport 5
Being big fans of the Forza Motorsport series we were excited to check out the improvements in Forza 5. The demo on offer was a single lap of a circuit using one of five different cars. For our first lap we opted for the gorgeous (Entertainment Focus) orange McLaren P1 but also got to try a few other cars during the evening.
The graphical improvements over Forza 4 and Horizon on the Xbox 360 were immediately apparent. Forza 5 looks absolutely incredible and zips along at 60fps. The cars are obviously the main attraction but it’s clear that the environments are far more detailed than current gen. The extra detail really helps immerse you in the track. One of the most impressive visuals was the way the sun momentarily blinds you as you turn towards it.
We tried racing from different viewpoints such as the bonnet, chase and cockpit cams. Normally we favour the chase camera in driving games but we really enjoyed using the cockpit camera. Often racing from cockpit view is hard and it can feel quite claustrophobic due to the restricted viewpoint. What really changed our minds in Forza 5 was the improved feedback from the new Xbox One controller.
On Xbox One the controller, while looking similar to Xbox 360, has undergone some serious improvements. The analog sticks feel perfect with better grip and they no longer have that initial resistance making smaller movements more precise. Most impressive though was the new Impulse Triggers. Each trigger now has a vibration motor that allows you to feel feedback in each trigger finger. In previous car games you would learn more from experience and audio cues. In Forza 5 this extra feedback lets you connect with the game more as you can feel how much you are pushing the car.
The new triggers take a little getting used to but we feel that they bring a lot to the game and players will get better because of them. Forza 5 was easily the most impressive title on show and we can’t wait to get more hands-on time with the game.
Dead Rising 3
Next up was the latest instalment of Capcom’s Dead Rising franchise which is coming exclusively to Xbox One. The game is set 10 years after the events of Fortune City in Dead Rising 2 and this time players take control of new protagonist Nick Ramos.
Dead Rising 3 is features a massive open-world setting in the city of Los Perididos, California. For the demo a few minutes wasn’t enough time to experience the new open-world but it was plenty of time to slay hundreds of zombies.
Straight away it felt like a next-gen game due to the impressive number of zombies filling the screen. Literally everywhere we looked was danger and the only way to progress was by fighting a path through the zombie hordes. The controls felt responsive with the face buttons performing jumps, kicks and punches. Taking zombies out in hand-to-hand combat is fun but hard work and it’s easy to get overwhelmed fast. Thankfully there is a diving-roll move to help you keep out the way and stay alive.
As everyone knows the biggest draw to Dead Rising 3 is the weapons and the game didn’t disappoint. Almost everything you can find can be used as a weapon and items can be combined in surprising and often hilarious ways. During our time we killed plenty of zombies using items such as a handgun, baseball bat, car exhaust and bricks.
We also used an electrified sledgehammer, circular saw and flare gun which were brutal but great fun. Killing zombies still gives Prestige Points and after killing a certain amount it unlocks special combo attacks allowing you to take out even more. Dead Rising 3 also features vehicles but sadly we didn’t much opportunity to try these out.
Certain events such as being grabbed by a zombie trigger dreaded QTE’s where you need to press certain buttons but they seemed to fit the game ok. The camera has a habit of jumping around in attempt to give you the most cinematic experience and allows you to see your most brutal attacks in all their gory detail.
Dead Rising 3 appeared to deliver what we were expecting – more of the same in a more ambitious setting. We need more time with it to give a proper verdict on the game but we can definitely say it looks promising and is heaps of fun.
After years of waiting Killer Instinct finally returns and last night we got our first hands-on time with the game. The demo we played featured four characters – Thunder, Jago, Sabrewulf and Glacius – and various arenas to face off in.
The game plays much like any other fighting title where you must perform a variety of moves to deplete your opponents health bar. In Killer Instinct each character gets two health bars and a match is over when one character loses both of these.
There wasn’t much time to learn the controls so it was a case of button-mashing along with trying out various combos we know from other titles. We had mixed success but players seemed to be having most success as Sabrewulf who is deadly up close. Glacius seemed better at range but we found him difficult to play well. The game looks gorgeous and the action is incredibly fast.
From launch players will be able to download Killer Instinct for free which includes Jago. Players then have a variety of options such as buying additional characters individually for £3.99 or the six launch characters plus two additional DLC characters for £19.99. There will also be a pack costing £34.99 giving early access to the DLC characters, extra costumes and accessory packs plus a version of the original Killer Instinct.
Killer Instinct gave us chance to try out the new D-pad on the Xbox One controller which we’re happy to say is a massive improvement over the Xbox 360 controller. The D-pad feels far more responsive, it’s easier to press and far more responsive with less chance of making errors.
We enjoyed our time with the game which is sure to be a winner with fans of genre and Killer Instinct series.
Ryse: Son of Rome
The game drawing most attention last night was Crytek’s Ryse: Son of Rome. Players were happy to pass up the chance of playing on the other games just to spend a few minutes with Ryse.
For last night’s demo we had two networked Xbox One consoles to allow players to tackle the co-op Coliseum mode from the game. This puts two gladiators in the Coliseum against waves of enemies with the objective of entertaining the crowd. You need to constantly fight and perform elaborate executions to keep the crowd happy and you can see how you are doing by a meter at the top of the screen.
We played the game with the new controller with X for light attacks and Y for heavy attacks. A was used to block and B is used to perform an execution when available. As you wear an enemy down a skull appears above their head. Tapping B at the correct time enables an execution and the enemy becomes outlined in blue or yellow. The colours correspond to the X and Y buttons and pressing correctly carries out the execution.
For more entertainment players can work together and if they tap B in unison they can perform a co-op execution. The executions are brutal but very entertaining. One thing we did find during our time with the game is that the camera can be quite disorienting. It jumps around a lot in attempt to give you the best view of the action.
Ryse: Son of Rome is definitely one to keep an eye on and we look forward to trying out the other modes.
Having the opportunity to spend a few hours with the Xbox One and four of the launch titles was great fun. The graphics are a big improvement on the Xbox 360 and the new controller is fantastic. We were disappointed to not get to see Kinect in action but came away impressed by what we had seen. Xbox One launches on November 22nd and we seriously can’t wait.
Thanks to GAME Blackpool and the Xbox One team for a great night.
Check out the official GAME website for the latest details on their Xbox One and PS4 Lock Ins and be sure to get your name down before all the places are taken.