Hands-On The Xbox One at X13

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Last week I had a chance to visit the Xbox One downtown Toronto pop-up store that was showing off a load of games to the media. The two story storefront had a barrage of televisions as you entered, showing all that the XBO has coming at launch and soon after. While I wasn’t able to get hands-on with every game, I was able to spend time with a few and keep an eye on others while they were being played. There’s plenty I want to say, but the NDA I had to sign upon entering had a list as long as my arm of things I’m not allowed to mention. I’ll try my best to get across what was shown without spoiling too many things. And yes, there were things I saw there that I wish I hadn’t seen for spoiling it for myself–particularly in Dead Rising 3.

Ryse: Son of Rome

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Every time I saw this game in the past it looked nothing more than a QTE-a-thon. Every movement was based on screen prompts and it didn’t really pique my interest all that much. Thankfully, when I was able to play it, that wasn’t the case. I don’t recall there being one on screen prompt at all. Not one “Press-X-to-neck-stab” in sight.

Leaving out the story beats to avoid spoiling what happened, the game played very much like a larger, sexier, and crisper God of War. It was more akin to a brawler than anything with the combat requiring you to block oncoming enemy attacks with your shield. You could also dodge and roll oncoming attacks, and then use your sword for a variety of attacks, guard breaks, and going for the brutal kill when an icon appeared over the enemy’s head.

While the E3 trailers and gameplay shown always feature giant set pieces and large magnitudes of destruction, what I played took place mainly in streets and tighter alleys. There were times that you needed to pick up spears and toss them at enemies on balconies, but other than those few breaks, it was more of the up-close-and-personal brawler style. I didn’t get a chance to try out the Kinect features of the game, but for the space and audio levels of the area, that was to be expected. Needless to say Ryse was not what I expected and I came away more impressed than I expected to be.

Killer Instinct

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I played the XBO version of Killer Instinct a couple weeks back, and I was itching to get my meaty paws on it again. This is one fighting game that—even if you have never played the original—will excite you. The characters are massive and the action is hectic and heavy. Sure, that’s par for the course for a fighting game, but Killer Instinct has that extra viciousness to it when the announcer blares out the moves as they happen.

Many of the original characters are making their return – like Jago, Spinal, Orchid, Sabrewulf, and Glacius – but it’s still unknown if other original characters like Cinder or T.J. Combo will be included. As a launch title, and a free-to-play one at that, Killer Instinct will be the only XBO fighting game available from the get-go — and from what I’ve seen, it is a gorgeous game that a lot of gamers are going to want to check out day one.

Dead Rising 3

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With Dead Rising 3, everything you could have ever wanted from a Dead Rising game is here in its rotting gory glory. Remember the parking garage from the first game and how it was just flooded with zombies? Imagine that on every street… and then driving through them. Insane, but that’s Dead Rising 3. The ever-present mass of zombies is just mind-boggling and after seeing it, it feels like what all zombie games ever should have been.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get hands-on with the game, but I was able to watch people take their turns playing during the interviews. The second Dead Rising game brought the combination feature in to play where you could gather ingredients—say knives and boxing gloves– to make knife gloves.

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This feature is still present, now with some absolutely insane new creations. Some even pull from other Capcom games (again, not spoiling anything), as well as being able to combine entire vehicles with each other. In Part 2, you could add things to a motorbike to make it a little more deadly, but here we are talking about combining two completely different vehicles to create a roaring monstrosity of zombie destruction. Combining a motorcycle and steam roller and then crashing through a crowd of hundreds of zombies is a sight to behold and will make players either cringe or laugh maniacally.

The other thing which appeared in each of the Dead Rising titles was the Psychos. These also make their return although I wasn’t able to get to see much of any of them—other than being told that they do make a return and that, yes they are indeed, Psychos.

I did get to see some of other games (I played a couple rounds of multiplayer Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4) but sadly it wasn’t long enough to go really in-depth. Plus, playing a MP game one foot in front of a 40-inch TV, turning your head side to side to follow the action really isn’t the best way to experience a game in order to convey information about it. The games I did get to dig into were fantastic examples of what’s to come for the XBO; Dead Rising and Killer Instinct especially have me dying to get my hands on them in my own home. If you are located in Toronto, you can visit the pop-up store (11 Bloor St. – at the corner of Yonge and Bloor) for yourself and go hands-on now that it is open to the public.