PS4 and Xbox One are just a few weeks away; if you haven’t already made up your mind, now’s the time. In the second of three examinations of the next-gen launch line-up we comb through Microsoft's small but sweet array of exclusives.
As discussed yesterday, If we're just going by numbers the PlayStation 4 definitely has the advantage over the Xbox One; it's fronting over 20 titles the Xbox One does not have - yet - as compared to the dozen on display below.
PS4 is taking a bit of a risk, though, in that its core racer is a new IP, whereas Microsoft has Forza 5 in its stable. That's going to be a major seller; there's just no question. Dead Rising 3 is another excellent bet; the series has always traded on how well it utilised current-gen hardware to pack the screen with zombies; the gazillions of undead the Xbox One can power are likely to showcase the increased power of the hardware over the Xbox 360 better than graphics can - at least until optimisations catch up later in the generation.
Otherwise, though, it's looking a bit grim for the core early adopter - lots of Kinect, family-friendly titles, and free-to-play without the daring break from form Sony has gathered with its indie focus. Of course, there's the shared line-up, which we'll delve into tomorrow; there's a heavy emphasis on multiplayer titles. That's something the Xbox fanbase is likely to embrace wholeheartedly, importing existing friends lists rather than switching to new hardware and starting afresh. Everyone you know is already on Xbox Live, right? Right.
Crimson Dragon - One the one hand, it's from the creator of Panzer Dragoon and something of a spiritual successor to that much-loved Sega franchise. On the other hand, it was announced as an Xbox 360 Kinect title and has been egregiously delayed. Your burning lust for all things Grounding is therefore tempered by concern that we may have another Steel Battalion on our hands; Crimson Dragon was conceived in the same initiative. This downloadable title has been reworked for traditional controls, which is a blessing, and may spawn more complex sequels if successful.
Dead Rising 3 - If you're German, just skip over this section, would you? I'm sorry. Dead Rising 3 is, as noted above, a perfect showcase for next-gen hardware because what the series has always tried to do has been hampered by current-gen tech; have you seen the Wii version? For this reason we'll forgive it for graphical comparisons to Uncharted, a current-gen release. We're looking forward to seeing it in action as Capcom is pretty confident in its product, talk of low frame rates notwithstanding.
Fighter Within - What's a console launch without something ridiculous and exclusive from Ubisoft? Fighter Within is a Kinect title, described as an "immersive total-body combat experience". Ubisoft's long experience with Kinect suggests if anybody can pull this off, it can - but we're not convinced the tech is ready for motion controlled fighters yet. The online multiplayer might be a laugh, assuming it actually happens. This one's gone dreadfully quiet.
Forza 5 - Microsoft's premiere racing franchise is the only triple-A first-party property the platform holder has brought to the table. It's going up against Sony's DriveClub, an unknown quantity, which gives it the advantage of the roaring Forza fanbase. There's not really that much to say about racers, except that they keep getting prettier and new hardware is a help with that, but Microsoft's trying anyway: it uses 100% of the Xbox One's power, apparently.
Killer Instinct - Now here's something unusual for the conservative Microsoft. A resurrection of beloved fighter franchise Killer Instinct sounds great until you focus on the details; original creator Rare has been reduced to in-house mini-game compilations and motion control tech, leaving development largely to Double Helix Games, a jobbing team responsible for Battleship, of all things. It's free-to-play - great! - but only one character is free - what? - and it'll be quite interesting to see how this goes down with core and non-core gamers alike in the months after hardware launch. It does have some interesting tech behind it, though; it will be balanced in-cloud, rather than by patches, and Double Helix has vowed to hit 60FPS.
Lococyle - Twisted Pixel seems to have signed on with Microsoft for the long haul, but given the platform holder funded the Gunstringer and now a game about sentient motorcycles it's hard to see this as a bad thing. The downloadable title will run you $20 at launch, but recent trailers make it look meaty enough to meet premium pricing.
Peggle 2 - EA isn't playing favourites this generation; it's offered exclusive content on both sides of the divide. Xbox One has a slight advantage, though, and one of the contributing factors is serving as lead platform for Peggle 2. Popcap's magnificent time waster will inevitably come to other platforms, but while it may not charm the core there is a strong contingent of casual consumers out there thinking "I can play Peggle 2 on this multifunction set-top box? This is relevant to my interests."
Powerstar Golf - I literally know three things about Powerstar Golf: it's in the Xbox One launch line up; it was developed by Zoë Mode; and it's about golf. Microsoft hasn't seen fit to bless us with any further information, which speaks volumes.
Ryse: Son of Rome - I can't say I'm feeling terrifically confident about this one, chaps. The collective Internet consciousness seems to have forgotten that it has been in the works since 2009 under the codename Kingdoms; was originally announced as an Xbox 360 title for Kinect, has gone through multiple reboots and left a trail of lay-offs in its wake. All these things are true, though, and somehow or other it's still not ready; Crytek is crunching like a male underwear model to get Ryse: Son of Rome out the door, having shoved in traditional controls and microtransactions.
Zoo Tycoon - Here's a little behind the scenes gossip for you; Steph and I are both tragic animal lovers and therefore firmly against old-fashioned zoos unless we can play a video game with them and maybe trade zebra foals. Therefore Zoo Tyccon makes us very happy; it's going to have some pretty rad social aspects which draw on real-life conservation themes. It's at least the second attempt to bring Zoo Tycoon to consoles, and is also coming to Xbox 360.
Xbox Fitness - Racing game? Shooting game? Free-to-play game? Fighting game? Social game? Sports game? Check, check, check, check, check, check. Well, Jim, I think between us and the third-parties we have this launch stitched up. What's Nintendo got that we don't have, eh? Oh, a fitness game? Hmm. Alright. Whip something up with that camera jobbie, get some famous trainers in and make it free during the launch window. Call it - let's see, Wii Fit, so - Xbox Fitness! Right, good job team, let's go for a quick smoke and start on the Xbox Two.
Zumba Fitness World Party - You may rubbish Majesco's mum-friendly rhythm action series but it sells gangbusters. Zumba Fitness World Party is also coming out on Wii, Wii U and Xbox 360 - like Just Dance, it goes wherever there is a strong motion tech install base.
Tune in tomorrow for a look at games headed to both consoles; Sony's PS4 launch line-up of exclusives is already available. Launch line up shouldn’t be your only consideration when choosing a console, of course; both systems have loads of exclusives and third-party titles coming during their launch windows and beyond.