TIME Video Games

Ubisoft Confirms That Other Assassin’s Creed Game Exists With a Trailer

Assassin's Creed Rogue takes place in the frigid North Atlantic during the mid-18th century, starring you as a rogue assassin who's turned his back on the brotherhood.

All the hubbub about a second Assassin’s Creed game for the older PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 that might complement Assassin’s Creed Unity for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One finally turned up some answers: Ubisoft just confirmed Assassin’s Creed Rogue exists, and it’s headed exclusively to PS3 and Xbox 360 this year on November 11.

In the game, you play as Shay Patrick Cormac, who — if my ears haven’t failed me listening to that accent in the trailer — is Irish or Irish-American. He’s also a former assassin-turned-templar (perhaps that shift occurs ruing the game, perhaps not, it isn’t clear yet), hunting “those [he] previously called brothers from the streets of New York City to the frozen and fractured glacial landscapes of the Arctic Circle.”

Teasing motivational enigmas and plot twists, Ubisoft asks “Is Shay a traitor, rebel, renegade or something else entirely?” We’ll see.

The game transpires during the Seven Years’ War (1754-1763) in the ice-riddled North Atlantic, the river valleys of the Northeast and a re-imagined version of New York. It’s thus occurring parallel to (though mostly before) the events in Assassin’s Creed 3, which took place between 1753 and 1783, and focused on the American Revolution. Assassin’s Creed 4 bumped the clock back to the early part of the 18th century and involved the father of one of the protagonists of the prior game, and so Assassin’s Creed Rogue will serve as a bridge between the two, but also as a kind of secondary precursor, event-wise, to Assassin’s Creed Unity, which takes place in France around the French Revolution and arrives October 28.

Ubisoft describes Shady as “an all-new type of Assassin in the throes of a dark transformation,” so that could prove interesting, and it’s probably necessary given the potential for assassin-play burnout with two arterial installments arriving at once (oh who am I kidding — the potential for overall franchise burnout raised by the series formally bifurcating, presumably driven by Ubisoft’s fiscal demands, just went way up, though to be fair, Ubisoft has yet to really drop the ball with a mainline Assassin’s Creed game).

You can use new weapons like an air rifle with different types of ammunition, as well as grenades that “can be used to distract, eliminate, or confuse enemies” (where were these when Napoleon needed them?). And the sailing game, so popular in Assassin’s Creed 3 that Ubisoft made it the crux of Assassin’s Creed 4‘s gameplay, is back, this time set in a version of the North Atlantic that includes “new enemy tactics, exotic new weapons, and an arctic world full of icebergs and other dangers.”

If you want to read more, Assassin’s Creed Rogue is Game Informer‘s cover story this month.

TIME Video Games

Google Removes ‘Bomb Gaza’ Game From Play Store

Google Play

The company has removed several other games related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent days, claiming they violate the the Google Play store's policies.

In Bomb Gaza, a game about doing precisely what its peremptory title commands, you play as the Israeli Air Force, tapping a touchscreen to pour red-nosed bombs into a 2D multi-level landscape filled with cartoonish people wearing white robes and clutching children — meant to signify civilians — as well as others draped in black, clutching rifles, touting greenish headbands and grinning maniacally. The goal is to hit those black-garbed militants — presumably members of Palestinian militant group Hamas — while avoiding the white-clad civilians.

At some point in the past 24 hours, Google removed Bomb Gaza from its Android Play store (the game was released on July 29). It’s not clear why. Google’s only officially saying what companies like it so often say when handed political hot potatoes: that it doesn’t comment on specific apps, but that it removes ones from its store that violate its policies. The game’s dismissal comes just as Israel says it’s pulling out of Gaza in observance of a three-day ceasefire, on the heels of a month-long fight that has to date left nearly 1,900 Palestinians (mostly civilians) and 67 Israelis (mostly soldiers) dead.

It’s unclear which of Google’s policies Bomb Gaza might have infringed, but in Google’s Developer Program Policies document, it notes under a subsection titled Violence and Bullying that “Depictions of gratuitous violence are not allowed,” and that “Apps should not contain materials that threaten, harass or bully other users.” Under another titled Hate Speech, Google writes “We don’t allow content advocating against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity.”

Bomb Gaza isn’t the only Gaza-centric game Google’s removed: another, dubbed Gaza Assault: Code Red is about dropping bombs on Palestinians using Israeli drones. Its designers describe the game as “[bringing] you to the forefront of the middle-east conflict, in correlation to ongoing real world events.” It was also just yanked, as was another titled Whack the Hamas, in which players have to target Hamas members as they pop out of tunnels.

Politically-themed games about touchy current issues have been around for years, from depictions of deadly international situations like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to others modeled on flashpoints like school shootings. In late 2008, a game called Raid Gaza! appeared around the time Israel was carrying out “Operation Cast Lead,” a conflict that left 13 Israelis and some 1,400 Palestinians dead. In that title, you’re tasked with killing as many Palestinians as you can in three minutes, and actually afforded bonuses for hitting civilian targets, all while listening to a version of the Carpenter’s saccharine “Close to You.”

But the game wasn’t merely a pro-Israeli celebration of violence against Palestinians, it was a pointed editorial reflection on the horrors of the Gaza conflict. As games critic Ian Bogost wrote at the time:

The game is headstrong, suffering somewhat from its one-sided treatment of the issue at hand. But as an editorial, it is a fairly effective one both as opinion text and as game. It is playable and requires strategy, the exercise of which carries the payload of commentary.

Other games about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict persist: There’s Peacemaker, a more serious and simulation-angled game about the conflict that its developers say was designed “to promote peace.” Another, called Iron Dome (still available on Google’s Play store), lets players intercept incoming rockets using Israel’s eponymous missile defense system. A third, called Rocket Pride (also still available on Google’s Play store), lets players provide “support for the besieged Gaza Strip” by firing rockets at targets in Israel. There’s clearly a winnowing process here, in other words, with Google favoring some apps but not others. It’s just not clear what that process is.

I haven’t played Bomb Gaza, so I can’t speak to its efficacy as either a game or an editorial commentary (or whether it was even intended as the latter). When I reached out to the game’s creator, he told me it had been “developed without any budget” and “more for fun,” and that he was “very surprised to catch such attention with it.”

But the game’s removal raises older questions that we need to keep asking: Should companies like Google remove politically charged games because passerby find them offensive? Are we overreacting to some of these games instead of taking the time to consider whether they’re intended as satirical (be it nuanced or crude, successful or misguided)? Are games that depict violence related to a current event fundamentally so different from caustic political cartoons or scathing op-eds? And should companies like Apple and Google and Amazon — and thereby the swiftly narrowing channels through which we’re acquiring more and more of our content — also be the arbiters of what’s morally tasteful?

TIME Video Games

Thailand Bans Tropico 5 City-Building Game Over Security Concerns

Kalypso Media Group

The military-ruled country is banning an irreverent PC strategy game in which you play as a dictator, fending off military coups, rigging elections and ruling with a iron fist

If you live in Thailand, it looks like you’ll have to find a way around the country’s military junta if you want to play Tropico 5.

The Associated Press, citing a game distributor, reports that censors in Thailand operating on behalf of the country’s military leaders have put the kibosh on sales of developer Haemimont Games’ city-building simulation because it might “hurt the country’s security.”

Thailand’s military launched a coup against the civilian government on May 22, 2014, and currently holds sway under the rubric of a group called the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The NCPO has been cracking down on what it views as radical elements in the media and online ever since, and the junta’s film and video censorship wing reportedly opted to block sales of Tropico 5 over concerns it “might affect peace and order in the country.”

That’s presumably because Tropico 5 — the fifth in a long-running series of PC-based city-building games — is about ruling a Caribbean island as “El Presidente” soup to nuts, including dictatorial maneuvers like rigging elections, strong-arming the media and pretty much doing whatever floats your boat. The goal is less about improving the lives of your citizens than staying in power, fending off military coups and steering clear of Cold War superpowers.

It’s not clear what about Tropico 5 specifically so worried the junta’s censorship office that it banned the game outright, but the distributor cited by AP notes prior series installments were sold in the country. And it’s worth noting that while measures like these indicate a much harsher stance, the country’s long-standing censorship practices, which range from sanitizing or outright banning certain books and magazines, media stories, Internet URLs, television shows and films, predate the May coup.

TIME

BioShock Is Going to Be an iOS Game Later This Summer

2K

The original under-the-sea shooter that kindled the "games as art" conversation is coming to phones and tablets before summer's end.

Believe it or not, the original BioShock is going to be an iOS game, and you won’t have to wait for it until the end of this year or into 2015: 2K says it’ll be available “as a premium priced mobile game” later this summer, so by Monday, September 22. It’ll work with the iPad Air, iPad Mini 2, iPad 4 and iPhone 5 forward, though nothing earlier.

It’s not a pared back port, either, but the whole shebang, with “optimized touch controls” and support for MFi (Made for iPhone) game controllers. Wild, to think it’s been seven years — seven years — since Irrational Games’ opus (or magnum opus, if you like) turned someone’s golf swing into art.

We already know how wonky first-person shooters are on touch screens, and if you’re making a scrunched-up face and mouthing the word “Why?”, you’re having my reaction when I saw the press info about this version. I don’t want to play BioShock on an iPad or iPhone or iPod Touch with my thumbs. No one’s invented a touch interface precise or out of the way enough to make ports like this work half as well as keyboard/mice or gamepads, and no one ever will.

But the MFi angle makes it more interesting, because that’s how you want to play BioShock on a 3.5-inch screen (if you want to play BioShock on a 3.5-inch screen at all). And there’s every reason to celebrate MFi support, those of you myopically mocking the idea of snapping a gamepad onto a touch-based mobile device as ergonomically deluded. Why not? Let mobile gamers have their cake and eat it. It’s certainly no disincentive to developers making all the wildly more prevalent non-MFi games out there.

BioShock, tired as you may be of hearing it, is one of the highest-rated games of all time, and for my money, that’s right on target. I thought BioShock 2 when it came along wound up being the better-designed game with the more nuanced and interesting story, but BioShock was pretty incredible for its time, and if it does well in this space, who knows — maybe we’ll get lucky enough to see its sequel appear on iOS, too.

If you’re thinking about picking up an MFi to play this, remember that you want something with a thumbstick, not just a d-pad — ideally something that snaps onto the phone and isn’t separate from it (if you’re using the iPhone or iPod Touch anyway — the iPad’s a different story). Every time I spy something like this or this, where you’re having to grip the gamepad in both hands independent of the phone, I imagine someone wearing one of those neck supports harmonica players do.

TIME Video Games

The Only Guide to PS4 vs Xbox One You’ll Ever Need

A gamer plays 'Entwined' on Sony's PS4 at annual E3 video game extravaganza in Los Angeles on June 10, 2014.
Frederic J. Brown—Getty Images A gamer plays 'Entwined' on Sony's PS4 at annual E3 video game extravaganza in Los Angeles on June 10, 2014.

How to choose, how to choose... This is how

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 9.42.33 AM

This post is in partnership with Trusted Reviews. The article below was originally published at TrustedReviews.com.

With both the Xbox One and PS4 now having a year of their life-cycle under their belts, it’s becoming more and more difficult to debate the pros and cons of buying either console over the other.

Microsoft has stuck to its promise of releasing monthly updates for the Xbox One. Every 30 days, Xbox One owners get treated to several new features for their console, making it rapidly the better choice for the all-rounder entertainment console.

Those updates have included a plethora of entertainment-focused features, including enhanced TV integration, DLNA support and the ability to upgrade the Xbox One’s internal storage via external hard drive.

Sony has gone down the opposite route, instead choosing to release major software updates sporadically, making them much more highly anticipated.

The latest PS4 Update 2.0 introduced the SharePlay functionality, dynamic backgrounds and YouTube support among other smaller new features – all of which were focused on the games.

That’s not to say that Microsoft is ignoring the gaming side of the Xbox One. Far from it. During the recent Windows 10 event, Microsoft announced you’ll be able to stream your Xbox One games to your PC and tablet, allowing you to play console games on your Windows 10 device.

So it’s a tricky decision. Both consoles have their pros and cons, their quirks and quibbles, often making it difficult to put on before the other.

To help you work out which console is right for you, we’ve compared each aspect of the console duo, so you can make an informed decision in your PS4 or Xbox One debate.

 

PS4 vs Xbox One -Video Comparison

Check out our PS4 vs Xbox One comparison video:

Read more: Does Xbox One and PS4 game revolution really matter?

 

Xbox One vs PS4 – Price

A year into the lifecycle of both the Xbox One and PS4, the two consoles have pretty much reached a pricing stalemate. When the Xbox One was launched it was a whopping £80 more expensive than the PS4, due to the fact you were forced to purchase the Kinect pre-packaged with it.

However, back in May, Microsoft introduced a Kinect-free Xbox One option for the same price as the PS4 – £349.99. This help boost sales and made it a much more viable choice for those who couldn’t afford to spend over £400 on a new console.

Now, the Xbox One tends to be cheaper than the PS4, even bundled with a game. We’ve outlined what tends to be the average prices below, but there’s always going to be a bit of leeway if you do your research and find the latest deals.

Read more: Best console deals in the UK

The Xbox One currently retails for:
Standalone Xbox One console – £299
Xbox One with Assassin’s Creed Unity and AC 4: Black Flag – £329.99
Xbox One console with Kinect – £380
Xbox One console bundled with a game – £329

The PS4 currently retails for:
Standalone PS4 console – £329
PS4 console bundled with a game – £349

Prices correct at the time of writing – Jan. 22, 2015

Read more: Best Games of 2014

 

Xbox One vs Sony PS4 – Design

Xbox One – 10 per cent larger than 360, ‘big black box’ design, 3.18kg
PS4 – Slanted design, 2.8kg

In terms of design the Xbox One and PS4 are completely different prospects.

Microsoft’s Xbox One is far, far larger – an imposing black monolith of the living room. The PS4 is sleeker, slimmer and less likely to dominate your under-TV space.

Both keep the severe, black and masculine style that’s common to games consoles, though.

The Xbox One is 10 per cent larger than its predecessor, the Xbox 360. It weighs around the same as the last console, though, at roughly 3kg.

The PS4 is only marginally lighter, at 2.8kg. This shouldn’t come as a great surprise, though, as they both have to fit in similar components.

Why the extra size in the Xbox One? It’s likely that part of the internal volume of the Xbox One’s case is there to aid cooling.

Overheating was a significant problem in the Xbox 360, responsible for causing many of the red ring issues that plagued the console’s earlier years.

The charging cables are also something to consider when it comes to design. The Xbox One has a huge power brick that it requires in order to turn on. It can make your neat wire organisation pretty complicated, as you’ll need to make space for it behind the TV somewhere. The PS4 on the other hand has a single power cable that runs from socket to console with no power brick in sight, meaning it’s far easier to move from room to room when required.

We’d rather have the smaller PS4 in our living rooms, but the Xbox One may end up being more reliable in the long term thanks to that extra cooling. We’ve gone a year now though and neither console appears to have any major hardware issues which is great news for consumers.

Read more: PS4 Tips and Tricks

 

PS4 vs Xbox One – Interface

Here’s a quick look at what the interfaces of the Xbox One and PS4 look like in use:

Xbox One

xbox-one-interface
Trusted Reviews

The look of the Xbox One software is heavily inspired by elements of Windows Phone and Windows 8. Microsoft clearly wanted to reach a certain level of parity between its platforms.

It has a modern look, but many people have criticised the software for its glitchiness and bouts of odd behaviour. At present it doesn’t quite feel right – it’s something that Microsoft is likely to address in time, but is something to consider if you want to do more than just play disc-based games on your console.

PS4

ps4-interface
Trusted Reviews

The PS4 has a simpler, somewhat less ambitious user interface. As it leaves you scrolling in just one direction most of the time, we find it a more intuitive experience than the Xbox One’s software.

There is room for improvement, though. For example at present you can’t bring out the Netflix app to the top ‘recently used’ layer of the UI, even though it’s a PS4 favourite for many people.

 

Xbox One vs PS4 – Controllers

Which is the better gamepad? The DualShock 4 or the Xbox One pad? It’s not an easy one to call. First, let’s have a look at the pads.

Xbox One Wireless Controller

xbox-one-pad
Trusted Reviews

PS4 DualShock 4

dualshock-4
Trusted Reviews

Both have the genetic material of their forebears, but the DualShock 4 feels like more of a change. Microsoft has stuck with what worked so well in the Xbox 360 controller with the Xbox One pad, and as such it’s more of a tweak than a full ground-up redesign.

There are two main changes. The Xbox One pad has rumble motors built into the triggers to give you feedback when, for example, shooting guns. Microsoft has also made huge improvement to the D-pad. The mushy Xbox 360 D-pad has been switched for one that’s much more clicky and responsive. It’ll work wonders on Street Fighter-style fighting games.

Sadly, the Xbox One controller still requires to be powered by a pair of AA batteries as standard, rather than being rechargeable like the PS4’s DualShock 4. You’ll have to buy the Play and Charge kit separately for each controller for £19 a go.

However, if you do stick to AA batteries, you’ll definitely see your Xbox One controller pack a longer play time than the PS4 controller, which we seem to have to charge after every single play session.

The DualShock 4’s changes are more marked. It’s a bit chunkier than the previous DualShock controllers and a lot heavier too, giving a firmer feel than the last-gen Dualshock 3 pad.

Sony has also massively improved the analogue sticks in the DualShock 4. Where the DualShock 3 wasn’t really much cop for first-person shooters, the new pad is great for almost all types of console games. There’s also a new touch pad on the front, between the sticks and the main buttons, and a Share button to make uploading your gameplay videos easy.

After all that, have we really found a victor? Not as such. If you loved the Xbox 360 pad, you’ll probably prefer the Xbox One controller. However, the DualShock 4 has a robust feel that previous PlayStation pads simply haven’t had.

Read more: PS4 Controller Battery Life – How to make your DualShock 4 last longer

 

PS4 vs Xbox One – Which is more powerful?

If you’re a hardcore gamer, there’s a good chance you care about how your games look. And that’s all down to the power a console has on tap.

Which of the new consoles is more powerful? The simple answer is the PS4. We’ll look deeper into the technical reasons why in a minute.

What this means in practice right now is that some cross-platform games, such as Battlefield 4, run at a lower resolution on the Xbox One than they do on the PS4. This may equalise over the life of the consoles as developers learn more about each consoles, but the PS4 definitely has a slight edge at launch.

Read more: Xbox One Tips and Tricks

 

Xbox One vs PS4 – Processor

Xbox One – AMD 8-core Jaguar CPU
PS4 – AMD 8-core Jaguar CPU

The Xbox One and PS4 use extremely similar CPUs made by AMD. Both use an APU setup, which links together both CPU and GPU into one package.

The CPUs are 8–core chips using ‘Jaguar’ cores – a term picked by their maker AMD to denote their chipset generation. The Xbox One runs at 1.75GHz, which was bumped-up from their original spec of 1.6GHz. Sony’s runs slightly cooler at 1.6GHz, which may make some of you think the Xbox One is more powerful. This is not the case. The power of the GPU is much more important here.

Read more: Xbox One FAQ – Things you need to know before you buy

 

PS4 vs Xbox One – GPU and RAM

Xbox One – Comparable to Radeon HD 7000-series, 8GB DDR3 RAM and 32MB eSRAM
PS4 – Comparable to Radeon HD 7000-series, 8GB GDDR5 RAM

The PS4 and Xbox One both use an AMD GPU.

At first glance it seems like their GPUs may be identical, but they are not. On paper the PS4 graphics processor is 50 per cent more powerful, with 1,152 shader processors against the Xbox One’s 768.

Realising that this sounded pretty bad, Microsoft worked on upping the One’s power a bit and on 2 August announced that its GPU speed from 800MHz to 853MHz. It’s a nice tweak for the tech heads, but doesn’t see the Xbox One match up to the PS4.

Having extra processing power will let the PS4 perform more tasks simultaneously – which should in theory allow for more impressive visual effects.

A more impressive GPU is matched with more impressive-sounding RAM. The PS4 uses GDDR5 RAM, while the Xbox One has more conventional DDR3 memory – and both have 8GB of the stuff.

GDDR5 has much higher bandwidth than DDR3, designed for intensive applications such as in graphics cards, while DDR3 is ‘bog standard’ system memory.

If DDR3 was all the Xbox One had, it’d be in serious trouble. But it also has an eSRAM buffer that should help to bridge the 100GB/sec bandwidth gap between the two RAM types. It has a 32MB chunk of eSRAM that will function as a frame buffer.

The news that the Sony PS4 is (almost) categorically more powerful than the Xbox One is one of the reasons why the PS4 pre-order sold out before the Xbox One’s.

With a more powerful GPU and, seemingly, faster memory, the PS4 is clearly out in front on graphical specs.

But how do they pan out compared to PC graphics cards? The Xbox One is said to be on-par with a Radeon 7790, the PS4 a Radeon 7870. Unless you’re a PC gamer, that’s really not going to mean much.

Let’s reduce it to cold hard cash. That the Radeon 7790 costs around £100 and the Radeon 7870 £150 tells you all you need to know.

Read more: Best cheap graphic card

However, EA’s chief technology officer Rajat Teneja claims that the consoles are a whole generation ahead of the top-end PCs on the market. To some that’ll seem like a ridiculous statement when top-end gaming PCs cost thousands of pounds, and these consoles will cost a few hundred.

What’s less contentious is that the Xbox One and PS4 are around 8-10 times as powerful as the previous-gen Xbox 360 and PS3. However, let’s not forget that an increase in graphical fidelity requires an exponential increase in power – so we won’t be looking at games that look 8-10 times as good.

 

Xbox One vs PS4 – Graphics

One of the main reason core gamers have chosen to favour the PS4 over the Xbox One is its categorically better graphics hardware. But does it translate to better graphics in games?

In quite a few cases it does. It’s not necessarily a case of missing effects, less complicated shadows and other such obvious cut-backs, but output resolution. With many games, the PS4 renders at a slightly higher resolution than the Xbox One.

If you have a good 1080p TV, you will be able to see the difference if you get up close and personal. However, in the current wave of games there is not really a gigantic difference between the two.

Here are a few grabs from some of the many graphics comparisons that have been made online:

Xbox One vs PS4 1

 

Here it looks as though there’s more detail in the Xbox One shot, however, the PS4 details are actually obscured by an environmental dust effect. The PS4 footage is also a lot higher-contrast, which is seen consistently in graphics comparisons.

Xbox One vs PS4

 

Once again, there’s higher contrast in the PS4 footage, and there appears to be a bit more texture information in the road surface.

Digital Foundry performed a very interesting test to see the difference between the hardware available to the two consoles. It specced-out PCs with roughly the same GPU hardware as the Xbox One and PS4, and found that the PS4 performed roughly 24 per cent better in benchmarks.

Xbox One vs PS4 2

 

We’re already seeing the PS4 perform better in current games, and this is only likely to continue as more ‘new-gen’ titles are released.

Take a look at our graphics comparison of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on the Xbox One and PS4 side by side:

Read more: PS4 FAQ – Things worth knowing before you buy

 

Top reasons to pick an Xbox One

Larger size may mean it’s more reliable long-term
The huge console size of the Xbox One gives air more room to circulate, which is likely to ensure the console does not overheat even when under strain for prolonged periods.

Kinect is undeniably cool
Not everyone likes Kinect, but it has serious potential that you don’t get with the PS4 camera. For example, you can use it to control the console, swiping in the air to perform commands.

Wider distribution of Kinect will mean for more interesting motion gaming
Now that the Xbox One will ship without the Kinect in some bundles this might not be as much of a benefit, but the Kinect sensor means that developers will be able to more confidently put Kinect features into their games.

It acts as a hub for your other home entertainment gear
You can plug another piece of hardware into your Xbox One using its HDMI input. This lets you switch between, say, your digibox and the Xbox One, using the Xbox interface. There’s only one input, but if you use a receiver it’s all you’ll need.

Inbound Xbox One exclusives like Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection
If you haven’t yet played a Halo title, The Master Chief Collection is a great time to get involved. The whole Halo series is being remastered for the Xbox One in HD along with all of the awesome multiplayer maps. Sunset Overdrive’s colourful, manic gameplay is also exclusive to the Xbox One and is certainly worth a punt.

The One Guide makes for seamlessly integrated cable TV
You can plug your cable TV boxes straight into your Xbox One via HDMI and watch TV with the Xbox One UI overlaid. The feature allows you to access your live TV guide directly through your Xbox One, making it the entertainment system Microsoft has been pushing from launch. If you’ve got a Kinect you can also use voice commands to jump from channel to channel. Basically, it saves the faff of switching inputs and once you’ve tried the One Guide, you won’t want to change back.

It’s not all about cable TV integration
If you’re not lucky enough to have access to TV services like Sky or Virgin Media, you can now purchase the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner accessory for £24.99. This will let you feed Freeview and other free-to-air TV platforms into the Xbox One too.

EA Access is only available on Xbox One
EA’s new subscription gaming service is exclusive to Xbox One. So if you’re a particular fan of EA titles you can pay £3.99 for free unlimited access to a select collection of games via the EA Access Vault. There’s a few other perks too, but read our EA Access Guide to find out more.

3D Blu-ray support is finally here
After a lengthy wait, you can finally watch your 3D Blu-ray titles on your Xbox One – if that’s your bag.

You can plug in an external hard drive for additional storage
One of the most requested features was external hard drive support for the Xbox One. Well, now you can use up to two external hard drives at once. Each one has to be 256GB or larger, but once it has been formatted, it can be used to store games, apps, DLC and other content if your Xbox One is getting full.

The media player will add tunes to your entertainment system
Although the media player hadn’t arrived at the time of writing, Microsoft promises a future update will let you play media files on your Xbox One via a USB device. You will also be able to stream your media files over a Wi-Fi network using DLNA, just as you could on the Xbox 360. There will also be more file support, including animated gifs, mkv and mpeg 2 TS.

Xbox One finally has Games with Gold perks
As you do with the Xbox 360, you now get two free games a month for the Xbox One with an Xbox Live Gold membership. You also get access to Deals with Gold too, giving you significant savings within the Xbox One Games Store.

Read more: Far Cry 4 tips and tricks

 

Top reasons to pick a PS4

It’s much smaller than an Xbox One
If you have a cramped lounge/bedroom, the smaller size of the PS4 will come in handy. It is much, much smaller than the Xbox One.

It doesn’t have a separate power brick
Also important, the PS4 incorporates its own power supply while the Xbox One has a separate power brick. This is a big win if you want to take the console around a friend’s house as it’s a good deal lighter.

The PS4 is more powerful
The PS4 has a significantly more powerful GPU – graphics processing unit – than the Xbox One. It’s about 50 per cent more powerful.

Remote Play for Vita is awesome
This one only matter for PS Vita owners, but the PS4’s Remote Play is pretty neat. It lets you play full PS4 games on your Vita over your Wi-Fi connection.

Playstation TV will let you play your PS4 elsewhere in the house
The Playstation TV announced at E3 2014 will let you stream and play games on any TV in your house. There’s a bit of lag and the graphics lack some detail but it’s super-useful if your main TV is often taken up by couch potatoes watching soaps. The Playstation TV will retail for £89 when it goes on sale.

PS Plus’s free games plan is great
The PS Plus service costs about £40 a year, but it gets you free games every month. And at present it’s better than the freebie games offering you get with an Xbox One through Live Gold.

The PS4 controller is better
We think the PS4 controller is better than the Xbox One’s. This one will divide opinions, but we’re not fans of the clicky triggers on the Xbox One pad.

PS4 gets 3D Blu-ray support too
Just like the Xbox One, the PS4 also now has 3D Blu-ray support. However, there’s no word on media support for the PS4 anytime soon.

PS4 Share Play is going to be a huge new feature
PS4 Share Play arrived with the PS4 2.0 system update, Share Play is a brand new feature that will create what Sony is calling a “virtual couch”. It creates a local co-op experience but all online, meaning you can invite your friend to play with you, even if they don’t actually own the game. Each session has an hour time limit, but there’s apparently no limit as to the number of sessions you can have.

Read more: PS4 Share Play – How Sony is changing multiplayer in a big way

 

Verdict

There’s no particular ‘wrong choice’ to be made between the two consoles at present. However, the PS4 seems to be the gamer’s choice. Its PlayStation Plus service is great, it’s significantly more powerful and we think the controller is a bit better. If you want to save some money, though, you can get far better deals for the Xbox One at this point.

There’s a lot more to making this decision. For the rest, go to TrustedReviews.com.

 

TIME Earnings

Nintendo’s Financial Struggles Continue, Even With Mario Kart 8

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Yoshikazu Tsuno—AFP/Getty Images Customers play with Nintendo's videogame console Wii U at an electronics shop in Tokyo on July 30, 2014.

Even the smash hit Mario Kart 8 doesn’t seem to be able to save Nintendo and its Wii U. The Japanese video game giant posted a loss of 9.92 billion yen ($96.7 million) between April and June, according to its first fiscal quarter earnings report. Nintendo had a profit of 8.62 billion yen ($84 million) during the same period last year.

It’s not a great start to the fiscal year for a company that posted an annual operating loss during its last three. Sales for the company were also down, with revenue of 74.7 billion yen ($728 million) falling 8 percent from last year’s figure of 81.5 billion yen ($794 million).

The Wii U recovered at least somewhat from its disastrous 2013. It sold 510,000 units in the quarter, more than triple the 160,000 it sold during the period last year. Software sales were also way up, mostly thanks to Mario Kart 8, which sold 2.82 million copies and is already the third best-selling Wii U game of all time. But the 3DS, Nintendo’s true moneymaker, is on a precipitous decline, especially in Japan. The handheld gaming device sold just 820,000 units during the quarter, down from 1.4 million during the same quarter last year. Software sales also declined 22 percent to 8.6 million units.

Nintendo is still projecting that it will sell 3.6 million Wii Us and 20 million Wii U games over the fiscal year, while making almost $20 million in profit. That forecast will rest heavily on the performance of Super Smash Bros. Wii U, which is slated to launch in the fall, as well as titles like the Legend of Zelda spinoff Hyrule Warriors.

TIME Video Games

Xbox One Owners Can Now Pay $4.99 Month for EA Games

NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana
Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana (L) walks on stage to join the head of EA Sports Andrew Wilson (R) as they introduce the new EA Sports Madden 13 game with Kinect voice functionality at the Microsoft Xbox E3 2012 media briefing in Los Angeles on June 4, 2012.

Only four games are available so far

Electronic Arts is adapting the subscription service model to the video game industry with a new offering for Xbox One. The new service, called EA Access, will allow Xbox One owners to download and play hit EA games for an unlimited amount of time for $4.99 per month or $29.99 per year. A release date was not announced.

Netflix this is not, so far. EA Access will launch with four games: FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2 and Battlefield 4. Combined, the games retail for more than $150, so the offer is a steal if you happen to enjoy some combination of sports games, first-person shooters and puzzlers. EA says more games will be added to the lineup in the future.

In addition to the catalog of older titles, EA Access members will get a 10 percent discount on the digital version of upcoming Xbox One games like Dragon Age Inquisition and NHL 15. Members will also have access to free trials of upcoming games five days before their official release.

Video game makers are keen to get gamers used to buying and downloading games online because they get to avoid manufacturing and distribution costs while often charging just as much as versions sold in brick-and-mortar stores. So far, there’s no word on a PS4 version of EA Access, but Sony is currently rolling out a new service called PlayStation Now that will allow users to stream older games to a variety of Sony devices.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles

TIME Video Games

With Firefly Cast Reuniting, Firefly Online Sounds Like the Franchise’s Next Big Thing

The cast of Joss Whedon's fan-loved Firefly will reprise their roles in the upcoming Firefly Online video game.

First you wanted a Firefly movie, and then you got one (and hey, it was pretty good). Then you got a comic — actually several comics, plus a roleplaying game, plus a novelization of the movie. After that, you made your own documentary about the series, and then you went and made an unofficial sequel to the movie that made over $100,000 for five separate charities. How the heck, short of creator Joss Whedon himself announcing another Firefly movie or TV-quel, do you top any of that?

Maybe the cast of the show reuniting, and not for another misty-eyed convention wingding, but as characters you’ll be able to interact with in Quantum Mechanix and Spark Plug Games’ upcoming Firefly Online, due out this summer for PC, Mac, iOS and Android?

Okay, maybe that doesn’t top a series part deux, but then if you’re partial to games over TV shows or movies, perhaps it does. And it’s really happening: i09 reports (via Comic-Con, transpiring now through Sunday) that all of the original Firefly stars will reprise their roles in the game, including Alan Tudyk, which is significant if you’ve seen Serenity. In the game, players captain their own customizable ships, assemble crews, then create jobs for each other while playing through various narratives and exploring a universe with hundreds of visitable worlds.

No pressure, development teams: as one commenter put it to i09, “If this game is bad the developers better prepare for pitchforks and torches outside their office.” Indeed, fandom is fickle, though the appetite for new Firefly content may be enough to help the game over any preliminary rough spots if the underlying concept measures up.

You can check out the game and read more about it at the game’s official website, keepflying.com, and here’s the first gameplay trailer, just released.

TIME Video Games

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Release Bumped Up a Week

October 7 was looking a little crowded. But September 30? Not so much.

Warner Bros. and developer Monolith’s upcoming attempt to make you a heroic Nazgul, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, is apparently coming along well enough to earn a rare release date bump: instead of October 7, the game will release on September 30 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, followed on October 2 by the PC version (via Steam).

The game’s PR team says that’s because of “fans’ excitement.” I’m speculating, but I’d wager the more likely reason is that Tuesday, October 7 was a little crowded. On that day, we’ll see major releases like Driveclub (PS4), Alien: Isolation, NBA 2K15 (the latter two for PC, PS3/4 and Xbox 360/One), NBA Live 15 and Project Spark (Xbox One). That, and two days prior, Activision’s Skylanders Trap Team hits. So I’d wager Warner Bros. and Monolith backed up to September 30 because it’s wide open: the only major rival that day is Forza Horizon 2 (Xbox 360/One).

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is about zipping around Tolkien’s “land of shadow” just after Sauron (nee The Necromancer) shows up and wreaks demigodly havoc. You play as Talion, a raised-from-the-dead ranger who can thus tap the same sort of eldritch otherworldly powers the Nazgul could (and since this is a game designed to make you feel ridiculously formidable, plenty more besides).

The twist involves something called the Nemesis System, which is developer Monolith’s way of making its world and the things you encounter in it feel procedural. Each adversary you encounter has unique attributes that feed an elaborate ecology of behaviors, and your encounters ripple through that ecology, changing your relationship to other enemies and ultimately creating your own personalized bosses. Every time you play, that deck reshuffles.

Whether the reshuffling feels lively and organic in the playing or too obviously generic remains to be seen, but expectations are high, as they ought to be, given the level of affection and esteem for Tolkien’s world.

TIME Video Games

Watch the First Trailer for Halo: Nightfall

Microsoft released the first trailer for its upcoming live-action digital series Halo: Nightfall.

The series, which is being executive produced by Ridley Scott, will feature a new character named Jameson Locke, who is an agent for the secretive Office of Naval Intelligence. The series will be bundled with Halo: The Master Chief Collection, a compilation of past Halo games that launches this November.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles

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