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Xbox One review roundup - what are critics saying? Courtesy/Wikipedia

Unless you’ve been residing under a large slab of soundproof concrete for the past few months, you’re undoubtedly aware of the upcoming launch of the Xbox One. Microsoft’s next-gen system will hit store shelves on Friday, Nov. 22, precisely one week after the release of Sony’s Playstation 4.

So, what are critics saying about the Xbox One? Does it measure up to the PS4? How impressive is the game library? How effective is the Kinect? Here’s what reviewers are thinking about Microsoft's latest endeavor.

“I was pleasantly surprised by just how much fun it was to play,” said Yannick LeJacq of NBC News. “The Xbox One is really a compelling piece of hardware, complete with a strong lineup of launch games.” LeJacq was somewhat critical of the system’s price, saying that “spending half a grand on a new console is a lot to ask. I don’t know if I’d call any of these games a killer app that makes the Xbox One a must buy. But it’s a great start.” He also was pleased with the Xbox One’s game library, which includes new titles like “Dead Rising 3” and “Killer Instinct.” “None of these games are groundbreaking in terms of sheer artistry. … they’re clearly designed to be crowd-pleasers, and they hit all the right marks to make gamers happy. They look incredible on the Xbox One. … and they use the console’s unique hardware in intriguing ways, particularly the Kinect.”

Dead Rising 3 will be available for the Xbox One. Courtesy/Wikipedia

Greg Kumparak of Techcrunch praised the Xbox One’s controller, calling the device “absolutely superb” and “perhaps the best console controller I’ve ever held. … essentially a 360 controller refined, scrubbed of its flaws.” However, he pointed out that the new Kinect does not work perfectly all of the time. “The speech recognition does seem better. … but the new Kinect will still mishear you.” Kumparak also questioned just how necessary the voice command function is when completing simple tasks. “Pausing a video without the remote as I run to my kitchen? Yeah. Slowly commanding my Xbox through the App store, screen by screen? Meh.”

Chris Kohler of Wired gave the console a rating of 7/10. “Xbox One wants to be your everything and run your TV, your Blu-rays, your streaming, your music, and, sure, your video games, too.” Like the previous reviewer, Kohler was weary of the Kinect’s effectiveness. “Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s magical, sometimes it’s inept.” He also felt that “voice commands really didn’t work for us when we had a group of people in the room.” On the positive side, “you don’t have to decide whether to watch TV or play games. With Xbox One, you can have both. Pressing the Xbox button on the controller will jump you right back to the home menu, and you can open other apps and features while your gameplay remains paused in the background.”

Gaming site joystiq jumped on the review bandwagon and questioned the effectiveness of the new Kinect. “It’s not perfect, and Microsoft’s channel database for voice recognition doesn’t seem to be complete,” wrote Ludwig Kietzmann. Speaking to Kinect requires a bit of strategy on your part, because it’s just not natural input on par with speaking. … as an additive feature, Kinect works well. … but you must know command structure.”

Popular site Kotaku was quick to note the aggressive nature of the Xbox One, calling the system “a testament to Microsoft’s towering ambition. It represents their desire not only to occupy a place in your home entertainment center, but to lumber straight into the center of it.” Writer Kirk Hamilton felt that the next-gen console had “a surprising number of weak spots, “ adding that “the Xbox One works well if you set it up exactly as Microsoft has intended, but minor deviations in your home theater setup can quickly throw things out of whack.” Hamilton also noted the size of the Xbox One, calling it a “big-ass black box. … it looms over the PS3 Slim, the PS4 and the Xbox 360.” After using the Kinect, Hamilton felt that it was efficient “80-85% of the time.”

Did you purchase a Playstation 4 on Nov. 15, or are you holding out for the Xbox One’s release date on Nov. 22? Are you a lifelong fan of Microsoft or were you recently swayed by the Xbox One's capabilities and design?

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