It has been 2 weeks since the Xbox One launched, and we have been busy playing games ever since. One thing is for sure, the Xbox One launch title line up is quite diverse. To that effect, it includes everything from uber realistic Forza 5, to the wacky digital download game LocoCycle. Read on for a guide to some of our favorite games of the Xbox One launch.
Despite the Xbox 360 being a failure in Japan (and consequently losing lots of Japanese developer support), Microsoft managed to bag itself Crimson Dragon for the Xbox One. Originally announced for the Xbox 360, the download-only title is considered the successor to the Panzer Dragoon games.
As a rail-shooter, Crimson Dragon, plays very much like an arcade-type game with the simplest plot possible: you ride giant dragons on a colonized planet and attack and dodge enemies. You fight bosses. You level up and collect jewels to upgrade your dragons and credits to unlock new content. Rinse and repeat.
Crimson Dragon’s tragic flaw isn’t that it offers limited controls, has a snoozy story or lackluster graphics with nary any real variations in the dragon designs, but the fact huge portions of the game are locked behind micro-transactions. You can either grind your way through, complete the objectives, and collect earn enough credits to unlock new levels, or you can buy access to them, which just makes the entire game feel shallow and nothing but a greed pit for its developers.
What makes it next-gen: To be honest, Crimson Dragon doesn’t offer much in terms gameplay. It’s also not a visually stunning next-gen game. What it does offer is some shred of hope that Japanese developers will embrace the Xbox One again with games that rekindle the golden days of the original Dreamcast and PS2. About the only thing that makes Crimson Dragon shine is its epic scores.
At first glance, Powerstar Golf comes off as a a Hot Shots Golf rip-off. It’s a highly cartoony golf game with outrageous characters who each have their own moves, exaggerated golf clubs and swings and seriously fun arcade-style gameplay. It’s no Tiger Woods PGA Tour golf sim, and that’s perfectly fine.
Just like in Hotshots Golf, golf swings center around a three-click system: start, power and swing. It’s a simple enough mechanic that when a friend’s 10-year-old kid try it, he was able to pick it up quickly. Add in the fact that earning experience points by setting high scores against your friends’ scores unlocks more events and the game feels highly rewarding.
Powerstar Golf does allow you to buy “booster packs” that give you random clubs, outfits and other advantageous items, but it isn’t necessary. One thing sorely missing from Powerstar Golf is online multiplayer. You can do two and four-player, but you’ll have to do it locally — meaning you’ll all have to sit in the same room and take turns.
What makes it next-gen: In a word, Powerstar Golf is zany. It’s 18-holes may seem paltry, but fret not, Powerstart Golf is an addictive trip that keeps you coming back for more until you get gold medals instead of bronze ones. It’s a lovely game that’s complex enough for gamers looking for a challenge and simple enough for kids to enjoy.
Like the majority of the Xbox One launch, Zoo Tycoon is a port (albeit a slightly prettier version) of the same game on Xbox 360. As its name so clearly implies, you’re an entrepreneur in charge of building and running your own zoo. And like any sim-based game, you can control everything — where a bench goes, what color a wall is, etc. You get access to over 100 adorably cute animals to populate your zoo and then you manage them and the other attractions. It sounds boring at first, and it kind of is, if you use the controller to navigate all of the menus, but Zoo Tycoon on Xbox One was developed with the new Kinect in mind.
By augmenting the controller with the new Kinect, you can talk to your animals using voice commands and feed them with your hands, to name a few features. It’s not the most advanced innovative use of Kinect, but I can guarantee young kids will get a real kick out of using Kinect with Zoo Tycoon.
Sure, many of the tasks in running a zoo are repetitive and feel like time-wasters, but remember this is a simulation game with a huge dose of cute overload. Zoo Tycoon isn’t trying to be a Super Mario or Skylanders game. It’s not a competitive fast-action game. The only way to enjoy this game is to sit back and take a deep breath.
What makes it next-gen: Zoo Tycoon is a vivid and colorful next-gen game, but not because of any groundbreaking game animal realism, but because it represents Microsoft’s real attempt at justifying Kinect’s existence. It’s also a family-friendly game, which is great if you want to teach a kid (or yourself) about animals with a little bit of elementary business management on the side.
A violent fighting experience that makes you feel like you’re back in ancient Rome? This is what next gen games are made of.
What makes it next-gen: Ryse is a visual stunner that really shows off the Xbox One’s graphics chops. Read our full review here.
This silly digital download game is a motorcycle racing game that is completely wacky, but still quite entertaining. A motorcycle that talks, fights, races, and drags along its passenger along the highway? Hilarious or just plain ridiculous, that is up to you to decide. There are also cutscenes that remind us of those FMV 90′s PC Games.
What makes it next-gen: Ultimately the graphics here are not at all next gen, but the game does show the potential for the Xbox One digital download game catalog to offer unique and out of the box games.
Forza 5 is another one of the Xbox One launch titles, that really screams next gen. Overall, if you love cars, you’re going to love Forza. Read our full review here.
What makes it next-gen: This racing game offers crazy realistic cars and speedways that are nearly life-like. The game also takes full advantage of the Xbox One’s new controller features.