Technology reporter Alistair Charlton sits down with the Xbox One, taking a look at Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5 and the game console's new Kinect sensor.
Microsoft has had a tough old time launching the Xbox One. In the decade-long staring match with Sony it was the US company who blinked first, with an elaborate launch in an enormous tent, streamed live around the world.
Despite all the glitz and glamour every tech product launch can do without, first impressions weren't great; the console looked enormous, like an old VHS player, and then there was that spectacular U-Turn, which saw Microsoft about-turn on a whole host of limitations imposed to stop pirating games, sharing them between consoles and buying them second hand.
Then arch rival Sony came along with the cheaper PlayStation 4, made a few jokes about Microsoft's botched launch, and now both companies are counting down the days to their pre-Christmas release dates.
We've already had our hands on the PlayStation 4, and so now it was the Xbox One's turn to wow us - and attempt to justify that £80 premium.
The key takeaway from my time with the Xbox One was that of power and performance. Graphics can't really get much better than they already are with the PS3 and Xbox 360, but I suppose if you squint and look really closely then, yes, the Xbox One looks a bit better than its predecessor.
Dead Rising 3
While playing the spectacularly violent and blood-filled zombie killer Dead Rising 3 I was treated to what the developer called "next gen felt" on the shark suit worn by my character.
Next gen felt won't make me buy a next gen console, but look a bit deeper and the One's extra power comes to the fore; literally hundreds of zombies can be onscreen at once in Dead Rising 3 and every single one of them is different. Running over them with the bastard lovechild of a road roller and a bike certainly fills the screen with gallons of blood and gore, but look more closely and you'll see each and every zombie is damaged and cut up in a different way. The team behind Dead Rising 3 even made sure bones and organs were modeled correctly, so they'd look right as you drive a hatchet through them.
Another example of the One's extra power is the lack of loading screens; where previously Dead Rising would load up an area of its map every few hundreds yards, the third installed on the One is completely open all of the time; there is zero loading time as you progress through the world, no matter where you go or how many zombies are after you.
The big feature of Dead Rising 3, away from it being completely accessible all of the time, is the ability to combine weapons and vehicles to make hybrids. Take a gun and a flamethrower, and combine them into something which does both, or combine a bike and a road roller to create a fast-moving, zombie-crushing machine.
Borrowing from the outrageousness of Saints Row The Third, Dead Rising 3 lets you wear a wide range of clothes and outfits. Smash into a tailors and put on a James Bond-style dinner jacket and bowtie, or raid a fancy dress shop and roam the streets dressed as a shark (with next gen felt, naturally); and all of these outfits, along with your combo weapons, can be kept safe in a number of lockers dotted around the map. Any clothing or weapons can be accessed from any locker.
Finally, our demonstration showed how the game interacts with tablets and smartphones through the Smart Glass app. A tablet can be used to view the map, while calls from other characters in the game can be taken on your own smartphone. These calls unlock exclusive missions only playable when the One is connected to Smart Glass devices, and adds a clever new dimension to console gaming.
Fun, fast and almost hysterically violent, Dead Rising 3 is a hoot, while managing to show off the extra processing power offered by the One.
Forza Motorsport 5
Despite catching our eye with a full-size model of the upcoming McLaren P1 supercar, chosen for the cover image of Forza 5, Microsoft is yet to show off too much of its next-generation racing game.
Having turned down most of the traction control and driver assist settings, we jumped aboard the P1 and took to the Laguna Seca racetrack for a one-lap race - all that was available during our brief time with the game.
The first thing I noticed when burying the throttle was that the One's controller vibrates through the triggers used for the accelerator and brake. It's a very strange sensation at first, but makes perfect sense; the harder you squeeze the accelerator, the more it'll vibrate, encouraging you to manage the throttle until initial wheelspin has resided; the same goes for braking - squeeze too hard and the wheels lock up, signalled with heavy vibration.
More tip-of-the-finger than seat-of-the-pants, but it works well and was particularly useful for being alerted to wheelspin when I struggled to hear the engine noise over dozens of journalists playing other games around me.
The attention to detail in Forza is, as always, astonishing. The McLaren, for example, has three layers of paint in the real world (base coat, colour, metallic flake) and so does the model in Forza, which has three layers of digital paint and reflects in sunlight accordingly.
Sadly this level of detail spread across a catalogue of "hundreds" of cars means Forza 5 will not be coming to the Xbox 360, but that's the price you pay when consoles make the jump from one generation to the next.
Finally, I was treated to a technical demonstration of the One's Kinect sensor. It won't win any beauty contests, but the Kinect is all-new, boasting HD video, infrared, and the ability to work out where your joints are, where your weight and centre of gravity is, and the strength of your movements.
What this means, is that a gentle punch or kick will be recognised as exactly that, while the Kinect knows when you've applied more force, and it can do this to an astonishing degree of accuracy.
A demonstration of the new Kinect Sports for Xbox One showed how the Kinect can be used to recreate yourself as a 3D game character. The camera scans your height and general measurements, then takes a closer look to analyse more than 1,000 points of reference to create your face and hair.
A lot has been made of the Xbox One's entertainment and TV credentials, but as I'm yet to see these in action I can't possibly judge them yet. As for gaming, the Kinect potential is vast - providing developers embrace all it has to offer - and while graphics have probably reached their limit, the One's ability to do more at once is obvious.
The Xbox One will cost £429 when it goes on sale later this year.