Many will find themselves happy with their current Xbox One, but there were certainly plenty of people out there who were excited at the prospect of a new console when Microsoft announced the Xbox One S back at E3 2016. Sure, they also announced the hotly anticipated Project Scorpio – but no-one really knows what that is. The Xbox One S on the other hand was a new and improved console that would be available this year. My initial response to a new machine so soon into the cycle was of surprise and uncertainty on whether it was worth upgrading or not, but Microsoft’s more recent announcement of the limited edition Gears of War Xbox One S that would be releasing alongside the game of the same name was certainly more than enough persuasion to ensure I coughed up for the upgrade. But just how good is Microsoft’s sleek new Limited Edition Xbox?
Whilst the Xbox One S is certainly a nicer, sleeker and sexier version of the Xbox One, it isn’t an entirely new console. With Microsoft announcing that ‘Project Scorpio’ will come with a substantial power upgrade and run games natively at 4k as well as many other new features, many have been left questioning the reason to upgrade now. The Xbox One S is Microsoft’s answer to what every other console generation gone by has welcomed with open arms – the slimmed down version. However, this time around it’s not just a smaller box under your TV, the Xbox One S is Microsoft’s own Xbox One.5 and here’s why.
Firstly, the biggest difference with Microsoft’s new console is indeed the size, coming in 40% smaller than the original Xbox One, The Xbox One S certainly makes for a tidier look over the bulky original, but what if I was to tell you this sleek new style comes complete with features enabling 4k upscaling for all games as well as HDR support to give all of your games that highly polished and highly desired graphical edge. Of course, this feature isn’t a nice trick to spruce up the quality of your TV and so anyone looking to take advantage of these features will require one of those top notch TV’s that come supporting 4k and HDR (High Dynamic Range) in order to use them. The same goes for the built in 4k Blu-Ray drive; normal optical CD’s will still play no problem, so for those who haven’t decided to make the switch as of yet will still get good use out of the new system. But it’s always good to have the option there right!?
Whilst all the previously mentioned features are available on the standard Xbox One S that released back in August, one thing that really sets the Gears of War Xbox One S apart from its immaculate white counterpart is the design. With Gears of War being such a huge title for Microsoft, any console representing it would certainly standout and this is definitely the case for this console.
The first noticeable change is with the colour. The near mandatory black seen in the original console has been replaced for a much nicer white with the initial upgrade, and Microsoft have decided to give the Gears console the unique Crimson look, with a dark and rich red throughout. Some parts are slightly lighter in colour to help distinguish the blood splatters also seen on various parts of the console face.
Another noticeable design change with the Xbox One S is the venting system with the former slanted grills replaced by a holed grate. More pleasing to look at than the vents on the original Xbox One, the Gears console has one more feature that is sure to melt the heart of any Gears of War fan, the Crimson Omen itself. Whilst many will have expected the iconic logo to be present, seeing it woven between the grated holes really adds to the beauty of this console. It certainly looks impressive, and the nicest feature of the improved venting system is just how much cooler it makes the console during use.
A further distinguishable difference between the Gears of War console and the original Xbox One S is the intentionally aggressive scratches etched into place over the left side of the console, referencing the new threat facing mankind in Gears of War 4. This may be the first time Microsoft have implemented such a physical change in a new console design, but there’s no taking away just how much this adds to an already beautiful console.
Of course with each console comes a new controller, and the Gears of War bundle is certainly no different. Included is the Gears of Wars 4 Crimson Omen Limited Edition controller and this only adds to the value of this already great console bundle. Whilst the controller comes in the same dark red pattern seen throughout the console, the distinct features on the controller are easily visible too – with more of the same physical scratches also in place across the A, B, X and Y buttons. The buttons have also come redesigned with a fresh dark grey and a gothic style text present for each of the letters.
Once more, like the console, the controller comes with the popular Crimson Omen logo branded just below the left thumb stick. The D-Pad also receives a nice touch with a darkened finger print covering the metallic red look.
Of course, being one of Microsoft’s newest controllers, this takes away the separate section of the controller for the Xbox Guide button and introduces it into the main shell, adding to the sleek nature of the design. Other features include Bluetooth connection for longer distances – just in case your TV was several rooms away – and obviously comes with the now-standard 3.5mm jack for use with almost every headset ever created. On the back of the controller, the battery cover is home to the lovely Phoenix medal logo, whilst it also features a slightly textured grip that, although not immediately noticeable, certainly ensures those sweating at the prospect of beating Gears of War 4 on the Insane difficulty setting will at least have a firm hand on the controller at all times.
As for extra features, the Gears of War Xbox One S is almost identical to the readily available Xbox One S. Unfortunately those, like myself, who like to take advantage of the voice commands via the Kinect camera will want to note that without an adapter the Kinect won’t work with the Xbox One S consoles. However those still wanting to take advantage of Kinect can obtain the required adapter free from Microsoft after providing serial codes for Kinect and both the Xbox One S and the original Xbox One console.
One final feature of the Gears of War console that deserves a mention is the sound effects. Yes, like many consoles before it, including the Forza 6 inspired Xbox One console, the Gears of War Xbox features different sound effects for various functions. Turning on the console, disc ejection and turning off the console are a delight, and these can be turned on or off via the settings menu on the console – if nothing else the sound of the enemy horde emitting reminds you that you own a truly magnificent gaming machine.
Overall and this console is certainly impressive. Whilst the extra features may not be enough to convince everyone to rush to the stores, the design implemented throughout certainly makes for one of the most beautiful Xbox consoles to date. At a price point of £400 the Gears of War Xbox One S certainly isn’t the cheapest option available for those wishing to upgrade, but with such a unique design and the included Gears of War 4 Ultimate edition game code along with the Limited Edition Crimson Omen controller, this is certainly no bad way to spend that hard earned cash.