Today Microsoft began offering thirteen titles for the Original Xbox Backwards Compatibility program for play on the Xbox One family of consoles. But, when something like this comes out, I of course want to know how it works, and I have a feeling some of you are wondering as well. I booted up the only title of the initial wave I already had, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and came away impressed with how flawlessly it works.
For those that already play Xbox 360 titles on their Xbox One, you can expect a similar experience with discs and digital versions. Insert an applicable disc, and the console will alert you that the disc needs an “update”. This is in actuality, the full game install. In the case of Knights of the Old Republic, it is a 4.34 GB download. Knights of the Old Republic is on the higher spectrum of file size, with the average file size coming out to 3.35 GBs. Once the download, is finished, the game is ready to play without any hiccups.
Upon launching an original Xbox title, players are treated to the original boot-up animation of the original Xbox. It’s a welcome nostalgic surprise that throws the player back to 2003 during the height of the console’s popularity. After developer and publisher logos go through though, I was presented with something that didn’t see any upgrades in the transfer: full motion video files. Yes, even Knights of the Old Republic has one before you come to the title screen, and it looks horrendous. However, watching it makes you appreciate how the actual game looks after all this time. Once you have chosen your character’s attributes, you wake up on the Endar Spire in the game’s prologue.
Colors immediately look brighter than ever and leap off the screen. Any sign of jagged lines have disappeared too, making Knights of the Old Republic look smooth in still images. Greatly noticeable in the prologue is the improved frame rate. The original version of the game would stutter whenever an explosion would rock the doomed Endar Spire. Here, there is no such stutter. In fact, the frame rate was smoother then Knights of the Old Republic has ever looked. Loading times also feels much faster, but not having an Original Xbox console, I can not be certain. All of this happens at a new resolution of 1080p, with 4K resolution coming to Xbox One X owners.
While the visual changes are superb, there are no gameplay-related enhancements. None of these curated titles for Backwards Compatibility are remasters, simply the same game made playable on a modern console. So, the gameplay remains the same, and no additional modern additions like achievements. However, other features that Xbox 360 Backwards Compatible titles enjoy are available. Namely, you can record video and screenshots of these titles and broadcast them over Mixer using the built-in software.
If this is what we can expect from other Original Xbox titles in the future, each one ought to look better then it has ever been. That it is exactly as easy to use as the Xbox 360 titles is a true engineering feat that Microsoft should take pride in. Is there a game that you hope to eventually play for the first time or even replay? Let us know in the comments!