2nd December 2005
Initial thoughts on the xbox 360
According to The Onion, one of the key features of the Xbox 360 is that it :
can turn all the way around, apparently.
Mine doesn't seem to move much, but does manage to have various other functions.
It's amazing what a bit of styling can do. Comparing it to other consoles, it still has a number of flaws: it is not much smaller than the original xbox, it is hot and loud, and has a huge power supply brick. Yet, due to the much improved design, it does give the impression of being a giant improvement.
With the 360, Microsoft are really pushing Xbox Live. This is one of the most impressive things about the console so far. The overall integration of the UI, Xbox live, the wireless controllers and gameplay really makes a difference. Unlike Al, I've not had any trouble with the wireless controllers. Being able to turn the console on and off from the controller is neat.
The controller is a big improvement over the previous xbox controller. I might go as far as saying it is the best standard game controller I have used, except that I've being irritated by the D-Pad on it. It remains to be seen if I get used to this.
The non-gaming functions are good, but not flawless. The music player works well (and the Jeff Minter visualiser is indeed amazing). It can play things from portable devices plugged into the USB ports. It recognised my iPod Nano, and happily played the mp3 files on it. Unfortunately, it wouldn't play the AAC encoded files on it (even though they were not drm encrypted). Xbox live features downloads of videos of various stuff, and the Hi-Def video does look great.
I've only played the first mission of Perfect Dark Zero. So far it seems competent but not spectacular. Gameplay seems pretty much as expected, and a clear successor to GoldenEye.
Project Gotham Racing looks good, but still suffers a few graphical flaws, probably due to the rushed nature of the development. The detail in the modelling of the cities and the car interiors is very impressive though. Gameplay seems pretty much unchanged from the previous one (though this isn't a disaster, as the previous one was very solid).
Kameo is the most 'next generation' looking of the games I've got. It makes extremely heavy use of pixel shaders to produce shiny and bumpy surfaces everywhere (perhaps rather too often in fact), and the sheer density of stuff in the levels is impressive. Gameplay seems pretty standard for a platformer/action adventure.
So far I've bought one game from the Xbox Live Arcade: Geometry Wars Evolved. This is a very retro shooter, but has some really neat effects, and gets extremely hectic.
So far, I've not found the xbox 360 to be particularly revolutionary, but it is generally highly competent console. Hopefully future games will take more advantage of the hardware.