Sunday, November 27, 2005

Console Wars - Part One : XBOX 360

In this my 4 part piece called console wars, I will be looking at the 3 main consoles:- the 360; PS3; and the Revolution. There will be supplements and a conclusion completely free!

The Xbox 360 has come out this month in America, 2nd of December for the first Xbox over here. No, it's not that bad, but why is there a staggered release. Oh well. Anyhow, the Xbox 360 will have 2 price packages on launch and, although not fully clear, a good selection of launch titles. From racers like PGR3 to FPS like Call of Duty 2.

The price packages are:

£209 - Core

  • One Xbox 360
  • 1 Wired Controller

£279 - Expansive
  • Xbox 360
  • 1 Wireless controller
  • Xbox live kit
  • And also, at launch:
  • Wireless network card
  • Xbox live headset
  • And some other stuff

Neither of these include any games which, for the record, are £50 when the games are launched.

One of the Xbox's strengths was Xbox Live. It worked seamlessly, keeping track of all your scores and allowing you to have one score across multiple games. The only disadvantage was it was pricey. This time round it is free, well silver is anyway. Silver means that you can talk with your friends, play some games(like MMORPGs not games you have bought) and allows you to access and download stuff from the market. You can upgrade to gold, for £50 a year, which will of course allow you to play games on line. The Xbox live headset now goes directly into your controller and shortly after launch it will do even this without any wires.

The Controller

The original Xbox controller is, by a majority vote, its downfall. The black and white buttons being the only problem. These have been moved to the space above the triggers, yes right where your fingers were resting doing nothing. It now looks even more like a GameCube's controller. Also, the start and back buttons have been moved to the center but this is purely for aesthetic reasons. Furthermore, an Xbox live button has been added, this button will take you directly to the Xbox live main menu. The only problem with this being that if you are playing an intense round in any game and you are mashing the controller madly you might accidently hit it, thus terminating the game pretty fast!

Because the controllers are wireless, Microsoft have devised a new system so you know what port you are in. The power button has a green glow around it. This glow, or as Mirosoft call it: 'the ring of power', is segmented into four lights. On the Xbox live button there is the same design. One of these will light up on your controller and a corresponding one on the Xbox. Each light represents a different port. Clever eh?

Very simmilar to the GC, at least you can use the black and white buttons.

Much more stylish while retaining the origanl design. How long will it look that clean though?!

Hard Drive

Another one of the stengths of the Xbox was the hard drive. It meant you didn't need to buy memory cards, you had masses of storage and you would struggle to lose it. Un-fortunately this is changing. As you saw in the price plan, the hard drive is an optional extra. By optional I mean the Xbox will start up with out it. What is worse it, in modern terms 20GB is tiny, most iPods have more than that.

Release Titles

The games look very good though, here is the list for launch. Obviously more will be released fairly soon after but these are the firm-grounded rumour titles:
  • Amped 3 - Snowboarding
  • Call of Duty - WWII Shooter
  • Condemed Criminal Orignins - Shooter
  • Crystal Quest - Crystal Quest
  • Dead or Alive 4 - Fighting
  • eCHANT arM -Adventure
  • Final Fantasy XI - Adventure
  • Kameo : Elements of Power - Platform
  • Mutant Storm - Shooting
  • Need for Speed : Most Wanted - Racer
  • Novadrome - Racing
  • Perfect Dark Zero - Shooting - Yes, it is the PREQUEL to the Dark Zero series
  • Project Gotham Racing 3 -Racing
  • Quake 4 - Shooting
  • The Elder Scrolls : Oblivion - Adventure
  • Tiger Woods PGA tour 06- Golf
  • Tom Clancy's Gost Recon 3 - Shooting
  • Tony Hawks : American Wastland -Skateboarding
  • Wardevil : Unleash the Beast Withing - Action Adventure
Extensive eh? Defintly get PGR 3, it looks immense, I would recommend another but for two reasons I shan't.
1)If you can afford another one at £50 you should give some money to charity
2)There is about 6 or 7 of them which are going to be great, Tony Hawks will be good, as will Ghost Recon, and Elder scrolls and...the list goes on.

The stats are:


Xbox 360


4 2.4GHz Wireless

Embedded Video Memory


Graphics Core Clock Speed


Graphics Processor

Custom ATI Processor

Video Memory

512MB UMA (Shared with CPU)

Controller Ports

Supports up to 4 Controllers

Digital Media Formats


Plug and Play Storage

20GB Removable Hard Drive

L2 Cache



Custom IBM PowerPC CPU

Processor Clock Speed


Built-in Features

Backward Compatible with Xbox (limited), Stands Vertically or Horizontally, Interchangable Face Plates, Xbox Live Service, Media Center Extender

All in all, this means that the graphics are going to be really quite good. When I first saw the graphics I did not believe them. They look real, really real. The amount of formats it supports will mean that you will not have to buy a DVD adaptor. I, as a flash author, am disappointed to see that .swf is not included. Oh well, we can always dream. Also, because of the USB, it means things like PSPs and iPods will plug in. Mircosoft is embracing the enemy.

The Marketing

Many people think that Microsoft have launched too early. They have shortened the life of the Xbox, as it is still going strong. Also, it will mean Sony will have the whole market to themselves. A theory that I have come up with is that because they are a generation behind Sony, they are going to get 2 out before Sony gets one out.

It is clear that they have shortened the life of the Xbox because there are games still planned for release as late as spring next year(Splinter Cell 4)


So we embark on a journey to the next generation. Come January, as they will be sold out until then, there will be an interview with some one who has one as one of my friends is getting it. I think this will be a lot better than the old Xbox and will finally give Microsoft the chance to become a house-hold name in gaming. They can't lose this Christmas. They win by default.

The next generation is here...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The closest gaming gets to philosophy

The great philosophical question:
To get Age of Empires, or to not get age of empires and save my money.

I have thought about this long and hard. And, after 24 hours of deep meditation, I have come to a conclusion. I SHALL GET AGE OF EMPIRES 3.

I had trouble choosing whether to get it because all the reviews on the web are like:
Yeah is great but then again its rubbish, it has the same formula, but thankfully they haven't changed the formula. All these ideas were found in one review. I vow, to give a review that is deciding. That tells you if it is good or bad. Not both. It will be a review GAMESPOT would envy.

*AoE Review after I have reviewed the winter sport game I got*

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Money burning a hole in your pocket?

A random post.

Now is a great time to buy a game if you are looking to spend some money. Lots of good games are out at the moment and Christmas is still far enough away not to worry about stealing someones present idea. If RTS is your style you have 'Age of Empires 3' and 'Civ 4'. If you are still buzzing about the Sims and need something new, or if your looking for a new tycoon game there is 'The Movies'. Also, you have 'Fable Lost Chapters' if you are looking for an RPG. Also, on the market at the moment is Call of Duty 2, a great looking FPS. Barbarian invasion is worth picking up as well, and of course you have the Xbox 360 if you have lots of money in your pocket.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Blog Update

Hello, another month past and another blog update to write. I just managed to review Rome Total War by the end of the month. I started a new blog today @ so read it. Age of Empires 3 has come out in America but is yet to come out here so we all wait in anticipation. I got a new game for my Xbox- international Winter Sports. I got it because it meant I got money off my new controller. Its very fun if some what repetitive. Full review coming this month. Xbox 360 is also coming out this month and it looks INTENSE. My report on it is also coming this month. Facto. I would like to do a couple of posts on things that aren't reviews and stuff but I am not going to reveal them as I want them to be surprise.

I won't get to do my retro reviews for a while. I was planning to add a new monthly section called 'quick reviews'. They will be 1 paragraph reviews of games I just have demos of or went on at a friends house. There will be 5 a month. I might not be able to do it this month but I will try. If I do it will be the last day of each month. I would like to review Star Wars Force Commander for R2D2!

Another thing I would like to include is web-update which would have my favorite flash movie, game and website. I don't know if I will because I might have to much to do.

"All your base are belong to us"