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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Xbox 360
GENRE: First Person Shooter
PLAYERS:   1-32
November 22, 2005
Perfect Dark

Perfect Dark

Perfect Dark

Condemned: Criminal Origins
Gears of War
Kameo: Elements of Power
Perfect Dark Zero
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
 Written by GT Staff  on May 13, 2005

Specials: The next generation is upon us...

Tonight, Microsoft fired their preemptive strike in the new console wars by debuting their next generation machine called Xbox 360. In a half hour special on MTV (why am I explaining this? It's not like you guys haven't known about this for a month) the new powerhouse was revealed. Between all the foolish celebrity posturing and other non-gaming related nonsense, a kick-ass next generation console sits, with some seriously impressive specs and the promise of the best gaming yet experienced by veteran digital warriors. Of course, it might be hard to tell from the circus featuring Frodo, Sway, and the angst-ridden singer from The Killers wailing about his girl getting rocked by another guy. Fortunately, we've got more information than that, and we'll have much more coverage during E3. For the time being, read on to see why it's a good time to be a gamer, and an Xbox fan?

First off, let's talk specs. Simply put, these are the guts of your next gen dream machine, and boy do they look impressive: custom IBM PowerPC-based CPU: 3 symmetrical cores at 3.2 GHz each with 2 hardware threads per core, 1 VMX-128 vector unit per core, 1 MB L2 cache. The CPU Game Math Performance - 9 billion dots per second. The 360 sports a custom ATI Graphics Processor featuring 500 MNz, 10 MB embedded DRAM, 48-way parallel floating-point shader pipelines and unified shader architecture. The Memory consists of 512 MB GDDR3 RAM, 700 MNz DDR with memory bandwidth made up of 22.4 GB/s memory interface bus bandwidth, 256 GB/s memory bandwidth to EDRAM, and 21.6 GB/s frontside bus. As for audio how about multi-channel surround sound output, 48 kHz 16-bit audio, 320 independent decompression channels, 32 bit processing, and 256+ audio channels. The Xbox 360 will also feature a removable HDD, and the look of the machine is sleek and stylish. The new controller is basically an S controller with the black and white buttons replaced by two shoulder buttons that sit above the triggers. Ok, sounds like a monster, but what about the games?

Well, from what we saw on the special, Perfect Dark Zero will be a launch title, have jetpacks, and support 50 players per match on Live. Very sweet. Gears of War (running on the Unreal 3 engine) looks astounding, as does Ghost Recon 3. You can clearly see that the new games feature far more detailed graphics and more lifelike animations. Condemned looks pretty amazing, and Kameo will finally make its appearance. That's just the basics. Here's what other members of the staff thought as we gear up to bring you lots more of the Xbox 360 next week:

John Scalzo

So the Xbox 360 special is over. What have we learned? Did we get any new details that haven't already been leaked to the press (probably by Microsoft themselves?)? Did we even get a classy look at the next-generation of video gaming?

It aired on MTV. Need I say more?

This was a debacle of Biblical proportions. If you've read the vitals, then you know that MTV spent more time on the commercials than actually telling you about the system. Elijah Wood looked like he was in a separate room so he wouldn't come in contact with the normies. The Killers appeared through fancy music that was apparently CG effects placed around a live performance. What's the point of a live performance if everything is CG? The rest of the "celebrity guest list" included a dude from Linkin Park, Lil John (who?), Ryan Cabrera (who? again) and Fez, among others.

The "wireless controller, no cords ever" idea was pretty nifty. But who's gonna wipe away the tears when the battery dies just before the final boss in Quake IV? I also liked the ten-second look at the evolution of the Xbox 360 prototype; I just wished it was longer.

Otherwise the whole thing was MTVized to the point where I didn't know what was going on. My girlfriend said she felt like she was having a seizure as she traveled in to the mind of an ADD addled youth.

It wasn't a total loss. There were a few prime seconds of nice in-game footage. Gears of War looked especially cool. But all of it looked like pre-rendered cutscenes. And none of it was overly impressive. I could boot up my PS2 and Cube and get roughly the same experience. The only gameplay we got was Perfect Dark Zero. However, the promise of 50 player deathmatches was interesting. Hell, even the tournament was mildly entertaining (what few seconds of gameplay we could glean from it).

But I will admit that for all the white noise, when you separate the wheat from the chafe, I can't imagine anyone walking away from this special without thinking that the Xbox 360 looks very slick and that the games have some serious potential. I want one, but it wasn't because of this show.

Finally, I'll just repeat: 8:22 worth of commercials, 1:36 of in-game footage. The things I do for a job I don't even get paid for. You'd think in a special about games the powers that be would show some actual games? Show us the games man! I guess I expected way too much from MTV.

Glenn Wigmore

According to all of the media released yesterday (including the MTV special), Microsoft console aficionados have something to look forward to, and that something is the Xbox 360. It would be hard to call the revelations of last night mind blowing or earth shattering, but Microsoft has definitely paved the way for a successful second foray into the console battle.

The design and specs of the 360 were not much of a secret to anyone who has been perusing the Internet over the last few months, but they did manage to make one stand up at attention. The look of the system seems to be much more sleek and refined than the clunky Xbox 1, and it seems to be striving for more of an image (brand recognition) like the PS2 or Sega Genesis. As people were shown holding the unit, its size was obviously dramatically smaller than the current Xbox console, and it is probably comparable to an average-sized DVD player. The look is definitely leaps and bounds ahead of the current-gen ?box. The specs are definitely impressive, but since I'm not much of a tech/numbers guy, I can only speculate as to their potential. Still, from what I've read, the system will have plenty of giddy-up and won't be one-upped by the competition for several years after its release ? and even then the edge will likely only be nominal. Three CPUs, plenty of embedded RAM, and a custom ATI graphics chip were definitely the highlights here.

Features were extensively touted, and most were quite impressive. Wireless controllers are going to be extremely good, especially since it's a first-party affair this time around. Other things such as Wi-Fi readiness, detachable hard drives/face plates, and USB ports are all welcome and useful additions. As for interface features, the ?Guide? seems quite creative, and the prospect of integrating many functions into one easy-to-use area sounds pretty stellar ? watching a movie, but also being able to use voice chat with friends was just one of these additions. It's obvious that Microsoft wanted to make this an all-in-one PC/console unit, but they are really taking that step by having Windows Media Center functions built in for movies, music, and all forms of rich media. The detachable hard drive comes into play here, as the storage could potentially grow for future media that a user downloads onto their system. Speaking of downloads, the ?microtransaction? and Live Arcade features look to be fully integrated this time around, and the ?Guide? interface will make these easily accessible.

The online presence is (obviously) going to be strong for this next console, and Microsoft has laid out plans for a two-tiered system that will be geared for different users. The ?silver? tier will be free for all Xbox 360 owners, and all they will have to do is plug a cable (or use wireless) connection into their console and hook right in. This tier will give them access to basic live features like downloadable content, and it will also give them the ability to play fee-based MMORPGs. However, the current Live service (as we know it) will be part of the ?gold? service and that will allow multiplayer gaming for all capable titles, enhanced matchmaking, profiles, and much more. This seems like a smart approach to me, as the silver users will be able to update games or add some new content, but they won't have to pay the monthly/yearly fee. When teamed with the ?Guide? interface, this new Xbox Live component looks quite strong.

About the only question mark for me after last night is in the software department. After the meager offerings of the MTV special and bits of media on the ?net, one has to wonder if the games will be ready to deliver when the system launches. Some stalwarts like EA and Ubisoft showed impressive clips from games like Madden and Ghost Recon 3, but with only scant bits shown on Rare's Perfect Dark Zero, it's hard to get totally jacked over the games announced. Likely, Microsoft is banking on some sleeper hits such as 2 Days to Vegas or Full Auto to bring gamers into their fold. I see this as the only small weakness in the 360's battle plan, as of now.


It's hard not to be excited by the announcements that have been made about the Xbox 360 so far, and also by what the system could potentially deliver, but there are still question marks around which games will really help sell the system to this next generation. Either way, I'm eager to see the developments at E3 and over the next several months.

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