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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

Xbox One X
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4

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

Perfect Dark

Perfect Dark

Call of Duty 2
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Dark Sector
Frame City Killer
Full Auto
Gears of War
Kameo: Elements of Power
Perfect Dark Zero
Quake 4
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter
 Written by Nick Doukas  on May 16, 2005

Specials: Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God...

Well, the machine has been officially announced. We've all seen it, and we've all seen the incredible specs. A supercomputer in a box ? a Teraflop of performance?from a console? Yes, it sure looks that way. Of course, all the power in the world won't mean a thing if talented developers don't exploit everything it's capable of. As with any new hardware; historically, the first batch of games - while clearly a step above the previous generation - aren't completely representative of what the machine is truly capable of. The real advancements are made as the cycle progresses, and developers learn the intricacies of the hardware. Think about the difference between the first Splinter Cell game and Chaos Theory. That said, the games that have been shown so far for the 360 are nothing short of astounding. A few are fairly pedestrian offerings (cough*Tony Hawk*cough) but games like Gears of War, Dark Sector, and Ghost Recon 3 are quite obviously set to blow gamers away with their vast improvements in visual fidelity, character animations, and incredible attention to detail.

Gears of War

Wow, this one took me by surprise. Epic played a little shell game a while back, releasing absolutely jaw dropping screens of several brand new, obviously next gen character models and environments. All part of a ?tech demo? to show off the capabilities of the Unreal 3 engine. Not so it seems. These were actually assets for a game called Gears of War. If there's a title that displays what this new generation will be capable of, this is it. Featuring incredible dynamic shadowing and near photo-realistic, insanely complex character models with a truly staggering amount of texture detail, as well as environments that look stunningly, positively ? not to mention convincingly ? real, Gears of War is simply inconceivable in the visuals department. This isn't eye candy, it's eye caviar. The displacement mapping the Unreal 3 engine is capable of is outstanding, as it gives any flat surface completely realistic bumps and protrusions. In other words, everything truly looks like a living, breathing world. Characters no longer move with that vaguely puppet-like animation seen in many games this gen, instead loping realistically across an open courtyard, or rolling behind cover to pop up and attack a battalion of enemies raining death down from the second story of a bombed out building. All with perfectly natural, smooth and graceful movements.

The short demo of GoW is nothing short of eye-popping. Following a group of heavily armored, futuristic soldiers, we see a massive attack in the aforementioned courtyard, with characters and environments that are literally photo-real. As well the physics are far beyond what we see currently. Every surface sports astonishing detail, and chunks of wood and stone are blown all over the screen as the environment is torn apart by the laser fire being exchanged. Suddenly, we see the hero soldier on the run as a huge, menacing alien creature smashes through stone walls to give chase. The creature is hard to believe as real-time gameplay, it really looks that good, but rest assured it is. Gears of War should be available Q1 2006. We'll be following this one eagerly.

Condemned: Criminal Origins

Sega steps up to the 360 next gen plate with Condemned, where Resident Evil meets Silence of the Lambs. You'll play as FBI agent Ethan Thomas, a man who hunts monsters ? the psychopathic serial killers that inhabit the dark corners of the world. More of an adventure game in the RE mold ? slow, methodical gameplay ? Condemned will feature a wide variety of firearms, but its brutal melee system seeks to evoke visceral thrills from gamers. Players will be able to rip a pipe, or a piece of wood from a wall and use it to brutalize attacking crazies. You'll also be able to turn emptied weapons into makeshift bludgeoning tools. The game sports realistic shadowing, lighting and textures that look like Doom 3 on speed, and the character models look, and behave, in incredibly realistic ways. Add to this a physics system that enables authentic reactions in every single object inhabiting the world, and you have a recipe for next generation immersion as the universe of the game comes alive like never before. Condemned looks incredible for a launch title, and one can only wonder what we're in store for as the new gaming era dawns if something like this is just the beginning.

Frame City Killer

This title from Namco flew in under the radar, but damned if it doesn't look outstanding. With an atmosphere like The Matrix on steroids, Frame City Killer runs on the Unreal 3 technology (expect to see that engine licensed out a lot in the near future) and takes place in a futuristic city circa 2042. You'll play as Crow, an enigmatic agent who's sent to Frame City to combat a group of terrorists bent on exploiting a new technology to commit mass murder. Simply put, Frame City Killer looks amazing. Clearly one can see how much more detailed not only the main character is, but also the NPCs when compared with previous efforts. Clothes wrinkle and shift realistically, and movements and animations are thoroughly convincing - something that looks to be a hallmark of the new generation. The way they're all animated is much more natural looking than before, and the whole city is bustling by in real-time as you run around, with no jaggies, no draw-in, and a rock steady framerate. I actually can't believe the size of the city, with all those NPCs, incredible detail on everything from buildings, to signs, cars and people, and no draw-in. The lighting and shadowing is incredible as well. Witness the sheen from the street lights on the sidewalk pavement. The main character's shadow is completely dynamic as you can see it move around him, and it gets longer and shorter depending on the closest light source's distance and angle. Everything appears to have more weight, more depth than ever before, and it's these steps towards true realism within the game world that makes the next generation so exciting.

The in-game action literally has the quality of CGI cutscenes from this gen, it's hard to believe it's actually in-game, but once again?it is. The hand-to-hand combat looks intense, and the character animations and physics look outstanding, particularly in this regard. Weapons combat seems sweet as well, with an excellent over the shoulder aiming view ala Resident Evil 4. One scene where Crow snipes two enemy mercenaries in black suits is incredible, as they look ultra-realistic as they're hit and drop to the ground. Overall, Frame City Killer looks to become a highly anticipated 360 title.

Quake 4

What can I say about Quake 4? Well, it's been in development for PC, and is of course a perfect fit for the fledgling 360. Nothing will need to be sacrificed in this version, since Microsoft's new machine features a graphics processor that's at least a generation ahead of anything on the market today. Quake 4 will feature a fully fleshed out single player campaign that pits you as an Earth Marine against the evil Strogg, a cyborg race that harvests human flesh for consumption. Raven Software promises a great multiplayer experience as well, with updates of classic Quake weapons (nail gun please) and insanely high quality graphics provided by the Doom 3 engine. Vehicles will play a part in the fun, and it looks like Quake 4 may be the first big 360 Live game, the Halo 2 of the new generation if you will. I know I'll want a copy at launch, and there's every reason to believe Quake fans are in for a real treat as one of the best FPS games of all time enters the 21st century. A must have 360 title.

Full Auto

Sega again shows strong support for the 360 with Full Auto, a car combat game that feels like PGR on acid crossed with Twisted Metal. Amazing visuals and a beautifully modeled city sport ultra-realistic car models loaded with 50 millimeter cannons and missile launchers, all thrust into fully destructible environments. Fire a missile and hit a building face, and watch as you take out an entire city block when the gas station next door blows sky high. Fully reactive AI means no scripted accident scenes ever, and every crash is unique to the situation. The game takes place in the near future, and you'll be tasked with driving in combat races to take out a gang of thugs called The Sheperds. Full Live support is expected as well, with a variety of game types to keep you and your friends blowing things (and each other) up well into the night. The chain reactions caused by your weapons - as well as those of the other combatants ? must be seen to be believed, and if the game plays as promised in the demos, this could be an early hit for the 360. The ability to rewind accidents and instantly reconstruct the destruction you've just wrought is a key feature that's only made possible by the power of the new hardware. Not to mention that those chain reaction explosions redefine the words ?destructible environments?. We'll be watching with great interest.

Perfect Dark Zero

It's finally set to arrive, after years of speculation and platform jumping, Rare's follow up to its N64 masterpiece Perfect Dark - behold Perfect Dark Zero. Microsoft's purchase of Rare seemed like an empty victory with nothing heard from the studio other than the lackluster Grabbed By The Ghoulies in the past year or so. Well, that's about to change with Perfect Dark Zero. Slated to be a launch title, PD0 is poised to be the Halo of the 360's debut. A deep single player campaign set in the complex and wildly interesting future Earth of Special Agent Joanna Dark, PD0 promises to bring cutting edge FPS gameplay to the table and intense multiplayer to 360 Live with planned 50 person matches. The ability to use JetPacks in online combat appears poised to bring some fresh play mechanics to the genre, and the other quirky weapons and gadgets look like tons of fun. It's quite likely that virtually every 360 sold will wind up with its new owner playing PD0. Visually, the game is shaping up nicely, and once the code is optimized and it's running in 720p 16:9 widescreen come this November, Perfect Dark Zero will usher in the next generation of console gaming from Microsoft. We can't wait.

Closing Impressions

Dark Sector, Ghost Recon 3, Kameo: Elements of Power, Call of Duty 2 (another perfectly timed PC port), the visually astounding Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - these are a few more of the highly anticipated titles we'll see in the subsequent months after the console's launch this coming November. The early offerings are tantalizing, so visually stunning that we can only shake our heads in disbelief as the next generation comes roaring in. Stay tuned for huge E3 coverage this week here at Gaming Target, and tons more stuff on the Xbox 360 and its amazing games as information becomes available.

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