Our retail review 360 finally came in today and after an interesting adventure at the UPS John and I finally got the unit back to my house. If you have a box opening fetish there are several other sites that can have already posted a ton of pictures of what the device and the packing materials look like. If you want some pictures of the unit and accessories you can check out the images at the bottom of the page. A few quick notes on what’s in the box:
Total setup time was less than 30 minutes but your mileage may vary depending on if you've already attached you Gamertag to a passport account or not. While you may not like the idea of doing so, it makes setting up your Xbox Live very, very easy.
After finally getting all of that in it was time to play some games. I had picked up NHL 2K6 and Condemned: Criminal Origins before dinner and since I’m one of the few hockey fans left on the face of the Earth I figured it was only proper to fire that game up first. Given that I don’t have an HDTV I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. The game looks and plays exactly like the Xbox version. Sure there’s the new goalie controls but I’m not sure that really justifies an extra $40. I’m going to play the game a little bit more tomorrow but I have a feeling that one is going back to EB for Madden 06 or something else. I can also see 2KSports didn’t come up with a backwards compatible patch for 2K6 as they are trying to sell new versions of the game on the 360.
Condemned was a much better example of what the 360 is capable of. I only got through the first level and a half but the game is exceedingly well done and good looking. Lots of little graphical tweaks here and there that really spruces up the game. Is it something that could be done on a high end PC? Maybe but it would require you to spend a lot more on the PC to play it at the same level you would on the 360. I did have a blast with this game and there were more than a few creepy moments in the game. Monolith has done a great job with the sound in the game and I like how objects lying around can be used as weapons.
The new Xbox Live functionality is pretty solid. I really like that you can download demos and trailers for free and check them out before buying them. The new Xbox Arcade is also excellent and again, the trying before buying system is a good way to get people to buy games. I tried out the trials of Gauntlet and Geometry Wars tonight and both were pretty solid. I’ll probably be buying Geometry Wars next week as the game is just a blast to play.
Here are a few miscellaneous notes to wrap things up for the day.
The achievement system of Xbox Live is awesome and it’s a blast to unlock things as you go along in the game. However it’s up to the developers to take advantage of that system and you’re going to have companies that kind of half-ass the system just to get it certified as Live Aware (I’m looking at you 2KSports and your six achievements for NHL2K6)
Fan noise is going to be an issue for a lot of people. They aren’t quite Delta 70+db loud but you will notice them when you are playing a stealth game like Condemned.
When you download something off Xbox Live it looks like you are stuck on that screen while you are downloading it (i.e. no playing something while something download in the background). I would think you can do this but I haven’t figured it out yet. Not a big deal when downloading 35 meg arcade demo but kind of a big deal when you want to pull down a 500+ meg real game demo
So far I’m pretty impressed with the potential of the device. The Marketplace system has some major potential for changing the way people buy and play games. I’m interested to see how MS regulates what people sell on the system but if they make it pretty easy to publish small games on the system it’s going to be huge.
Tomorrow and Sunday I’m going to take a look at the multimedia capability of the system and play around with connecting miscellaneous devices to the system and seeing how all that works. I’m also going to try and find one of the Xbox 360 VGA connectors so I can run it at high def on my LCD monitor and maybe pick up one or two more games.
If you have any particular questions about the system that you want answered click my name at the top of the page and send me an e-mail. I’ll do what I can to get back to you (yes I know the pictures of the TV suck but it was the only solution at the time).
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom. I have been a Microsoft Xbox MVP since 2009.