As I write this review of tonight’s premier event for the X-Box 360, I am entering my 25th straight hour awake. Today I’ve spent 6 hours on planes, 4 hours waiting in airports, and took an hour walk through downtown Los Angeles to the Shrine Auditorium so understandably, I’m a bit tired. Fortunately, Mountain Dew premiered a test version of their new Mountain Dew Extreme at the party tonight tonight, so I’ve got the fuel to get this article in.
Now that I’ve given my sob story about how long my has been, let me cut to the quick: When it comes to graphics and sound, the meat and potatoes of any gaming experience, the X-Box 360 is light years ahead of any hardware on the market today. The video clips and video-captured gameplay presented tonight gave only the slightest hint as to what this new hardware is going to be capable of, but that small hint was breathtaking.
The 360 as you’re probably aware, takes advantage of HD capable televisions, with a minimum standard of 720p, and capable of 1080i, with anti-aliasing included. Additionally, the minimum standard for audio is now 5.1 Dolby Surround sound. So X-Box 360 purchasers can count on movie theatre quality video and audio from every title created for the platform.
Microsoft predicted 25-40 titles at system launch, expected to be sometime shortly before the 2005 Christmas holiday. Roughly 15 of those titles were shown in some form tonight, and none of them failed to impress. Titles from EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, and a new partnership with Final Fantasy developer Square Enix give the console a great starting point when it comes to launch titles. Additionally, Microsoft further broadened the software base for its new console when it confirmed backwards compatibility for some X-Box games.
My last point when it comes to the gaming aspect of the 360 has to do with the design of the new controller. If you’ve read the list of items I wanted to see at this E3, you’ll remember I was looking for controllers that had evolved. The first point about this new controller is that it comes in both standard plug in and wireless versions. Microsoft is pushing its new wireless controllers as a primary feature of the 360, and with good reason. Also, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to handle one for a few minutes. It is smaller and lighter than today’s controllers, even with batteries installed. It feels more comfortable, even in large hands. In my opinion, it is a step in the right direction.
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