I haven’t posted anything in a while because I’ve spent a lot of my time getting to know my Xbox 360. I was lucky enough to get one on the launch weekend and have been sampling the delights of ‘next-gen’ gaming since. I have to say I’m an Xbox fan and I like very much what Microsoft are trying to do with the Live service.
The Live Arcade is a very clever inclusion which benefits gamers, developers and Microsoft alike. We can trial and buy ‘simple’ games for a fraction of the cost of full releases, developers can write games which would not see release through the traditional channel and Microsoft have a continuing income stream.
I think the dashboard software its self is a bit of a let-down and in need of patching. Microsoft have tried to include great functionality like being able to bring it up at any time during a game but this clearly places a strain on the system – should resources be reserved for this? Downloading large game demos is also a bit of a pain. A game demo can be all of 1GB but you cannot pause and resume downloads and do other things. Navigation through the dashboard is simple, easy and fairly elegant but not a very ‘next-gen’ experience.
The Xbox 360 as a games console is (apparently) a lot less powerful than the PlayStation 3 which boasts up to twice the raw processing power and can drive multiple displays at 1080p, but will anyone be able to take advantage? Sony have stated they will not be operating a similar service to Xbox Live and will leave online gaming up to individual games developers. This is an area in which Microsoft can surely profit. At the end of the day Microsoft and Sony look to be focusing on what they do best: Microsoft on software and Sony on hardware.
The games on Xbox have always been closer to genres associated with PC gaming than the PS2 and the initial crop of 360 titles continues this. Playing the system through my PC monitor further moves the console into the PC space. If you only have a standard definition TV you have to play the 360 through a composite connection unless you purchase an RGB scart cable or VGA cable and use you PC monitor. The latter also gives you the full resolution. If you are going to create a gaming system with so much power why bundle it with an SD composite cable? It looks so bad through composite it really doesn’t do the graphics justice.
All in all I’m very happy with my purchase. The launch titles could do with a couple of months worth of polish but once your speeding along a beautifully recreated Brooklyn Bridge in a Ferrari F50 in PGR3 you can forgive the minor glitches.