Xbox 360 – First Two Weeks

by Rob Williams on December 8, 2005 in Gaming

It’s been a little over two weeks since I’ve gotten my Xbox 360, and I’m here to give my experiences with the system so far. This console certainly has it’s issues, but do the pros make up for the cons?

THAW, Perfect Dark & PGR3

Tony Hawks American Wasteland

Supports 1 Player or 2 Player Co-Op, and online up to 8 Players. HDTV 480p/720p/1080i

Neversoft is back again with the seventh installment of this extreme skateboarding series. I am a massive fan of the series and have beaten all the games numerous times, so I could not wait to see how this game looked on the new console. I also own the game for the original Xbox, so I had an easy way to see differences between both versions. I can honestly say right off the bat, that this game has the worst graphics of _any_ launch title, and Neversoft should be ashamed to even release it for a next gen console. The game looks great on the original Xbox, because you don’t expect anything outrageous in the graphics dept. on a 5 year old console. Very little upgrading has been done though, so this is basically an anti-aliased, sharper version of the PS2 version.

Graphics aside though, this is a pretty quality game if you are a fan of the series at all. The story mode is pretty corny as usual. You are a not-so-average skating Joe that moves to LA in order to try to make it in the skateboarding world. You meet up with a punker girl that helps you progress through the game, and get’s you in good with the local skaters. The story unfolds as you explore all the available areas in the game, and there is a few. You start out in LA and end up traveling through Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and even an Oil Rig. All the levels are very fun to skate in, although they would have been cooler if the graphics were up to par with this console!

When this game was originally announced, we were promised an awesome skating experience that would bring us right back to the 80’s. If anyone out there can remotely tell me how this game has anything to do with the eighties, please let me know. I was jumping in expecting great punk music from the eighties, but nope. Don’t get me wrong though, if you are a fan of punk music as I am, then you will love the selection. There is Taking Back Sunday, Rise Against, Frank Black, Bad Religion, SNFU, Saves the Day and many more.

One thing that truly burns me about this game is the difficulty level. If you are at all good at previous Tony Hawk games, you will breeze through this installment without a problem. The most difficult goals are ones were it depends more on luck and not skill. If you have some skill, you could jump into the highest difficulty settings and clean off the entire career mode in 4 – 5 hours, which is all it took me. It seems that Neversoft were catering more to THPS newbies, rather than help the game be fun for veterans. I am really disappointed with Neversoft and this installment, and hope they rectify the issues with this game with the next installment. Overall, if you enjoy THPS games, rent this one. Only buy it if you are a hardcore THPS fan.

Perfect Dark: Zero

Supports 1 – 4 Players and Online Multiplayer up to 32 Players. HDTV 720p

Joanna’s finally back in a hugely anticipated game. I have been looking forward to this game ever since it was announced to come out on the Nintendo Gamecube. I was then excited again when it was supposed to come out on the Xbox. Now, finally it comes out on the Xbox 360 as a launch title. I was a huge fan of the first Perfect Dark, and devoted enough time to it to beat it on the hardest difficulty. I must have seriously lost my touch with this one though, because I find the normal difficulty setting to be difficult.

The most difficult part of this game is getting used to the control scheme. If you are a huge Halo fan, then you may have no issues. After going for a long time without playing a console FPS, I found myself very frustrated with trying to aim. All those of Counter-Strike hours certainly haven’t paid off much, I guess. Besides the control scheme, this is a very beautiful game in terms of graphics. The environments are great and the character models are amazing. Something I immediately noticed is how Rare got overly happy with making everything shine.. literally. It seems most surfaces in this game are shiny, or glossy.. like they are wet. They even pulled off making a desert land look wet.. amazing!

In terms of storyline, it’s the same ole thing. You are the heroine, here to save the day. The enemy AI was cheap in my opinion, it’s obviously dumbed down for the console market. They are dumbed down, because if you are like me, it will take you 10 seconds to aim at the guy. Maybe a few more hours will help get me better at aiming, so I can’t bash the game just because I am a console FPS noob.

Many people are stating that the game really shines online, but since I suck at controlling the game, it certainly doesn’t shine for me. I find it more unrealistic to say that least, that I shoot someone in the face 10 times with a pistol and they still stand. This game may be so much better with a Keyboard/Mouse combo, but that will never happen. If you want a quality single player FPS experience on this console, you should pick up Call of Duty 2 if WWII themes pique your interest. Quake IV is also available, which may be a good choice since it comes with the full version of Quake II as well.

Project Gotham Racing 3

Supports 1 – 2 Players or Systemlink for 2 – 8. Online Multiplayer for 2 – 8. – HDTV 720p

This game is one of the ‘killer apps’ to have, and is a necessity for any racing fan. If you have played PGR2 or even Gran Turismo 4, then you will be used to the extreme realism. The game takes place in five different locales including, Tokyo, London, New York, Las Vegas and Nürburgring. Bizarre Creations boasts that this is one of the best racing experiences you will ever see, because it’s so realistic. This is helped by the awesome graphics and extreme control. You cannot jump into this game expecting a Need for Speed experience, because that won’t happen. There is a lot of strategy and precise controlling that you must nail down in order to succeed at the game.

This version of the game is very, very similar to PGR2. Sadly, there hasn’t been any real notable additions, but the game is still very solid. The graphics most notably, are incredible. Racing through the cityscape will make you crash once or twice, guaranteed. There have been a few times when I was in awe of the building designs and crashed straight into a wall. This brought me to another thing that impressed me. As I crashed into a wall, the people behind it backed off and raised their arms in fear. This was a very cool feature that seems small, but adds a lot to the realism. The crowd is not some posterboard either, each person is made up of a wealth of polygons and are unique in their actions.

The levels are very well designed and a blast to race in. You will be visiting many of the races over and over, so you will learn quick how to handle each and every corner you encounter. The AI is very smart in this game, but not overly smart. Even the easiest difficulty in the game can offer you a challenge, so it’s not a walk in the park. If you beat this game on normal or above, you can feel good about it, because it’s a challenging game.

New though is the online TV and leaderboards. You can actually log on and few some of the top players in the world as they race live, with no lag! Also, as you view the leaderboards in each game mode and track, you can view replays of the race where the record was set. This is a great way to see how the top players earn so many Kudos and take turns so well. It’s like a free racing lesson, and is one of the coolest features I have seen in any launch game.

If you are a racing fan, don’t hesitate to pick this one up. Out of the three racing launch titles, this is the one that must be in your collection.

Rob Williams

Rob founded Techgage in 2005 to be an 'Advocate of the consumer', focusing on fair reviews and keeping people apprised of news in the tech world. Catering to both enthusiasts and businesses alike; from desktop gaming to professional workstations, and all the supporting software.

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