Friday, May 13, 2005

Confessions of a Fanboy - Xbox360 Revealed!

OK, I'll admit it, I am a current Xbox "fanboy". It's really my first console, outside of an Atari 7800 my parents bought me WAY back when. I played Pole Position 2 ALL NIGHT, the FIRST NIGHT we had the thing, and then never touched the game again, because it haunted my dreams for days thereafter.

As we break into a new era of "NEXT-GEN" console gaming, I am starting to question why I am getting excited about the Xbox360 (hereafter will be called X360). The original Xbox was purchased for one reason: HALO. I got excited about this game years ago, when it was being developed independently and headed to the PC. Microsoft then swooped in, bought Bungie, put a lid on the project, and a couple years later, WHAM, we had Halo on the new Xbox. The game, flat out, rocked, and still rocks - it's a high achievement of video gaming, and obviously, sold Xboxs like no other game could. Want to know what game has been in my Xbox for the last 6 months? Halo 2....DUH! The online component to this game has been a blast - I've enjoyed this game with so many of my friends, it's been awesome! Suprisingly, I have actually played other games on the console - but few can claim as many hours as Halo/Halo2.

So, on the cusp of another console release, I ask the same question...what will sell these consoles? I have read all the spec sheets, comparisons, seen pictures of the X360, read commentary...I've been soaking it up like a sunflower seeds steal the spit from a ball player. This console has got a ridiculous amount of horsepower. A triple-core processor? Why does a console need a triple core processor? I guess Microsoft thinks it does; this is something that we know will take over in the desktop realm within the year, but only DOUBLE core! So with THREE CORES, the X360 seems way ahead of it's time. I guess we will have to wait and see how truly advanced this processor will be, how many transistors are onboard, and how many lemmings it can put on the screen at once - it's hard to compute what it means (for lack of a better term) for gaming. We can spit terms like "tera flop", "polygon count", and "giga flop" till we want to puke binary bits out of our mouths, but what is the true value of hardware?

The nerd part of me says; "Wow, all that hardware for under $400? Give me one!". I mean, it's a great deal of power on the cheap - dual core processors WILL cost more per chip than this entire unit! But hardware means nothing if it isn't utilized. I have a GeForce 6800 GPU in my desktop rig, but hardly play games on the computer anymore, so what is the point of having spent 250 bucks on it? The value of hardware is measured by the software that utilizes it. So far, Microsoft has shown off it's sexy box (and yes, I think it looks fine!), but the games showcased so far are unimpressive (outside of a few titles). I would have to say showing off an early lame build of a "next-gen" game is actually a detrement to its future. Developers, TAKE YOUR TIME, release the good stuff only!

If you haven't heard, Microsoft actually specializes in software, so I believe there is an inherent focus on this with the X360. We all have to realize that a lot of next-gen games will probably be awful, just like games on our boxes right now can make us hate gaming in general; the best hardware in the world can't save a CRAP game! With that said, I wonder what game, or maybe even a few games, will take our experiences to the next level. I honestly HOPE it's NOT HALO 3! Let's all practice a lost art known as PATIENCE, and give the developers and studios time to produce dazzling games.

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