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Chris's Xbox 360 MTV Special Impressions
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posted by: Chris Martin
date posted: 12:00 AM Thu May 12th, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Thu May 12th, 2005

Microsoft is either crazy or fearless and the line between the two is becoming more and more blurred.  In the entire 30 minute segment I saw, perhaps, two minutes of real game footage.  The rest of the time was filled with "eyewitness" accounts from professional gamers, a few questions from Rare, and a lot of music by none other than The Killers.  Now, I'm not terribly impressed with the show itself, but my impressions of the Xbox 360 haven't changed.  I still know little to squat, except what it officially looks like (which, anticlimactically, confirms rumors that futuristic toasters are "in").  So, it was a MTV infused, flashy, hype-spooged commercial that did little to showcase gameplay, hardware, or even graphics.  So what are we to even think about Microsoft's next-generation platform?  Well, at least it's in the public eye.

From a game perspective, there wasn't much to see.  There was an interesting, albeit short, demo of Perfect Dark Zero where some professional gamers, television, and music stars gunned each other down for a while.  There seems to be some sort of hover or rocket-pack functionality in the multiplayer - we'll have to see how that works for the overall gameplay. One gamer commented that the game did things that she'd "never seen before in a game" while others were cut short by the brevity of the program.  Still, each game showcased (only in short bursts) looked very early and so whether the graphics are revolutionary (to quote Dan Rather from the 2000 Presidential Election) is too close to call.  We've seen so little here, so many blurbs that neither confirm the system's prowess nor disencumber faithful viewers from the burden of wait.  Still, the game demos looked choppy and were probably not optimized for the system.  It doesn't matter how much processing or graphical power a system has unless the code is optimized for play - in this case, the Xbox 360 might have been a victim of Microsoft's ambition.  Still, the games looked rather detailed, if not revolutionary, and with 7 or so months to go until the Xbox 360 release, game developers have enough of a buffer to fine-tune their games for launch. 

With what has been shown so far, I am still impressed that some of the games were even shown this far from release.  It's like having a pre-E3 E3.  If they're that finished this far from release, imagine what the teams at Rare, Microsoft Studios, and others can do in the interim.  Just remember that the bulk of Halo 2's programming and finishing was completed in the 6 month streak before release.

As far as looks go, the Xbox 360 was sharp looking.  I could care less about the customizable face-plates, but someone might think they're nifty, right?  I wished we had more on the system - controller impressions, wireless capabilities, online functionality.  I also wanted to know more about the 50 person online capability of Perfect Dark Zero.  FIFTY!  This number is unprecedented for an online console game.  And what about the small comment from Tony Hawk that his next game would be of the "entire city of Los Angeles"...wait a minute.  Not just a segment of LA, but the entire thing?  I'm interested if this is where the next generation of games is going, toward the ability to recreate cities or more in their entirety.  If so, I'm excited.  I can imagine doing a darkslide off my grandfather's porch rail...sweet.

Even though the event was a little shaky - and the it was more-or-less MTV making a fool of itself - I remain hopeful for the future of the console.  The segments where The Killers played music was nice except it had little to do with Xbox 360.  I'm not terribly happy about the name but at least it makes sense - Microsoft even had their Xbox logo bent around a sphere this time around.  All in all it was a rather unproductive night, but where I watched it we, at least, had some pretty good burgers.