15 May, 2005

PALGN Roundtable #6: Xbox 360 Discussion

360 Feature | Our staff sit down to talk about the Xbox 360, and their initial reaction to the console, updated with more reactions.
After the announcement of the Xbox 360 merely two days ago, there have been mixed reactions to the console; however, the general consensus is that Microsoft have started the console race very positively. We asked some of our staff to comment on their initial reactions to the Xbox 360, after all the information has been released and we've seen the first screenshots.

James, PALGN Manager:

In two words: Not bad

The console itself looks great. It’s easily the best looking console I’ve seen to date. I love the curved shape, although the changeable face plates seem a tad silly. Changeable phone covers work because you use your phone in public. Are people going to be walking around with an Xbox 360 in their pockets?

The detachable hard drive is a great idea. I recently purchased an external hard drive for my computer. File sharing is so much faster and easier. If I need to upgrade I can just buy an extra drive. With the talk of downloading games on the 360, this could mean that taking your entire collection of games over to a mates place, would simply be a case of bringing your hard drive along.

As always it’s the games that make the system, but at this stage there really isn’t enough information about any of the games to make judgments on them. I’m looking forward to seeing how Perfect Dark Zero and Alan Wake turn out. Hopefully E3 will shed some light in this area.

I think Microsoft have a done a lot of the right things so far. A lot of thought, not just money has gone into the 360. That’s previously been something that I needed to look to Nintendo for. I get the overall impression that the system is far more creative than the original Xbox. This can only be a good thing.

Karl, Staff Writer:

Everything that has been revealed so far about the Xbox 360 seems good but I do have my doubts about this next gen.

The actual look of the console is quite appealing to me. The colors and the shape makes it look quite futuristic. The external hardrive concept to me is both a bad and a good thing - Its great that now it will be easier to expand on the systems storage. Although having a external hard drive on top of the Xbox makes it look a little less attractive.

The controller and remote are both in the same style which is nice. Its great to see their taking Online play to a whole new level - with the Xbox Live button on both peripherals. The actual GUI of the new system seems quite impressive - the whole concept of player cards to find similar skilled oppenents with similar tastes is great.

The system's stats are quite impressive. Im sure that developers will be able to produce more 'consistant' games. It seems that Perfect Dark Zero will be on the same level of hype as Halo. Although the graphics still dont seem to be 'next gen'.

Xbox 360 may have some great new titles. But the Graphical leap between this upcoming gen and the last dosent seem that amazing compared to the past leaps.

Matt Keller, Staff Writer:

I hated the MTV show - too much focus on the celebrities, and not enough on the system and the games.

Initially, the hardware had me the most excited. The design is easy on the eyes, there's a lot of power under the hood, and the features that Microsoft are boasting are very appealing. Even though I hate DRM, I can see myself using the Media Centre streaming functions a lot. Wireless pads are a godsend, though I would have hoped that the pads out of the box would be of the rechargable variety. Xbox Live out of the box is a good idea, though I would like to see Microsoft offer some payment options which don't require a credit card. The thing I was most glad to see though was the standardised support for 16:9, 720p and 1080i - without HDTV support, the difference between this generation and next generation may not have been as impressive. If Microsoft can follow this up with standardised 60Hz support for PAL gamers, I'll be in line on launch day.

Some of the games were underwhelming at first, but that is because screenshots simply do not do these games justice. For example, Namco's Frame City Killer looks positively awful in the screenshots that were released, but the trailer reveals some of the qualities you can't catch in the screenshots, such as seriously impressive lighting, lighting fast framerate and hordes of people on screen (though some parts of the game look like they need work). Rare look they might have a bit more work to do on the look of Perfect Dark Zero, but I have faith that they can deliver. Games are only going to look better once the developers have grasped the system and can start to squeeze every last drop out of it - titles like Gears of War and NBA 2K6 look really damn impressive now - just think about what we'll be getting in 3-4 years time.

Jeza99, Staff Writer:

From what I've seen so far I like the look of the system. The design is sleek, wireless controllers are nice, the detachable harddrive is intuitive and the overall specs of the machine are mind-blowing. The system could be a very exciting prospect and it looks like Xbox Live is going to be taken to the next level. I mean, easy, attractive and accessable online communities are a place where console gaming hasn't gone and it looks like it can now be done from the comfort of your own couch, infront of a big-screen TV.

However, at the moment I see that the current announced games are a less exciting prospect. Perfect Dark Zero looks like Halo and can we really expect much of a game that has been hopping from system to system to system over the course of the last 5 years (I mean Kameo)? Then you the rest of the games, will these games be better than games in this current generation, or will they just look better? I mean, the latest DOA4 images really aren't anything new.

With the Xbox 360 controller being virtually the same as the previous one, I don't see there being any real gameplay enhancements. This leaves the age-old question: Will graphics prevail over gameplay? Just because the exact same game looks better on this system (NFS, Madden, Tiger Woods), will it play anybetter. Dark Sector and Gears of War look awesome but how will they play? Then you've got games like Condemned which are extremely dark, to the point where you can't see anything!

Obviously, the arguement will be that customization will be king with the Xbox 360. Using the Xbox Live features, players will find a level of customization that is unlike anything that they've had before. Though this leads to the next question, how far are people willing to go to pay for all this? Though the game card system seems efficient and a little bit here and there probably won't hurt. Still, I pay enough for my games and I'm really not enticed into splurging more.

The only other thing that worries me is the fact that Microsoft have yet to confirm whether Xbox 360 will be backwards compatible. It it's not, than I think it is a wasted opportunity to nail home an obvious advantage. It worked wonders for the PS2 and trying to think of a logical reason as to why it won't be backwards compatible makes my head spin.

Despite my doubts, I remember that Shigeru Miyamoto once said the next upcoming generation will produce games that are stuff of dreams. Well, it's time to wake up and see if the dreams can become a reality!

Perfect Dark Zero

Perfect Dark Zero
Brendan, Editor:

Visually, the machine is pretty damn good. It's one of the better designed machines in recent history, and a big leap from the Xbox. The white gives it a somewhat unique look, too. You could almost complain that it looks a little too much like a PC, but really, that's not a bad thing. Wireless controllers are definitely a step in the right direction, too - but no comment until we actually use them.

Their Xbox Live marketplace looks like an interesting idea, but it's questionable whether it will be an actual innovation or simply a gimmick. If developers utilise it to its fullest, it could be quite interesting. Unfortunately, that really seems to be it as far as new features go - do we really need a new console in the next twelve months if all we get are slightly improved graphics?

That leads me to the other point - some games are looking a lot like current Xbox software. Perfect Dark Zero, which looks like being the machine's flagship, looks underwhelming. It should play fantastic - but then again, it would play fantastic on the Xbox hardware we already own, too. Ghost Recon 3 on the other hand looks utterly brilliant.

I'm still on the fence at the moment, though. The console's hardware is really impressive and there are some good features - but for me, the games have a long way to go.

Ghost Recon 3

Luke Van Leuveren, PR Director:

The Xbox 360 seems to be really appealing to those who love their gadgets, and not surprisingly i am one of those people. I am most excited about Project Gotham Racing 3 and the inevitable announcement of Rallisport Challenge 3, but their do appear to be a lot of franchises that Microsoft are banking on.

I wish we knew the release date of the console for Australia as well, however we've contacted Microsoft and should know the release date tomorrow, what will be interesting is when we find out the launch price of the console, and the price of the games when they launch, Microsoft have an opportunity to set a precedent here for software pricing, so they really have to think about this carefully.

Otherwise my initial reactions are positive, the hardware is much better looking than the original Xbox, and the media centre inclusions look extremely promising. I look forward to more information being released at E3.

Full Auto

David, Staff Writer:

The machine itself look even more like a PC then the last one! It doesn't matter what it looks like, but I can't see it winning too many friends based on looks alone. Too big again as well.

Wireless controllers are always a good idea. No cords means you can hide the machine away in a cupboard while you play – so it doesn't matter if you don't like the look of it! I'll have to try the controller to judge it fully though.

The games look ok so far. Nothing blows my socks off graphically, and some are outright weak, like the first batch of Perfect Dark Zero screens (and the new screens look like a different game, what gives?) No way of knowing gameplay yet, but the controller has nothing new, a sign that things will be pretty similar. Have to play them though.

I have no opinion on the online stuff, as I don't play consoles online, so I've nothing to comapre it to!

All this was pretty predictable, and some of the biggest questions remain unanswered – Price and backward compatibility.

Chris, Staff Writer:

I'm a big lover of white consoles, so I'm more than happy with how the Xbox 360 looks. It's a nice size and it can be stacked vertically to save space, so there's no real complaints for me. The joypad has what the Xbox joypad needed and that's 2 shoulder buttons instead of the Black and White buttons. The d-pad still looks poor but the rest of the pad is pretty much how I was hoping it would be. After using the Wavebird for the past 3 years I'll be first to compliment the decision on wireless controllers too.

As for the software we've seen so far I'm quite impressed. Gears of War, Project Gotham Racing 3 and Ghost Recon 2 look stunning, while the likes of Kameo will be providing the sort of game the Xbox lacked. Perfect Dark doesn't look too hot from the screenshots, but anyone who's seen the MTV videos can see it looks far better in motion and considering it originally started life on the Gamecube I'm sure the fact it's been transferred to 3 different systems has taken its toll on the graphical quality. I'm confident it'll look up to scratch for launch. Excuse the pun, but Rare rarely fail to deliver when it comes to graphics.

To be brutally honest though, I think we're at a point where graphics are reaching such a level of quality that looking that little bit more realistic isn't such a big deal anymore. Personally, I'm hoping developers use the extra power to code intelligent AI, deeper physics engines and hopefully make most games run at 60fps. Spare me photo-realism, give me clever enemies, a more interactive game world and a silky framerate any day.

As you can tell, our staff members have had some interesting reactions to the Xbox 360, PALGN will have more information on the 360, as soon it becomes available.

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8 years ago
Well its seems like a unanimous decision from all staff members that a slight improvement in graphics doesn't warrant a new console purchase, from what i can gather.

So I ask you this .. should we be focusing on improving other areas of games instead of just focusing on graphics ? I mean improving Artificial intelligence in games, or finding new ways to immerse us into games, etc.

The only company that has the guts to offer true innovation is Nintendo, and I believe that if they don't end up on top in this next generation of console I don't think they will survive another. So hopefully they can show us some true innovations that show us a promising future for console gaming.
8 years ago
^ Thats my opinion. We have reached a point when graphics arent going to improve radically enough to change the gaming experience. Nintendo are making the best move with touch and sound innovation.
8 years ago
Though on the other hand I think theirs always going to be two types of gamers. Those who have seen generations of consoles go past and appreciate the leaps each one has offered and those who have just been introduced to gaming. .. for example people not born during that time, or who haven't gotten interested in gaming until recently.

Its the second type of gamers this generation can fool, with a slight improvements, and as long as their around I fear that both Microsoft and Sony will be offering just slight improvements ever couple of years.
8 years ago
I think the old school gamers want better graphics and more interaction plus better AI but in this day and age there is still ALOT of crud games being produced.
8 years ago
Welcome to the forum choban icon_smile.gif Yes .. though like movies, theirs always going to be good and bad ones. Though if Microsoft has its ways they will be standardizing games that will appear on the xbox 360, they will be getting every developer to offer features that should be considered standard in an xbox game.
8 years ago
i think the control looks abit...... but im getting it so meh.
8 years ago
the price of a new xbox 360 is £130 so david stop complaining these days you cant buy anything for that so this is extremely cheap! i rest my case.
8 years ago
Not all old-school gaers are easily swayed by new graphics, choban.
I'm an old-school gamer, and I am still happiest when playing my SNES or GBA (which is like a mini portable SNES).

That said, I still like the new graphics, and if it looks awesome, then it will turn my head.
But, I won't base my next purchase on graphics alone.

In the end, the Xbox360 is a very powerful machine, one which is seemingle bridging the gap between PCs and consoles (something I'm not partial to).
Interesting roundtable discussion though!
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