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Xbox 360 hands-on preview

Peter Rojas

Ok, technically I was just one of many journalists at yesterday's press preview event, but I did get a chance to spend a couple of hours with the Xbox 360. I wasn't exactly blown away with every title I saw, but overall I walked away impressed. We'll have a full review of the 360 once we get the review unit they've promised us, but for now a few quick initial impressions:

Xbox 360 preview
  • The event started off with a lengthy tutorial to show off the ins and outs of the console, particularly Xbox Live and its media capabilities. The integration with Xbox Live is excellent and permeates the entire experience � unlike with the original Xbox, it�s hard to imagine using the console without a broadband connection.

  • They also had iPod nanos on hand to demo the 360�s ability to play audio stored on a portable audio device (it can actually play MP3s or WMAs stored on any USB mass storage device), and how you could listen to whatever music you liked during gameplay.

  • The controller itself felt good in the hand and that button in the middle brings you straight to Xbox Live. You can jump instantly in and out of Xbox Live from any game without messing things if you want to check your messages.

Condemned Xbox 360
  • The graphics and textures of Condemned were amazing, and Need For Speed Most Wanted was one of the most photorealistic games I�ve ever seen. Project Gotham Racing 3 was pretty sweet, too, the level of detail in each city was mind-blowing.

  • Somehow managed to repeatedly kick Major Nelson�s ass at Dead or Alive 4 (the game�s graphics were a bit too glossy for my taste).

  • Couldn�t get past practice mode in NBA Live 06 because of a bug in the build (we were playing on dev units), but it seems like they�ve managed to eliminate much of the herky-jerkiness in previous generation basketball games.

  • Kameo was a bit disappointing (supposedly it gets better once you�re in deep). Call For Duty 2 was engrossing, but like Dead or Alive 4, it also seemed like it could use a bit more texture.

  • The Xbox 360 doubles as Windows Media Center Extender and the demo I saw ran flawlessly, it was as if a copy of Windows XP Media Center Edition was running natively. They showed the Xbox streaming high def video off of a PC and it was perfect.

  • They also showed off Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Perfect Dark Zero, and King Kong, all of which I wouldn�t mind spending more time with.

Xbox 360 preview Need For Speed

Yeah, so the PS3 will probably have the edge over the Xbox 360 in graphics and sheer computational power, but after actually playing some of these games it�s hard to imagine all but the most diehard Sony fanboys holding out for the 5 - 7 months that�ll pass before Sony introduces their console. And at the end of the day that�s what Microsoft is after � to grab as much of the market before Sony enters the scene. Hate to say it, but as of November 22nd the Xbox 360 is going to be only game in town.

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