Wednesday, November 23, 2005

360 secured and setup; first impressions and Quake 4...

Well, Jessica had to call and search around for about 3-4 hours before she could find a less-trafficked store to get my 360 at. She ended up driving over an hour away to a small town to wait in front of ShopKo until 8:00 A.M. That means she was out in the cold for 9 hours just to get me this machine. I told her that is crazy and it really isn't necessary, but she did it anyway. She had my DS so she was apparently fine =). And she was even the first in line.

Surprisingly, she said several people there had Nintendo DS's. That surprises me, because my area seems to be purely PSP supporters. She said NO ONE there had a PSP. Chalk one up for Nintendo I guess! They even played Mario Kart together.

Anyway, she got home at about 8:30 A.M. (I guess they let her get it early). After telling me the above info, she passed out. Well deserved, Jessica. And thank you, it's a great birthday present. ;)

I had to go to work shortly after, but I left early in order to check out my new toy. It was a premium package that came with a bonus "75%" remote. The bonus remote didn't have television controls like the one you buy separately. I don't really plan on using it anyway. The power supply is HUGE. It outputs 16+ amps, so I'm not really surprised. The A/V cableset came with component and analog video. Luckily, my televsion apparently supports HD via component. One problem right of the bat: no demos or games. Grrrr....

I played Halo 2 for a couple of games. It actually runs a lot faster on the 360; I'll blame the clearer grahics on the HD. However, I had to re-set up everything and re-download all the updates. Not to mention getting my Live account on the 360 took a bit. On a side note: I played H2 again later on and I was having a slight graphical problem in Terminal and another level. I'd get this "broken glass shadow" in the upper left of the screen. Kind of annoying.

The controller is a definite improvement, and shoulder buttons instead of the black and white buttons was a good idea. I'm actually pro B&W buttons (they work well for some games, just like the 6-button Genesis controller), but H2 needs them shoulder. I love not having to remove my thumb from the right analog in order to talk to my team.

Great, but I want to see a 360 game!

So I rounded up a bunch of games I was willing to let go of since I haven't been paid yet. Splinter Cell CT (DS), Warioware Touched, Pollarium, GT3, Crash Bandicoots, and a couple other I don't remember. And several Xbox controllers.

All that was about $8 short of my purchase, but I had plastic. That includes $5 for a reserve on Gears of War. I went with Quake 4 just in case I won an ebay bid for Perfect Dark Zero (which didn't happen, twice...people like to overpay for stuff I guess; this game is one of the cheaper ones!).

At first, the graphics seemed comparable to the current gen, and resembled Doom 3 (it is made by ID afterall). After playing for a bit, I started noticing detail on everything, and I became impressed. Make sure you give it a chance. However, it is easy to tell this was a semi-rushed release as the frames somewhat stutter around corners or when there are too many enemies on the screen. The player is also unable to destroy the random dead bodies everywhere. To a layman, this means the XBox 360 can't handle it. To me, this means that the developers didn't have a chance to tweak the game or have enough time for lengthy beta testing. To laymans: if you are not familiar with programming and hardware do not assume anything about the 360's power. Most likely it is more powerful than your home computer. Not only that, you also have to have a basic understanding of how time and development can be killed by marketing deadlines.

To move in a more positive direction, Quake 4 has much better combat than Doom 3. I actually like this one more than Halo (not Halo 2 though). There is a useful and large gun selection, the controls make sense, and the AI isn't stupid (for bots and enemies alike!). There are also some vehicles that you use in first-person mode, such as a hover-tank and a Mech. The Mech reminds me of the Power Loader from Aliens (HINT HINT HINT PLEASE RELEASE AVP3 FOR 360! :). There is plenty of destruction to be done.

Without spoiling the storyline of the game, I will just say there is definitely a "cringe" part after the first few levels. Ouch! The prelude storyline is much more interesting than DOOM as well. Instead of "hellions", you are fighting an alien race called Strogg. The strogg take fallen humans and meld their body parts with machinery to make their military. Very interesting, and expect to see body parts used in disturbing fashions within the levels.

I give the game an 8.7, but it could have easily been a 9.5 if they had a chance to clean up some of the hiccups. Quake 4 could actually be great to tide us over until Halo 3 comes out. I didn't get a chance to try multiplayer, but it seems to have all the standard game types.

Perfect Dark Zero review to come...


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