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Xbox 360! Our Saviour? Or Merely Friend?

By Julene McCoy in Miscellaneous on Nov 22, 2005 4:00PM

Chicagoist has friends in high places, low places and on Saturday we had friends with luck. One of our friends addicted himself to Mountain Dew in order to win the Xbox 360 and get it early. That’s dedication. And since we love glomming on to the success of others, we headed over as soon as UPS delivered the holy package.

Hooked up with some tshirts, hats, and oh yeah – the Xbox 360 with 20 gig hard drive and a wireless controller to which was added 3 more controllers and six games. That’s right, a full third of the launch. Not being a vidiot, Chicagoist has enlisted the help of those who actually dedicated 16 hours to game play that first evening to give us their thoughts.

The system was hooked up to an HD monitor, a computer, through the Dolby 5.1 surround and the adventure began. First, we checked out the trippy screensavers and the music pre-downloaded for our enjoyment and also a couple films. Now down to the real business at hand.

Initial reactions to the graphics are as follows: Every time a new and improved platform comes out it is impossible to imagine how it could ever get better and then it’s on the screen and it’s impressive. Think seeing bullet-time in The Matrix for the first time. The lucky owner of the Xbox, Rich, says, “The system is smooth as butter and the 720P Definition looks like a painting on crushed velvet.”

Here are a rundown of the games that we played and our reactions/thoughts.

Project Gotham Racing 3: This one has the great racing cars and requires precision steering and when it started raining on the track raindrops started streaking down the monitor prompting calls to turn on the windshield wipers. Rich’s opinion: Smooth as silk.

Call of Duty 2: By far the best of the evening. Russ’ thoughts: Not only is it a great shooter, but the player is actually not working alone, but with the 20 other guys to complete a mission. Can’t believe what they’ve done here. Amazing. Rich’s money quote: “Shit my pants. Intense!”

Need for Speed Most Wanted: Another racing game, but running into stuff won’t kill the car quickly. Rich’s opinion: Weakest of the bunch.

Kameo: This game will take some time to learn and understand with all the different levels and configurations that the character can become. A little difficult to see the delineation between the split screens for multi-player. Eric’s (another player who owns every system imaginable) fave of the evening. Rich’s statement: "Dude! I threw the ogre in the air and impaled him on the spikes on my back. Then grabbed him by the head and used him to club the others. Sweet!"

Gauntlet (Xbox Live Download): This one is fun for four even though the playing area doesn’t take full advantage of a widescreen monitor. Also, the funniest to watch all evening because after playing sophisticated games with compasses to guide through the mazes, everyone kept getting lost in the 2D graphic maze of this retro game.

Perfect Dark Zero: This one is similar to the 007 shooter series. We played this one online live with other lucky winners and a lot of bots. After initial problems trying to figure out how to actually play live, the game went smoothly and it was fun having assassins appear out of nowhere singing “Walking on Sunshine” to engage in the battle.

Condemned: Criminal Origins: We didn’t get to this one. Sorry. After 8 hours of game play, eyestrain, and motion sickness setting in it was time for Chicagoist to call it quits.

The most practical feature of the Xbox 360, that has us all saying where was this before, is the wireless controller. What a fabulous invention. There was no lag in the response time and tossing a controller to another player is the easiest thing now without wires. Also, each controller clearly states which player number and where on the screen the player's action will be.

Is it worth the $400? Depends on how important video games are to your existence. Is it cool? Hell yeah! Will Chicagoist be at our friend’s house playing these games again? Yes. Is it hard to go back to our old system with its tired, old graphics? Of course.