I just placed an order for an Xbox 360. The complete edition, thank you very much. I really don’t see who’s buying the Core System edition, seeing that you don’t get the wireless pad, the headset, the proper A/V cable, or the hard drive and you still need something to save your games on. No patches, no downloadable content, no Live Arcade – where’s the next generation in that? Some more polygons? No thank you. It just bugs me out that we have to suffer through increased loading times compared to the original Xbox, which just baffles me. And the Core System buyers are getting a raw deal anyhow, since the bundled goodies in the complete (“premium”, “pro”, whatever they’re calling it) set are dirt cheap, but very expensive to buy separately.

Live seems to be the big revolution to me. I never got into the original Xbox Live, but online rankings, plenty of downloadable demos and trailers without a monthly fee sounds like a desirable thing. I do think I’ll be getting the paid-for Live membership to be able to play online, though.

I believe that XBLA will be the venue for tiny-budget games in the future, what with stuff like Geometry Wars and Mutant Storm already available, and Introversion’s guys negotiating about the release of their upcoming nuclear game. Small developers like Jeff Minter must see this for the goldmine it is – provided that Microsoft keeps a tight leash on quality control, as they have done up to this day. I’d like the micropayments to be lower still: around 10€ is real money, not micromoney. The difference of course being that I think twice about spending a tenner and not at all about spending, say, two euro. Anyway, all of this makes this an exciting time to jump on the Live bandwagon.

I haven’t been enthusiastic about the HD generation before. Fact is, I still am not. We’re going to plug the 360 into our old standard-definition 28″ CRT. I reckon I’ll be happy anyway, if the games are good. As a matter of fact, we’re buying the thing mainly because my wife wants to play Oblivion. I’m more interested in Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and XBLA. I am interested to check out how the 360 would look on a 19″ CRT monitor, though. Ought to be crisp.

This is the first console I’ve bought at launch – well, at least going by how Microsoft defines the launch window. I wasn’t that interested in the 360 initially, but Microsoft have been doing things well over the past half a year and things are looking good. Certainly moreso than in Sony’s camp, where the PS3 is looking bleaker day by day.

In game journal news, I’ve kept at Advance Wars Dual Strike despite finishing the campaign. Last weekend I played two long sessions of Jade Empire, which is absolutely ace. It’s actually much better than my previous RPG favorite Knights Of The Old Republic, from the same team. Jade Empire always leaves you wanting more, never stretching the content past its welcome. In contrast, I’ve played maybe one fifth of KOTOR II: The Sith Lords. It’s a good game, but there’s a lot of backtracking and tedious corridor shootouts, which never seem to go anywhere. If I ever finish it, it’s because I’m bored with other stuff, not because I feel an urge to see what’s next. Jade Empire excels in this, among other things. It’s also lovely to look at and mostly a joy to play. Needless to say, I’m excited about Bioware’s next console RPG, Mass Effect (on the 360).






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