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CNN's Game Over On The 360 442

Posted by Zonk
from the oblivion-is-the-killer-app dept.
An anonymous reader writes "CNN's Chris Morris has taken a look at Microsoft's new system. He calls the system 'good, but not great' in a fairly lengthy, well thought out piece. The article also has an amusing gallery of rejected prototype designs." From the article: "Admittedly, tastes vary - so you could easily find a game out this month that's a 'must have' for you. (We'll have a closer look at the launch games early next week.) But if you're looking for something that's ground breaking and sets the trend for the system (as 'Halo' did with the original Xbox), you're not going to find it."
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CNN's Game Over On The 360

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  • ebay? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:26PM (#14056548) Journal
    The first of the next gen video game machines hits store shelves next week. Should you get one?

    The short answer: Not on Day One.

    What if you plan on making money because of the shortages and selling one overpriced on ebay for an extra 100-500$?
  • Re:What?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macaulay805 (823467) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:28PM (#14056569) Homepage Journal
    Lets hypothetically say I have a Quad-Processor P4 System running at 8GHz. Does that make Windows any better?
  • Halo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:32PM (#14056608)
    What was so groundbreaking about Halo? It was a great game, but it was simply a first person shooter with a cool story. It was the first FPS with a cool story (Half Life). It didn't have extraordinary graphics. Very good, yes, but not like it embarassed the rest of the genre. Weapons were pretty standard. You got to drive vehicles but that had been done before too. I'm not knocking it but I don't see what was groundbreaking about it.
  • Core Gamer? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigDork1001 (683341) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:35PM (#14056639) Homepage
    Ultimately, if you consider yourself a core gamer, you've probably already pre-ordered a 360 (and hopefully, your retailer will be able to fulfill that pre-order - many are quietly letting customers know they won't be able to meet demand before Christmas).

    I consider myself a core gamer and I wouldn't touch this with a 10 foot poll on launch day. I have my reservations about the 360 and to be honest, Microsoft hasn't done enough to get me excited about this launch. I'd pre-order a Revolution right now if I could. PS3 has some time still to either get me really excited or turn me off completely to the PS3.

    I remember waiting eagerly for the PS2, Game Cube, and X-box. I couldn't wait for the release of these systems. I don't know if it's the fact that I'm a few years older or if it's the way these systems are marketed, or the fact that they just seem to be more of the same (except for the Revolution). But I'm taking a cautious approach to the 360 and unless things change will do more of the same with the PS3.

  • Couldn't care less (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:35PM (#14056640)
    I must be getting old.
  • Beware the Games (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:37PM (#14056662) Homepage
    I don't have an order for a 360, I'll wait. There are reasons for that (mostly price) but I have been following it closely. Here is the part I've found the most interesting.

    Read the reviews of the games. The games visual quality varries drastically (reportadly). Take the GameSpot review of NBA 2K6. If you have a SDTV, it is almost indistinguisable between the XBox and XBox 360 versions (there are slight differences, but nothing noticible). But if you have an HDTV, things look agazing. During replays they say you could easily mistake it for real footage. There is supposed to be tons of animation and detail (ex: the player's shirts get wet with sweat during the course of the game). But while that looks great, they say that the croud and coach look almost like they did in the XBox version (so when compared to players, it is a bit of a visual jolt because of the quality difference). If you have an HDTV, it is supposed to be great.

    Now take Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. With SDTV, it looks like the XBox version. At HDTV, it looks worse. That's what Gamespot says. The low resolution of the textures become apparent, they shimmer, and the models obviously have low poly counts (they mention it especially with the story footage scenes, as opposed to in game). This is what quick & dirty XBox 360 ports will often look like, I bet. If the game isn't designed for the system (or next gen) then it will probably look like this.

    But the most important thing I've taken away in all the reviews is while things look beatuiful, there isn't that much difference if you still have a SDTV (like me). While I will buy an HDTV one day, it really sounds like buying an XBox 360 wouldn't be worth it right now for me (on a pure graphics basis). A killer game would be one thing, but they don't have any killer-apps for me yet (I want to play PGR3, but not that much).

    I wonder how much this trend will continue. Will later games (1.5, 2nd gen) look better at SDTV than current games (excluding a little anti-aliasing), or have we reached the end of what SDTV can show us. My guess is the first category (because with games like Shadow of the Colossus you could have higher poly counts on the large monsters), but we'll see.

    I've only seen the 360 in real life for about 5 minutes playing Call of Duty 2 on a 20" screen at Best Buy. While it looked nice, it looked just like any PC game to me (given: Call of Duty IS a PC game, so I realize that).

    We'll have to reserve graphics judgements untill more native games come out (the few that are designed for the 360 like PGR3 are supposed to be amazing). But this SDTV thing is something I think more people should be aware of. I wonder how many people will plug in their 360 and their copy of Madden or NBA 2K6 and say to themselves "I spent HOW MUCH for this? It looks just like my XBox" because they only have a SDTV.

  • by Endymion (12816) <slashdot.org@NosPAM.thoughtnoise.net> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:43PM (#14056731) Homepage Journal
    X-Box isn't about cracking the best graphics or anything like that... its all about X-Box live and the multiplay capability.

    wha? *spit-take* ...

    Muhahahahaha!

    That's exactly contradictory to the annoying rhetoric I've gotten from every single xbox fanboy I've seen!

    For such a long time it was "What? PS2? GCN? Never! We want the platform with superior graphics - slightly inferior graphics is so last decade!"

    Heck... they even would go off on a rant about how the xbox has far superior sound or some such bs, even though it's still going over the same link quality 44.1kHz/16-bit PCM link to the amp in the end, anyway.

    It's amazing how short memories are...
  • by Keeper (56691) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:43PM (#14056738)
    They won't. Microsoft is still losing money on every xbox they sell.
  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:50PM (#14056799)

    The article isn't talking about the console so much as the games that are available at launch. Here are the quotes in context. Jesus editors, biased much?

    While there are several good - and even very good - titles that will be available at launch, there's nothing truly great.

    Admittedly, tastes vary - so you could easily find a game out this month that's a "must have" for you. (We'll have a closer look at the launch games early next week.) But if you're looking for something that's ground breaking and sets the trend for the system (as "Halo" did with the original Xbox), you're not going to find it.
  • Re:Core Gamer? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by egomaniac (105476) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:55PM (#14056844) Homepage
    The XBox 360 is the first system in a long time that has completely and utterly failed to arouse my interest.

    Ooooh! Marginally improved graphics and mediocre games! How could I not want one??

    I'm sure I'll end up getting one eventually when the price drops and better games are available, but at the moment I can barely muster the energy for a "meh". And that's remarkable considering that I'm a high-def freak -- in an age when most people don't have one high-def display, I have five. The XBox 360 is the first high-def console, and I find myself not giving a rat's ass, because I would rather have fun games than high-def any day.

    Conversely, I am quivering with excitement about the Revolution. We haven't seen anything about the games yet, but it's Nintendo -- they will be stellar. I really don't have any doubt about that.

    So, on launch day, when everyone else is unpacking their shiny new XBox 360s, I will fire up the ol' NES with The Legend of Zelda, and remind myself that the sheep have forgotten what fun is.
  • Re:Halo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aicrules (819392) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @05:58PM (#14056871)
    And as we know, to be groundbreaking to the masses, you mustn't require any deviation from the standard to be noticed by those masses. Something that simple to make a game that much more intuitive to play should have been caught in user testing and made standard. Little things CAN make a good game GREAT.
  • Re:Halo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Morinaga (857587) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:03PM (#14056928)
    I think this is a bit of re-writing history. It's said so often it's taken for granted now it seems. Halo was anticipated pretty highly when Bungie released the first screen shots of the game. Then the game got delayed. After that the game was gobbled up by Mircosoft Game Studios and was delayed even further due to the fact it was going to wait for the Xbox release. During these delays other released games rapidly caught up to Halo in the graphics department. Those original screenshots that hyped Halo so early in it's developement were quickly forgotten. Subsequently previews of Halo prior to the xbox release were friendly but not of the Earth shaking variety. There was limited anticipation, another decent looking FPS to share market with Quake 3, Unreal Tournament and any number of other FPS games out on the market. It wasn't until Halo gathered a bit of a following with the Xbox that it started to really become a bigger deal. What I'm trying to say is that Xbox did not come to market with a higly anticipated game that made the units sell, no one said this about Halo before the Xbox release. In retrospect it certainly helped Xbox stay afloat and Halo 2 gave it another large boost. That next Halo type game that will help push the 360 could already be in production. It could be Oblivion or Gears of War. Just like the original xbox release no one can be sure quite yet. This constant drum of how the 360 is worse off because it didn't have that "must have" game at launch is incorrect. No one felt that way about Halo when the Xbox first went to market.
  • Extend its lead? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Some Random Username (873177) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:03PM (#14056938) Journal
    "And Microsoft continues to extend its lead in the online console marketplace."

    They don't have a lead, Sony does. By a very large margin. "Close the gap on its competition" maybe?
  • Re:Core Gamer? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrNiceguy_KS (800771) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:07PM (#14056974)
    PS3 has some time still to either get me really excited or turn me off completely to the PS3.

    I don't know about you, but the Sony rootkit has managed to turn me off completely to the PS3.

    I'm not going to make the mistake of believing that the general public would feel the same way, but I can't understand why anyone who reads /. would even consider sending money to Sony.

  • by cafeman (46922) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:10PM (#14057015) Homepage

    I wonder how much this trend will continue. Will later games (1.5, 2nd gen) look better at SDTV than current games (excluding a little anti-aliasing), or have we reached the end of what SDTV can show us.

    Considering that SDTV still manages to provide an image that looks much more realistic than any game on a PC running at 1700x1200 (consider a well mastered DVD), I think there's a long way we could go yet with SD games. HDTV on games is like polishing a turd (if you'll excuse the crass analogy). It looks like a prettier turd, but it's still a turd.

    Fundamentally, computer games still look like computer games. That's not the way it should be. Going to HD rather than staying SD with more processing power only hurts the immersion and simulation of reality. What they should be doing is upping the poly counts on SD resolutions as much as possible to make it look better, not simplying upping the resolution and maintaining the current standard of "art direction". Lower resolutions mean you can spend more cycles on making things look better, not just making them look sharper.

    Sony and Microsoft are using the Korean business model - market based on specs, probably mainly because they know men tend to buy into the whole numbers BS. I'm sure things will look better than the current generation of consoles, but I also think that fundamentally, they're chasing the wrong goal. I'm really hoping Nintendo goes in the opposite direction, based on their comments about HD. You don't need HD to have stunning graphics. We can't even do realistic SD graphics yet - how is moving to HD going to help the situation?

  • by rblum (211213) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:21PM (#14057126)
    Uh, yes. Because the PC online experience for your average Joe is *crap*. Live is about getting
      - average Joe to play. No dice with PC games
      - having a universal friends system. (I don't see that on the PC. And don't say GameSpy. POS)
      - having universal voice chat. How many different voice chats do you have on the PC?
      - Micropayments for content.
      - Authenticated content only. Let me just say goatse....

    As for Sony doing it anyways: You remember the Red vs Blue movie about games for the Mac? "Well, there's that puzzle thing. And Photoshop...." Same applies for Sony online. There's SOCOM. And SOCOM II.

    From a developer POV, Sony's idea is not so good. I don't *want* to develop all that stuff when I'm writing a game. Hence, nobody does it.

  • Strange review (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aphrika (756248) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:24PM (#14057175)
    Initial thoughts were that it was negative, but on re-reading, it's just the title that gives the wrong impression, and in this case the impression seems solely weighted on whether the console has any killer games at launch.

    Now, whether halo came out at the X-Box launch or 3 months later is a moot point, either way it would still have been a success. The gameboy initially had Tetris, but long after its launch, Pokemon came along midway through the console's life and totally revitalised it.

    What I'm saying is that the killer game doesn't need to be there at launch, just in the first half of the console's lifespan. In any case, good software makes a console, not a single title.

    I also think he may have missed the point of the online and media capabilities of the 360. He mentions them with a great deal of enthusiasm, yet seems very blasé about them; to me these are some of the most exciting areas of the 360, especially when it's coupled with a Media Center PC and MP3 players to give you a digital entertainment center. The X-Box Live community is already a proven success and if Microsoft expand on this, they really do have some serious clout against Sony who have yet to roll out a coherent first generation online community for the PSX platform.

    All in all, I think the 360 will be a big success, and ultimately one where Microsoft has played on equal terms with other contenders, but as I mentioned earlier, it's the good software that has to make the hardware shine, and I suppose I'm almost glad that that's out of Microsoft's hands...
  • Re:Halo (Score:2, Insightful)

    by buffer-overflowed (588867) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:24PM (#14057176) Journal
    You're wrong on every single count.

    It did not pioneer it's control scheme(Goldeneye effectively used the same one, WASD via C-buttons and aiming via analog stick). It was not highly-anticipated(It went from being a 3rd person thing to an FPS somewhere along the line, and when MS bought Bungie a lot of the Mac crowd that HAD been anticipating the title got upset). In fact, a lot of people dimissed it, especially the single player(oh, so I see, it's an alien scheme to bore me into suicide by making every single level look the same), even Penny Arcade. And additionally, there wasn't anything really groundbreaking, revolutionary or new about it, bar ONE thing which I'll hit in a minute.

    What made Halo what it was? The LAN play. It was the first console FPS with a decent and tight-enough control scheme that could be played over LAN on multiple TVs with the barebones hardware and a hub. Everything came together and the LAN crowd ATE it up, and since it was a console, so did a large portion of the general public.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:35PM (#14057286)
    But doesn't Socom on the PS2 hold the record for the most online players? That's just for one game and the PS2 doesn't even have live OR built-in online capability even. Wouldn't the argument for Sony's decision be that it's far too costly to develop a central network as large as would be required for both the current amount of onliners for the Playstation AND the amount that would join a central network? That would be not cost effective, plus, if the PS3 does its live thing for free as the PS2 does, I'd take it over a central, pay-based network anyday. You?
  • by guidryp (702488) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:35PM (#14057287)
    When I had it I the next big thing for me was to get a computer (C-64) and I haven't looked back. I think the games are better and cheaper on a PC.

    Never had the slightest urge to get a console again.

    Now that Sony is matching MS for evil, I think I would have to get a Nintendo if I did.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:42PM (#14057362) Journal
    "BUt online play is especially important at the beginning as MOST people do not have a HDTV, and while it would be nice MOST are not going to shell out the 2000-4000 dollars to get one."

    Just wait until February, when consumer electronics prices drop. Especially this year in the US, since there is expected to be a pretty stiff drop in consumer spending around that time... in addition to the annual post-holiday season lull, there are also all the bills for heating coming due, which will cost the typical homeowner several hundred dollars more than last year.

    Here's an interesting article from investors.com on 10/18 about projected HDTV price, mfgring cost, and demand: http://www.investors.com/editorial/IBDArticles.asp ?artsec=17&artnum=1&issue=20051018 [investors.com]
  • by DaveCBio (659840) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:44PM (#14057384)
    Wow, talk about ignorance. Streaming from a PC is just one option. Also, you don't need a Media Center PC all you need is Windows Media Connect. Have you not seen the video of the 360 playing songs from an iPod?
  • by Generic Guy (678542) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @06:50PM (#14057440)
    HDTV on games is like polishing a turd (if you'll excuse the crass analogy). It looks like a prettier turd, but it's still a turd.

    Amusing anecdote, but I'd correct it just a bit: Standard-Def allows you to disguise the turd a lot easier, whereas HDTV illustrates the turd in all its bare turdliness.

  • XBox Redux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @07:12PM (#14057649) Homepage
    Maybe I shouldn't post this, because I get the feeling it would be quite unpopular with a few of the people who've posted in this thread so far. But...
    Admittedly, tastes vary - so you could easily find a game out this month that's a 'must have' for you.
    I'm not entirely sure about this one part from the article. It honestly seems to me like the XBox 360 launch library caters to a very narrow range of tastes. Tastes vary, so what if you like RPGs? Or platformers? Or strategy games? Or puzzle games? Or like racers, but prefer not to play realistic ones? Or beat-em-ups, or shoot-em-ups, or hack-n-slash, or sims, or ...

    Basically, what if you consider "a wide range of tastes" to include things other than sports games and first person shooters? Because that's really all the 360 lineup offers this month. (Though if we are courteous enough to wait until December 1 there's one fighting game; we probably shouldn't think of those as sports games.)

    There are literally three games in the XBox launch lineup which are not a sports game or a first person shooter. Kameo, King Kong, and Gun. Kameo is an adventure game-- but, I have yet to encounter anyone at all who considers Kameo a 'must-have' game, or really is particularly interested in it at all. If you like adventure games you'd be much more interested in King Kong and Gun, which do both look like absolutely fantastic games with wide-ranging appeal. But... both of these games are coming out for approximately every system known to man, from the PSP to the Gamecube to the PC. If you own any video game systems at all you can play these games already. Would anyone seriously buy an XBox 360 to play these? Aside from these three, there is one arcade-looking game on the XBox Live marketplace called "Geometry Wars" that looks really cool, but the article said 'must have', so I'm just trying to think about must-have, system seller games here. This is a minigame.

    So we're left with what? Well, a niche system that caters to a "wide range" of sports gamers and first person shooter gamers, with a cop to the fighting game crowd coming next month. In other words, the XBox 360 caters to exactly those set of tastes who comprised the hardcore of XBox owners. If you weren't an XBox owner, it seems like the 360 launch library really doesn't do much for you. I can definitely see how the XBox 360 launch would look "must-own" to anyone who really, really liked the XBox! But for the rest of us... well, unless you want to spend $400 to play a $10 psychadelic arcade game, or for some reason you really, really, really want to play "Gun" in HD, the current window of XBox 360 games just seems to ignore your existence entirely.
  • by dindi (78034) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @07:58PM (#14058015) Homepage
    Only a couple of titles are exclusive to Xbox 360 (that is, they can't be played on any other machine). "

    A bit off topic, but I would like to see less PS2 only and XBOX only titles.

    In fact, I would like to see platform independent online modes (of course on same powered boxes) eg PS3 and 360..

    I can understand that sometimes an XBOX map is bigger than a PS2 map, but network-wise I would really appreciate if there would be interoperability thru multiplayer titles.

    Even with different single player maps, there should be multiplayer maps that could be played on ps2,ps3,xbox, and 360 ... link mode, and online mode...

    clear that ps3 won't connect to Xbox Live, but manufacturer hosted game servers wold be cool for that, or using XBC or KAI Xlink...

    Am I dreaming ? I know they are different architectures, but in multiplayer you send cordinates (persons. bullets. vehicles, objects) , button presses and the same map could be playable with e.g. lower res, less textures on Ps2 and Ps3..... (well a bit over simplyfied)

    Someone kick me in the head if that is completely an idiotic idea ! And tell me why that does not exist?

    I actually tried to find games that would be playable on my consoles - to no avail...

  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @08:30PM (#14058358) Homepage
    It was [not] the first FPS with a cool story (Half Life).
    Half-Life's story is very good, and it is a fine game... but you should also check Bungie's old first-person shooters: Pathways Into Darkness (93) [bungie.org] and the Marathon series (94/95/96). [bungie.org] Not only they came first, and were also great games, but their stories - actually a single huge epic hard sci-fi tale - remain as possibly the deepest, most complex and finely crafted plot in a computer or console game, of any genre, ever.
  • by Endymion (12816) <slashdot.org@NosPAM.thoughtnoise.net> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @09:03PM (#14058644) Homepage Journal
    Bingo.

    XBOX tends to be this nasty testosterone-fuled dicksize war about how "my theoritical feature is bigger than yours!".

    Nintendo seems to be the onle one that is puting the games FIRST.
  • Re:Halo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Babbster (107076) <aaronbabb@gmail.cLISPom minus language> on Thursday November 17, 2005 @09:21PM (#14058801) Homepage
    Well, yes, it did stay afloat (on a sea of Microsoft green). I've certainly enjoyed my Xbox immensely (and will continue to for some time). As a gaming consumer, I couldn't possibly care less whether the thing made a profit for Microsoft as long as I've got fun games to play.
  • Blue-Ray (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PhysSurfer (872187) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @10:33PM (#14059341) Homepage
    PS3 will play Blue Ray DVDs, which gives it a substantial advantage over the other two systems since no one has a Blue Ray player yet.
  • Re:Another Take (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Serzen (675979) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @11:46PM (#14059802)
    Just trying to figure out...When did anyone actually accept the New York Post as a valid source of information? I no longer even read the front page of the Post; it's actually worse than my local, rather shitty paper.

  • Re:Core Gamer? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Walkiry (698192) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:27AM (#14062155) Homepage
    >Your ire should be 100 times larger over MS....yet you don't mention them - hmmm...MS troll smell?

    Indeed, he doesn't mention Microsoft. Not at all. Yet you somehow manage to infer in his post that he thinks MS can be trusted? He didn't say anything! For all we know he may be throwing darts at a picture of Bill Gates every day.

    Want to know where that troll smell is coming from? Check your post. (And you got modded up to boot, gotta love /.).

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