Monthly Game Column: November 05
By Mike Montgomery (2005-12-01)
This month witnessed the Xbox 360's release and all the comotion that went with it. One of our staff was lucky enough to play on it a short while before the official release and loyaly wrote up some in-depth thoughts and opinions concerning the console and its early games (see Xbox 360 Impressions). On a side issue, I have to say I'm very impressed with the controller after having tested one out at my local game store. It's far less bulky than the original, more intuitive and naturally more comfortable. Something went wrong with the anthropometrics of the original, but now I think Microsoft have raced ahead in that area - certainly until we find out exactly whether Nintendo's remote has been a success or horrible failure. Release dates for Sony's PS3 still linger around Summer next year and although it's possible that this may change to March, we all know, as with any game product, the chances of this happening are not likely. Hopefully problems won't further delay it until the Winter - I don't think I can hold out that long! Anyway, the future aside, let's take a look at what November brought.
Microsoft announced the 200+ original Xbox titles that will be playable on the 360 which triggered both sighs of relief and those of confusion. I vividly remember one of our own staff members, Kater, was very shocked and disappointed to see no Battlefront I or II on the list, a game that without a doubt had a profound influence on the genre. Other gamers, though, for example fans of the GTA series, will be glad to see them all carried over to the next-gen console. No doubt they'll offer a trip down memory lane in years to come.
During the run up to the 360's launch, news came in of it taking Further Blows with regards to certain titles vanishing from the release date and other problems concerning the console's capability with i-Tunes. Obviously it didn't have any drastic effects on the sales, though I'm sure a few potential customers who may have been looking into it as an all-round entertainment system, may have taken a step back to think about it - especially considering the amount of people who today rely on Apple's software for media purposes.
Some more slightly disappointing news was announced concerning the Half-Life 2 expansion pack which has been delayed until, at earliest, January of next year. Doug Lombardi of Valve said that the team was working as hard as possible to ensure that it lived up to the standards of Half-Life 2. It seemed like an admirable reason, after all, there's nothing more tragic than seeing a quality title rushed. I'm sure the fans will agree.
Interesting news was announced about Nintendo's tactics to best rival competitors. In a fascinating interview with CNN.com, Reggie Fils-Aime, executive vice-president of sales and marketing for Nintendo of America, said that he expected the Revolution to appear at a lower price than any of their competitors. For full story see Nintendo plans to be cheapest. If it all goes according to their plan they may end up selling more consoles than Sony and Microsoft and pulling in the same profit; a bargain for the gamers and a nice morale-boost for Nintendo. Let's hope they can pull it off and, above all, stick to their word. On a slightly more irrelevant issue, Microsoft officially announced their XBox 360 line-up which can still be checked if you've had a brain freeze about what's available!! Also, if you're in the mood for a little amusement, have a look at the Lofty Goals set by Microsoft
Some news linked to the Nintendo DS was about the release of Dragonball Z: Supersonic Warriors 2 which hit US shelves on the 20th. Sadly, for British fans of the series it's not going to be available in the EU, though for those who are really desperate they can always order it online. See the link to find out exactly what the new title will offer. On a completely unrelated issue, Sony announced that the PS3 will be rigged up with Parental Controls - good news for some, bad news for others, though I think it was almost inevitable with the next-gen graphics, which can now create frighteningly realistic images and content.
Only a few days ago news came in of rumours that were circulating with regards to Defective Xbox 360 units. The complaints have taken three distinct forms; games freezing consistently; the system over-heating and hard drive errors. A Microsoft spokesman said that bugs and glitches would be, and always will be, inevitable with new systems, though is this really fair on the gamers? I suppose when you're buying from the front lines there's bound to be more casualties. Microsoft also confirmed European numbers stating that Europe would only receive 300,000 for the launch.
Review wise, we've had official reviews for Heroes of the Pacific, Killzone, and Spartan: Total Warrior. As well as member contributed reviews for Final Fantasy Tactics (a great game if I may say so myself), Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy VIII - it's been a Final Fantasy month for the Games section :)
So, like always, there have been some highlights and lowlights, though there's no doubt it will be remembered as the month that brought us the 360. Just today I saw it advertised on TV for the first time. Anyway, lets turn our heads to the oncoming month in which more issues will be raised and resolved. Make sure you get writing to Santa because he's gonna have to pre-order all those 360s..... or perhaps strike a deal with Microsoft.... either way, let's get into the festive spirit.