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Xbox 360 Preview

I wrote a hands on preview of the Xbox 360 for PC Magazine that got posted today. It's a helluva piece of hardware. I'm excited about a bunch of the games for it.

Gun, from Activision, is wild ride set in the 1880's west. It's along the line of High Plains Drifter and various other spaghetti westerns. It looked absolutely beautiful in 720p. At one point I was riding my horse along a ridge and across the valley the sun was setting. I paused to look at it and reflect on the insane number of polygons involved in the moment. You start off hunting but the violence starts soon. There's a quick draw where you draw in real-time while everyone else moves in slow time. You'll need it in order to take down multiple foes in a crowded room. Enemies take damage in 12 body areas and react accordingly. You can go to Dodge City or Empire City and get missions, then carry them out wherever they take you.

Project Gotham Racing 3 - This looked great. All of the speed of PGR 1 and 2 with bigger views and more detail. There are more polygons in the Brooklyn Bridge in PGR3 than in a whole city is PGR2. That pretty much says it all. Online racing is a big focus of PGR3 with world rankings. There's a part where you can set up your own track in any of the cities in the game. Shadowing was great and reflections off the hood are a nice touch. The crowd reacts to you. It's kind of cool to smash into the wall and make them scatter.

Call of Duty 2 - A tremendous amount of fun, as one would expect from COD. There's a lot more texturing in the Xbox 360 version than in the Xbox version, and HD makes a big difference. This is a completely different game from the Xbox version so I'm looking forward to playing both.

NBA Live 2006 - EA Sports has put an insane amount of detail into their player modeling. It's very hard to tell the difference between NBA Live and a real game on TV at this point. Players sweat and their blood vessels stick out. Their shorts have physics. A very cool thing is that you can play one-on-one while loading a game in the background.

Dead Or Alive 4 - Talk about beautiful vistas! There is eye candy aplenty as the perennial fighter returns. Everything is pretty much the same but there's a few new characters. The big draw here is the online functionality. Players meet in a lobby where they can look at world rankings. You can search for a match or find your friend. You can stand in the lobby and watch other people fight on a TV, then text them and set up an impromptu tournament where you have winners.

Condemned - Sega may have a hit on their hands with this crime-horror-survival game. The lighting, graphics and sound quality is top notch which makes for an immersive experience. I don't want to spill the story because that is part of what makes it fun. You can pick up almost anything in the game and use it as a weapon, which leads to situations like using a manequin's leg to fight a dope fiend with a knife.

- This Action Adventure game from Microsoft Game Studios has you play as a female who can take the form of different elements as needed. The elements are very creative, like a pile of rocks that throws itself as an attack or an ice yeti that can impale enemies on spikes on its own back. Each warrior has special skills and the big puzzle of the game is figuring out how best to use them.

If you'd like to view the slideshow click here.

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