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The XBox 360: Is It Really as Good as They Say it is?

By Charles Hopkins Published 03/13/2006 | Games

Much has been heard about the Xbox 360, regarding its hardware capabilities and the revolutionary nature of the games available for it. Well, I hope your mother has told you not to believe in the marketing speak that is put out by companies trying to sell their product. Os it's time to do a little fact-checking on this latest and greatest of gaming consoles.

For example, Microsoft has publicly said that the Xbox 360 could do 9 billion dot product operations per second. Is this true? More importantly, is it good enough? For Sony, Microsoft's arch-rival in the game console market with its Playstation series, has replied by announcing that their upcoming PlayStation 3 will be capable of 51 billion dot product operations per second. Now that is surely a staggering difference! Is Microsoft planning to place such an underpowered little toy as a rival to its greatest nemesis?

Well, the fact is, the Sony marketing folks really added CPU and GPU power to each other to arrive at that figure, while Microsoft was talking only about CPU performance. Calculating Sony-style, the Xbox 360 is capable of a good 33.6 billion dot product operations per second.

Round one to Microsoft.

We shall not go too deeply into an analysis of hardware here. Because tempting though it is, any mature gamer will realize that for gaming hardware, content is king, not the size or weight of your iron. Otherwise how do you explain the sustained and ageless appeal of chess or backgammon as opposed to the silent death that Sega's Dreamcast suffered?

So on to games. What kind of games would you expect on a platform that claims to be the be-all and end-all of the console gaming experience?

Well, it turns out that the Xbox 360 has all kinds, to suit all tastes.

If you are the type that cannot thrive except on high-tension, nerve-twisting first person shooters, you are going to satisfy your trigger passion to the bloody core with your new Xbox 360.

The most important FPS-s on this platform are, of course, the sequels to some of the best-loved games of our times: Quake and Unreal Tournament. And this time old really proves to be gold.

The Quake franchise from ID Software is, of course, legendary in its quality and duration. Quake 3 was arguably the greatest networked shooter game ever designed, and though it is now showing its age, it still runs on an incredible number of online game servers. And now here is its sequel, brought to you in a mind-blowing combination of graphics and action. It's really a sequel not of Quake 3 but of Quake 2. There was no storyline in Quake 3, hence no sequel is possible in the real sense of the term. Quake 4 takes you back to the plot of Quake 2, and you finds yourself suddenly called Kane, battling the evil Stroggs.

Unreal Tournament, originally billed as 'Quake killer', sports almost Quake-like gameplay, but there are subtle differences that mark it as a distinct and possibly superior. Unreal Tournament 2007 for the Xbox 360 promises to provide still bigger, scarier and more colorful monsters for your blasting pleasure!

Apart from these, there are RPG-s like Blue Dragon from Microsoft, designed by Hironobu Sakaguchi of Final Fantasy fame, and Lost Odyssey, by the same creator. Several sports titles grace Xbox 360 repertory, and that includes two NBA basketball features, one Tiger Woods PGA Tour golf game, and American football and soccer titles. There are car races galore, as there are Real Time Strategies and also some games that are difficult to fit into a genre.

The most mention-worthy of such seems to be Dimitri, from Lionhead Studios, which is claimed to be about the player himself, allowing him to re-live his entire life in alternative ways.

This vagueness is in this case promising, because than man to make these claims is no less than Peter Molyneaux, a legend unto himself, creator of several incredible titles including Black and White, which is totally unlike any other game ever created.

And given the extraordinary graphics capabilities of the Xbox 360 platform, these delicious titles sure promise to deliver unending fun and limitless eye-candy!

So that's briefly the state of the matter the evidence is in front of you. What's your verdict?