Players of console games often like to talk about or compare the power of their newest gaming boxes. The CPU versus GPU performance, data storage options, pixel shaders and data pipelines are favorite points to compare between their big iron machines. But they ought to realize that in the console gaming business, hardware isn't king. What really matters is what games are available for your platform of choice.
How does the much-advertised Xbox 360 do in this respect?
If you're the type that thrives on high-octane, gut-wrenching first person shooter games, you aren't going to be disappointed. First and foremost, there are the sequels of some all-time-favorite classic shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament.
The Quake franchise from ID Software is legendary. Quake 3 was the greatest networked shooter game for a number of consecutive years, and though it's now getting old, it still runs on an astounding number of internet game servers. And now Raven Software and Activision combine to bring you its sequel in a mind-blowing combination of graphics and action.
Well, actually it's a sequel of Quake 2 and not Quake 3, because there was no storyline in Quake 3 and hence no sequel is possible. Quake 4 goes back to the plot of Quake 2, and the player finds himself in the shoes of a fellow called Kane who battles the evil Stroggs.
Unreal Tournament, the original edition, was billed as a 'Quake killer', and turned into a cult of its own, sporting almost Quake-like gameplay but with subtle variations and differences of its own that marked it as a distinct (and in the opinions of many fans, superior) game. Unreal Tournament 2007 for the Xbox 360 promises to provide yet bigger, scarier and more colorful monsters for your blasting pleasure!
Apart from these two big ones, there are Alan Awake, a psychological action thriller said to follow in the footsteps of Max Payne 2, and Condemned: Criminal Origins from Monolith, in which an FBI operative descends further and further into the criminal underworld in pursuit of a horrendous evil.
Lovers of Role Playing Games will have Blue Dragon from Microsoft, in which the main characters suddenly find that their shadows have transformed into monsters. While that sounds slightly tacky, the game's pedigree is unimpeachable no less than Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series, was hired by Microsoft for this one.
But not only for this one, it turns out. Sakaguchi is at the head of yet another RPG for the Xbox 360, named Lost Odyssey. This one's about a man called Kaim who is cursed with a very long life 1000 years during which some astounding things happen to him. The soundtrack for this game is also something to look forward to, since the composer is no other than the fellow who created the great music for the Final Fantasy series.
Several sports titles appear in the Xbox 360 repertory, including two NBA basketball games, a Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Madden NFL American Football and FIFA 2006. Other than these, there are car races, Real Time Strategies and several other genres, and some games that are hard to fit into a genre.
The most promising of this last category seems to be Dimitri from Lionhead Studios. The man behind this one claims that this is a game about the player himself, and allows him to re-live his whole life in alternative ways. While that isn't too illuminating a description, it sure sounds ambitious. And we would have dismissed it as over-ambitious if it weren't for the identity of that man. For he is none other than Peter Molyneaux, the visionary game designer who's a legend by himself and who has given us several astonishing and path-breaking titles in the past, including Black and White, a game that is totally unlike any other game ever created.
And given the sheer graphics power of the Xbox 360 platform, all of these delicious titles promise to fill your holiday hours with unending fun and limitless eye-candy!