MICROSOFT XBOX:
The Big Kid on the Block

Reported by: Kyle Suggs
ThotMedia Freelance Writer
GAME TECH INFO

Computer Platform: Xbox
Produced by: Microsoft
Price Range: $200+

M A Y . 2 0 0 1  |  L A , C A , U S A


INTRODUCTION
XBOX As my plane touched down at the LA airport, my thoughts lingered on my first glimpse of Nintendo's new system, the GameCube. Knowing of course that this was only a few hours away, me and my partner hurried through all of the necessary post travel stuff (getting our bags, getting the car rental, checking in the hotel, blah, blah, blah). Finally we got to the LA Convention Center and hurried over to the Nintendo booth on the West Hall. However, e3's main entrance is on the East Hall - the very same hall as the Microsoft booth. So we figured, "Hey, let's go check out the XBOX"; and so we did. Nestled deep in the back of the hall behind the Capcom, EA Sports, and Activision booths, we saw the Microsoft nook highlighted with neon green. We were finally here!

XBOX at the e3 Convention My first impression of the system after seeing it through glass display was, "Man this thing is big!". And big it is. I stepped up to my first game and started playing and I thought, "Man this controller is big!". And big it is as well. The controller is very large and bulky and therefore uncomfortable. This was a major distraction. Although admittedly, the physical nature the consoles is not relative to the nature of these reviews, I must still say that it detracted from my fondness of the system and therefore may slant my overall opinion of it.

CORPORATE STRATEGY
Although Microsoft may be new to the game console market, they are not new to games. Microsoft is the largest software company on the planet and with their deep pockets, have purchased several up and coming game developer companies for the purpose of boosting their exclusive gaming line up. This is very important for them since they need to give people a reason to buy their system over let's say a GameCube or a PS2. Currently, they have no momentum from a previous system to help with consumer confidence and expectation. So instead they are spending 500 million dollars on marketing (I told you they had deep pockets) and it shows. As I noticed all of the XBOX logos, banners, bags, merchandise which literally covers the entire LA Convention Center, I realized very quickly that Bill Gates is in it to win.

The XBOX's core audience will be game enthusiasts - people who love games. On paper it is the most powerful system boasting a 733 MHz processor and an broadband internet port connection right out of the box. Gates and company want the XBOX to appeal to serious gamers of the ages 18 and above. It is a risky endeavor indeed to go up against the likes of Sony and the big N but they have enough money and attitude to take huge chucks from each of their market shares.

SYSTEM SPECS

    CPU: 733 MHz
    Graphics processor: 250 MHz XchipT
    Polygon Performance: 125 million per sec (theoretical numbers that never will be reached)
    Particle Performance: 125 million /per second
    Audio Channels: 256
    Internet Ready: Yes
    DVD ready: Remote-control accessory required
    Max Resolution: 1920 X 1080 (HDTV)
    List Price $299
GAME
Here are the games for the XBOX that will ship at the launch of the system in November 2001 or shortly thereafter. These are games that I feel will be extremely popular and huge best sellers. These are also the games that kids are going to watch and therefore parents can start researching these titles now before they hit mommy and daddy's Christmas list.
    The Good
    (Family friendly - a good romping, fun time)
    Title Developer Comment
    Mad Dash Eidos Cool foot race game that rocks!
    Amped Microsoft Snowboarding fun
    Fuzion Frenzy Microsoft Exclusive XBOX title. Similar to Mario Party
    Air Force Delta Konami Flight simulator
    Project Gotham Bizarre Creations Race exotic automobiles through Europe

    The Bad
    (Not so family friendly - contains violence, mature, or occult/new age references)

    Title Developer Comment
    Azurik Adrenium Games I played (it was 70% complete) this and talked with the reps. This game will be highly sought after yet contains many occult and new age materials. Furthermore it is the bloodiest RPG (role playing game) that I have ever seen.
    Halo Bungie Killing Aliens. This may be the XBOX flagship game.
    Dead or Alive 3 Tecmo This fighter game will be huge but not for the little ones.
    Nightcaster THQ Dual combat system (you can wield two weapons at once).

    The Ugly
    (Family? Forget about it - name says it all.)

    Title Developer Comment
    Silent Hill 2 Konami Blood and gore for sure!

FINAL COMMENTS
Microsoft XBOX Although the XBOX is a new system coming from a company new to the industry, it appears to have a bright future. Aside from it's huge price tag and huge controller the system will survive due to its parent company and the slew of exclusive game developers under its wing.

The games shown at e3 are a bit tame in terms of maturity and violence. However, many of these titles are incomplete and therefore the verdict is still out. From what I can see, the XBOX will have enough family friendly games at launch to make any parent who is thinking about getting this system for their little ones a little more comfortable.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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