E3: Xbox Impressions

[05.17.01] » Oh, shiny!

   The GIA was able to get hands-on with multiple playable games today on Microsoft's new Xbox console, which boasts an impressive number of titles, even if there are no absolute showstoppers.

   17 titles are available on the floor, including Halo and Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee. The rest of the games run the gamut from snowboarding titles to Azurk: Rise of The Pereathia, a Soul Reaver-style fighting game with magical elements, and Nightcaster, a real-time adventure revolving around various types of elemental spells.

   The Xbox controller, although large, is somewhat more comfortable and attractive than the Dreamcast controller it has generated to comparisons to. The handles are angled outwards, eliminating the need for the user to bend their hands inward, and the controller's size is quite manageable for adult hands. The entire controller had a gem-like feel, with various buttons and the central Xbox logo composed of a transparent, colored plastic. However, the large number of buttons and the common feel of all of them may prove confusing. The X-Box itself is also quite large, especially in comparison to the slim PS2 and the petite Gamecube.

   There were also indications that the hardware is not entirely stable yet - a crash during Nightcaster revealed a familiar looking PC boot screen, and a Microsoft representative explained that the memory configuration on the floor models was different than that of the final version.

   At this point, Microsoft lacks the buzz the Gamecube has generated, and the solid library of past and future hits the PS2 possesses. However, their starting lineup is reasonably solid, and should provide the system with enough momentum to have a fighting chance at mainstream acceptance.

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