Xbox 360: Boldly going…somewhere!?

Xbox 360Last november signalled the official launch of the “next gen” consoles. Microsoft’s newest prodigy, the Xbox 360, was the first out of the gate. Next gen gamers were promised not only a stylish new gaming console, but one capable of not only dominating the console market. but also rivaling the flexability and graphics potental of the PC gaming world.

Has Microsoft delivered? It’s tough to say, but take a look at this next gen console, and it’s certain that you will find something that makes your jaw drop.

Let’s talk sheer power here. The specs on the 360 can make any voltage junky drool. This baby comes fully loaded with three (count them, 3!!) 3.2 ghz processors arranged symetrically on a board with custom ATI graphics clocked at 500mhz, complete with 512 MB of UMA ram (dwarfing the previous Xbox, which had a P3-based Celeron 733mhz processor and it’s 64MB of RAM). The processing power of this machine alone casts a huge shadow over the PC market, as even the most expensive consumer-end PCs still manage only two processor support at the maximum.

This system can definatly crunch the numbers, and the resulting graphics are phenominal. While there are still speculations over the accuracy of video benchmarking, the XB360 clocks in at a full 1 TFLOPS. For many, that number may seem abstract. The original Xbox had a total of 83 GFLOPS, making the 360 twelve times as powerful by looking at raw numbers.

I have to pause here. There has been much controversy as to how much this hardware has actually pushed the graphical benchmarks of the previous generation. There is talk that, although the system is statistically better, people are not seeing an overwhelming improvement in the presentation of these so called next gen games. I call these people: Whiners.

The proof is in the pixels, and the XB360 is giving us more consistant framerates than ever before. It is increasingly obvious that the original Xbox is struggling at the end of it’s days. We find ourselves turning a blind eye to the texture buffing issues that have become apparent in some of it’s hottest titles (ie. Halo 2 cutscenes, ringing any bells?). And, while some may not see a drastic improvement in the over-all look the next gen games to date, it’s important to remember that this system is still a baby.

Take yourself back to the early days of the Xbox, or even yet, the PlayStation 2. Pick up your launch titles, like Gran Tourismo 3 and Project gotham. Now compare them to their counterparts at the end of the generation. Big difference, hmm? Who is to say that the production levels of the launch titles now are signalling the pinnacle of this system’s performance. It’s a new system, with a new interface, and unexplored possibilities. We don’t know the graphical limitations of the 360, but I can’t wait to see how far it can be pushed.

The other gripe I hear is about the HD revolution. People seem to have it in their heads that that the system looks terrible on your average TV. This is partially because all of the 360 demo units have High Def monitors and the Microsoft marketing campaign is plasetering HD all over the place, making the XB360 seem synnonomous with High Def. But please bare in mind that the original Xbox was HD capable, but that didn’t mean you had to have a HDTV to own the system, the games played just as well and the graphics were still stunning, none the less. The same is true for the 360. While the HD experiance is nothing to scoff at (prompting many people to buy HDTV’s), it is not a necessity. Newer games like Fight Night: Round 3 and Condemned: Criminal Origins only reinforce this. I’ve played both games in HD and through the standard AV cables, the difference between the two (while substantial enough to support switching to HD) is more than bareable compared to it’s supiriority over the dieing Xbox.

The old consoles are dieing, there’s no question about it, and gamers are losing interest in them. There seems to be a industry wide lull as gamers wait with baited breath, for the new consoles to arise and overthrow the thrones of their predecessors. and while Nintendo says wait, and Sony can only speculate (and lie), the only company that can welcome you to this next generation is the one that, arguably, defined the last. A little company called Microsoft, and their system is the 360.

Overall, time will be the deciding factor on who wins the war of the next gen consoles. But, with Sony and Nintendo still not out the door, The Xbox 360 still runs unopposed. Microsoft stands high atop a summit right now, and in an industry where being the first at the top means you have the most attention, both from gamers and developers, the XB360 remains untouchable by it’s competetors. It is setting a standard that will prove hard to beat.

Although the price point for the system is currently set at around $600 CDN, the Xbox 360 is worth every penny, and with no alternative in sight, it is a must have for the next generation of gamers. stop waiting to be next gen, get out there and Buy it!

Editorial by Justin Hardy
Presented by Electric Pickle Online
Originally posted March 20, 2006

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