Selling Illusion

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

[A Golden Line Up]

Well, with my life pretty much revolving around the Xbox 360 for the last month, and the huge amount of media that the 'mis-information' of the launch line-up is recieving, I'd like to push towards a postive note.

Alright, we still don't know 100% what'll be out on first day, but from what's confirmed, and what we all hope (fingers crossed) makes it out on 2nd December, I'm very happy indeed. Playstation had WipEout, Ridge Racer and Tekken, 'three killer apps' from day one that totally blew people away, giving gamers a taste of having (then) jaw dropping graphics with a strong foundation of gameplay. I'd say this was a shift into higher gear for videogames, with the embracement of the mainstream.

(I'd have started with SNES and Megadrive launches but my memory is getting fuzzier as the years go by.)

N64's killer combo of Mario 64, Pilotwings 64 and Turok gave us something we'd never experienced before, and to me, one of the most exciting times in my videogaming life. Mario has been rightly accredited as a revolution, Pilotwings blew my mind for being something entirely different from my collection. Turok was, to many, the first real 3D FPS they'd played. (Quake being reserved to those who could afford high end PCs.)

Dreamcast heralded full-blooded arcade titles in the homestead, without the 100 pound mark of Neo-Geo titles. Outside of Powerstone, the launch didn't truly include anything revolutionary (though VF3tb and Sonic Adventure were spectaular to play.) but graphics were a big part of the intial 'wow' factor.

And now we have the Xbox 360 launch on its way. We keep hearing about 'it'll be the greatest launch line up ever'. And to a certain extent, I believe this to be true. Looking back at the last decade, no, it will not offer anything truly surprising or original in it's intial infancy. Only Elder Scrolls: Oblivion promises anything new, and that, like Quake, is because RPGs of this calibre have remained steadfast on high end PCs.

(I'm excluding MMORPGs like Final Fantasy XI because a) Its not out until next year and b) Phantasy Star Online on DC has already given console gamers access to this sort of gaming experience.)

BUT, we are looking at the greatest number of launch titles for any console. Even if we exclude the 'killer apps' such PDZ and PGR3 that still remain in the vague 'christmas line up', we've looking at a number in the double figures. And all of them certainly aren't going to be turkeys.

Like the Dreamcast, we're looking at a huge step up in terms of graphical power, and this seems to be main focus of many games magazines, forums and websites at the moment. the whole NBA 'sweat physics' is a hell of a talking point. PGR3's photorealism is mind boggling. Sure, at the very foundation stones, the gameplay mechanics are going to be incrediably similar.

I've heard one person who had a hands on with DOA4 saying how it felt liike he was picking up Ultimate on the Xbox, but with a few minor ajustments. But then, he told me, he spent as much time as possible playing it. Because the gameplay mechanics are still as beautiful and fun as ever.

I'm looking foward to both NBA and NHL on the 2K6 series. I can't wait to see the puck fire into the back of the net, see that basketball slam into the hoop, and feel my jaw drop for the tenth time, not only because it all looks so real, so beautiful, but because I just got my ass handed to me by some 10 year old kid over in America.

Because all in all, its the gameplay that counts. And this launch line up?

Has it in spades.

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