Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Post Launch Notes

My game write-ups got shorter and shorter as the day wore on yesterday. The NHL2K write-up was practically "Pretty. A.I. strong. Buy it." That's a fun way to spend a launch day, though, and thanks for all the e-mail (which I will be answering later today). I'm also putting together a long launch stories post that will be up later as well.

Here are a few more thoughts on what I played yesterday and the console in general. First, the games that use the 360's power best are clearly Project Gotham Racing 3 and NBA2K6. They're both stunning. Some of the other games look very nice, and much better than the last generation, but only two games really blow the doors off graphically (of the nine games I played yesterday).

Did I play 9 games yesterday? Holy crap.

Second, and I cannot emphasize this enough: the 360 controller is just freaking fantastic. It's unbelievably comfortable to hold and the weight is perfect.

Third, and I also cannot emphasize this enough: it is a real pleasure to see games without chunky framerates. The only time I ever saw even a hitch was in some of the Perfect Dark Zero cut scenes. Other than that, absolutely everything I played was silky smooth at all times.

Fourth, I'm baffled as to the review scores for some of these games. Here's an example of NBA2K6 from Game Rankings (, rankings are averages of all reviews):
Xbox: 86
PS2: 85
Xbox 360: 80

What? As I said yesterday, some of these review sites have absolutely no guidelines by which to compare next-gen scores with current-gen scores. Anybody who thinks the Xbox version of NBA2K6 is better than the 360 version is, well, stoned.

Fifth, everybody bitches about launch quality. Always. The only console where people didn't complain about the launch games was the Dreamcast, and maybe they even complained then. Most people also forget how much they bitched about the last console launch and say things like "This is nothing like the PS2 launch. Now THAT was a launch." Blah blah blah.

Here are a few of the extrememly memorable launch titles for the PS2:
--Wild Wild Racing
--Silent Scope
--Eternal Ring
--ESPN Winter X Games Snowboarding
Had enough? Sure, there were better games than that in the launch, but were any of the launch titles ever considered classics? No. Some nice games, some crap games, move on. This launch had better uniform quality with fewer dogs than the PS2 launch, even though there were fewer games available.

Speaking of dogs, what is up with EA Sports? They cut major features out of every single sports game they shipped at launch, and by all accounts, the games are sloppy and unpolished. These guys are allegedly the premier sports developers in the world, at least if you listen to them, and they can't get games ready for launch?

What will be interesting to see is whether they ship incomplete games for the PS3 launch that are missing major features. I'm betting not. EA has a complicated and often discordant relationship with Microsoft. Sony, on the other hand, must have scratched them quite the check to kill the Dreamcast, because without EA titles, the Dreamcast (though it was an excellent piece of hardware) was was doomed. So EA will probably support the PS3 launch with all guns blazing.

I didn't talk about Xbox Live Marketplace because I haven't connected yet. I decided to just play launch games yesterday, then work my way into the marketplace over the next week. Then I'll have a write-up for you.

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