Finally managed to get an Xbox 360 just over a week ago. Amazon.co.uk let me down with my pre-order, but I found one available in the Newcastle branch of Virgin (Premium Pack).
I’ve currently got Perfect Dark Zero, Project Gotham 3, Call of Duty 2, and Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (purchased through Xbox Live Arcade). The 360 is connected via a VGA cable to a Sony HS50 front projector (720p native resolution), and is also connected to the Internet over a 2 megabit ADSL link.
Below is a list of my general impressions, positive and negative:
- No 1080p or HDMI support. With support for these becoming more available this year, I think this is going to be a mistake in the longterm
- Poor legacy support: I tried my copy of Forza Motorsport on the 360 – not good. The emulation was quite jerky. And there’s no support at all for the masterpiece that is Outrun 2. They should have done better here
- Not that impressed with Perfect Dark Zero. It looks nice, but the controls aren’t great, and the level design is confusing
- Call of Duty 2 looks like it’s running on a high end PC, rather than anything truly next generation
- Why can’t I schedule downloads in the background? The box has three core processor capable of running 6 threads – why can’t it multitask properly? With large downloads, I don’t want to leave it on for hours on end without the ability to play games in the meantime
- Despite looking like a high end PC game, Call of Duty 2 is still very impressive on a big screen in high definition. And it’s silky smooth.
- Project Gotham 3 looks suitably next generation in high definition. It just feels like far more of the environment is actually modeled than previous generation titles
- Xbox Live works very well with Project Gotham. It’s easy to get into a race, and I haven’t noticed any lag issues. I’ve never had so much fun in a racing game as I have with Project Gotham 3 online
- Xbox Live Arcade is wonderful. Good games and instant gratification. Demos of everything too. This is definitely the future of games distribution
- 720p trailers on Xbox Live. More please…
- Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is the bargain of the decade. Just over £3 for one of the most pure and intense games I’ve ever played. In a dark room, on an HD projector, it’s absolutely stunning. However, much as I enjoy it, I am also useless at it, so my pitiful high score will remain confidential
- The controller is wonderful. Definitely the best I’ve ever used. Using a PS2 DualShock now feels terrible
In summary, I’m pretty impressed. It’s not perfect, but it does move things on a good way. But to get the best from it, you need a good sized high definition display, the hard disk, a decent broadband connection, and an Xbox Live Gold account.