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X-Box 360 looms on horizon

Mark Bemenderfer | Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Nov. 22 will herald a new age for gamers. It marks the arrival of the first of the next-generation of consoles, the X-Box 360.

While it is too soon to make solid predictions, Microsoft looks like it is setting itself apart by releasing their console well ahead of the others with some solid launch-titles.

The sequel to “Perfect Dark” looks like it will be the system’s essential purchase, with development by Rare and a massive multiplayer component. Much like the original X-Box’s “Halo,” the sequel that once again features heroine Joanna Dark will probably be the system’s strongest launch title.

Fans of “Perfect Dark Zero” will probably also want to look into purchasing “Quake 4” and “Peter Jackson’s King Kong.” Both promise to be excellent first-person shooters, and early reviews for “Quake 4” have been positive.

Similar to these but more of a wild-card is “Condemned: Criminal Origins.” Developed by SEGA, the game places the player into the identity of a police investigator. The mix of action and forensic science should draw people in, but the actual execution is yet to be determined.

Racing fans will find “Project Gotham Racing 3” to be more suited to their desires, as well as “Ridge Racer 6.” Screenshots show both utilizing impressive graphics and should boast a decent library of cars. A new “Need for Speed,” a series that has always been fairly solid in its delivery, will also be making its appearance.

Sports fans will have the largest library of games from which to choose at launch, their numbers including “Amped 3,” “FIFA Soccer 06,” and “Madden NFL 06,” among a few other basketball and hockey titles. A grand total of 18 titles will be available at launch, with others announced and in development.

The X-Box 360 also features limited backwards compatibility, with the major sellers being the ones supported. That means it would be unwise to trade in the old X-Box, as there is no guarantee a game will be supported.

The system retails for an impressive $400 with the hard-drive and some decent accessories, or a $300 bare-bones package. The hard-drive is required for the backwards compatibility, however, and the accessories the $400 package gets make it the more economical choice.

Pre-orders for the system have been full for months now, with retailers like Game Crazy reporting having fully pre-sold their shipments as early as July. Interest is high, and with games like the first-person shooter “Gears of War” on the horizon, the X-Box 360’s future looks bright.