I’ve had the 360 for a few days now so I thought I’d post an updated review. Since that time, I’ve gotten Project Gotham Racing (thanks M. White!) and have put in a few more hours of playtime. First - let me talk about PGR. The load times on this game are drastically different than Call of Duty 2, but they are acceptable. If COD2 and PGR represent the “range” of wait times, I’m ok with that. As it stands - it may be something with the genre. I seem to remember Forza being a bit slow to load as well.
The graphic details are amazing - as is the sound - but to be honest the game is difficult enough where you don’t notice the graphics. You really need to pay attention to your driving. I’m not complaining, just making sure folks know this is more of a sim than an arcade racer. I kinda like that fact that each time I change cars I need to spend a race or two getting used to the handling.
Now forget all of that. I think where PGR really shines is it’s online play. I’ve played online games before, but just stuff like Quake and Half-Life. PGR represents something entirely different - at least for me.
First off - while you navigate the menus, you get a real time news ticker. Sometimes you see stuff like, “FooFoo, a Gotham Hero, is racing at….” Even if you just playing a solo game - there is a feeling of being connected to the world at large. If you have never played online, or only played shooters as I have - this is an entirely different feeling. At the end of each race you also see how you rank against other online players (typically I’m pretty bad). It all just ads up to a new type of gaming experience. Something you really have to experience to understand.
What really impressed me was the Gotham TV feature. Basically this is just watching other people race. It is unbelievable to me that I can sit and watch real races among people from across the planet. It is far better than watching “real” racing since you have complete control over the camera. So for example - I focused on the number two racer, and watched as he fought, and eventually go, first place.
Probably the only thing really bad about the experience is a bad design choice by the programmers. The top car is unique in that no other car (as far as I know) matches it for performance. What does this mean? Typically an online race will be 8 cars of the exact same color and make. If the color could have been changed it would be a bit better - but seeing 8 identical cars racing around the track really sticks out. Ignoring that, however, at times I was almost fooled into thinking I was watching real, or at least pre-rendered video.
So outside of PGR, I downloaded the demo for a boxing game. (Can’t remember the name.) Just the fact alone that I could download a demo was cool, but the game was pretty darn sweet as well, and again, darn near photo-realistic. If these are examples of first-generation 360 games, I think the console will have a good future.