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Thoughts on the X-Box...


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#1 of 26 OFFLINE   Calvin Watts III

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Posted October 07 2001 - 08:05 PM

And my thoughts will have to wait until tomorrow night.

But, I can tell you that I'll be one of the 1st lucky few to attend the Microsoft XBox Exposed retail seminars that they are having across North America.

From what my local XBox rep has said, there will be demos up and running for us to test drive, as well as really cool prizes & giveaways. So as soon as I am able, I'll post here and let you all know if it does live up to the hype.

Regardless, I am really looking forward to this Posted Image

Laters,
Calvin

------------------
"Never give up!!! .......... Never surrender!!!!!!!!!."

#2 of 26 OFFLINE   Dean Cooper

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Posted October 07 2001 - 09:22 PM

I'll Look forward to reading your impresions. I have played with a debug system but have yet to test drive the final retail hardware or any of the launch games yet (just ones I can't talk about). Dean

#3 of 26 OFFLINE   Shawn O

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Posted October 08 2001 - 09:54 AM

I'm looking forward to your thoughts as well.You lucky dawg.

#4 of 26 OFFLINE   Dave F

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Posted October 08 2001 - 04:05 PM

Calvin,
When you post your impressions, can you comment on the frame rates? I was watching some videos at the store, and numerous titles seemed to have fairly low frame rates (Amped & Munch's, and from every other video I've seen, Obi-Wan).

Thanks,
-Dave

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DVD List




[Edited last by Dave F on October 08, 2001 at 07:05 PM]
DVD List

#5 of 26 OFFLINE   Camp

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Posted October 08 2001 - 05:21 PM

Calvin, Microsoft is holding my local "Xbox Exposed" preview at a trendy bar. Is that the case for your seminar too? Hope they don't mind if I spill beer on the console while playing Halo!

#6 of 26 OFFLINE   James D S

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Posted October 08 2001 - 07:37 PM

Could someone be so kind as to post a list of seminar stops and/or related links. Thanks.

#7 of 26 OFFLINE   Dean Cooper

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Posted October 08 2001 - 08:37 PM

Here you go James
http://retail.xbox.com/

Click the register link on that page and it will bring up a flash list.

Some things that I have found out so far through friends that attended the Toronto one.

--- Hard drive is now 8GB not the original 10GB
--- Progressive DVD is officially out due to cost and time issues.
--- GPU change from the original 250MHz to 233MHz
--- Launch numbers were not finalized but the 100K a week and the 1.2 Million shipped by year end were.

Nothing really all that new but its nice to have all of these changes made official.

The games displayed were Halo, Fusion Frenzy, Abes Odd World, NFL Fever, Project Gotham and Blood Wake. My friends told me that Halo and Fusion Frenzy were by far the most popular games.

Dean




[Edited last by Dean Cooper on October 09, 2001 at 12:34 AM]

#8 of 26 OFFLINE   Calvin Watts III

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Posted October 08 2001 - 10:03 PM

Okay...this is going to be long,so bear with me Posted Image

First things first...James, if you go to retail.xbox.com, you can see a listing of where the Xbox Exposed training seminars are being held.

Okay...where should I begin?? Hmm......okay, here we go!


What I went to was the first of many training seminars that Microsoft is holding for the new Xbox videogaming system. It just so happened that the 1st one was in Boston, and myself living only 45 minutes away, decided to go and learn more about the thing to better help my customers...Oh hell, who am I kidding?? I know enough already - I wanted to play the dang thing
Posted Image

I went along with my fiancee' and two fellow coworkers, and overall,we had a wonderful time. I say overall because after spending some time actually playing the thing,well,I still have my doubts...but that will come later.

The event was held at a Dave & Busters' type place called Jillians,which is located right behind Fenway Park in the heart of Boston. This being a holiday, I had the day off from my regular job,& there was no traffic getting there either,so we went into there in a good mood. I was the first person to register, and everyone who attended received a folder with some Xbox info & a quiz (more on that later), a Xbox dog tag necklace,an official Xbox pen, and a little packet of green M&M's with the Xbox name on the package. There were about 60 or so people who ended up attending this show.

After waiting for about 45 minutes or so, the presentation got underway. We were treated to video from CES of Bill Gates unveiling the Xbox hardware,along with The Rock coming out to promote the system.( the biggest laugh out of the crowd was when Rock told Mr.Gates that it didn't matter what he thought. The Mac person in me smiled at that.) Then the reps went into their presentation of the Xbox hardware,along with some interesting tidbits on the thing (most of which you already know). But I'll share a few here:
[list=1][*]The controller cord is 9.8 feet long,and is designed to breakaway from the controller if someone trips over the thing. This way the system won't go crashing on the floor. Also, the game will pause automaticially,so you won't lose your place in your game.[*]The systems are being made in Mexico (though they took great pains to say that it was being made in North America), Microsoft feels this will help keep systems in the stores by being manufactured so close to home.[*]Over 100 first-party games are in some kind of development at this time.[*]The games will utilize the built-in hard drive so loading times will be next to non-existent.[*]The hard drive is again 8GB instead of 10..[*]There is no progressive DVD movie playback,due to cost & time issues.[*]Games can & will be saved using the HD, you don't need a memory card unless you want to take saved info to a friend's house.[/list=a]

Seamus Blackley, the man in charge of Xbox development, was shown in a taped featurette,showcasing examples of the power of the Xbox. Some of the examples shown were from Shrek,which according to some.looks very close to the film ( I haven't seen it yet,so I can't do a comparison yet.) The grass did look like grass...single blades of grass. I must say that was cool, as well as seeing the textures on the football look like a football,with the bumps and everything. There is no denying that the system has power to spare - these gameshots look awesome. But, as we all know...looks aren't everything.

Then we were treated to a short movie about the targeted users of the Xbox ...18 to 24 year old males -i.e. the hardcore gamers. ( I think that this might just backfire on them somewhat,but I'll elaborate on that in a bit.). After that, we were told we had some time to take the quiz I had mentioned earlier,which was important because people who had completed their quizzes correctly & had their ticket number called would have a chance to play for a free XBox! Then...finally,the moment I had been waiting for.Time to play !!!!

There were 6 Xbox stations set up. One was the official Xbox interactive demo unit, which will be in select stores in the next few weeks.Nothing was running on it though. The other stations were using Xbox debug kits,which are Xboxes enclosed in a see-thru green casing - which actually looked pretty cool.

There were five playable games at the show: Halo, NFL Fever, Project Gotham Racing, Fuzion Frenzy, & Oddworld:Munch's Oddysee. I got to play a bit with each of them, and in a minute I'll tell you what I thought - but I need to get this off my chest.

I finally got to hold a real official Xbox controller.Make no mistake about this -what pictures that you have seen do not show just how big this thing is. I'm an adult, with fairly large hands,and I had problems getting used to the size of the thing. It is also fairly heavy,and the buttons are IMO.a bit too small for my liking. On the plus side,the controller was very sturdy,& the built-in vibration was very adequate. Given time, I could get used to the controller...but someone younger,such as a 10 year old child,is going to find it extremely diffcult to play with the thing. Okay..back to the games...

NFL Fever was the 1st game I got to try out. I must say, I was impressed with it. The graphics,IMO,surpass Madden 2002 on the PS2. The colors were bright, the extra detail in the players & the surrounding stadium were great. The field looked like a actual football playing field - you could make out the grass,and the yardage lines looked like they were actually painted onto the field. The gameplay was a mixture of Madden & NFL2K2 - it leans more to the arcade style of play. I played for a minute, and ran roughshod over some poor fellow before I threw a bomb into the end zone to score. This is worth watching in the weeks ahead.

Next, I got to play what was,to myself,the most disappointing game here - ( and by the looks of it, since no one was playing with it when the session finished up,everyone else) Project Gotham Racing I got to play in 4-player mode, and as I stepped up to play,I thought to myself, this looks like fun.Little did I know...
Posted Image

The framerate was slow - it looked to be running at around 30 fps. ( This might have been because of the 4-players ) Anyways, I didn't feel like I was going fast at all. The visual effects were way too dark - everyone playing at the time kept crashing into obstacles that were very hard to find. That got old fast,sol I went over to
the next kisok...

Only one person was playing Oddworld:Munch's Oddysee when I went over to give it a try. I got the controller quickly after that,and while I only played with it for about 5 minutes,I was impressed with what I did see. The graphics look awesome, and control was tight. Even though I own Abe's Oddysee, I have never played it (yet) - but I can see why this game has so many people who rave about the quirky gameplay.One comment though - after I had been playing for about a minute or two, one of the Microsoft reps came over to watch me play. He remarked that I had played the game before,and that I was good at it. I just said no, that this was my first time playing it. I don't know why, but hearing that put me on my guard...


Halo was next,and the game which had the most people playing it. I got to try the two-player mode, and it took some time to get used to the controls...( at least that you can configure those to your liking). The graphics,again,looked great, but the game looked slow...again about 30-40 FPS. ( About the speed of Red Faction, but not as fast as Timesplitters ) If the framerate goes up.and the one-player mode is as deep as I heard, then this game has some potential.

Last,but not least, I got to try my hand at Fuzion Frenzy, which is the Xbox answer to Mario Party. This game was the biggest surprise of the show - it was great to look at, and a lot of fun to play. I got to play 2 of the 45 minigames on the disc - One was a takeoff on whack a mole,except you had to hammer bugs of all different sizes. The other was Sumo, which put you into walking cageballs( think American Gladiators) in an arena surrounded by water. The object is to knock you opponent into the water - and as time passes, you lose the other rings of the arena floor, making it harder to stay in the game. I came in second,losing at the last second. (This game,by the way, is the game they used to give away the free Xbox).

After we had enough time to play the games, they ran the contest for the free Xbox. My number didn't get called Posted Image , but both my co-workers has a chance to play. ( Both came in second in their heats,though). The winner got a certificate for a free Xbox..also, we found out that Taco Bell will be giving out over 6000 Xboxes as part of their upcoming promotion,which starts on Oct.18. (Goto xbox.com & click on the banner for more details.) Then,some other freebies were given away..hats,shirts & the like. I didn't care because I was still bummed about not getting a chance to compete in the Xbox giveaway contest.

Lastly, the Xbox reps showed a quick 90-second preview of Dead or Alive 3. That game does look incredible...Also shown were some short movies of games like Blood Wake,Star Wars - Obi-Wan, & WWF Raw. That was the end of my training seminar.

This was the first time going to something like this, and I must admit, I had a lot of fun, and I thank Microsoft for putting this together. Unfortunately, I left Jillian's thinking the same thoughts I had going in.

I did try to keep an open mind,and anyone who is a gamer can see the vast potential that the Xbox has. But there is no game at launch that makes me want to rush out & buy a system,much less preorder one with games I have no interest in. Most of the games were good, and playable in their current form. But I could hear the comments from the other people attending...NFL Fever is nothing compared to Madden, Halo's premise was ruined by making it a console game,yadda,yadda,yadda.

Also, I think it is a mistake to count out the younger gamers. A console's best chance at succeeding is to sell it to as many people as you can - discounting that group of players,IMO,isn't a good move to make.

In closing, my mind hasn't changed about what I'm going to do next month. I'll do my job,and show people the games,and the potential that Xbox has.Gates has money to burn. That alone gives the Xbox a fighting chance. I think it will do well this year,but 2002 is gonna be the year to see who will be the winners or losers. I just hope that the small feeling in the back of my brain that Xbox is ahead of its time doesn't come to pass.

I'll be buying a Gamecube at launch. I want Rogue Leader, and I think Nintendo will do killer business with their launch. I will still buy an Xbox, but with no one game being a must-own, & with the PS2 coming out with some awesome games (MGS2,for one). I think the box can wait for a while.

PS: Dave, the games did run a lot faster than the videos that have been running at places like EB & ToysRUs...though I think there is still more room for improvement. Time is starting to run out,though...

If you took the time to read all of this, thank you. Posted Image
I didn't mean to type so much Posted Image
If any of you have specific questions about anything,either e-mail me or post them & I'll do my best to answer them.

Sincerely,
Calvin Posted Image

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"Never give up!!! .......... Never surrender!!!!!!!!!."

[Edited last by Calvin Watts III on October 09, 2001 at 01:08 AM]

[Edited last by Calvin Watts III on October 09, 2001 at 01:19 AM]

#9 of 26 OFFLINE   Dean Cooper

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Posted October 08 2001 - 10:39 PM

Man after that review I'm surprised you were disappointed about not getting to play for a free one Posted Image Thanks for the good read. One question though, when you say Halo and Project Gotham are slow what are you comparing them to? Quake 3/007 Sega GT/GT3...just to get an idea, I haven't played RF or TS yet.

Dean

[Edited last by Dean Cooper on October 09, 2001 at 01:42 AM]

#10 of 26 OFFLINE   Steven_V

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Posted October 08 2001 - 11:07 PM

Those were some very nice and detailed impressions Calvin. Thanks! Posted Image

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#11 of 26 OFFLINE   James St

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Posted October 08 2001 - 11:47 PM

Thanks for the review, Calvin. Has Microsoft made any announcements on how many systems they will have for the North American launch? I haven't heard anything since the delay.

#12 of 26 OFFLINE   Troy LaMont

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Posted October 09 2001 - 11:08 AM

Calvin, Thank you for taking the time to write up such an informative commentary about your XBox events. I'd be really curious to see what the average age is of PS2 owners. I, personally don't really know too many people under age 18, but from my experience working at Best Buy last fall when the PS2 was released, the majority of first-party purchasers were within Microsoft's target range. I know there were a lot of moms buying for kids as well, but I would venture to guess that not many 'kids'* received this unit if they were under 15 or so. IMPO, since we don't have any data available. If you really think about it, what 'kids'* are going to be concerned, interested or even aware of what the true capabilities of the XBox are? If you think about 1080i gaming, are they going to really know and/or care? I do believe that the initial run of the XBox will be within Microsofts target audience range. Anyway, there are at least 10 other games that I'm interested in and most of them don't rely on blazing frame rates for great gameplay (Azurik, Morrowmind, DOA, etc). Shit, just to play these very graphically driven marvels in 1080i on my 55" will be bliss all in itself. One last note, if the system makes it, it'll only get better! Troy *kids= ~ 15 and under. ------------------
quote:
:My teacher tells me beauty is on the inside. :That's just something ugly people say.
[Edited last by Troy LaMont on October 09, 2001 at 02:10 PM]
:My teacher tells me beauty is on the inside.
:That's just something ugly people say.

#13 of 26 OFFLINE   David_LM

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Posted October 09 2001 - 04:44 PM

Thanks Calvin. You convinced me to go ahead and purchase the XBox instead of the PS2. The way I look at it, if a reviewer of the XBox who had a preconceived bias towards the Cube can write such a positive review, then that really says something. I also did my part today when my boss said he was going out to buy his son, who is leaving for the Marines, a PS2, I was able to convince him to wait for the XBox.

[quote]

Here are some "snipped" quotes from your review Calvin: There is no denying that the system has power to spare - these gameshots look awesome.

Given time, I could get used to the controller.

NFL Fever was the 1st game I got to try out. I must say, I was impressed with it. The graphics,IMO,surpass Madden 2002 on the PS2.

Only one person was playing Oddworld:Munch's Oddysee when I went over to give it a try. I was impressed with what I did see. The graphics look awesome, and control was tight

Halo was next,and the game which had the most people playing it. The graphics,again,looked great.

Last,but not least, I got to try my hand at Fuzion Frenzy, which is the Xbox answer to Mario Party. This game was the biggest surprise of the show - it was great to look at, and a lot of fun to play.

Lastly, the Xbox reps showed a quick 90-second preview of Dead or Alive 3. That game does look incredible.

I did try to keep an open mind,and anyone who is a gamer can see the vast potential that the Xbox has.

[quote]
I have an open mind, do see the vast potential and am buying the XBox knowing that the potential will be realized over the next 12 months.

[Edited last by David_LM on October 09, 2001 at 07:58 PM]

#14 of 26 OFFLINE   Morgan Jolley

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Posted October 09 2001 - 05:11 PM

[quote]

A couple of Morgan myths put to rest.

[quote]

I was speculating on something that I had heard in the corner of a forum somewhere.

I'm glad the XB doesn't require memory cards.

I had heard a loooooong time ago that the HDD was 8 GB.

Thanks for the reviews.

#15 of 26 OFFLINE   Camp

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Posted October 09 2001 - 06:58 PM

Great write up Calvin. Guess you'll be eating at Taco Bell to earn your free Xbox? Posted Image

[quote]

Launch numbers were not finalized but the 100K a week and the 1.2 Million shipped by year end were.

[quote]

Those numbers are exactly what Microsoft is preparing retailers for. Do you guys realize those numbers are virtually identical to what Sony shipped in the PS2 debacle?

Sony also promised 100k per week after November. And you all know how that turned out. Moral of this story: Reserve your Xbox now.

#16 of 26 OFFLINE   Calvin Watts III

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Posted October 09 2001 - 07:18 PM

Thanks for taking the time to read my post everyone.
I did put a lot of effort into it... Posted Image

Now, I do have a few things to clear up.just so you know where I am coming from,and how I look at the big picture...

[quote]

The way I look at it, if a reviewer of the XBox who had a preconceived bias towards the Cube can write such a positive review, then that really says something.

[quote]

I don't,nor have I ever had, a bias towards one system or the other. I don't think my review was all that positive.

The Xbox has a huge amount of potential. But,as of now,that is all it is.Potential. I am going on 33 years old,and have played games all of my life. I currently own just about every major system ever slod here in the US,and I have a collection of almost 500 games. On top of this,I work in a retail store with videogames,and in my spare time,co-produce and co-host a cable access show,where I am the resident gaming/DVD guru.

I do my best to stay informed,because people buy things based on what I say, & what I believe in. That,as well as other factors,decide as to what I buy & what I recommend.

For me,the Xbox is not a viable option now. Nothing that I have seen,played,or heard makes me want to rush out and spend $300 on a system,much less $500 and up to preorder. The GCN,on the other hand,has something that I do want at launch. Everyone here has various reasons for looking to buy a PS2, or an Xbox,or a GCN,or whatever else looks good. In my opinion,as long as you base buying a system in part because you want to play some of the games that it has, then that is okay. Eventually,though,you have to decide,on your own,what choice is best for you.

Do I want a Xbox? Yes,without a doubt.
Will I own one someday? Yes,without a doubt.

But,come this Thanksgiving,unless I either come into a lot of money,or win one for free - I'll be playing with a GameCube & Rogue Leader. Because I believe that is the best thing for me.


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#17 of 26 OFFLINE   Dean Cooper

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Posted October 09 2001 - 09:26 PM

Thanks for the answer, sounds like Halo is right up my alley. Now that it has a M rating I won't be beating off the kids to get a copy. Posted Image I sure do hope that Rogue Leader lives up to the hype it has produced, we will all be in for a treat if it does. I get the impression that your pretty confident about it and the GC, have you played RL or watched it in action? (just curious, the question is not intentionally loaded or being sarcastic...damn I've spent too much time on the game forums). I'm almost the complete opposite, I want too many of the games for the Xbox and have yet to see a game for the GC that has me thinking about getting it soon even though I'll still get one later. Still a bit bitter about the N64, Nintendo is going to really have to wow me to win my money again.

Dean

[Edited last by Dean Cooper on October 10, 2001 at 12:31 AM]

#18 of 26 OFFLINE   Andre F

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Posted October 10 2001 - 06:00 AM

Very interesting information. While I don't plan to get a X-Box at launch I still like to hear about the progress of this machine. Who knows, if some killer apps come out then I might have to think about it. -Andre F ------------------ -= Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape! =-
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#19 of 26 OFFLINE   Camp

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Posted October 10 2001 - 01:14 PM

[quote]

I won't be beating off the kids to get a copy

[quote]

Umm...Dean, you want to explain that quote?

Posted Image

#20 of 26 OFFLINE   Kelley_B

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Posted October 10 2001 - 01:32 PM

They dropped the GPU speed again! This is why you shouldn't release specs to a unit until the unit is DONE. Nintendo did it also, and I personally believe that they shouldn't be doing that. I miss the old days when you didn't know how many MHZ the CPU/GPU whateverPU was putting out, you picked it because the games were better.




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