Initial Xbox 360 reviews good not great

Console missing 'must-have' game

The latest from the UK’s leading games blog - Games Digest. From the makers of Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny.

Xbox360 games console

Initial Xbox 360 reviews good not great

The US launch of Microsoft's new console, the Xbox 360 is minutes away. And while it's still nearly a fortnight away from launch in Europe (Decemer 2 is the date), many US bloggers and commentators have their machines and games already. And the ones who do haven't been shy of letting us know their opinions.

Chris Morris, the influential and intelligent games expert for CNN Money seems to have captured the overall feeling excellently, with a feature headlined, "good, but not great". Summarising his points and US reviewers in general, the hardware is good, the new online "Marketplace" is excellent, and possibly the future of game distribution, but the let-down is the initial line-up of games.

Microsoft is missing that "must have", like Halo was on the Xbox, for instance. The launch line-up is mainly shooters and racers, which won't go down brilliantly in Japan either. And none of the games do anything except tune graphics up to the level of the average current PC game. But as Morris says it's "worth waiting a bit", because games will be along in 2006 that actually use the power of this new machine.

Games and films do go together

The relationship between games and films has been problematic historically. Uwe Boll, from the Hollywood side of the fence, has recently been butchering a series of games, turning them into dreck movies. But that's a tradition that goes back to the 80s with Street Fighter and Mario turkeys. On the other side, games of films are almost universally dreadful. The notable exceptions so far have been James Bond 007: GoldenEye on the N64, probably the only good Bond game ever. And The Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay on the Xbox. Possibly the only game of a film where the game was better than its source material. With the film not out until December, it's too early to say whether the film of King Kong will beat its game, just out.

With director Peter Jackson at the helm, the film will probably be great. But his direct involvement with the game and choice of working partner in Michel Ancel, the French creator of the massively under-rated Beyond Good & Evil, have meant he's set himself a high bar. Peter Jackson's King Kong The Game is, in short, brilliant. And the reviewers are going... ape crazy for it.

80 games year – most of them sequels

Screen Digest's report into the future financial state of the games industry is a depressing read. Games companies still haven't worked out the golden formula to ensure that good games make money. So instead, expect them to stick to the current formula with ever-increasing fidelity. And that is "go safe". Licensed games and franchises sell on average 23 per cent more than new, original games. So don't expect too many of them on next-generation consoles.

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