Xbox 360 Games Discussion

Have you ever gone out to a fancy restaurant for dinner and had to pass through a horde of hungry hungry homeless on the way in? Sure, all the face kicking is fun for a while, but it gets old. Pretty soon you just want to have a nice dinner without all the slaughter.

I noticed a similar situation on this board. There aren’t any threads where we Xbox 360 owners can get together and discuss our fine system, free from the wailing of all the unfortunate souls still stuck in last-gen gaming purgatory. So here is that thread.

To get things started, the only non-Live Arcade game I own is PGR3. It’s a very impressive game. The graphics are just as good as prerelease media led us to believe, although the replays do feature some unfortunate graphical glitches, including framerate drops and sometimes significant pop-in. Speaking of problems with the replays, it appears that player names are not saved with online replays, making it difficult to determine exactly which red Ferrari F50 GT is you.

This is a problem because there are only a handful of viable cars in each class, and many of them are limited-edition or concept cars which only come in one or two colors.

And speaking of class-based racing, you’d think that the lowest class would be the most forgiving, but you’d be wrong. Class A, containing the fastest cars, is actually the most friendly to the careless driver. Sure, the increased speed makes mistakes almost a certainty, but the rapid acceleration ensures that you lose very little time from these mistakes. On Class E a single brush with the wall can put you in last place for the entire race with no hope of catching up.

And it’s easy to crash into the wall while you’re flipping through the radio stations and cursing the game for not allowing you to limit the music to only the classical station.

But that’s about it for complaints. The game is fantastic, with the single-player mode providing impressive variety for the genre, as well as pretty decent replayability with its 5 difficulty levels and large car library. And then there’s the Live integration, which is spectacular. For time trials, each course and car has its own leaderboard. For single-player events, each race and difficulty level has its own leaderboard. Upon first starting the game, I was impressed to find myself placed on a leaderboard for my lap time after test-driving my first potential automobile purchase. I didn’t even think I was playing the game yet. That you also have a saved ghost lap for each time trial course is old hat, but perhaps not the fact that you can download the top-ranked ghost lap, as well as the replay of that lap. Then there’s Gotham TV, where you can watch online races as they’re played. It’s surprisingly entertaining. I found myself cheering and cursing at the screen as if I were watching a sporting event, and as if I were the type of person to cheer and curse at sporting events. And I haven’t even gone into other features like Photo Mode or the Course Creator. The icing on this wonderful cake is made up of the Achievements, which mandate that anyone wanting to max out this game’s contribution to their Gamerscore will visit each major feature of the game.

But as I said, that’s just the sole non-Arcade game. On that side of the Dashboard, I have Hexic (of course), Outpost Kaloki, Zuma, and Geometry Wars. Hexic and Geometry Wars are both top-notch games that everyone should play.

Hexic is a little slow (if you’re playing it right) but incredibly strategic, with a lot of the depth not showing itself until after several games. You can play Hexic online here, but it’s missing the Timed and Survival modes present in the 360 version (also apparently in the downloadable version). The Survival mode might be my current favorite, but it has a few flaws. One is that it’s even slower than the main game, with my first match taking around 50 minutes. Another is that there is probably a theoretical maximum amount of points available in this mode. I did have the #61 score for Survival, but it had fallen to #95 the last time I checked. As for the Timed mode, I would like it a lot more if it didn’t feature the bombs that also populate the main mode. The bombs are a lot more deadly than the timer, making the timer more of an annoying afterthought than the focus that it should be.

Geometry Wars is the opposite of Hexic, being fast and frantic and twitch-based. It’s all about microsecond response times and not losing your ship in a sea of particle effects. It’s sort of like trying to keep track of the ball in a shell game, only there are dozens of shells and if you lose the ball for even an instant then you are dead. Plus it’s only $5.

Zuma and Outpost Kaloki are also fun, but you probably already played these on the PC if you’re interested in them. A plus is that they’re only $10 on the 360 versus their PC cost of $20, and I hope that Microsoft continues to subsidize any future PC-to-Arcade ports. And both games have had their interface effortlessly adapted to a gamepad.

As for the other available retail games, I’m probably going to pick up Kameo next. I enjoyed the demo well enough, and it’s supposed to be a pretty poor representation of the full game. The NFS:MW demo was fun once I discovered you could slow down time, but both it and Ridge Racer 6 will have to wait until I’ve tired of PGR3. I was going to buy Condemned until I found out it had unskippable cinematics, I was going to buy PDZ until I found out it didn’t have mid-mission saves, and I was going to buy COD2 until I heard about the saving bug. That doesn’t seem to leave a lot of titles, but fortunately Live Arcade is there for me. Apparently another batch of titles will be available tomorrow, including various card games as well as another retro remake and Wik: Fable of Souls.

In summary, the Xbox 360 is cool and everyone who failed to get one is not. Just kidding. Don’t hit me.

Since most people here are also PC gamers, I kinda doubt that they’re still stuck in the last generation of gaming.

I’m still one of those gamers ‘stuck’ in last gen, hoping to see a little restock loving this week from MS and retailers. I’ve played a decent share of the system however via a far more consumer saavy friend than I.

Call of Duty 2 online -rules-! I scoffed at the lack of features and 8-player limit at first, but the tight level layouts and slower pacing fuels one of the most intense cat/mouse gun duelling I’ve played. It’s a shame about the savebug and the missing matchmaking features though. The smooth framerate and excellent audio almost made this the most impressive showcase title I tried on the system.

PDZ impressed me quite a bit too. The online is fast and smooth, the modes are plentiful, and though I was absolutely horrible at it, it was good times. The co-op campaign is pretty neat as well for the two missions we tried. Can’t say much else, too busy playing CoD2 anyway.

Need for Speed demo might have sold me on the game. I’m not sure why I loved the police escape chases so much; the actual mechanics seem wonky and I couldn’t exactly pin down how to earn citations, or why cops would randomly decide to lose track of me or warp in on the minimap when I clearly should have been unseen. Nevertheless, really exhilerating stuff and the visuals are stunning.

PGR3 didn’t enthrall me. I was all excited to go cruising around NYC and Tokyo checking out some of my fav hotspots, but with all the trackside barriers and whatnot, it got really difficult to bask in the rendered beauty. Plus, after Need for Speed the racing just felt anticlimactic and dry. Pretty game, but I’m totally all about the adrenaline for my armchair racing. I’m dying to try Ridge Racer 6.

Geometry Wars and that Mutant Storm(?) game were pretty great too.

Bob, I’m glad you started this thread. I’d been holding off on discussion of the games too, and I’m sure we won’t make it far without some (understandably) bitter words from Dave or Gary, but here goes.

PGR3 is fantastic, isn’t it? I haven’t raced online at all yet, so I didn’t know about the names not being saved, but I haven’t noticed any of the other replay glitches. I wonder how much more they can squeeze out of the Xbox 360, how representative this game is of the best it can do. There was a pretty big improvement between the two Project Gothams on the first Xbox, I’m wondering if by the time we get a sequel they’ll be able to manage the anti-aliasing for the whole game, not just the photos, because graphically that’s the only thing holding it back.

You’re right about the higher classes being more forgiving in a way too, I noticed it in PGR2. The cone challenges where what I obsessed over the most, breaking into the top 150 or so on many of them in scores on the last game, and I found they got easier as the game went on rather than harder. Once I had an Enzo, I could come to almost a complete stop to make really careful turns through the gates and then still accelerate fast enough to still hit the next gate without losing the combo chain.

My only other complaint is that I do kind of miss the lower end cars. How are we supposed to play Cat and Mouse online with no Minis?

PDZ is another story. First, I can’t understand the praise for how this game looks. It’s ugly. It’s made by people who know more about what they can do with the Xbox 360 hardware (that alone could be a good thing) than what the real world looks like, so we get this technically impressive but aesthetically horrifying shiny world. Every thing just looks so absolutely weird. Stuff that should be obvious is just wrong, on the first level, when you make it outside toward the end, what’s up with the sky? It’s like someone just bumped a contrast slider in photoshop and you’ve got this dingy looking gray picture of some clouds. Ugh, and everything else, just so weird weird weird. Once in a while they manage to impress, like the rooftop sniping level. It was really pretty, the lighting all looked really cool and there was a great sense of scale with all the buildings.

Unfortunately, I had no time to enjoy it because it was trial and error to figure out what I was supposed to do. That’s the other part that sucks. Most of the levels seem to imply stealth is a good approach, and obviously, when it works, it is. Silenced headshots from a football field away make things pretty easy. It’s usually not very obvious where you’re supposed to be going though (even with the eventual arrows showing up), so you’re coming around a lot of blind corners, or running into guys that look safe to engage because you can’t see their buddies around the corner. Once I’m spotted and actually get into a firefight, I have this sense of failure, like I’m no longer playing the game as it was intended, despite there being no penalty. As far as I’ve gotten, you don’t fail the missions for being spotted and it’s not that hard to fight your way through the levels. They just completely failed to set the tone for that. The second mission, the dance club, I must have replayed it a million times to try and figure out all the guards’ patterns and get my surviellance on the enforcers without starting a fight. The end result was no different than if I’d just blasted my way through the level, but that didn’t feel satisfying at all.

The voice acting is wretched, the plot is stupid, the cutscenes are bad, the player models are just as shiny and weird, the interface is garish. The weapons are quite nice looking, but these high-powered rifles taking six or so body shots to take down an unarmored guy just feels wrong, I keep expecting them to drop after two or three shots. This is really an average shooter at best. I’ll still play through it, and once I get hooked back up to Live I expect to play a fair amount online, but overall it’s been a disappointment.

UUgghhhh!!!

I’ll weigh in a bit more after my reviews are out, but just to comment quickly: I couldn’t agree more about Perfect Dark Zero. What a sad little game.

I’m not terribly crazy about Project Gotham 3, which actually manages to lose a lot of the charm of Project Gotham 2. Although now that I’ve got an HDTV, I can understand the fuss a bit more. NFS: Most Wanted is pretty ugly in comparison.

And Ridge Racer? Who still plays games that glib?

A quick tip for Amped fans: avoid Amped 3. Oh, and a quick tip for SSX fans, too: avoid Amped 3.

I haven’t gotten far with Condemned and based on what I’ve heard, I don’t really have any desire to. Whacking junkies while my Xbox 360 interrupts from time to time with a hackneyed invitation to enter the mind of a killer? No thanks.

I don’t get the appeal of Hexic yet. I’ve gotten bored and just given up more often than I’ve finished a game. As for the other Live Arcade games, I really can’t bring myself to buy those things on an Xbox 360, especially when I have so many great options for things small and quaint on my handheld systems.

But I sure do think Kameo is swell, so there’s that!

-Tom

There could be worse things than being stuck in the previous gen. Just look at the AAA releases in the last 6-9 months on both Xbox and PS2; it’s incredible.

As much as I lust after an Xbox 360 (had one and sold it via ebay) to get the most out of my HDTV, I have to remind myself that staying with the previous gen for at least a year is advisable. Otherwise, being an early adopter will mean I will enter the market when games are full price (and inflated an additional $10). But is there really any reason to pay more than $20 for a game? Even if your a “hard core” gamer?

Among other things, playing it while it is relevant and being discussed and playing it multiplayer are two excellent reasons to buy a game when it is at full price.

– Xaroc

Among other things, playing it while it is relevant and being discussed and playing it multiplayer are two excellent reasons to buy a game when it is at full price.

– Xaroc[/quote]

Hard to argue about the multiplayer side. Although right now I’d argue that Xbox1 live games are more “relevant”, and that won’t change until MS actually starts manufacturing the 360.

I’m in the same boat as Tom with a few games (Condemned, Kameo and NFS:MW) as far as reviews are concerned, but I’ve already talked some about Condemned.

Condemned: I like the game quite a bit, but it has a few flaws. Unfortunately you can tell it was rushed due to the pretty short game duration.

Kameo: Kameo is a very pretty game overall and quite a bit of fun to play. Rare seems to have done a pretty good job with this one.

NFS:MW: I actually like this one too and think it looks pretty nice overall. Won’t comment too much about it at this time.

PGR3: First of all it’s a very pretty game in certain areas. The backgrounds are amazingly detailed. The insides of the cars are pretty amazing as well. I always prefer driving from the behind the wheel perspective and PGR3 is the hands down leader. Otherwise, however, PGR3 is kind of boring to me overall. I’ve gotten a little more into it lately, but it’s a pretty vanilla racing game. The LIVE aspect of it is outstanding though. I really wish there was some car customization or something. Maybe that’s why I like NFS more.

PD0: HOOOOOO BOY. I really really wanted to like this game. I didn’t reserve it at first because I didn’t really like the first Perfect Dark. Even though it was basically the same thing as GoldenEye with different characters, it didn’t feel as good. So, when I read the reviews I was pretty shocked. I usually don’t read reviews because I’m either going to get it or not, but everyone was talking about the Gamespot score so I went to check it out and eventually went and grabbed it.

The single player is pretty bad. First of all it’s hellishly confusing and the stealth mechanics are pretty damned rough. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I suck at stealth. I was always the guy who would just run out into the open and start shooting things (I mean, of course, other than Thief and Splinter Cell) because it’s a freaking FPS GAMES PEOPLE. So, that probably doesn’t help the situation, but on top of that, there’s no real way of knowing if you’re concealed or not or if, for some magical reason, his friends will notice you from a million miles away.

Other than that, the graphics are really nice but the actual graphic design is very questionable. The perfect example is in the first level. There are some really cool effects and some of the backgrounds look fantastic but it runs into some slowdown (which honestly point to bad design on the part of RARE, especially seeing much better looking games not stutter at all) and just plain BLAH looking characters. The game is full of mismatched design.

Theres also a massive amount of space between checkpoints. I can’t remember which level it is, but one of the first ones have you go back for at least 20 minutes of game play if you die. That’s completely unacceptable. Maybe if the game was fun, it wouldn’t matter.

Multiplayer, however, is pretty fun. There’s quite a few modes, though some of them make no sense (infection or whatever its called), they’re all pretty entertaining. One thing I did learn though, Tom is one mean-assed skeleton.

Call of Duty 2: Great fun. My biggest problem with this game is the lack of a co-op mode. I suppose it could possibly throw the game off if it had co-op due to it’s severely scripted nature. The single player campaign is a blast (note: I skipped it on PC so I could play it on 360) and it really does look fantastic. The multiplayer can be pretty ok too, but I haven’t played around with it enough to give any sort of real idea of it’s worth.

I’ve been very happy so far.
Ive spent a lot of time with hexic. I got pretty ticked the other night when I was having my best game in marathon with 2 pearls on level 4 and the game dropped a bomb in I had no hope of getting rid of.

I bought Mutant Storm and it is a blast. Less frenetic than Geometry Wars. The billiards game came with my live starter kit. Neat, but haven’t played it much.

NFSMW looks beautiful, and I have had fun playing through the intro portion. It feels very much like being in an action movie. The physics are forgiving, but very fun. Arcadish in a sense (and the speedbreaker is a trip), but with a very natural/real sensibility (i.e. it feels like you are driving a real car vs an innertube sliding down a mountain of pudding).

PGR3 is great. The inside view is absolutely dynamite and is what really makes the game. IMO. My favorite inside view on any game shy of Richard Burns Rally. I need to spend more time with this and NFS but…

I borrowed Kameo from work and absolutely adore it. I’ll be buying this one in a few days. My kids love it too. If you’re looking for a serious challenge look elsewhere, but this game is an experience. If you want something that is beautiful and fun and you can enjoy at a relatively relaxed pace, check this out. People say the game is short, but there’s a lot of little things to do and places to explore if you choose to.

I am really looking forward to a few things down the road, notably Burnout. Lost Oddyssey looks awesome, as does 99 Nights.

Call of Duty 2

First Impression: Great looking, great feeling game. Fun SP campaign and weapon selection. I hadn’t played it on the PC so I don’t know if we are playing with a knock off on the 360.

Gripes: Co-op! Maybe I’m a minority but alot of the appeal of console FPS comes from the added elements you don’t find on your PC. The most important to me being Co-op. This game would be the best game out on the 360 if it had coop for me. Second gripe is about the multiplayer aspect, the maps are almost perfect for 8-man games, however whenever I play on Live usually there will be intermittent lag until someone drops off. Then suddenly it plays smooth as glass.

Kameo

First Impression: Beautiful game. Good character design (The way the characters interact with one another and the enviroment). Great looking world that reacts to your characters as they move and fight in it.

Gripes: Not alot of gripes except that it’s gameplay is a little too platformy for me. I guess I was kind of expecting and wanting a Zelda type of game for this title. Also, the game is pretty short if you just go through it. I actually didn’t even find the cave you do your trials at until I had unlocked all the Elemental Warriors. Spoiler:[color=white]maybe that’s because every time you move in the plot you had to enter the badlands and save a shrine without alot of exploring.[/color]

Condemned

First Impression: Creepy, interesting premise, initially fun combat.

Gripes: Short. They hold your hand a too much on the ‘detectiving’ part of a detective game. The game kind of plays like there was a meeting when they were making Condemened and they didn’t want anyone to not get the clues to advance the plot. So they just made it impossible to mess that part up. It also makes ‘looking around’ useless, you can’t garner important information by looking at things that are not expressly tied to your detective gear. Which is really too bad, because the enviroment is immersive.

I’ve also played some Madden and alot of Xbox Arcade games. My wife loves Hexic, every time I look at her Achievements when I get home she has a few hundred more points. I haven’t played more than a few levels myself, but it is pretty damn fun.

Perfect Dark Zero:

Hated it for the first few levels - I can totally see what all the complaining is about. Further in (playing on Secret Agent, the second difficulty level) it got more interesting. It really is a different kind of shooter, and you need to watch your pacing, use the cover thing, and play with the secondary and tertiary weapon functions. You have to realize things like: when you finish a level carrying a new weapon, it’s added to your arsenal. If you’re hit when rolling, you take double damage.

It’s so thoroughly full of extereme highs and lows that I don’t know what to make of it. Some of the environments are killer, others are stale. Many characters look wierd up close, but the animation is often really good. The AI is sometimes smart and reactive (especially reacting to where they got hit, seeing you reload and moving in, etc.), but it’s also cheap (seeing where you are through walls and stuff, once they’re in combat mode). Some levels were well made, and made me feel clever for using my secondary gun modes and gadgets and stuff in a cool way to get the drop on the bad guys. Others were just inexplicably frustrating. All of them could be made twice as good with a liberal sprinkling of checkpoints.

Now that I finished the single player, I can see where it was really designed to be good that second or third time you play through it, taking along different gadgets or weapons, finding stuff you missed before (there’s more to find that I at first thought). But I think maybe it comes at a detriment to that first play through.

Multiplayer is really good, though. Deathmatch is just sort of…deathmatch. But the mission based stuff is lots of fun. Takes some getting used to for sure, and of course your games are only ever as much fun as the people you play with.

PGR3 - Lost the charm of PGR2? Now way, Tom! This one’s better in almost every way. I love that I don’t spend the first 8 hours of the game buying cars that I will soon surpass and never use again. I like that nearly every car in the game is available from the start, and you can earn enough money to buy the most expensive of them in just a couple hours. I love the online career stuff, the replay stuff, gotham TV, that killer in-car view. And the classical music station. PGR3 rocks.

Condemned - very immersive, some truly creepy stuff (department store rules), and I like the combat, actually. You really feel like you’re getting knocked around, and clobbering the hell out of some druggie. The plot is a little weak in its presentation, and it feels rushed at the end. There’s virtually no replay value, though, and it’s not that long. Go to gamefaqs or something and find all the bird and metal locations before you play - there’s no reason to miss any of those, because you probably don’t want to play through again.

Kameo - played through this one in its entirety, too. I like the look of it a lot. Very traditional high fantasy in many ways but with lots of charm and character. It’s worth taking your time with, talking to all the little characters in the towns and solving their little problems, exploring the battleground area, trying to find all the fruits. It’s kind of a shame that the two warriors that are easily the most fun to use, flex and thermite, aren’t obtained until late in the game. Tip: alternate left/right triggers with pummelweed.

NFSMW - I don’t like any of the later NFS games, so I was surprised how much I like this one. The wannabe-street video sequences are totally nauseating, and I can’t stand the whole attitude that permeates the game. But the actual racing is great, the sort of open city structure is well done, and the graphics are not too shabby. The amount of police chatter on the radio is one of the best parts.

COD2 - pretty much as good as the PC version, overall.

Hexic - BORING. You, sir, are no Bejweled.

Bejeweled 2 - we’ve been there and done that, but it’s a nice short casual diversion to occupy you when you’re waiting for the significant other to get ready to go out or something.

Joust - holds up better than most old arcade games, except maybe Q-bert. 2-player over live is sweet.

Gauntlet - really only fun if you get 4 guys together, locally or on Live. If you do, well, it’s Gauntlet. I would have preferred Gauntlet 2, but it’s still good fun and worth $5.

CoD2: Awesomeness. Really digging this one. Having fun both playing the campaigns on normal / hardened but also trying to pick up some of the Achievements for finishing them on Veteran, which is TOUGH but tough in a fairly fun way so far.

Kameo: It’s no Banjo Kazooie. But it is still a lot of fun. Pretty short. I have no idea how you get anything other than an “F” on levels when you go back and replay them for score, much less the “A” required for Achievements.

GUN: I really enjoyed this game. It’s basically about the same as it is on the Xbox though. But it’s still a good game.

NFS Most Wanted: Fantastic. If you are not allergic to bloom & fuzzy lighting, the world looks gorgeous. If you are not allergic to cheezy FMV and fake whiteboy urban racing slang, the story and vibe are wonderful. I am not allergic to either. :)

Condemned: I need to play more of this. My initial impression was negative because you move so damn slow and click-in-left-stick to sprint is the worst interface ever. But I do like the general SE7EN style vibe and I want to see more of it.

Bejeweled 2: I’m not a huge Bejeweled fan. My wife had never heard of it before she randomly saw me playing. Now she has like the #43 spot in the Classic mode leaderboard (probably lower by now, that was a few days ago).

Perfect Dark Zero: I agree with pretty much everything Jason said though my overall verdict is probably a little more positive. Once I learned to take it a bit slower than most shooters it was like a lightbulb going off and I’ve really enjoyed it since. Some of the level design is fantastic with a lot of different paths and options for proceeding. A few levels aren’t so hot though. The extended time between checkpoints is a blessing and a curse. I like that it makes me improvise tactics when my normal inclination is to reload but it’s very annoying to repeat long sections on the few relatively linear levels.

Condemned: Only put an hour in. Very impressed but I’m already worried that, like FEAR, it will become monotonous without enough variety in the environments.

Geometry Wars: I’m not much of a puzzle/arcade gamer but this one is very addicting to me and produces a spectacular light show to boot.

I am so allergic to the latter. UGH. There’s a great sense of speed in the game, though. It’s very hyper-real. And if you think PGR series is arcade racing, you need to play this and Ridge Racer. I mean, you just SCREAM over the roads and have no problem screaming around dogleg turns at 130 MPH, crashing into stuff. It’s a blast for that, though. The audio is maybe the best part. There’s this great “whoosh” that whips back from front to rear as you scream past anything big, and when you smash through a toolbooth you can hear the pieces sail over your head and crash behind you. It’s overblown, and terribly effective.

Arcade – Ridge Racer – NFSMW – PGR3 – Sim

To elaborate, PGR is no hardcore sim, but it is far more towards the sim side of things than Ridge racer, just as you said. NFS strikes a nice balance for those looking for an arcade racer where the cars handle, to a large degree, like cars should (unlike RR for instance). NFS isn’t the sort of game where you are going to never take your foot off the gas, but you can still pretty much hop in and play. PGR has more of a learning curve to it. Some of those beasties are pretty tough to control.

so PDZ isn’t even worth it for the MP?

When Tom says this…

…then you should probably put it on your bargain bin list.

–Dave

…then you should probably put it on your bargain bin list.

–Dave[/quote]

Not to doubt Tom, but from my retail perspective it’s probably second only to COD2 in terms of what actual gamers are saying. I haven’t really gotten into it much myself, but most of the hardcore gamers I talk to daily at work seem to love PDZ.

Of course part of that could be that most gamers today never played Goldeneye or even Perfect Dark so maybe it’s just that they aren’t comparing PDZ to any glorifed recollections of what the earlier games were like.

That being said, I’ve always thought from when I first saw PDZ in motion that some people would hate the art style. If you hate the art style it will probably be very hard for you to like the rest of the game.