There will be two sorts of people with Xbox 360s this morning. One set will be bruised and battered after fighting it out for one of the few units that weren't pre-ordered. The other set will be heading down to HMV, smug in the knowledge that there's a console with their name on it. Either way, these people will have got their hands on the gadget of the year, so if you know anyone that's seriously into videogames, don't expect to see much of them this weekend.
We've been playing with the 360 for a few days now, tickling the console into giving up its secrets. The free Xbox Live Silver subscription is a good way to get a taste for the online world -- in Project Gotham Racing 3 it lets you watch live races from around the world as they're happening. You can see how good some people are at the game (despite it only being available in the US for just over a week). The dynamic views really show off the graphics, with the camera shaking gently as a TVR Tuscan screeches by. The Gold membership, which you can try out free of charge for a month, will cost you £50 a year and enables you to actually play against other people on most of the Xbox 360's games.
We've also been playing Condemned -- a first-person actioner from Monolith, the same people who made F.E.A.R., and it shares that game's oppressive atmosphere. You play an FBI agent, and the game starts out in an innovative way, with you scanning bodies for evidence and their cause of death. Before long though, it's heading into traditional action territory -- you're heading down corridor after corridor getting lost until something scary pops out and you hit it in the face with a pipe. It looks very nice, but the fact that everything is hidden in shadows doesn't do the 360 justice when you're showing it off to your mates.
We'll be checking out the 360's media capabilities and games including Kameo and Call of Duty 2 over the weekend. Watch out for the full lowdown next week. -GC