By the time you read this thousands of Americans will be bleary eyed and bloody fingered from their first full night of Xbox 360 gaming. The next generation console launched Stateside at midnight.
A huge two day event called ‘Zero Hour’ (below) held in the Mojave Desert preceded the release and Microsoft confirmed more than 4,500 stores nationwide opened up as the clock struck the witching hour. Sales have been predictably intense, but early US reviews have been lukewarm. Thankfully not because of disappointing hardware (the console itself and its online environment received much acclaim), but due to the lack of a single knock out title.
I can sympathise, if not fully empathise. Since Halo single-handedly convinced consumers to shell out on the original Xbox and repeating the trick was always going to be difficult. This time around the likes of Project Gotham Racing 3 and Project Dark Zero have been heavily hyped but it is being reported they are little more than souped up versions of their respective genres. Furthermore, imminent arrivals such as Call of Duty 2 and Quake 4 may get the heart rate pumping, but they’re available on other formats.
Putting in my own two cents (the choice of phrase seemed appropriate), I’m not surprised at this measured response. Expectation levels for the next gen consoles had become ludicrously high and – killer launch title apart – everyone knows it will take programmers some time before they truly get to grips coding for a new machine. When they do, this is when we’ll see software which pushes it to its limits. The key is patience, but no one wants to hear that on launch day, do they?
10 days and counting…