X05: A disused gasworks in the heart of Amsterdam, several hundred of the European games industryâ€™s finest, and an early chance to get my hands on some of the Xbox 360â€™s most exciting launch games. Microsoft wants to turn Xbox 360 into the worldâ€™s number 1 console, and to do it has over 200 games on the way. Presentations from head honchos Chris Lewis, J Allard and Robbie Bach pushed a strong combination of powerful hardware, strong software, user-personalisation and great services, running through features like a customisable interface with downloadable themes and the enhanced Xbox Live! service (now with improved community management and communication functions that make it easier to play with friends, and easier to avoid playing with the sort of jerk who wrecks every online game he touches). Along the way, Peter Moore showed off the cream of the launch line-up and we had a few surprises. The announcement of Biowareâ€™s new RPG, Mass Effect was one, news of a new Xbox 360 Wolfenstein another, an early trailer of Crackdown â€“ a stunning anime-styled futuristic thriller from Real Time Worlds yet another. With the speeches done, it was time to party and get hands on with the proof of the pudding: the games.
Through one evening and a day of hands-on play and presentations, your correspondent was able to play most of the initial run of games, glance at a few others, and get advance info on some of the biggest titles coming later down the line. Itâ€™s important to note that not all these games will be available at launch. Microsoft likes to talks about a â€˜launch windowâ€™, and this apparently extends well into next year. Sadly, some of the big hitters, including Gears of War, Mass Effect and the new Silicon Knights game, Too Human, wonâ€™t put in an appearance until sometime in 2006.