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Friday, March 23, 2007

Q1 2007 Gaming Report Card:Microsoft

In this new quarterly feature, the Powerplay blog will sum up all that has happened in the gaming world in the given quarter of the year. Next's up: Sony's report card and Nintendo's report card.

The big white box has been doing well so far, having maintained its place as the console market leader. As of March 2007, 10,400,000 units of Xbox 360s have been sold. However, Microsoft is not going to rest on its laurels and lately, the Internet has been rife with reports that an upgraded version of Xbox 360 has already been developed and that the new console will go on sale within the next 2 months. This upgraded version of Xbox 360, which is black, boasts a bigger hard drive with 120GB of storage space and HDMI support (image above). Reports also suggest that the new 120GB hard disk will be made for sale separately as well. When Microsoft was contacted, it refused to confirm that the upgraded version of the Xbox 360 will indeed be in stores soon. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 has just been released and consumers can get it for US$199.

During this period of time, Xbox 360 also received more third-support with some previously PS3-exclusive game titles heading to Microsoft’s console. These include the much-anticipated Devil May Cry 4 and Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. Unfortunately, BioShock (PC, Xbox 360) has been delayed from June to August. BioShock was not the only game affected by delays, as demonstrated by Half-Life 2: Orange Box Edition, which also got pushed back. Nevertheless, there were some good news for the Xbox 360. Unnamed sources hinted that Microsoft may attempt to release Halo 3 earlier than expected, in the month of September. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, but it has been known that Halo 3 will come in 3 editions, namely your typical Standard edition, the Limited edition and the Legendary edition, which includes a replica of Master Chief’s helmet.

Overall, games were aggressively strutted out for the Xbox 360 during this period of time. A new Capcom intellectual property (IP), Lost Planet: Extreme Condition has successfully made its release on the console. Strategy game BattleStations: Midway, party game Fusion Frenzy 2, first-party title Crackdown, a sequel, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, together with movie-based game TMNT, mech game Armored Core 4 and sports game Virtua Tennis 3 all pop out for the Xbox 360. That does not include Def Jam: Icon, NBA Street Homecourt and The Earth Defense Force 2017. For soccer fans, there is also EA’s UEFA Champions League 2006-2007. All in all, there is no doubt that the Xbox 360 has its run of good games during Q1 2007.

On the PC side, it seems that more concrete plans for Live Anywhere, an application that allows both PC gamers and Xbox 360 gamers alike to play games online together, has been revealed. Halo 2 for Windows Vista and Shadowrun will be the first 2 games to take advantage of Live Anywhere, with the earlier releasing on May 8 and the later in June. Gamers can also expect PC games with ‘Games for Windows’ tags at the top of the box to have achievements like those in Xbox 360 games. Silver membership for Windows Live (the PC portion of Live Anywhere) will come bundled free with ‘Games for Windows’ games, but the gold membership for Windows Live will cost as much as the current Xbox Live gold membership (US$49.99). Unfortunately, gamers with only the silver Windows Live membership will not be able to enjoy cross-platform online gaming as it is only supported by the gold membership. Microsoft also plans to release more content for the Marketplace feature of Windows Live gradually, which includes Xbox Live Arcade game Uno.

Reviews of related Q1 2007 Xbox 360 games on the Powerplay blog:
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2

Armored Core 4 (Coming April)


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