I had the opportunity to play the new demo disc from the US Official Xbox Magazine today, containing the first playable demos of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Conker: Live and Reloaded. I’ve enjoyed the other Splinter Cell’s tremendously and this one looks to be as good, if not better – very much more of the same, but with some incredible graphics for the Xbox (can’t wait to see it running on a decent PC) and some very cool new abilities such as the ability to cut through fabric walls such as tents and the ability to throw or push your captives to their deaths. If you liked the other ones you’ll certainly like this.
The other thing was Conker: Live and Reloaded, an upgraded port of Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the N64 and Rare’s first major Xbox release since they were purchased by Microsoft in 2002. They’re throwing in what is supposedly a very robust Xbox Live version of the N64’s underused multiplayer component (the “Live” part of the title) as well as an admittedly very impressive graphical overhaul with some of the best fur effects since Sulley in Monsters Inc. You have to ask, however, whether Rare have been a good investment so far. Their prolific and high-standard N64 output has given way to a trickle of Xbox games, so far consisting of Grabbed By The Ghoulies (average score of 7.1) and Kameo, a former GameCube game. Add an N64 port to that list and you haven’t exactly got a huge return on $375 million.
I can only assume that they’re going to have a sizable presence in the early days of the Xbox 2, with a possible Perfect Dark 2 being a substitute for an unlikely Halo 3 appearance and Banjo-Kazooie attempting to fill the hole that Blinx has tried and failed to. As a Microsoft second-party they must have access to the new Xbox hardware in some form and they must have done something over the last couple of years, after all.
My new digital camera also arrived today. I’m still playing around with it but I’m impressed both with the camera and with the service of Jack In The Box Electrical, who I got it from for £137 below the retail price. I might post some in-depth impressions once I’ve had some time to get a feel for it.