Xbox 360 demo pods have started appearing around the country in the last week, with most (if not all) Virgin Megastores packing them as well as a select few branches of GAME. I saw the one in the Southampton Virgin Megastore beckoning to me when I was checking out the DVD sale (Band of Brothers tin for £19.99 = bargain of the century), so I took the opportunity to play around with all of the demos (in English this time so I knew the controls) and some of the videos, as well as update my TGS impressions on the hardware.
First of all the TV that they’re running on is just beautiful. I think it was the Samsung LE23R41B but either way I really want one and it’s gone up my list of possibilities for when I invest in an HDTV next year. I’m just waiting for Sky HD to launch so that the prices will start to plummet.
The 360 hype has really grown the look of the hardware on me, and it looks great. Smaller than I seemed to remember and a hell of a lot nicer than the current Xbox, which I never really disliked anyway. It certainly won’t be something that I’ll be hiding away. The controller is also a thing of beauty – it looks bigger in pictures for some reason and when I last used it I compared it to the Logitech Cordless Precision for the Xbox, a comparison which I stand by. It’s quite small but feels substantial and fits the hand very nicely, although it did seem that the shoulder buttons could be uncomfortable to use at the same time as the triggers. I’m willing to put that down to the awkward mounting of the controllers on the demo pod (too low for me and not much movement).
Games-wise, I played all the way through the Call of Duty 2 demo which seemed the same as the TGS one except with the controls in English so that I knew what I was doing and could use grenades (both smoke and explosive) effectively. That made it more fun and I can’t wait to play through the whole game. Kameo looked really nice and seemed pretty inventive, but it didn’t really strike a chord with me. I might rent it at some point but I can’t see myself buying it. With King Kong I tried a bit of fighting as Kong (having played the adventure sections on the Xbox) and it looked good, but the framerate was suffering and I didn’t like it as much as I enjoyed the Driscoll sections. I’m still hopefully getting that one for Christmas, though.
The interface of the pod was designed to look like that of the dashboard and it was very slick. None of the options were accessible but you could see most of them and, as someone who loves to fiddle with options with new kit, I’m looking forward to going through all those lovely menus almost as much as I am the games.
I’m really up for a new console now. The next few days is going to go incredibly slow…