EyeCraveDVD at X06We have first hand coverage of the best XBOX 360 games to be released this winter, straight from the X06 gathering in Toronto. On October 18th, Microsoft hosted it’s Canadian leg of the fabled X06 tour and gave curious press reviewers a chance to play all the latest and greatest games for XBOX 360 and PC that the company was featuring for the Christmas release season. All of the big time Canadian outlets were there, CityTV, SunTV, Much Music, Bite TV, Julie Stoffer and The Electric Playground as well as us. Sometimes it’s good to have your own website.The day started off quickly, opening at 10am fellow staff member Ryan and I made it to the renown Brant House (usually a night club and bar) to take in a day’s worth of gaming delights. Row upon row of consoles were set up with premium flat panel Samsung televisions displaying all the action in High Definition. Looking around the room it was easy to pick out the near release products from the in development games as black developer consoles stood out from their white counterparts.
But, enough of the atmosphere – what about the games?Among others, the more anticipated games we either were demo’d or tried ourselves were –Smackdown VS RAW 2007THQ looks like it has another winner on it’s hands. The upcoming simulation of the squared circle already has a demo circulating on the XBOX Live Marketplace and is poised to be the first next generation representation of the franchise. Multiplayer, create a wrestler and storyline modes are all enhanced from the last incarnation. Sadly, our THQ representatives still had no word on whether or not the game would allow custom soundtracks.TrailerTrailer HDShadowrunIn perhaps the most interesting twist of the show came in the form of the game Shadowrun, a first person shooter being developed by FASA Studios based on the popular fantasy RPG. Launching on XBOX 360 and simultaneously on Windows Vista PC, our demonstration had both systems running side by side with widescreen monitors playing the very same game in a multiplayer capture the flag match. That is to say, the XBOX 360 and the PC were playing in the SAME multiplayer game. Finally, someone has taken a step towards cross platform online play in a fast paced game. The graphics for each system were identical, with the PC running a Core 2 Duo processor and a Radeon x1900 card. Thankfully, if you don’t have that hardware the game scales nicely to slower systems. The game successfully combined elements of Unreal Tournament, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and various other elements to create a fun and interesting interactive experience and will likely be a game to watch out for in the near future.TrailerTrailer HDMarvel Ultimate AllianceHitting stores next week, Ryan was particularly interested in this one. Marvel Ultimate Alliance is the follow-up to the XMEN Legends series in which teams of up to four can do battle as their favorite Marvel Character. In this version, nearly all Marvel characters are in the game (near 150) with 20 plus playable. The graphics for the game were impressive, with fire effects and shining steel bars and girders looking especially detailed. Hitting stores just next week, I can imagine what will be occupying a lot of Ryan’s time.TrailerTrailer HDCall of Duty 3Also almost ready for primetime, Call of Duty 3 looks to be more World War 2 fun along the same lines as the previous Call of Duty game. The missions have changed and the graphics are even more enhanced, but expect the same realistic game play that the franchise is known for.TrailerTrailer HDFlight Sim XAvailable exclusively on PC and coming on 2 DVD’s (yes, TWO) Microsoft’s Flight Sim X was an interesting addition to the show since the objective wasn’t anything particularly action filled. Getting a full demonstration via a force-feedback flight stick, flying a plane in the program is just as challenging as actually doing so in real life. The terrain, weather conditions and buildings are modeled down to the exact specifications as their actual counterparts. Pilot’s can fly out of any airport in the world, through realtime internet updated weather, look at 3 meter satellite resolution landscapes and fly actual planes with multiplayer players acting as co-pilots, air traffic controllers and other pleasure flyers along your route. The game is so realistic, don’t be surprised if you can see yourself in your house playing the game while you’re in your house, playing the game.We may have a review of this one in the future, stay tuned for that.TrailerTrailer HDSplinter Cell Double AgentSam Fisher is back and in Double Agent you can choose which side he plays for. Like with previous Splinter Cell games the focus is on stealth, however more action oriented objectives have been added, as well as a ferocious multiplayer component to give gamers a little more options.Even though the game is scheduled to hit stores very soon, the build of the game we saw was a single level consisting of a half broken pipe and hostages to be saved in a war torn industrial area. The graphics were stunning, with every detail visible. Every follicle on the main characters shaved head could be seen, even small scars from previous head trauma where hear would no longer grow. Individual components that made up weapons like screws, grips and sliders could be scene working independently of one another – it was a thing of beauty to be sure.TrailerTrailer HDGuitar Hero IIOne of the most anticipated games of the show, Guitar Hero II was available in a early build that had only about 10 or 15 songs available to play. The Activision rep was wielding a $10,000 prototype mockup of the new XBOX 360 guitar in which only 5 currently exist. Needless to same, gameplay was exactly the same as the Playstation 2 version everyone is used to, while in HD the graphics were upped to the point of looking like a CGI movie come to life. Even though the game is excellent with fantastic songs and game play, I have a feeling that the 360 version won’t do as well as its Playstation 2 counterpart, primarily because it would mean buying another $100 – $120 package to get yet another guitar vs spending about $60 on just the PS2 game. Only time will tell if I’m right, but fans of the series with a 360 may want to consider they’ll need a guitar if they want to play the inevitable Guitar Hero III on 360.TrailerGears of WarOutstanding, spectacular, incredible. Gears of War plays exactly like it looks. The graphics in this game have to be seen to be believed. It looks like almost like the original Final Fantasy movie from a few years ago. The detail is vast, the frame rate is smooth and the actual fighting is gory. Epic Games had kiosks setup all over the place with multiplayer booths off to the side of the floor. By the time noon rolled around, the lineup to play was getting longer and longer. Although only a single level of the game was available, its more then obvious that this will be one of THE games to get upon its release. TrailerTrailer HDThe DarknessFinally, easily the most well kept secret of the show, The Darkness (based on the comic series) from 2K tells the story of a mafia hitman who becomes powered by the forces of evil, known as The Darkness. The game features cutting edge graphics reminiscent of Max Payne, first person shooter action ala half-life 2 with the twist of being able to harness evil demonic powers to achieve victory over enemies. While the 2K rep was playing the game (it’s so new that no one could touch it) a crowd gathered to watch as he peered around a corner while making use of dual pistols, but instead of capping off his enemy, sent the powers of evil against him instead, unleashing a goblin that promptly whacked him off his feet and used a jackhammer to ground him into a pile of oozing meat. Tasty.Keep a lookout for this title and you can make dark sure that we’ll be covering it in the future.TrailerHere’s a short video of what it was like wandering around among all that videogame goodness: