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xbox 360 the big picture

If Microsoft were a race horse (let's call it "JallardBox" or "PinkBunny" for kicks), it would have suffered through three bad legs of a major cup race, only to catch up in the last leg for a photo finish win. Looking back at X05, Microsoft caught up to the high expectations it set forth and produced high-quality games for the critics and enthusiasts who will either help or hinder Microsoft at launch. Instead of looking like bad imitations of next-generation games, for the most part, these 25 games were the real deal.

Numero Uno
Leading the pack, surprisingly, was Microsoft. Naturally, all its games are exclusive to Xbox 360. That's a key factor for fence-sitters, fans, and for the life of the system, given the bulk of multi-system games on X360.

Perfect Dark Zero looked rock solid, with good co-op, single-player action, and unwavering multiplayer modes. It's not the killer app that Halo is, nor is there much next-generation stuff about it, but that's OK. Rare's FPS has legs, it's pretty, and the Rare fans will be happy. In all honesty, Perfect Dark Zero is a game people will either love or hate.

Kameo is finally turning heads.

Kameo: Elements of Power was the most surprising game of X05 to me. It plays with the simplicity and depth of a Nintendo game, and it's easily one of the most beautiful titles in the launch lineup. You have to give this game a chance, about one-half hour and after that time, if you're not into it, you'll know. Me? It felt like next-generation Nintendo had arrived on my 360. What a strange, wonderful feeling.

Project Gotham Racing 3 is also a major contender for most beautiful game on Xbox 360, delivering an excellent sense of speed, great modes of play, and a refined physics system. From a cynic's point of view, it looks like more of the same. But the game is fleshed out, packed with stuff to do, and the online activity on this one, if it's anywhere near the activity on Project Gotham Racing 2, is going to launch like a rocket and stay orbiting the earth for many, many months. The create-a-route and the picture mode are small additions, but will play a big part in the game's community presence.

Microsoft's first-party lineup, in short, has arrived in good shape. All of its games are top five worthy, something we would not have said just two weeks ago.
What really makes me anxious to buy an Xbox 360 is the upcoming Bethesda RPG title Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I really enjoyed the series way back from the Arena days and I am very much excited to play the next chapter of the series.
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