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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 08:25 GMT
Xbox means business
Xbox is Microsoft's first games console
By BBC News Online's Darren Waters

Microsoft has conquered the world of home and business software with the likes of Windows and Office and now it is attempting to do the same in the field of video games with its Xbox console.

Ironically, despite Microsoft's track record in software it is considered the new kid of the block in the world of games consoles.

Project Gotham Racing
Gotham Racing takes you city street racing
Of course, the same thing was said of Sony in the 1990s, which has since gone on to become the market leader.

On first impressions of the Xbox, it looks as if it means business.

If Sony's Playstation 2 looks like a sleek piece of hi-fi equipment and Nintendo's GameCube like a sweetie jar for the Teletubbies, then Microsoft's Xbox looks like a James Bond hypergadget.


Sturdy, black and with a green jewelled piece of plastic at the top of the box, it has four connectors for gamepads and a connection for broadband on the back.

It looks and feels like a serious piece of hardware - and it is.

Under the bonnet is a Pentium III-based processor with powerful graphics and sound chips, an eight gigabyte hard disc drive and plenty of horsepower to give games designers freedom to create.

Halo is one of the most anticipated titles
The game controllers feel solid, well made and there is a tangible sense of quality about the whole product.

But as Microsoft has itself been keen to point out - the flash technical specifications alone will not sell many consoles. It is all about the games.


Microsoft has clearly learned from Sony's error. When the Playstation 2 was released there was a paucity of quality titles and it took more than a year before games emerged that really showed off its capabilities.

Developers have been able to get to grips with the Xbox technology quickly and the first generation of releases are as good as the current crop of PS2 games.

The most talked about game is Halo - a first person science fiction adventure game.

It is not the most original of concepts, but the levels of realism and audio video qualities have been taken the title to a new level.

Playing world

You can play on your own, with a friend and even connect Xboxes together for a 16-strong multi-player environment.

The playing world is vast and the use of the hard drive means the game is rarely interrupted by loading screens, heightening the sense of immersion.

Another title, Project Gotham Racing, allows you to race through the streets of cities such as London in the world's flashiest cars and again, while not pushing the boundaries of the genre, it is certainly impressive to look at and play.

The quality of each of the launch titles, including Dead or Alive 3 and Oddworld, is very high.

The console is still awaiting a genre-breaking title to show off the machine's capabilities and the next 12 months should be very interesting.

If Microsoft does manage to convince people that 18 months after buying a PS2 it's time to buy an Xbox then computer games could really enter a new dimension.

And given the financial clout of Microsoft, who would back them not to succeed?

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15 Nov 01 | Entertainment
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