I was planning to put this in one of the other topics about next gen but they got kind of diluted. Basically I got a 360 with Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter on Saturday for my birthday, it was a complete shock I don't mind telling you as my parents never spend that kind of money. Anyway I then gave them some money I received and later that day got back in return a preowned version of Ridge Racer 6 and a second wireless controller.
I have to say anyone who thought the 360 does not provide a big jump in terms of graphic performance over the first XBox REALLY needs to see GRAW. Frankly I was shocked by how good it looked and they have really done some great lighting effects. Like in real life our eyes can detect a wide range of different brightness levels but at any one time we can only process a small band of this. TVs are optimised to only produce brightness at a single band so the eyes never adapt while watching a show (another reason why the cinema is better is because it provides a greater range of brightness levels like the outside world does).
As a result that has always been something about video game graphics that has been a bit off. But in GRAW they alter the dynamic light values on the fly, among many other things! So when you look at the sun you lose clarity on all the darker objects all around your view. This is just one example of the many things they do that look beautiful. And then the parts where you are in a Black Hawk, the city extends all the way to the horizon, it looks stunning. Then there's the 2 picture in picture views on your HUD which is pretty amazing! It really is a big step up.
One other thing that struck me was just how nicely designed the dashboard was. It was all so well integrated and laid out in a friendly approachable manner, with all the functionality easily available. I always felt like in some regards consoles have been a bit clunky, especially when it comes to memory management. But here it just felt like you were flowing through the system easily. It's a minor thing I know but it is really nice.
The music visualiser is amazing. I'd seen the video the guys at Llamsoft had made but it still did not prepare me for it. It's gorgeous and given that they give you 100 music tracks on the hard disc I had plenty to try out on it. Although I didn't have a chance to learn how to control it yet.
Achievements and the Live Arcade are nicely implemented. Hexic was a lot of fun, very different to other puzzle games and it makes me wonder how many other games the guy behind Tetris made that we never heard off.
I was wondering I never tried the Wavebird but it looked a lot bulkier and heavier than the standard GC controller. Is this the case? Because after using the wireless controllers on the 360 I really got to love it. And now when on XBox Live I can keep talking to my friends while walking round the house . I have to say the 360 I found to be the best controller I have ever used. It's like the perfect marriage between the PS2 and Controller S. They have made the analogue triggers much less punishing than the XBox's and the shoulder buttons much more useable than on the PS2. The d-pad is very nice quality for all those fighting fans too.
I'd just like to make a point about graphics again. A lot of people say that graphic improvement isn't important. But improvements in graphics provide more functionality in games. They allow more players to play in split screen, they allow more computer cars to appear in multiplayer mode in racing games, more bots, they allow more and faster scrolling scenery in racing games to give a greater sense of speed. So these things can improve the experience.