E3 2005 Roundtable: XBox 360 MTV Special

Greetings all and welcome to the Inside Pulse Games Roundtable reaction to MTV’s X-Box 360 unveiling. We collected our thoughts on the special, the X-Box 360, and some of the games. Who’s on the Roundtable this time? Well we’ve got:

Alex Williams: IP Games Co-Editor in Chief and god of all things with rhythm.
Tom Nesslage: New member of the review crew and usurper of my name
PK: Figures, wrestling, games, a true jack-of-all-trades for the site.
Michael McCullar: The coolest guy from movies who’ll be with us at games from time to time.
Widro: A drunk who somehow started Inside Pulse in between snorting coke off of $10 whores unshaven backs.
Tom Pandich: Part of the news board Triforce and host of many sexy parties.

Let’s get started!

FIRST TOPIC! The Special In General. Good way to spread the word about the 360? Or bad infomercial with stars?

Widro: the special came off like a 30 minute commercial with commercial breaks, with little to no focus on the games and instead on “branding” Xbox as cool.

Alex Williams: I felt insulted while watching the special. We saw maybe five minutes of the system and actual games, with the rest being focused on the Killers and people who DON’T play games, yet were paid to say good things about it.

Tom Pandich: The special was a good idea in concept. Beat the rush of E3 and so forth, but it was a f*cking mess. The games were secondary to the special and seemed more to be a ratings pull. This was a horrid abortion of a show with Pimp My X-Box getting more of a focus then any of the games besides Perfect Dark Zero put together.

SECOND TOPIC! The System Itself. We got our first good look at it tonight, if you never saw the leaked pictures. Since we’re nowhere NEAR the point where we can play it, how does it look to you?

Widro: I felt under whelmed by the system and the games. They claimed everything was wireless but they barely showed the controller…

Tom Pandich: I’m not in love with the system. It’s like the Mongoloid child of a Dreamcast and a Tivo. On the plus side, the idea of wireless controllers is great. The customization of your XBox with faceplates will be a novelty at best.

PK: I think that while the graphics looked only a bit better, I think that we need to look to past the launch, and realized that all of the 3rd Generations consoles evolved so much, that the launch games are irrelevant (besides Halo)

Alex Williams: Yes, wireless features are nice, but we never saw those clearly. The unit itself is weird and ugly. As my sister said, it looks like you’re playing an air filter. And the face plates are NOT a system seller.

Tom Pandich: True, but functionality will overcome how the system looks. Those who care about how it looks will also care about the customization.

THIRD TOPIC! Online Features. We were given a quick synopsis of the XBox Live Marketplace, where you can buy/download your downloadable content from. How functional do you think it will be?

Michael McCullar: I think Microsoft knows its biggest advantage over the other systems is XBox live. I think they will throw a lot of muscle behind it to make it highly functional.

Widro: I think its an interesting idea, that could really benefit gamers and also hurt… on one hand its great to get so much flexibility and customization… however it could open up for the release of incomplete games or games with minimal features that only have the cool features as costly upgrades.

Tom Pandich: The idea of paying for options on how you’re seen on Live is a bad bad idea that only the vainest of players will take advantage of. Downloadable pay content is fine, but the whole customization idea is pretty awful and will hopefully fall flat on its face.

Alex Williams: Personally, I’m wondering how all these “rad” and “extreme” features can work without a keyboard. The customization is nice, but would take 73 years per ITEM if you had to enter things in on a controller. Other than that, having a central place to download everything is nice. You don’t have to go into each game’s Live menu either.

Tom Pandich: I wonder how all of this will work for neXt-Box’s without hard drives will work.

Michael McCullar: That’s the big question…is an XBox worth your hard-earned cash without the hard drive?

Alex Williams: Might I add, the special NEVER touched upon the HD.

Tom Pandich: $&&%# special…

FOUTH TOPIC! The GAMES! We got to see what the 360 could do in terms of game graphics. Three seconds a piece, of course, and assuming they aren’t demos. What did you think of what was shown?

Widro: Overall they showed mainstream sequels to games that the MTV audience likely knows and likes… they showed a couple Rare titles, Kameo briefly and Perfect Dark Zero, which seems to show that at least Microsoft realizes there is a part of the audience looking for innovation and substance.

Alex Williams: Most games looked generic. They looked slightly more powerful than what the XBox 1 could do, but not by much. Madden, Need For Speed, and PGR3 really stood out, but they look more like demos than anything.

PK: Perfect Dark is a long awaited sequel…and EA Sports are always solid sellers. Like I said before, launch titles should not be barometer as to what’s to come.

Widro: I agree that the games were very underwhelming, but so little of them were shown that it’s almost impossible to really judge.

Alex Williams: And seeing the FPS games framerate drop ALREADY made me sick to my stomach.

Tom Pandich: The new Tony Hawk game finally being on Live is a much-needed improvement. The games do look generic and there doesn’t appear to be that much of a difference in what came on. Kameo looked nice and Quake 4 looked pretty awesome.

Michael McCullar: Do you think Microsoft maybe wishes they had delayed Halo 2 for the 360 launch?

Alex Williams: The rumor is that Halo 2 is being re-released for the 360.

Widro: Halo 2.5 if you will.

Tom Pandich: Yep, a pack in extra with the Hard Drive X-Box 360 they say.

Alex Williams: And Tony Hawk looks like the same game, but prettier and with a horrid game title. American Wasteland? Yep, that’s where Hawk is headed.

Tom Pandich: Come now, whenever I see a skateboarder I think American Wasteland. Seriously though, nothing could be as bad as THUG as a title.

Alex Williams: THUG is just the clever abbreviation. Now it’s THAW!

Michael McCullar: How important will be the next generation Madden in moving 360 units?

Widro: I don’t think Madden is going to be a big system seller, Madden is on every system.
Hell, the DS had a Madden at launch.

Tom Pandich: As far as I know, Madden hasn’t been announced for the launch. The demo that was shown was the same demo from the “Next Generation Madden” commercial shown during the NFL draft.

Alex Williams: Hardly anything has been confirmed for the launch, and that’s a BIG problem. At some point in the special, someone could say “You can play this game as soon as you get hold of the system!” But that didn’t happen.

Widro: I think we can consider most of the games shown today as launch window games. I don’t think this special was designed to sell things at launch, I think it was meant to introduce the product.

Alex Williams: I still would like a window of when I could play things. The MTV generation is very impatient, after all.

Widro: I think the implied window was at or close to launch… its still 4-5 months away and exact ship dates would be tough.

TOPIC FIVE! Effectiveness of the special. How well did this MTV special work for the non-hardcore gamer? Do you think it was effective to draw them in because obviously this special was aimed at them.

Tom Pandich: We’ll see when the ratings come out. We’re not the “target audience” for the special.

Widro: What draws people in? Are people looking for games or are they looking for celebrities and faceplates? I would have to think most of the target would see through this as weak propaganda where the commercials were barely distinguishable from the show itself.

Alex Williams: If Microsoft wants to cater to brainless, superficial 14 year olds, than they HAVE THAT MARKET CORNERED!

Michael McCullar: Well, was this any worse than the average infomercial? I mean, how many people watching the special are really big-time gamers?

Tom Pandich: Well there was really no doubt this would be pure propaganda, I just wish that it was shown with more on the XBox itself and less of the other stuff. I think a good deal of hardcore gamers would have tuned in for it. We’re the ones who will have the thing reserved three months before it comes out and we’re the ones who will buy it on the launch date, not Joe Q picking it up for Madden.
Alex Williams: But yeah, this whole thing reeks of corporate crap.

Michael McCullar: Right, but if they were trying to target the hardcore gamer with this, wouldn’t they air it on G4? Doesn’t it being on MTV show that we really weren’t the target audience?

Tom Pandich: G4 doesn’t have the installed base still that Microsoft would want despite being a better option. I, for one, still advocated them for popping it on G4. As it is, this will be out of the mainstream’s conscious in two days.

Widro: Yes but we’re diehard fans commenting on how Microsoft and MTV are uniting as one hideous beast to destroy the world

Michael McCullar: I mean, they know they pretty much have our dollars sewn up, so why cater to us?

PK: Isn’t the whole point of MTV to sell stuff to retarded people?

Tom Pandich: True, this isn’t a make or break show for anyone unless they’re trying to make you hate MTV.

PK: If MTV made it up to be totally cool, people will buy it.

Michael McCullar: It’s almost like Vince catering to the mainstream audience at the expense of smarts… he knows he has our cash on lockdown.

TOPIC SIX! Rare and Perfect Dark: Zero. We got a look at Rare Studios, and an extended preview of Perfect Dark: Zero. Do you think Rare was a good studio to sample? And thoughts on PD: 0?

Tom Pandich: I am excited about PD:0. It ditched its earlier cute anime look in the initial concept drawings and looks closer to the original game. I’m completely digging the jetpacks for multiplayer as well.

Widro: Rare has been in virtual obscurity for 5 years, but didn’t cost Microsoft nearly a half billion dollars to release Grabbed by the Ghoulies.

Tom Pandich: Yeah, the X-Box 360 is when we find out if Rare can still make a good game.

Widro: It looks like they have some big titles coming out, there is no reason to doubt them except they haven’t show many games in recent year hopefully that just means that they have taken an extra long time tweaking these.

Michael McCullar: I think Rare is a good choice. Let’s face it, Goldeneye was the signature game for the N64, and PD:0 can be the signature game for 360.

Tom Pandich: Well the only concern I have is that they may miss the launch window. Goldeneye was delayed years and without PD:0 the 360’s launch is dead in the water. It’d be like the X-Box without Halo or the PS2 without the Sony name.

Alex Williams: Rare lost its credibility years ago. Its last release was GBTG, and that was NOT a good game. The constant delays with their other titles don’t look all that promising either.
It’s just that Rare has fallen into almost obscurity since leaving Nintendo and being acquired by Microsoft. The constant delays and internal problems left the developer a shell of its former self.
That being said, Perfect Dark: Zero does look decent right now.

Widro: One game does not a reputation ruin.

Tom Pandich: Hey, Banjo Pilot was a frigging system seller!

TOPIC SEVEN! Name one big thing Microsoft and MTV could have done differently to make this promo more effective.

Tom Pandich Show the games more and the Killers less.

Alex Williams: Fire the Killers, show more people playing games and talking about them. Seeing Madden is one thing. Seeing someone PLAYING Madden and having drool on their chin is another. That’s just an example, though. It should have been any game other than PD:0.

Tom Pandich: I agree. I mean two games were actually talked about PD:0 and Tony Hawk and even that was just a blip.

Michael McCullar: So there was no interaction between the people in the promo and the system?

Alex Williams: Once. Eight random people were playing a 4/4 Death Match in PD:0. And it was very poorly edited.

Widro: I think if I had to change one thing i would have removed the timeline… even the most casual gamer had to be insulted by that part.

Tom Pandich: You know, I don’t think they were. They showed the “first game ever” Pong, the NES, and then the XBox.

Alex Williams: First, PONG! Then, stuff happened. Then, XBOX!

Michael McCullar: Did they talk about qbert? because no timeline is complete without Q-Bert

Tom Pandich: They showed a box with Mario on it.

Alex Williams: And apparently, lots of systems never existed. The Genesis? Yep, that was there! But not the SNES!

Tom Pandich: MTV was just trying to save us from memories of the Jaguar, the Virtual Boy, and the Lynx.

Tom Nesslage: I’m starting to wish I had seen all this… sounds like they put together something pretty half assed just so they could say they had some info out before E3.

Widro: Not even a PS1 mention! And they didn’t really mention NES, they said something like ‘Mario and Donkey Kong’ right after Atari 2600 then right into HDTV.

Alex Williams: They never mentioned it, but I think it popped up to say “HI!” as they zoomed down the timeline.

FINAL TOPIC! Final Thoughts. Okay, the general consensus is the show bit. But did anything here sell you on the XBox 360? Or do you need to see more for a well-balanced opinion?

Widro: I’m going to reserve judgment until I play it next week.

Michael McCullar: Eh, I’m a whore for Microsoft, so I’ll be one of the first in line.

Tom Pandich: The MTV special got it out there and not much else. The special was shallower then a kiddie pool that’s been peed in. It offered nothing for me, but hey, it beat E3 and that’s what their goal was.

Alex Williams: The special was fluff, the segments were fluff, and the three-second game clips were mostly fluff. It made me want the 360 LESS. E3 needs to do a LOT of convincing for me to accept it. And if E3 can’t do it, than not much else can.

Michael McCullar: So you’re saying there’s an actual chance you won’t get the 360?

Alex Williams: I won’t buy it immediately.

Widro: Honestly, I can’t really imagine a scenario where I wouldn’t be buying Xbox 360 on the first day anyway… Maybe if I hadn’t seen pics of the hardware already I would have been more excited.

Tom Nesslage: I’m of the opinion that anything before E3 should be taking with a grain of salt… if not the whole shaker. Until the general public has had a chance to play games on the system and actually see it in action, I don’t think you can form much of an opinion.

Widro: I tend to agree, I’d like to see everything framed for gamers and not framed for MTV.

Michael McCullar: Ok, well, knowing that it usually takes a new system 6 to 9 months to really get some good games in the pipeline, will that affect your decision to get one?

Alex Williams: I’ll wait for the first price drop.

Tom Pandich: I’ll buy it at launch if its backward compatible.

Tom Nesslage: If it’s backwards compatible, I’ll be right there to get it. If not, then I’ll wait a while.