Today, I walked into Wal-Mart expecting to buy some food. Before doing that, I decided to go by the electronics department and see if they had got any new games in. This turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Right there, in the Wal-Mart "home-entertainment department", hooked to a big screen plasma TV, with no one playing it, was a fully functional Xbox 360. After I got over the initial shock, I walked over to it, turned it on, and played that sucker for an hour. The first order of business was to examine the controller:


It's a lot smoother and slightly smaller than the Xbox S controller, but other than that, it feels the same. The only major difference that I felt was the addition of the L2 and R2 buttons, which are located just above the left and right triggers. If you look closely at the controller, you can see that a portion of the ring of light surrounding the big X, is lit up. From what I could tell, this is meant to show what player you are. Upper left means first player, upper right means second player, and so on and so fourth.
That little slot right above the controller allows you to download extra content to your 360 Memory Unit, which I find odd, since the Memory Units aren't on sale yet.

Next, I turned the console on. Then I was treated to a shiny new start up video:


After that, the menu screen:


Then the game I selected:


They had 10 game demos to choose from and the first one that I played was Call of Duty 2. You're a British infantryman fighting against Rommel's forces in Northern Africa. The level begins with you riding into a walled city on a transport of some kind. You start taking heavy fire as soon as you enter the city, and you are forced to abandon the transport. You might this is a classic WW2 game, in which you just "waste (absentminded) krauts", but believe me, its not. The AI in this game is superb. They dont just stand there and watch grenades explode at their feet, mysteriously acquire the ability to see through a dense cloud of smoke that your smoke grenades give off, and they can't see through walls. They behave like real soldiers, in a real combat situation, not like brain-dead zombies. I also found that the HUD was very informative, the controls were easy to master, and your character’s strength is not "superhuman" or subhuman either.

The next game I played was Kameo: Elements of Power

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This game looks alot like the game Fable. Your family is kidnapped by an evil witch, blah blah blah, you know the drill. The one big thing that sets this game apart from Fable, is the main character's ability to change into different animals. Each of these animals have certain abilities, which are usful in certain situations. I didn't enjoy this game as much as Call of Duty, but I found it mildly amusing.

The last game that I played was Peter Jackson's King Kong:

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This game is 100% pure crap. The demo had two levels, each allowing you to "play as man or beast". I decided to play as "man" first. The level begins after a cutscene, in which you (the leader of a team of archiologists) see a very large T-Rex rise out of a river and all but two of your men. One of your remaining men just stands there filiming the dinosaur as it comes toward you. Eventually, you him and the other guy must make your way to an ancient mayan compound that you plan to use as a shelter. Once there (here's the good part) your two men tell you to go destract the 100 foot tall visious killing machine (with razor sharp teeth) while they spend three hours open a very flimsy wooden door leading into the mayan compound. What's even better is the fact that you're NOT armed and they only way that you can destract the T-Rex is by punching it and running around in an enclosed space, which is approxamately the size of a high school gym. The longest I stayed alive was 2 minutes.....

Despite my abysmal expirience with the first mission, I decided to play the second mission. In this mission, you play as King Kong, and your objective is to kill the same T-Rex that the archologial team encountered earlier. I didn't die in this level, but I found it impossible to complete and eventually gave up. I tried beating the crap out of the T-Rex for like 5 minutes. That didn't work. I tried picking up the T-Rex and throwing it at a wall (several times). That didn't work. I tried biting (yes, the big ape can bite) the T-Rex. That didn't work. I tried a combination of all the aforementioned methods. That, again, did not work. The game has excellent graphics, shitty gameplay, and absolutely no health indicator at all. I would highly recommend staying away from this when it comes out.

Finally, I'd like to discuss a neat feature that I found out about through watching a video that was on the 360 demo disk. The Xbox 360 has a build in "Media Center Extender", which allows you to connect the Xbox 360 to a Media Center PC through a wired or wireless network. This allows you to view pictures, listen to music, and (if you have the proper hardware) watch live TV on your Xbox 360. I just installed Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 on my Media Center PC, so I'm really excited about that feature. smiley0.gif

Before I wrap up this long journal, I'd just like to say that the Xbox 360 is a remarkable console with excellent hardware, software (for the