X-Box, My Opinion.
Ever since steam about 128-Bit consoles began, all hell broke loose, and talks of other companies such as Sega and Sony stepping into this world was well under way. First called Project Katana, Sega's new console would feature life-like visuals that even PCs couldn't touch (back in the day). This new console was later unveiled in Japan around March 1998 as the Sega Dreamcast, and the press was stunned as they witnessed the very first 128-Bit console unveiled before their eyes. Just after the revelation of the DC, rumblings about the Playstation 2 began and Sony was not denying a thing. In fact as months and months went by Sony began to show a few demos running on this new hardware, and on September 17th, 1999 the Playstation 2 was officially revealed and the press that attended the event couldn't be happier. With the showing of the new PS2, came rumors of Nintendo's new console called Project Dolphin, as time went by Nintendo talked more and more about this new console and recently in August at the SpaceWorld exhibit Nintendo officially announced the GameCube, a new 128-Bit system. The crowd had mixed reactions about the system, I for one didn't like it at first, but after a while the console grew on me as I heard Metroid and Luigi will be returning. While GameCube rumblings went on, Microsoft would drop some hints here and there about the X-Box, this would eventually be a gaming console boasting a modified Pentium III 733 MhZ processor and a custom nVidia graphics chip. The weekend of January 6 was the revelation of the Microsoft X-Box, and here is what I have to say about it. This editorial is ALL opinionated, basically this is what I think of the console, and how I feel it compares to other consoles out there.
I did it for Nintendo's GameCube and I'll do it for Microsoft's promising looking X-Box. Revealed on 1/06/01 at the CES exhibit, the X-Box was finally unwrapped and WWF's The Rock was also there to check it out. This weekend was the first real glimpse I got at the console in all angles and I think that the design of the system looks very bad. The way I'm making it sound is very blunt and straight-forward, but it's true, I think that the X-Box looks downright stupid. In order from best looking to worst looking console design I would have to say that the Sega Dreamcast is the best looking console of the next-generation. The Dreamcast is roughly 2.5 inches tall, 7 inches deep and 7 inches across, and it sports a sleek and compact design. The Playstation 2 is second with its dark, monolith like and edgy design, it weighs in 12 inches across, 4 inches tall, and 7. inches deep. It's topped of with ripples sliding across the face of the console, and the addition makes the console look even better. The GameCube ends up being in third place, the system is incredibly small, by far the most compact of them all and the more I look at it the more the design grows on me. I feel that the console colors were a very good idea as well, the GameCube's dimensions come in at 5.9 inches across, 4.3 inches tall, 6.3 inches deep, not very shabby.
The X-Box on the other hand is roughly 4.5 inches in height, about 14 inches across and 12 inches deep. The console is mortifyingly large, larger than today's DVD and VHS players, and by far the largest console of them all. The console design it self looks boring, I think the idea of making a console reflect its name is great on blue-print but should not be done in reality. The X on top of the system looks ridiculous, although the ridges to the sides of it are a good touch, it brings out this sci-fi Star Trek kind of feel to the console, and I believe that those ridges are where the fans are. The console, the X-Box that is, shows off a black color that looks well on it. With the long measurements that the X-Box features, the console will weigh nearly 15+ pounds when it hits retail, that is three times the Playstation 2, or 4 times the Dreamcast's weight, OUCH! Overall the X-Box is an unbelievably huge console, which is an incredibly stupid move on Microsoft's part, and I want see something done about it.
Is it me or is the X-Box controller a Dreamcast controller on steroids? I mean I saw the a full-size shot of the controller and compared it to my DC controller, and I must say that the X-Box controller is at least an inch wider on both sides, making it incredibly uncomfortable for younger hands. The six-button lay out is un-necessary, it really annoys me when I see face buttons that are different size, and here is where the X-Box's controller comes in. Like the Sega Saturn this controller will feature four main buttons (all using the exact same colors as the DC pad does) and two smaller buttons to the right of the controller, making fighting games uncomfortable to play. There is clearly no innovation here, this pad is a cross between the Dreamcast pad, Dual Shock 2, and the GameCube pad. The Dreamcast reason is pretty obvious, the controller is shaped very similar to it and it even has two shoulder/trigger buttons in the back of it shaped exactly the same. The Dual Shock 2 comes in with the analog sticks acting as buttons like the R3 and L3 buttons of the Dual Shock 2 do, the face buttons are sensitive to touch, something that Sony used first, and the controller vibrates without any peripheral, and seeing Bill Gates so excited about the feature, he makes it sound as if he was the first person to do this. And the GameCube pad comes in with the camera stick on the right of the controller, and is even put in the same area. The fact is that if Microsoft kept the design simple like Sony did with the PS2, such as taking out the stupid looking green semi-sphere X-Box logo which is about a quarter of the controller, then maybe this pad wouldn't look half as ugly and bulky. Did I also mention that the d-pad was taken straight out of the sidewinder? I frankly can't see my self-playing with that controller.
The specs are un-doubtly more fierce than the Playstation 2's, but the PS2 does have one advantage over the X-Box. The PS2 is considered to be a super computer, because of its phenomenal micro-processing power and since the X-Box uses a modified Pentium III CPU chip, its microproccesing power isn't hot enough to be dubbed a "super computer". But the PIII 733 Mhz CPU chip leaves the competition in the dust with Nintendo, Playstation 2, and Dreamcast trailing by a few hundreds and a third. But remember out of all the next-gen consoles, the Playstation 2 is the best one at making floating point calculations, so keep that in mind. In the visual category the match there is between the X-Box and the Playstation 2, the X-Box is able to create a raw polygon count of 150 million polygons, while the PS2 is able to do 66 million polygons. I feel that the visuals on a PS2 are already realistic enough and it makes me wonder how much more beauty can over 80 million additional polygons really push, if such a high standard of realism has already been set by the Dreamcast and PS2. When it comes down to it all it is actually the console that is able to push the most polygons with all effects and backgrounds present, that wins the visual match, and for now we haven't seen many demos running on the X-Box, except Malice, which by the way looks incredibly good [visually]. But in all honesty the visuals shown in Malice don't look any better than say Sonic Adventure 2 for Dreamcast, or The Bouncer for Playstation 2, and Munch's Oddysey doesn't look significantly better than it did on the PS2 before it got thrown in the trash compactor. Microsoft may throw around as many numbers as they want, for all I care they can tell me X-Box can do 400 million polygons, but I won't believe it until I see it, and with what I'm seeing, I'm not believing the current polygon numbers that Microsoft has told us, even though this hardware is supposedly running on 1/5 of its power. Although Microsoft may shut me up, since all of the chips have not been installed yet on the X-Box, so we should wait around till E3 to see the real stuff. On the visual side of things the competition will surely be between the X-Box and PS2.