Paul’s note: An aspect of (at least) one cool thing I am enjoying most is the guest contributions. This has been a very good week so far in that respect, and I am happy that it gets stronger tonight with Mike’s submission. With delightfully dry humor, Mike describes a fun Xbox 360 game he enjoys playing with his son Adam. Mikey Mike writes:
Way back in high school, I used to play video games on occasion after school at the local bowling alley. That stopped when the distributor of free games was taken down by a sting operation involving an undercover, wheelchair-bound investigator, but that’s another story. I never played in college, and throughout my tenure at SGI in the 90’s I loved the graphics but never got back into gaming.
Since then, many former SGI colleagues went to work for places like ATI and NVidia, producing consumer graphics which far exceeded any SGI systems at a fraction of the price. A few years ago I was pulled back into gaming to gawk at the newer graphics technology - and things have really changed since the 80’s.
I recently purchased an Xbox 360, partially because I know many of the hardware engineers who developed the technology and partially because I like to geek out watching the latest graphics technology. The first game I bought was Burnout Revenge (website, review), a street racing game where the object is to win a race through city streets, 8 lane highways, and mountain pass roads while taking out as many rivals, roadside cafes, dumpsters, pylons, and anything else with less mass then your vehicle as possible. Drivers are rewarded for particularly dangerous behavior, including driving in oncoming lanes, barely missing passing traffic, drifting around corners, and extended airborne periods.
The visuals are spectacular: cars are highly detailed, streets and buildings are intricately textured, and a myriad of objects from park benches to picnic tables lay just off the road. It’s difficult to resist short detours to drive through an adjacent trailer park or sidewalk café just to spread mayhem.
Driving controls are obvious and easy for beginners, while advanced players will enjoy subtle maneuvers and bumping to force a rival into oncoming traffic. Crashes are one of the best parts of the race: panels crumble, frames twist, and wheels and other debris fly from the wreck like a Hollywood stunt scene as cars tumble across the road in into each other. Anybody who has been stuck in stop and go traffic on 101 will enjoy freeway races where you can swerve around traffic on the shoulder, across oncoming lanes, or just plain plow through a group of slower cars.
Video output is true HDTV, audio is 5.1 surround, and the game play draws you in for a sweaty palm adrenaline rush through some spectacular scenery. It’s a wonder high school kids get anything done these days.