"The best of this generation"

Before I begin my review, I must state that I have played copious amounts of PS2 and Gamecube. I enjoyed Final Fantasy 10 and Grand Theft Auto 3, as well as Super Mario Sunshine and Metroid Prime. I am not a fanboy by any means. But in my opinion, XBOX is probably the best console system out of the big 3 that are out right now. Let me outline my reasoning below:

Graphics: Xbox has(arguably) the best graphics for any console at this point in time. If you want to get technical, Nvidia(the chip manufacturer that made the NV2x graphics chip that goes in the XBOX) has plugged tons of good stuff into the XBOX.(Note: NVIDIA is considered THE foremost graphics chip designer in the PC market). Based on the Geforce 3 GPU, NVIDIA's NV2x processor has not one but 2 vertex shaders and 1 pixel shader(Geforce 4, or NV25, has the same amount of shaders, but optimized). What this amounts to is extremely good graphics(complete with antialiasing, which removes the ''jaggies''). In fact, I believe that the XBOX graphics processor is superior to both that of the Gamecube and the PS2. Granted, each console has it's moments...PS2 has Grand Turismo 3 and Metal Gear Solid 2, while Gamecube has Metroid Prime and Rogue Leader, but honestly, to my eyes, these games just don't measure up visually to XBOX games. Look at some of the stuff that are out for XBOX right now: Wreckless(Amazing lighting and particle effects, as well as perfectly modeled damage effects on the cars), Halo(A beautiful FPS with excellent textures) and finally Dead or Alive 3(The PRETTIEST fighting game ever.....detailed hair and bumpmapped clothing on the fighters and gorgeous enviroments with full on particle and water effects.). If you count upcoming games, Halo 2 is simply stunning in it's detail. Also, Doom 3(to be ported to the XBOX) also looks amazing, and will be an almost perfect port of the PC version with minimum concessions. As you can see, XBOX has graphics power to spare.

Audio: Crisp and clear, the XBOX is noticeably better than both Gamecube and PS2. Awesome 5.1 Dolby sound pumped through a home theatre system has got to be heard to be believed. With a correctly positioned sound system, games really seem that much more immersive.

Controller: This is one point where XBOX doesnt' do so well. The original controller is big, bulky and hard to put your hands around(and I'm a 17 year old with pretty big hands!). The PS2 controller(and even the Gamecube controller) far outshine it in comfort and utility. However, with the advent of the new S controller, the playing field between the 3 consoles have leveled. At this point in time, every controller has it's merits, and it's really your own opinion.(I slightly favor the S controller because of the triggers)

Games: This section really depends on what kind of a gamer you are(I personally dabble in a little bit of everything). Action and Sports gamers will find tons to love in the XBOX. Excellent action games like Halo and Splinter Cell easily match up with the best from Gamecube and PS2. In addition, upcoming suprises like Doom 3, and Halo 2 will keep the XBOX ahead of the competition for some time. Sports games like the 2K series really make the XBOX the best system for sports gamers. Racing/Simluation fans will also have great games like Project Gotham Racing and Rallisport Challenge, which combine stunning graphics with excellent gameplay. However, if you're an RPG/Adventure gamer, you're in for a long drought. The only good adventure/rpg type games out right now are Shenmue 2 and Morrowind. While more good ones are slated to arrive soon(Star Wars KOTOR, and Fable), as of yet XBOX lags behind other consoles. Personally, the RPG drought doesn't bother me, since I own a good PC(2 GHZ and an ATI Radeon 8500), and can play good RPGs any time, but your mileage may vary. Note that XBOX also recieves a lot of ports(Metal Gear Solid 2 and Genma Onimusha come to mind), so chances are you'll be able to play at least some of the hits from each platform with stunning xbox-exclusive graphics and sound. For me, I find approximately 20-25 games that I really want on XBOX, as opposed to 10-15 for PS2/Gamecube. Therefore, in my eyes, XBOX is the system to get regarding games.

Value: in this department, XBOX wins by a large margin. For 200 bucks, you get an XBOX, a new controller S, and 2 excellent games(Sega GT2002 and Jet Set Radio Future). All other consoles have bundles that can cost 230+. PS2 by itself(1 controller) is 200 dollars already, while a Gamecube bundle with Mario Sunshine is 189(w/ one controller). So if you're looking for the best bang for the buck, get XBOX.

Reliability: Hmm....in this section, I have to say both XBOX and PS2 are at fault, and Gamecube is probably the top of the line in this area. Launch PS2s and XBOXes can be error-filled(especially when playing newer games). To my knowledge, the PS2 hasn't gone any new hardware revisions(so buyer beware...), but the XBOX has been given a DVD drive made by a different, more reliable company as well as a different model harddrive. Gamecube I must say probably is the most reliable console out there(I haven't heard of too many problems). But really, all 3 consoles will generally work right given a basic amount of care(trust me, PCs are much more temperamental than any console could ever be).

The Future?

To be honest, while XBOX is the best of the consoles, it definitely isn't the optimal gaming system. If you have money to burn(2000 dollars or so), you can buy an almost top of the line AMD computer that will run games beautifully and make them look worlds better than XBOX. In addition, the game market for PCs is especially rich, with many great exclusive titles like Unreal 2, Command and Conquer Generals, Baldur's Gate series(the real RPG series), etc. But if you're a gamer who's a little short of cash and is looking for a gaming machine that will last, pick an XBOX. With it's powerful Intel P3 processor and a still mighty NV2X GPU, it's something to contend with(and the only console on the market now that will be able to run Doom 3 with minimal concessions).

Out of 100, I'd give the XBOX a 96, but since it's out of 10, I'll just round it up to a 10...great job microsoft!!

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 02/12/03, Updated 02/12/03

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