I decided to go to this Xbox thing because I actually am pretty excited about Xbox live. When they announced that Panzer Dragoon Orta would have and online mode I started paying attention to what they were saying. When they announced that Capcom vs SNK 2 would be online I knew that my life would not be complete without Xbox live. However I'm still not in love with the machine or its lack of quality games. I know the good games are on the way but it doesn't change the fact that right now it's just a two hundred dollar stand for my Gamecube.
Like Tycho said we looked at a lot of games yesterday but only two of them really stood out. One was MechAssault and the other was Steel Battalion. We divided into two groups of eight for some MechAssault Death match. The top four players on each side then moved on to compete against each other in a game of last man standing. I don't want to toot my own horn but I handed them all their asses. I was like some kind of goddamned ass handing machine sent back in time to hand people their asses. The game was an absolute blast although I am sure that many hardcore fans of the universe are going to be a bit put off by it. This is a fast paced action game with not even a hint of sim. It's like Quake in Mechs and it's a refreshing break from the classic Mech experience. I don't always want to have to worry about overheating and configuring every fucking nut and bolt that goes into my Machine. The online play was totally smooth, even when I found myself smack in the middle of an eight Mech cluster fuck with rockets flying and buildings collapsing all around me. The game stayed smooth as glass without a single hiccup. They told us MechAssault would be a launch title for the service, which means it should drop towards the middle of next month. When it does come out be sure and look for me online, I'll be the one handing you your ass.
On the absolute opposite side of the spectrum was Steel Battalion. While it's not an Xbox live game they still decided to show it to us. They made the right decision, as anyone who was there to see it will certainly count it as one of if not the high point of the day. They told us that Microsoft approached Capcom and asked them if the could make their dream game what would it be. Capcom came back with the idea for an intense Mech Simulation that utilized a forty button joystick/console and foot pedals. I think they were probably joking but apparently Microsoft didn't pick up on the joke and thank God they didn't. Our group had just returned from lunch in the Microsoft cafeteria where I loaded up on brownies and cookies in an effort to maximize my free lunch coupon. When we returned to the room we found the Steel Battalion controller had been set up on a table in front of a large screen. As everyone filed in we all got a chance to fondle the joystick and run our hands across the console, lightly tickling the knobs and switches while we made low guttural noises. Once the official demo started we could not contain our glee. As the Mech went through its start up sequence the console lit up and we all squealed like little girls. It took a minute or two just to turn the goddmaned thing on. Then the door to the drop ship fell open and we could see the other Mechs in our squad walking slowly up out of the ocean onto the fortified beach beyond. Turrets in bunkers fired at us as we followed them onto the shore. The whole thing had a very world war two feel to it. The view from our cockpit looked like actual video footage of a war. The grainy quality of the video feed and the muted palette gave the game a sort of gritty realism that was totally engrossing. Even just watching I felt like I was actually inside this Mech in the middle of a very real war. Capcom has created a real winner with this game. Unfortunately the fact that it costs two hundred dollars means that most people will never play it.
I will probably be back with more on the other stuff we saw later.