Microsoft Games

Every now and then, I'm looking for the games that Microsoft publishes. The "first party" games, if you will. Takes me a while to hunt down the list of games. But when I need it again, I can just come back to my blog now :-)

Don't be misled

Your Xbox (original) console and games are just as fun as they were one week ago. The Xbox 360 launch brings a lot of cool new opportunity for games. Abso-frickin-lutely. BUT! That has no bearing on what you're playing today.

Is that crawl through the jungles of Ghost Recon any less cool? Is that explosive vehicular destruction of Burnout Revenge any less exhilarating? Is that satisfaction of completing another mission in Splinter Cell suddenly boring?

Hell no.

If you don't have an Xbox 360 in hand... don't sweat it. You've got a ton of excellent games to play. Go to it.

Personally, I'm going to let the hype cool a bit. I'm effectively out of town until December 14th, so I don't "need" a system before then. Do I want one before my days off around xmas? Yup. Does it bother me that I don't have one now? Not in the least. I still have a stack of twenty-plus games that I would thoroughly enjoy playing to completion. I'm actually a bit sad that with the arrival of the 360, that I'll end up favoring 360 games over wrapping up my Xbox [original] games.

A comfortable old friend

Over the past week, I've been playing a bit of Dynasty Warriors 4 (DW4). Woah! Four, you say? Yeah. Most reviews marked DW5 as just another iteration. I'm sure it has improved, as I saw going from DW2 to DW3 to DW4 (had DW2 on the PS2, and DW3/DW4 on the Xbox), but the core game mechanic is the truly enjoyable part. And they really haven't drastically improved that in years.

I've written about DW4 over a year ago, touched on its strategic elements a bit later, and then commented on its replayability earlier this year.

In short, it is just one of those games that is easy to pick up and play for a while. I've got a ton of choices, but the mood just struck me for some big destruction. Mow down some hapless little (ahem) "warriors". (against my Mad Skillz, they are just so much fodder! fear me!)

Oh, I'll return to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas soon enough, but it doesn't quite bring that same feeling of non-stop action and excitement the way DW4 does.

Grab a martini and join me in Dynasty Warriors. Go litter the terrain with enemy corpses. They deserve it. Really.

Go for Jade

As in Jade Empire. Of course, the Jade in Beyond Good and Evil truly and completely rocks, but we're talking about the Empire today.

My buddy Nelson finished Jade Empire a while back and wrote his thoughts about it. He said it was "very good, but not great." Fair enough, but I found it very awesome.

The story line was the hook. It was great to follow the story through the characters, their experiences, and the world on your screen. It was very well done. Small side stories really drew you in (e.g. concern for the girl about to be sold into servitude unless she can help her father). All of the narrative and background portrayed a very rich world, filled with history, invention, and peoples. And not only, but there are two entirely distinct stories that roughly (but not quite) map onto good or evil.

Follow that up with some very amazing graphics, fluid animations, and a responsive combat system, and the experience was great. It was well worth the 30 hours to get through the game; you could probably get through faster if you don't go for every side quest like I did.

Combat in Jade Empire is one of the best I've seen in a while, although it still doesn't beat that of Beyond Good and Evil. In Empire, you have a selected target to attack. If something gets in your way... fine. They get hit, too. It is easy to switch targets (a quick press of the left or right trigger), but it isn't as fluid as BG&E where you just push the left stick in a direction. In both games, your character does a smooth transition from wherever they are towards their new target, flowing their combat moves appropriately. The lock-on in Empire does serve a good purpose in that you can jump over your foe and immediately slice them in the back. And this is where it falls down. Combat becomes a matter of "jump over them to evade their attacks, smack 'em a few times, jump over, ..." And I never really found a need to use anything beyond a sword attack and a fist attack which I got at the beginning of the game. Other weapons and attacks come along, but it is hard to switch to them after you've invested so much in upgrading those first attacks. And those initial attacks can carry you through the game.

Jade Empire is an excellent game, and I highly recommend it. It has one of the best story lines that I've seen in a long time. While the quest variety does not match games from the Elder Scrolls series, it can provide many additional hours of fun. For RPG lovers, Jade Empire is a must-have for your collection.


For the Xbox 360, an initial list of compatible Xbox (1) games has been posted. This is a good start, but I notice that Burnout, Far Cry, and Otogi aren't listed. I've been playing those recently... Ah well. I do have my original Xbox, so it isn't like my life is ruined.

The main point here is: keep both systems. In about a year, the library for the 360 will be large enough that you will have more than enough games to occupy yourself full-time. At that point, you can toss your Xbox and its games.

360 Launch

I've been tracking a lot of stuff around the Xbox 360 launch: the supply, what games will be available (and what is delayed! woe is me...), good/bad games, and whatnot. Lots of details to pull together.

That said, I found a good article that summarizes all these bits into a coherent, short piece on the launch of the Xbox 360. The article fits right in with everything else that I've seen, so I consider it a good read for seeing what's going on.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

In the immortal words of the alien from Robot Chicken, "Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!"

Bethesda just slipped Oblivion for the 360 out to early 2006. Not a launch title now.

Sigh. That was my most-anticipated title...