Microsoft has announced the 15 launch titles due for the European launch of Xbox 360, just 17 short days away, on 2nd December.
Rumours persist of stock shortages
and the latest figure bandied about is that UK retailers will receive just 50,000 units on Day One. Microsoft has promised a steady flow of fresh stock, but that hasn't stopped the likes of Amazon.co.uk and Play.com telling customers they may not receive their pre-ordered consoles until January.
For a minute, let's just assume you are one of the lucky 50,000 people and you want to know what games you can use to show off your shiny new Xbox 360 with. Here is the list in full.
- Amped 3 (2K Sports)
- Call of Duty 2 (Activision)
- Condemned: Criminal Origins (SEGA)
- FIFA 06: Road to FIFA World Cup (Electronic Arts)
- GUN (Activision)
- Kameo: Elements of Power (Microsoft Game Studios)
- Perfect Dark Zero (Microsoft Game Studios)
- Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie(Ubisoft)
- Madden NFL 06 (Electronic Arts)
- NBA Live 06 (Electronic Arts)
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Electronic Arts)
- Project Gotham Racing 3 (Microsoft Game Studios)
- Quake 4 (Activision, id software and Raven Software Corp.)
- Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 06(Electronic Arts)
- Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland (Activision)
Notable by their absence from this list are: Dead or Alive 4 (Tecmo/MGS), Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion (Bethesda), and Ridge Racer 6 (Namco) which "will light up store shelves in the weeks after launch and beyond" according to Microsoft. Curiously, Ridge Racer 6 might well be already in the channel for the US launch this time next week. We already know that Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion has been pushed back into 2006, but should be well worth the wait, if our recent interview with Producer Gavin Carter
is anything to go by.
The list of launch titles is an interesting barometer for where the games industry is these days, in that it is littered with sequels and well-known sports franchise games. This is not exactly unexpected, given the high cost of games development these days, the limited time available to produce a launch title, and the overall risk-adverse attitude of publishers of late.
Games like Amped, Dead or Alive, Madden NFL, NBA Live and Project Gotham Racing were all around in some form 4 years ago when the original Xbox launched, and it is no surprise to see a FIFA game, a Need for Speed, a Tony Hawk's or a Tiger Woods also on the list this time around. Perfect Dark Zero doesn't qualify as sequelitis
since the N64 original was launched in May 2000 and hasn't spawned half a dozen iterations since. Similarly, Peter Jackson's King Kong isn't quite original, since it's a Hollywood license.
Of course, having had the obligatory grizzle, each game will be judged on it's own merit. For example, Project Gotham Racing 3 may be just the latest reworking of the Dreamcast classic Metropolis Street Racer
but that doesn't make us want it any less. Indeed, it is that very familiarity that keeps us coming back for more. Ditto for NFS: Most Wanted - sure, it's still Need for Speed, but have you seen
Every console launch needs a flagship title to shift boxes. For Xbox, it was undoubtedly Halo, though others were urged to splurge by other titles like PGR. In 2005, the offering is more mixed. Perfect Dark Zero is bound to be popular with fans of the original, and there is lots of positive vibe surrounding Kameo: Elements of Power. Car nuts will gobble up PGR3 and NFS: Most Wanted. It is hard to imagine anyone spending £280 on a Xbox 360 solely to play Call of Duty 2 or Quake 4, as both have already been available recently for PC, but console gamers new to these franchises won't be disappointed if either are included in their Xbox 360 bundle.
Now that the launch line-up has been confirmed, how does this affect your desire for Xbox 360 ownership? Will the postponement of Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion to 2006 cause you to cancel your pre-order, as some people have done recently? Which games are you looking forward to most, or will you hang onto your cash until more games are available? Most importantly, will you ever play your existing Xbox games on your new Xbox 360? Voice your opinion in our News Discussion Forum