Some huddled amongst strangers in the freezing rain at Best Buy for 24 hours or more. Others snuck in ill-advised astronomical Ebay bids in a week one buying frenzy. Whether you paid $400 or $1600 for your coveted Xbox 360, the grim reality today is only one new game has been released since the first wave on November 22. Even GameFly subscribers have had ample opportunity to pick their way through the entire 19-game line-up. Looking ahead to the immediate future, no other games are slated to hit store shelves for another month.
To understand why this software drought plagues us now we need to enroll in a short history lesson first. It’s no secret game developers didn’t receive final Xbox 360 hardware to test and develop on until mere months before the console’s North American debut. Without the proper time to conceive and execute games that take advantage of the more powerful hardware, we the consumer were stuck with launch titles either incomplete or sloppy ports of games initially designed for current-gen consoles. If you’ve convinced yourself otherwise, peek around this and other gaming websites at each game’s final scores.
A handful of games once thought to be lumped into the rushed release batch were spared a mediocre fate in favor of putting a more complete product on the shelf. And as every week passes by it seems another game falls victim to the dreaded delay. Are these delays really that bad? The answer depends on your frame of mind. Impatience and frustration having to rely on a smattering of preview demos or Xbox Live Arcade is understandable, but so is accepting this console was rushed to market and in order to get more complete and engaging games, we have to wait out wave two’s arrival.
Oh but what wonderful ManRoom candy wave two has to offer. There’s a little something to stroke anyone’s gaming bone. Sports? Check. Combat driving? Double check. Role-playing? Check again. FPS? Yep. Flying? Finally, check. The bottom line is in less than a month you’ll have ample opportunity to dust off your Xbox 360 and wave three won’t be far behind with the return of Sam Fisher and THQ’s arrival. Here’s the rundown of what to expect beginning in roughly three to four weeks, but keep in mind these release dates could shift without notice.
Full Auto (February 14)
While the premise on the surface reeks of a Burnout rip-off, the staunchest of critics who have gotten their hands on the playable OXM demo will argue otherwise. This is addictive and cold sweat inducing vehicular combat with a nifty time manipulation twist that will ensure SEGA’s Xbox 360 track record remains perfect. After the long draught, this is a fantastic offering to kick off wave two.
Fight Night Round 3 (February 21)
EA first wowed us with a Playstation 3 demonstration of this hands-down best looking boxing game ever almost a year ago. Now after playing the Xbox 360 demo, readily available for free in the Xbox Live Marketplace, I’m a converted boxing fan. Super Punch effects are one of the few graphical achievements truly worthy of this new generation of games.
Top Spin 2 (Estimate: February 21)
This follow-up to the original Xbox tennis game was playable at E3 last year so Visual Concepts has had more than enough time to fine tune it into a snazzy version of Pong with fuzzy yellow balls.
College Hoops 2K6 (Estimate: February 21)
We don’t expect much more than NBA 2K6 with college players. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Then again with a few extra months of development time, maybe the bland menu screens will be improved.
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of World War II (Estimate: Early March)
What is war good for? Spectacular graphics, that’s what. Ubisoft is giving one of Xbox’s best looking games a facelift and you’d be well advised to not pass up the chance to take to the skies.
Far Cry Instincts Predator (Estimate: Mid-March)
Far Cry is one of the better playing FPS games ever released on Xbox so we welcome it’s port to Xbox 360, but question Ubisoft’s suspicious trend of pumping out new versions of slightly revised older games.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (Estimate: Mid-March)
When will gaming publishers learn that releasing a target video is begging for mass criticism when the final playable game doesn’t match up? Even so, the new Cross-Com feature and expansive Mexico City setting should help deliver a new, and hopefully improved, Ghost experience. We sure won’t be getting something fresh from the Rainbow Six franchise anytime soon.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Estimate: Mid-March)
You can either stomach the huge time investment RPG games or you can’t. If you can, this one is sure to eat up a good chunk of your Spring. If you can’t, at least marvel at the incredible visuals Bethesda Softworks has been developing for several years.
Burnout Revenge (Estimate: Mid-March)
It’s the Burnout game we all know and love, only this time prettier with some new online modes and the ability to create highlight reels and share them with friends. Some games we don’t mind re-released from the Xbox and this is one of them.
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (Estimate: Mid-March)
More than any other game released on Xbox last Fall, this should benefit most from the jump to Xbox 360. Imagine what hot swapping will look like as the effect turns corners and goes through buildings, or the clarity of seeing enemies below while parachuting into action. We have, and we can’t wait for the real thing.