Hardcore Offer Mixed Verdict at Zero Hour

Before the event started, fans were lined up outside a massive hangar. They sat on marshmallow-style bean bags, debating what they were going to play. Project Gotham Racing 3 was number one on the list. Perfect Dark Zero came in a close second, followed by Call of Duty 2. Surprisingly people weren't too excited about Rare's other launch title, Kameo: Elements of Power.

Following a brief introduction by J. Allard and Peter Moore the doors opened and gamers rushed in.


Many people that played Perfect Dark Zero criticized the game for being too slow, especially in large multiplayer battles. Even more gamers were unimpressed by PDZ's graphics on HDTV monitors.


Project Gotham Racing 3 still had the "wow" effect because the cars looked great. However, when asked about the actual gameplay Project Gotham Racing 3 was often described as just another racing game, albeit a very pretty looking racing game.

Call of Duty 2

Call of Duty 2 wasn't bringing in rave reviews either. While gamers admitted the graphics looked pretty and the gameplay was decent, it did not scream blockbuster. A couple of players even stated that the PC version was better, with a decent graphics card.


Other launch titles didn't seem to impress gamers much. Tony Hawk: American Wasteland was barely touched and Sega's Condemned didn't have many players either. After a while, Kameo started to bring in a crowd of gamers who curiously watched, but didn't actually try the game out.

Gears of War

It was really the future of the 360 that enticed gamers. When Gears of War was demoed by Cliff Bleszinski more than half of the attendees came to watch the game being played instead of testing the launch titles. After the half an hour of live footage, attendees were convinced that this was the definitive Xbox 360 title. The graphics were dazzling, better than anything on the show floor. The second person style gameplay looked equally as exciting. After demanding to play the title, a lucky few were chosen to give Gears of War a test drive and they were blown away. One gamer said that this was the "highlight of the show".

Ninety Nine Nights

Q? Entertainment's Ninety Nine Nights also got rave reviews. Few people found the game early on since it was tucked away into a corner far from all of the launch titles. The one level demo, recycled from the Tokyo Game Show, was claimed by many as the number one game on the show floor. Each person that tried the hack-n-slash title out was impressed. The consensus was that Ninety Nine Nights showed the potential of the Xbox 360's power.

Final Fantasy XI

Final Fantasy XI made a curious presence in Zero Hour too. It was placed next to Ninety Nine Nights with no huge sign over the area, but since it was making its U.S. debut many gamers gave FFXI a chance. In fact, more gamers seemed enthralled by FFXI compared to other games. Final Fantasy XI had a constant audience, with many people coming back to the booth to check out different character classes.

Hardware's chances

Were disappointing launch games going to stop gamers from buying an Xbox 360 at the event? A unanimous no was the answer. Gamers at the show still believe the Xbox 360 is going to be the best next generation console to own. Most of them cite future games to be the ones to be excited about, like Halo 3 or Gears of War. Even though plenty of people weren't thrilled with PGR 3 or Perfect Dark Zero, they're still going to purchase the games. Is this blind loyalty from the biggest Xbox fans? Possibly, but if Microsoft manages to get enough gamers to pick up a 360 with the hope of a bright future, it will be able to ensure a future of its own.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.