The first games

I haven’t gotten to test out all the Xbox 360 launch games yet, but I did try a bunch of Electronic Arts’ games. I’d rate them in this order: Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Madden 06, Fifa 06, NBA Live 06, Tiger Woods.

The most disappointing thing about EA’s launch lineup is how similar it is to past versions of all these games. After a half of my first Madden matchup, all I could think about (besides how happy I was that the jagged aliasing was taken care of) was that I’ve played this game before — for the past 15 years. The graphics are ridiculous at this point, but it’s ultimately the same as John Madden ’93 for Sega Genesis.

The second most disappointing thing is how lame EA Sports’ offerings are this year. Madden for the 360 thankfully gets rid of the QB Vision Control default passing setting, but the camera still zooms so far out on passing plays that it’s hard to tell what’s going on. And if you pull back at the line of scrimmage to see your receivers’ routes, you can’t zoom back in. NBA Live 06 has just about the worst camera angles of any sports game, though the 360 version at least gets the physics-of-movement part right. The 360’s Tiger Woods game seems almost like a direct port of the current-generation version (in fairness, golf games don’t have many opportunities to show off a system’s graphics). It’s certainly just as boring.

Fifa 06 is actually a great soccer game, but because the players are so small it doesn’t look that much better than previous soccer games. I’d still give the nod to Winning Eleven 8 for PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

Need for Speed improves the most on its other incarnations. I was shocked when I put in the original Xbox version to see how much cleaner the 360 game looks. It also plays much tighter. I’m pretty bad at driving games, but didn’t have much problem on the 360 version. This is the only game that I wouldn’t go back to on the old systems after playing it on the 360.

— November 22, 2005

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