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University students get their first hands on experience the new XBOX gaming console from Microsoft.

The Microsoft XBOX roadshow visited Parramata campus of University of Western Sydney this evening to allow students a chance to preview and play the XBOX console.

The video bar was lined with green and black baloons and XBOX posters. While this demonstration was not as lavish as other events it served its purpose.

The setup consisted of one XBOX console, a portable mixing deck/amplifer and two EV speakers and a video projector. The XBOX console was connected to the projector via the composite connection and thus resulted in less than optimal image quality.

The game titles featured were Dead or Alive 3, Project Gotham Racing and Halo. Time constraints prevented Halo from being played by all.

Dead or Alive 3 seemed just another console fighting game though its graphics put it at the top of the pack for its genre. The XBOX team conducted a battle of the sexes match for DoA3 and the winner (the male side) recived a XBOX tshirt and cap.

The next game was Project Gotham Racing. Its introduction seemed a pre-rendered cutscene and lead to the main menu. Important thing to note is this game is a arcade/console style racer not a sim.

All of the tracks are square/rectangle with 90 degree turns and ovals and other variations. Each corner is indentifed by a giant flashing direction indicator and marked barriers. The brightness of the projector made it difficult to see and drive and the vertical split screen made it more so. Player 1 (port 1 from left) gets the bottom split and player 2 (port 2 from left)gets the top split which seems odd.

The car selection is good and while the models are satisfactory the effects applied such as the paint texture/reflection make it realistic, the texture quality is poor on display such as from the projector. Licensed cars can be selected such as Subaru WRX, Mitusbishi EVO 7,  Mercedes-Benz SLK/CLK, Audi TT, Mini Cooper, Ferrari F50, Lotus Elise, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Corvette, Nissan Skyline R34 and other popular models/makes

One of the tracks that i found intresting was one resembling the streets of San Franciso, with jumps off the top of the hills. Console junkies will find this title enjoyable due to its nature but 90+ degree turns are just ridcilous, especially with the hand controller and those coming from a PC gaming background. All the web hype regrding this title just went out the window.

With regard to Level of Detail and Drawing distance, Jaggies were visibile on overhead wiring and distant edges such as building roofs and signs, immediete objects did not suffer from this.

The drawing distance however was 100% and the full length of the track segment was visible to the driver.

The hand controller is large and is populated with buttons and you do need to get accustomed to it coming from other makes. The force feedback is true force feedback not just a weak vibration.

Due to lack of time Halo was not shown, this would have been the least arcadish out of the 3 titles.

XBOX has great potential due to its feature set and capabilities, but its target market/demographic and some of the launch titles make it just another console with pretty graphics and not a gaming/multimedia station.