No sooner had my first paycheck of the summer hit the bottom of my bank account than it was whisked away by Play.com in return for their Xbox 360 bundle which included the premium console, Oblivion, and several Joytech peripherals like an extra controller and remote, all for the bargain price of £300. Unusually, that was not sarcasm. Having first been acquainted with the console last Christmas in the States, I have already shared my initial impressions. However, there’s a lot more to discover about the box now that its sitting in my own living room.
Perhaps the most notable upgrade, beyond the sleek wireless controls, is Xbox Live. Not being a huge online multiplayer gamer, I admit I’ve not been paying close attention, but the results have impressed even me. The console supports the Silver level membership right out of the box. It’s free and allows you to keep a gamercard that lists your in-game achievements and overall “gamer score”. It also grants access to the Marketplace, where you can not only purchase addons and arcade games, but also download free demos and high-definition trailers and videos. This means that despite the console’s proprietary nature only allowing approved discs, you can now play demos without having to shell out for the hugely overpriced official magazine. Gold membership costs extra, of course, and is still required if you wish to play against others online.
Oblivion is fabulous world that promises months of gameplay which I genuinely believe it holds. Fascinating detail has gone into it, and the result is truly a work of art as well as a great game. Impressive cities, ruins and even forests look simply gorgeous as you follow the main storyline or ignore it completely, depending on your desire. Within an hour I had meandered off and come across what appeared to be an abandoned village — until one of the inhabitants startled me, approaching and explaining that the residents had all been turned invisible. After tracking down the experimenting mage responsible and restoring their visibility with a reversal spell he provided, I headed back on route to my original destination. Some lag and unforgivably long loading times turned out to be a caching problem, remedied by restarting the console and holding the “A” button to clear the cache.
Finally, Google Analytics shows that P-2006’s world domination continues apace, but increased interest has brought with it the inevitable increased spam. Over the last few weeks it has grown to unmanagable levels so I have had to introduce an automated system. Spam Karma seems to be a doing a commendably solid job, instantly blocking any spam attempts in the last few days. Should it wrongly swallow one of your legitimate comments, however, please let me know and I’ll attempt to remedy the situation.
13 July 2006 at 9:17 pm
Wow, you have readers in Australia?
14 July 2006 at 1:48 am
The image above was from a high-traffic week, so many may not be regularly returning visitors. Certain posts do stimulate an unusually high interest. Conversely, based on search strings, many are after info that the relevant entries usually link to, so we have at least facilitated their finding whatever it was they were after!