The Xbox 360/Xbox Live Report: Part Two
Ross wraps up his overview of Microsoft's newest cutting-edge platform.
Article by Ross Fisher (Email)
December 14th 2005, 02:00AM
The Gamercard Revolution Will Not be Televised
Just in case you haven't gotten the memo, Gamercards rock it new school style
There aren't enough people talking about how slick, cool, and well executed Gamercards turned out to be. In fact I daresay most people just don't "get" them yet. If you think that they're nothing more than your Gamertag from Xbox Live with some pretty icons wrapped around it you're dead wrong. Think of Gamercards as a digital profile that follows you from game-to-game like a friendly little elf.
Let me explain: A friend of mine came over launch day to check out the 360. He picked up my second wireless controller, associated it with the 360, and was prompted to "log in." The 360 set up a Gamercard (complete with a default Gamertag) for him. If he wanted he could have easily set up a Silver level Xbox Live account right then, or copied his profile to a memory card and taken it home with him. And yes, before you ask, you can set one of the profiles as the default to auto-sign in upon boot up.
When we booted up Project Gotham Racing 3 it told us both profiles had been loaded. This is without a doubt the coolest thing about the 360. No more having to go in and try and figure out how a game does saving, or naming save files to keep from over writing your brothers. Just load up a game and it recognizes you and starts saving your game for you in the background.
You know how when you start up a new game you often have to change the basic controller options (inverted/non-inverted). Well, that's all gone now. Under your personal options in the Gamercard settings you can set defaults for various game controls and preferences. Everything from how you like to shoot people in first-person shooters to which view you prefer to race cars in. With these new changes console-gaming is now truly the place gamers should go for pick-up-and-play game play.
Also wrapped around Gamercards are the dual concepts of "Gamerscore" and "reputation." There's been some confusion here. You earn Gamerscore points by completing objectives in 360 games, and you buy Microsoft points to spend on items in the Xbox Live Marketplace (though not all items cost points). The two are completely separate. That said, every game on the 360 has the potential to hand you a 1000 Gamerscore points if you do everything the developers earmark; but Xbox Live Arcade games only dish out 200 points because of their short nature.
Gamerscore points are rewarded based on achievements you accomplish in games, and for every achievement there is usually a cool little "badge of honor" you get to display on your games page. This reward-for-work system has turned out to be highly addicting. You play a game for a while and then you see that familiar universal notification window pop up on the screen saying, "Achievement Unlocked." You hit the guide button and you're automatically taken to the "games played" area of the guide screen for whatever game you're playing to see that your total Gamerscore just went up by X amount.