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 13th 2005, 09:00PM
The beginning of the game really shows off the power of the 360 emulation abilities. Here where the story cuts back and forth between the awards ceremony and the burning of the heretic pop-in was for me non-existent save for the odd texture in the background. The 360 eats Halo 2's loading system for breakfast, and any pop-in we're seeing at this point is due to the game itself not knowing when to queue up a texture.
Strangely the framerate felt very much the same. I didn't notice any real improvement in previous trouble spots, but then I've never felt the framerate was really an issue in Halo 2. I imagine a chain of plasma grenades going off sending bodies in all directions will always cause issues. Heck, even Half-Life 2 on a beefy computer stutters under a sudden physics load. That said, I did notice more framerate drops when playing with high-def (i.e. 720p) enabled on a 42'' Samsung than on my personal low-def TV (480i).
What I can't stress enough is how sharp, clear, and detailed Halo 2 now looks. You know those green Marine containers with yellow text that are sprinkled around the Earth levels? I've played Halo 2 on a variety of screens over the last year and I've never been able to read the lettering… that is until I fired up the game on my Xbox 360. It's like someone wiped a layer of grease off the screen. We're still playing with the same textures, but now we're seeing it all in razor sharp detail.
So seamless is the backwards compatibility experience that I was able to sign into Xbox Live while playing Halo 2 without so much as a single hiccup. Downloading the now free multiplayer maps was as easy as it has always been. Though, it took me longer to download the maps than it took for content from the new Marketplace to load up leading me to believe Microsoft is running beefier servers for the new Xbox Live stuff.
Finally, playing Halo 2 with the new Xbox 360 controller felt natural and analog sensitivity wasn't an issue. Responsiveness felt rock solid even on a wireless connection, and man is it ever a dream come to true being able to play Halo 2 unfettered by a cord! Now I'll have to start dreaming about something new. Is it too early to start dreaming about Halo 3?