Home > Games > XBox 360 Preview ’09, Part 1 (Halo 3 ODST, Forza 3, Beatles RockBand)

XBox 360 Preview ’09, Part 1 (Halo 3 ODST, Forza 3, Beatles RockBand)

xbox-360-logoWe recently got a chance to check out some upcoming games and new releases for Microsoft’s XBox 360 console, and it just wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t share the experience. We only got a chance to play a little bit of each game, so you can expect full reviews at a later stage, but until then, we give you a preview of Halo 3: O.D.S.T., Forza 3 Motorsport and The Beatles: Rock Band.

beatles-rock-band-xbox-smIt was a performance by The Beatles that opened Microsoft’s press conference at this year’s E3, and with the game already released, is as good a place to start as any. Taking the familiar Rock Band controls and gameplay, The Beatles: Rock Band covers the band’s career from the early days in the Cavern Club right up to full-blown Beatlemania. The concept is simple, rhythm based input using either the guitar or drum controllers, or sing along to one of the 45 songs featured in the game.

Playing the game casually, there’s little difference between this and the other Rock Band games, save for the peripherals: if you’ve splashed out on them, you’ll get replicas of The Beatles’ original instruments, although all other Rock Band controllers work as well (along with some Guitar Hero controls, although exact information on what will and won’t work is difficult to come by.) The game comes into its own, however, with the career mode: you can play on your own or as part of a band, but this mode closely follows The Beatles’ own career, in roughly chronological order, performing their early songs in Liverpool before unlocking more songs and more stages. For a Beatles fan (and let’s admit, there are many) the game is quite simply a must, equally for those who already find too much of their time taken up with other rhythm-and-music based games.

Forza3coverIf you prefer a little bit more competition to your gaming, then you may be looking forward to Forza 3 Motorsport, the latest game in Microsoft’s Forza series of ultra-realistic racing games. The game’s graphics have been amply improved over Forza 2, and each car and track are immaculately rendered, with significantly less glow than most games tend to go for.

The more realistic racing games have a tendency to be a little bit more difficult to control than Mario Kart, but Forza 3 makes up for this with an all-important “rewind” feature: using the back button will rewind the game through the last few seconds, allowing course corrections to be made or to get yourself back into the race before you steered off the tracks (a common occurrence when you drive like me.) This function has no limit, and although it rewinds in little pieces at a time, is an interesting addition to keep the game interesting and give even the worst drivers a chance to keep up with the game.

Halo_3_ODST_Box_ArtHalo 3: O.D.S.T. remains one of the most eagerly anticipated video games of the year, and we also got a chance to play through some of the early parts of the game’s campaign missions, both in single-player and co-operative multi-player. Originally produced as DLC to attach to Halo 3, the game was fleshed out into a full release.

Set during the Covenant’s invasion of Earth during Halo 2, the game shifts focus significantly from the other Halo games, and rather than playing as Master Chief, creates a new campaign amongst the O.D.S.T. teams, or the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. The game focusses on a full team, with voices provided by Nathan Fillion and Tricia Helfer, after they become separated in the city of New Mombasa, with the primary story being a very noir-style investigation into what has happened to the other members of the team (cuing flashbacks before the city’s destruction.)

The gameplay is significantly different from the core Halo games in no small part because the playable characters are weaker than Master Chief, so take damage a lot easier, and rather than a regenerating health/shield, the ODSTs have to avail of various health packs located around the levels. It’s quite different when compared with many other FPS games, as these can’t be saved for later, so when the screen starts flashing red, you know it’s time to run away. The emphasis on cover and tactical shooting is an enjoyable addition to the franchise, but there are times when it just doesn’t work, with some Covenant enemies having weapons that will still get through the cover, or run until they’re on top of you regardless. The game’s VISR mode serves as a combined torch/HUD, highlighting enemies in red, but graphically, does little to enhance the game, casting an eerie glow over the surroundings and in some ways making the game more difficult to see in some places.

Halo 3: O.D.S.T. also includes every multi-player map for the Halo franchise, along with three new maps, a must-have for anyone who doesn’t have them already, but a sore inclusion when the game itself is aimed at pre-existing Halo fans. With the campaign mode similarly aimed at Halo players, O.D.S.T. is unlikely to win many new fans for the series, but if you’ve been fighting the Covenant all along, you’re not going to want to miss this.

The Beatles: Rock Band is available now.

Forza 3 Motorsport is due out on 23rd October 2009.

Halo 3: O.D.S.T. is released September 22nd, 2009.

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