Time for a new Xbox

Six months ago I would have heartily agreed that Microsoft were doing the right thing by keeping the Xbox 360 going for a couple more years, especially considering the amount of unplayed games I have piled up is in double figures. The upcoming release of Battlefield 3 however has managed to change my mind – the day a new Xbox is unveiled will be a day of celebration.

Battlefield 3 has been confirmed as coming on two disks while online play has been capped from 64 players in the PC version to 24 on Xbox 360. The PC version will look better too, thanks to the latest range of graphics cards easily outdoing the Xbox 360’s performance.

The world of PC gaming is already giving us glimpses of the future of console gaming. Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 Samaritan demo is approaching photorealism, while fan-made patches for GTA IV and Crysis 2 bring genuinely jaw-dropping shadow and lighting effects.

When GTA V is officially announced it’s likely to be for the current gen. Will it look as good as the video below, which PC gamers are already able to experience? It’s doubtful.

The PlayStation 3 may cost a little more but that extra expense for a bigger HDD and Blu-ray disk storage is starting to make me think that Sony really do know what they’re doing. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has to wrestle with a decision of what to delete off the Xbox 360 HDD to make room for new XBLA and demo releases.

Currently my 360 has just 3GB left – my eyeballs nearly popped out on discovery that Sega’s Renegade Ops clocks in at 2GB. Quite how Xbox Arcade owners get by is beyond me. My joypad too is starting to look tired and shabby from 7 long years of faithful service.

The likes of Bioshock Infinite and XCOM were rolled over to 2012 not just for extra polish but to pad the publisher’s release schedule out. Gears of War 3 marks the end of a trilogy but there’s no new Xbox in sight. Halo 4 meanwhile marks the start of a new trilogy, but on old hardware. Wouldn’t it make more sense to release Halo 4 as an Xbox 720 launch game showing us what the new system can do?

Developers have recently claimed they can’t give us the experiences they have in mind either, due to the 360’s soon to be antique processor.

Graphics continue to become better with every major new release but this is at the expense of other areas. Mostly commonly it’s enemy AI kept to a basic standard to allow to the Xbox’s ageing insides to handle large environments and flashy visuals. Or if a game does have incredible AI, something else will be lacking. Take Deus Ex: Human Revolution as an example – great character models, animation and AI but the textures in the larger levels suffered from repetition due to memory and CPU constraints.

A new Xbox doesn’t need to be gimmicky like the Wii U. I will be quite happy with a more powerful and quieter console, with larger HDD and disk storage and a new dashboard. And of course, the chance to carry over my Gamerscore. I’d hate to see over half a decade of achievements go down the drain.

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