Xbox Live Australia Unleashed!

Xbox Live Australia Unleashed! - Page 1 from TweakTown's online gaming review, article and guide content pages.

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"Is this the greatest console add-on ever?"

After 18 months of waiting Xbox Live is finally available in the land down under. I've been online for eight days now checking out the service and finding out if it really is all that, and Microsoft have done an absolute stellar job with this service. I have played and played and played on the service in various games thinking "wow this thing is great". Xbox Live truly has reinvented the Xbox console, its like getting a brand new console all over again.

What do you need for Xbox Live?

For Xbox Live you require an Xbox, Xbox Live enabled games (although the kit ships with two online demos), a broadband connection and either a VISA or Mastercard. The kit costs RRP $99.95 Australian from retail stores and this includes a twelve month subscription to the service. Currently in Australia only two ISP's are Xbox Live certified (Telstra Bigpond and Optusnet Cable) however most ISP's will work with the service. The service provider which I have been using for the testing is optusnet cable.

What does Xbox Live feature?

Besides online gaming and downloadable content Xbox Live features a community. When I first logged on I thought talking on a microphone to a bunch of strangers is going to feel quite weird but it doesn't. Sure at first you may be a little shy and only keep comments to a minimal but I can almost guarantee after a few hours you will be having conversations in game. When you meet someone you like or want to play with again you can add them to your friends list. Doing this allows you to see if they are online and join up in their games or invite them into your own game. Xbox Live now also features a voice chat section in the new dashboard, so if you just want to chat with some friends you can.

XSN Sports is a feature that is set to become really big really fast soon. Although it is already Live for NFL Fever 2004, the system is still only in pre-season mode and probably won't completely launch until games such as Top Spin and Amped 2 are out sometime next month or in December. What XSN sports will allow you to do is run your own competitions in private leagues, with web generated tables and statistics for you to look at when your not on Live.

How about the games?

Xbox Live in Australia currently features twenty online enabled titles with more set to arrive over the next couple of weeks. I took a few for a spin and they will be ranked further into this article.

Future titles include (but are not limited to):

- Top Spin (Microsoft)
- Crimson Skies (Microsoft
- Amped 2 (Microsoft)
- Project Gotham Racing 2 (Microsoft)
- NBA Inside Drive 2003 (Microsoft)
- Starwars Jedi Academy (Activision)
- SWAT: Global Strike Team (Vivendi Universal)
- SEGA GT Online (Atari)
- Outlaw Volleyball (Red Ant)
- Rainbow Six 3 (Ubisoft)

Plus many more in 2004 such as Halo 2

Over the past eight days I have checked out a few titles on the service and have ranked them in three categories; online play, downloadable content and number of players. Online play deals with how the game mechanics play online, whether its fun and improves the game overall. Downloadable content is for what the game currently offers online for download and number of players deals with how easy it is to find a game with people online.


Online Play 9/10

Downloadable Content N/A

Number of players 10/10

The reason why Moto GP is ranked even though it comes with the package is because there is a two tier system; those with the full game and those with not. If you don't have the full game then expect to be obliterated on the track because some people have custom bikes from the full game and use them. However even with that factor the game is great fun to play and at the classics price could be a worthy upgrade to the online demo.


Online Play 10/10

Downloadable Content N/A

Number of players 10/10

There is no doubt about it, the two Moto GP games from Climax are some of the most popular games on the service. Numerous times I have hosted games with sixteen players and had some fantastic races. Moto GP 2 feels much better online because the entire game was built around the Live service and the variety of bikes (two stroke and four stroke) make the races even more competitive. Online rankings are featured in both Moto GP 1 and 2.

NFL Fever 2004 (Microsoft)

Online Play 9/10

Downloadable Content N/A

Number of players 6/10

With two football games online (ESPN and Fever), Fever was always going to be fighting a losing battle but the fact is it is a very solid online game. As mentioned in our review numerous enhancements have been made to the game since the 2003 edition and feels more like a simulation now. The online play is very solid but it can be at times hard to find a game unless you know people with the game and can organise a match.

Ghost Recon: Island Thunder

Online Play 10/10

Downloadable Content 9/10

Number of players 8/10

We reviewed this a little while back and gave it a final score of 80% without being able to play around with the online features at the time. If we were to review it again today, a 90%+ score would ensue. This game is absolutely awesome online with numerous game modes, voice communication and co-operative through the single player campaign. At $49.95 AU you can't beat this game for value and online play.

Whilst there are other titles available on the service, those are the games I've had a crack with in my first week online. If I had a $100 to spend and had to pick one game out of those then it would be a tie. Both Moto GP 2 and Island Thunder have some serious online play and are totally reinvented by the component.

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Simon joined the TweakTown acquired 3DAvenue in 2003 as the senior console writer, and quickly worked his way into more managerial roles on top of his writing responsibilities, such as managing most PR contacts and organising new content for the website. Although Simon is more acquainted with the console market, he also likes the odd crossover, and will occasionally check out the latest PC gaming has to offer. Simon, our senior gaming editor, will continue his responsibilities from the former 3DAvenue via regular reviews.

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