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Xbox Unleashed: Microsoft's New Game Console Makes Bicoastal Bow

5 Nov, 2001 By: Staff Reporter

A giant bright green cube held teenagers captive in a 48-hour marathon competition that ended at midnight Saturday.

The glowing miniature arena was a focal point of Xbox Unleashed, a dual event at which Microsoft introduced its new Xbox game console to the public. One event took place at Universal CityWalk, with a companion event at the Metronome in New York.

At Universal City, the players were sustained with seemingly limitless food and beverages provided by corporate sponsors. The event was open to the public, and whether people played or not, they were entertained by free music. Such up-and-coming talent as Saves the Day, Adema and Saliva performed live, while DJ Hurricaine (Sugar Ray), DJ C Minus (Korn) and DJ Lethal (Limp Bizkit) spun disks in a custom booth.

DJs from KROQ-FM in Los Angeles and WXRK-FM (K-ROCK) in New York broadcast live.

Watching all this from one level up was a small group of Xbox concept founders that included Seamus Blackley, Xbox technology officer from Microsoft.

"I truly believe that games are more immersive than films," Blackley said. "The technology is just an enabler for the artist."

Blackley, formerly an executive producer at DreamWorks Interactive, said that one of Xbox's advantages over Sony's rival PlayStation 2 is its ability to let animators and other artists use the same tools they're familiar with from other media. Surface definition, pixel shading and Dolby 5.1 sound are possible, he added.

"Xbox lets the creatives be in charge," he said. "It's the difference between Tron and Toy Story. Tron was well-done, but Toy Story was an emotionally satisfying, complete audience experience."

Those who chose to compete in the marathon were striving to win prizes by achieving the highest cumulative score over the two-day event. A separate area was provided for people who simply wanted to try out the Xbox, which will be available in North America on Nov. 15 at an estimated retail price of $299.99.

Xbox games that will be available at launch include Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding, Fuzion Frenzy, Halo and Project Gotham Racing from Microsoft Game Studios; DOA3 from Tecmo; Cel Damage from Electronic Arts; NASCAR Heat 2002 from Infogrames; and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2x from Activision.

Other Xbox games available for play at the event but for which release dates have not yet been confirmed include Shrek from TDK Mediactive; Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee and NFL Fever 2002 from Microsoft Game Studios; TransWorld Surf from Infogrames; Madden NFL 2002 and NASCAR Thunder 2002 from Electronic Arts; Mad Dash Racing from Eidos; and NHL Hitz 20-02 from Midway.

--Chris Marlowe

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