The Console's Capacities
Based on all of these technological observations, we are going to try to show the Xbox's capacities against the PC and the PS2.
On the graphics side, the PS2 really does not measure up, as you will see in comparative tests. Microsoft was right in speaking of an advanced generation. Already the games in Day One are more attractive than on the PS2. Every direct comparison of a title is in Xbox's favor, and this is only the launch. A resolution of 640x480x32 in PAL on a good TV is more than enough to produce splendid images, and this isn't even HDTV. By prodigiously using the shaders (pixel and vertex), the games benefit from a level of realism as far as shapes and lighting are concerned that PS2 can only dream about. Today, it's enough to look at Amped and to say that they are using 10% of the potential. Then we get to the anti-aliasing. That is perhaps the most important point. When it has been perfectly mastered by the programmers, there will no longer be a stair-step effect anywhere. Imagine Grand Tourismo with perfect lines: goodbye, PS2! Finally, the T&L and the vertex shaders will allow the programmers to use and animate thousands and thousands of polygons and thus produce, for example, forests with trees and leaves in 3D. With the PC, this would be much trickier. In two years, technology will have advanced enormously, but the Xbox developers will have learned to perfectly master what already exists: it will be a tight match.
As far as sound is concerned, ecstasy reigns. Even today, games such as Halo, Amped, Max Payne, Gotham use the 5.1 as well as 3D sound on the PC. Tomorrow, the games will be able to do everything and will be able to use sound positioning on four channels and a central voice without many programming constraints. Certainly, the capacity for occlusion culling and environment development can't really rival Advanced HD of Audigy, but there is some room before the games exploit it on the PC. Place the Xbox in your living room, connect it to your 5.1 system, and the gaming console enters into a new dimension. You are in the center of the action. When the flashes crackle all around you to greet your last snowboard figure in Amped, you believe in it. The PS2 is evidently all at sea, since in its interactive sound, it makes do with stereo.
As far as the practical side is concerned, the presence of a hard disk and the ease of development of the XDK give the clear advantage to the Xbox. It is easy to back up whatever you want, the uploading is accelerated, and the developers have easily mastered tools available. On the other hand, with its proximity to PC programming, don't let yourself be tempted by the adaptation because the gaming console must remain, above all, an original gaming console. The approach is not the same. Therefore, the capacities are evident. Now everything is going to depend on the competence of the developers, as well as Microsoft's publishing aptitude and ability to convince third-party publishers.