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With many exclusives coming out for every system in the coming months, 2008 is going to be a hell of a year. Now is where things get interesting. The 360 is in its second year with both the PS3 and Wii having just finished their first not too long ago. Looking at the games coming out, I wouldn't be too out of line to say that the developers have finally got a handle on programing for the hardware. There are still some snags of course, but there always are. Here's my take on the 360's potential for the coming year.

Looking at the Xbox, we see some pretty impressive games in the line-up. Lost Odyssey is one of games on the slate for 08. Why is this one important to the big M? For starters, it's a game that's been designed by the Japanese with Japanese influences. Microsoft has had a big problem trying to break in to the Japanese market and the numbers show it. The only boost they've had there was at the release of Halo 3. Unfortunately, the boost did not last long and had little of a lasting impact on the market. This may be the game to break the Wii strangle hold in the land of the rising sun.

Speaking of Halo, the last in the series may be out, but that doesn't mean we won't see it again. On the horizon (just sorta peeking over that mountain there) is the little brother to the Green Behemoth. Halo Wars is an RTS game with roots back to the one that Bungie was designing before being bought out by Microsoft. Bungie isn't actively working on this title, but I'm sure that Ensemble Studios (of Age Of Empires fame) has a good handle on it. We should also be seeing the release of Too Human this year...Probably. Alan Wake is also in that category of possible vaporware. It's had an on again, off again release date, and is maybe confirmed for either 2008 or 2009. Confused? So am I.

This year we will also see the release of more sequels to Xbox favorites. We'll be seeing several games with Fable 2 being one of the most high profile. There will also be more games going multi platform in the coming years. Loosing exclusivity is not just a PS3 problem, it's affecting all the consoles. Downloadable content is also a big one for the upcoming year, with the biggest being Grand Theft Auto's content exclusivity for the 360. Not much is known about what will be available yet, but expect to see more missions, character skins, maybe even weapons and vehicles.

Now for the bad news. Continued problems with hardware and emerging issues with Live set to dampen enthusiasm for this system. I'm not saying it's a bad system, but the history speaks for itself. Microsoft lost $1.5 billion and counting on the Red Ring of Death, a problem that was possibly avoidable. Press releases say that the problem has been fixed with the introduction of smaller processors, but I'm still skeptical. The RRoD is not the only problem with the hardware, but scratching of discs and the like seem to be less of a concern. The problems with Live seem to be getting attention from Microsoft, so this problem is likely not to be a big problem nor have a lasting impact for consumers.

The last thing to mention is HD-DVD. The fate of this format seems all but sealed at this point. It's possible that HD-DVD may have some life, but it seems unlikely. Expect to see the add-on discontinued and discounted at some point before summer. Whether the 360 will support Blu-ray with either an add-on or installed drive remains to be seen.

Over all it seems like the 360 is in a good position to fight for console dominance. Will it win? Maybe for a while. I think 2008 will definitely be a deciding factor in this console war.


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