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Every self-respecting techno-fanatic is also a gamer. I’ve had at least one system from every generation since the Atari 2600. And today I’m proud to say that I’ve finally taken the step into the next generation.

My wife decided that we would celebrate my birthday (tomorrow) on the weekend before rather than wait until the weekend after. By the way, she totally got me by making me think we were just going to Sunday brunch with the girls and having my entire family there to wish me happy birthday. I couldn’t have asked for a better present.

Back to the story, so after brunch, I say "So, let’s stop at best buy and see what kind of deals they have going on."

Just like when I picked up my HDTV, I had to put it through its paces. Yes it is as drop dead beautiful as you would think. Yes the games (the good ones that is) are a quantum leap beyond the games for the original Xbox. Even the games that were for the original that have been emulated on the 360 look better. (Unfortunately, Microsoft made the mistake of not owning the rights to their hardware so rather than just emulating the original Xbox on a chip like Sony did with the PS2 for compatibility with the PS1 games, MS has to go through the Xbox game catalog and verify that the software emulation works for each game.)

But I think my favorite "wow factor" game right now is definitely Fight Night Round 3. I mean it REALLY looks like a real boxing match. Hell, the health and time HUD aren’t even shown by default. When people come over to the den who haven’t seen it yet, that’s what will be shown . Project Gotham 3 is a pretty good show as well. Especially with Gotham TV. You can watch races over Xbox live as if they are being broadcast on television. And Bizarre Creations did a meticulous job of modeling the cars and the tracks. They are truly photorealistic! And there is something to be said about power sliding through Vegas in a Ferrari Enzo.

Ubisoft is always pushing the envelope with their Tom Clancy brand of games. I don’t think they’ve released a console game that hasn’t netted a 9.0 or above from Gamespot. The first entry in their Xbox 360 lineup, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, continues that trend, taking advantage of everything the 360 has to offer.

I played Need for Speed Most Wanted on the original Xbox, and wanted to see what the 360 version offered above and beyond what was available on there. Sadly it was just a graphics touch up above the Xbox version…but what a touchup it was!

And the final acquisition was the new zombie game from Capcom, Dead Rising. I just played a tiny little bit of the game; but from previews, reviews, and general first impressions, I think I’m going to like it. Think about what playing a video game based on "Dawn of the Dead" would be like and you’ve got a good image of the game.

Also I just wanted to make a sidenote here…I’m writing this in the new Windows LiveWriter Beta. Oh and Microsoft just brought me one step closer to my dream of video game development by announcing that an express version of XNA (the cross-platform tools for Windows and Xbox 360 game development) will be available to the general public for free.

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