In the console-gaming world people know Sony and Nintendo. Microsoft may be the largest and richest software company in the world, but it's unknown when it comes to console gaming. Microsoft is counting on the Xbox to change that perception. Gamers may not be willing to take a chance with the Microsoft Xbox, even if it is far superior to any console ever made. Nintendo Gamecube is nothing if charismatic. Nintendo's new machine is half the size of any other console and looks like a toy with its brightly colored plastic shell and handle.

It's destined to be home of such popular games as Mario, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, and Kirby. Nintendo Gamecube seems mismatched as it goes up against the Microsoft Xbox and the Sony Playstation 2 (a multimedia mayhem that Sony says it's supposed to be "The Future Of Entertainment"). All this makes you think; what makes Nintendo believe it can possibly go up against the ultra-sophisticated Xbox. The Microsoft Xbox has powerful components within that overpower any other console, including its CPU or it's Central Processing Unit.

The Xbox runs an Intel Pentium III 733-megahertz (MHz) processor. This is a lot more powerful than Nintendo Gamecube's IBM Power PC 485-megahertz Gekko chip processor and even lower the Sony Playstation 2's 128 bit "Emotion Engine" which is clocked around 294-megahertz. A few more components that make this console far superior to any other is its graphics processor, or GPU, which stands for Graphic Processing Unit. Microsoft had teamed up with Nvidia to create a chip that was made especially for the Xbox. The computer-based company 's 250-megahertz chip gives the console an amazing resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and 125 Million Polygons per Second. Sixty four- (64) megabytes (Mb) of DDRam back all this up, for great non-glitch games and smooth running.

Nintendo also has a computer-based company teaming up with them to create the 162-megahertz ATI Flipper GPU Chip. This chip can only handle around 6-12 Million polygons a second and is only backed up by 43-megabytes of DDRam. Another feature that is a first in the console industry is Xbox's internal 8-Gigabyte (Gb) Hard-Drive or Hard Disk Drive (Hdd). This contributes too much of Xbox's weight, but gives many features.

With this you don't have a need for a memory card to save your game files, you save them right to the hard-drive. This is a very nice feature on the Xbox, because it saves you money. To put it in shorter terms, when you spend three hundred dollars ($300) to get an Xbox you don't need to purchase a $35 memory card, which you need to save your games an Playstation 2. Another nice feature that could be very useful is the ability to copy C. D. music and create your own custom music tracks to be played in certain games, such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 x.

With having the Hard-drive in the Xbox, parents can use a built in parental control to control their child's or spouse's rating on games or movies. The Xbox is geared toward the late-teen and adult male audience. The controller is said to be adult-sized and believe it, this controller is so big you could probably hunt with it! The controller is beefy, yet very comfortable. The Xbox can support four controllers right on the console, which will also save you money.

The Sony Playstation 2 can only support 2 controllers and if you want four, you have to additionally purchase the Sony Multi tap which costs around $30. The Xbox's beefy controller has 11 buttons in which 4 are offset. The offset buttons work great on First person Shooting Games such as Halo, but not as good on games that require multi-button tapping to combine tricks such as Tony Hawks' Pro Skater 2 x. The Nintendo Gamecube also uses 4 controller ports and the controller is smaller and extremely comfortable, adult's may have a harder time using this controller because it is smaller and meant more for children, teens, and adults with smaller hands. There has been a lot of talk about the size of Xbox, which was released in the United States on November 15, 2001. The Xbox console is approximately four times the size of Gamecube, and it is bigger and bulkier than any previous console.

The size of the console is comparable to a VHS or DVD player. Which still makes it too big. I'm sure Microsoft could have made this console smaller. At it's size it could be considered to be part of the home entertainment center.

But the Xbox has powerful components within. If Microsoft can tap into that power and prove that power to the public, it will attract sophisticated users. More important, that power should result in better-looking versions of multi-platform games. Of the games that have been released for Xbox, two have always stood out as having system-selling charisma; Cel Damage and Blood Wake. Interestingly, Microsoft did not show either game. Instead, Microsoft executives decided to go for the brass ring and show games like Halo, NFL Fever 2002, and Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee (games that have been criticized in the past).

While I would not describe any of these games as groundbreaking, or grade-A, I like what I've seen. As far as concerns out there about possible bugs with the games, Microsoft seems aware of the minor flaws. For most gamers people will want to stick with the trusted companies that have been in the business since the beginning, such as Nintendo, Atari, Sega, and Sony. About two years ago, Sega released the Dreamcast, which lately has had financial problems and is no longer for consoles. Then Sony released the Playstation 2 and it was the newest and greatest step in the console industry. Now Nintendo and Microsoft are holding the reigns.

Microsoft will have to work out a good lineup of games that people are really going to want, to get gamers to buy the console. But it is the best and most powerful console ever created. Halo, a first-person shooter in which players lead a squad of marines in a battle on an alien planet, still has some frame-rate problems. To read about the game online, you'd think the frame rate was a very slow (10 frames per second) In truth, Halo generally stays at a constant 30 frames per second. Granted, this is not as fast as the 60 frames per second you see in some games, yet it is well within an acceptable limit.

I noticed the frame rate drop a few times during a demo I played, but those problems have been fixed. Halo has enormous worlds and crossing certain junctures within those worlds used to trigger half-second load ups that looked mostly like hiccups but did not detract from game play. There was also times when the game slowed because too much was happening on screen, such as firefights with multiple vehicles. But in its final form, these problems have been fixed Project Gotham Racing, a realistic driving simulation that seems like a cross between Sony Computer Entertainment's Gran Turismo 3 and Rockstar Games' Midnight Club, has no frame-rate issues, handles well, and has excellent graphics. Project Gotham is a street racing game with tracks in Tokyo, San Francisco and New York City. Like Gran Turismo, this is a game packed with realistic models of actual cars.

If I have one complaint about this game, it is that I had trouble judging distances around curves. For some reason, I had a lack of depth perception and had trouble recognizing turns as I approached them. This may have been me. The graphics were certainly clear and crisp. Project Gotham, like Gran Turismo 3, is a kind of game that I seldom play. I am not into realistic driving, and though the game rewards players for pulling controlled 360-degree spins and power slides, it is no San Francisco Rush (a game for the older Nintendo 64 console).

Of course, the fact that it is not San Francisco Rush will be reason enough for many people to want the game. Xbox may have a better launch lineup than Playstation 2 had, but Microsoft has not earned the bragging rights that Sony has earned over the last six years. Microsoft may also end up paying for its fleeting friendship with the press. In 1996, Nintendo's brilliant marketing team successfully convinced 95 percent of the press to name Nintendo 64 as the hottest system on the market, despite the fact that there were fewer than 10 games for N 64, and two of those games were Cru is 'n USA and Mortal Kombat Gold. In January 1997, reporters worked off their New Year's Eve stupor, realized what they had done and gave themselves an annulment by attacking Nintendo feverishly on every flaw. The same thing has happened with Microsoft.

Dazzled by Chairman Bill Gates, Xbox Chief Operating Officer Robert Bach and the other people working on the team, reporters did not scrutinize early announcements about Xbox as much as they normally would. When Microsoft put on a lackluster performance at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the press turned against them. In truth, Xbox was never as revolutionary as people first guessed, and it's not as dismal as many now say. It's a good console with great extras that include 64 megabytes of RAM, a great graphics chip, a hard drive and the ability to play movies on DVD.

Microsoft's big box does have some issues to work out. There seems to be growing retailer frustration with Microsoft. Some retailers claim the "Redmond Giant" (Microsoft) is bullying them and legislating every detail of marketing Microsoft is a strong competitor, and the company seems quite serious about the leap to video games, but the question still remains as to their ability to cross-sell from their software market to the console-gamer's world. Word Count: 1, 655.