XSN Sports Part 1

Earlier last week Microsoft was kind enough to invite FunXbox to a press event in San Francisco to showcase the XSN (Xbox Sports Network) and the 6 games that will be launching with it. What we saw will blow your mind. So get ready sports gamers. Get your cleats, pads, and (GASP!) your cups, because we are heading out on the field and Microsoft is playing for keeps.

Ever dream of being on the sports page?

Well, congratulations, because now you can. The dream of every arm chair quarterback is about to come true….well almost. According to the people at Microsoft, XSN promises to be the next level of sports gaming and it will allow you to “compete beyond the game”. With the ability to set up custom teams and leagues, compete in national tournaments and virtually “live” the sports career you’ve always wanted, you will have little reason to leave your house.

Luckily, XSN will make it possible for you to leave your Xbox behind without the threat of missing out on crucial events. Aside from stat tracking, up to the minute scores and a variety of customizable features, the most impressive innovation will be the ability to be constantly connected to XSN via alerts sent to your personal electronic device, such as cell phone, PDA or , if you’re just an old fashioned type, personal pager.

Perhaps the most ambitious of all things mentioned were plans to introduce some type of remote ability to have your game up and ready for you to compete if you’re just getting home. Though this last ability is not currently in the works, it is something being considered. Imagine being at your local grocery store and getting a text message on your cell phone informing you that LordKillALot420 is waiting for you to take control of the San Diego Chargers (yeah, why not?) for your gridiron match-up as scheduled! Better yet, imagine having some way (other than calling home and asking your significant other) to have your Xbox up and ready to play as you walk in the door. Ambitious? You bet. Though the remote feature was only mentioned off-handedly, the electronic alerts feature is a sure bet.

My Xbox is supposed to do all that? Will it make me breakfast also?

Yes and no. All features mentioned will be available for tweaking online at the XSN website, XSNSports.com; bookmark it, it’s your new sports page. Built on Microsoft’s trusty .NET framework the website will use Xbox Live v.2 features and supports a passport to gamer-tag link. This is where the personal alerts are made possible. On the website you will be able to set rules and regulations for your sports league, check current stats and standings, and utilize their message boards to brag about your crushing defeat over LordKillALot420 (LaDainian ran for 4 million yards!). The best
part about all this stuff is that, for now, it’s all free. According to MS, initially everything should be free. However, things can always change. I don’t know about you, but I never thought I’d get this much out of my $50 Xbox Live kit. I am very pleased.

Should I bring pads and a helmet?

All you will need will be your Xbox, a Live account and a copy of NFL Fever 2004 (which will launch along with the XSN). Well, you will also need a computer, but you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t already have one, right? Later in the year you will be able to compete in NBA Inside Drive 2004, Links 2004, NHL Rivals 2004, Amped 200…err, sorry its just Amped 2 and Top Spin. The features for each game will obviously be tailored to each individual sport. For example, NBA Inside Drive 2004 will include a best of five or seven style championship, whereas games like Links 2004 will be structured as standard golf tours (or whatever it is golfers do). Though XSN will not support third party titles, Microsoft representatives were not willing to strike that as a possibility. However, Microsoft promises that all upcoming first party sports titles will support Live and all future first party sports titles will “innovate on XBL”. Apparently, in the meantime, all sports equipment needed to experience XSN will be Microsoft only. And by the looks of these titles, I’m not worried in the least.

Now approaching 2nd Floor; Men’s Casual-Wear, Home Appliances and Ultimate Sports Gaming

From what we saw, all six games are truly geared towards taking online sports gaming “to the next level”. Each title is loaded with support features for XBL and the XSN. Now, why would I differentiate between the two? Well, for some, the idea of running a dynasty on XSN may not be as attractive as just being a part of a team and playing a game here and there on XBL. Don’t worry; each game is still available for easy pick up and play. However, I’m sure many of you are dying to hear about the games themselves; if so, the next few days of coverage are for you. Keep in mind, eager gamers; the upcoming previews are based on hands-on time with most games being nearly 80 to 85% finished. And believe it or not, the games’ developers have actually taken into consideration gamers’ gripes and complaints about previous titles. Tune in tomorrow as we take an in-depth look at NFL Fever 2004.

Fernando Bueno