The year 2003 is starting off on a high note for me. After all the trouble I had the previous year with the mass power surge that fried my equipment (now I find out my computer was also affected), as well as the "Big One" crash that left me without a car for over a month, it is about time that good fortune came my way.
Christmas Eve is usually a slow time for me, except for the fact that my woman and I celebrate our anniversary. I received a phone call that afternoon, but it wasn't from her, but from my brother. Expected more bad news I reluctantly answered, but I received a shock, in the form of a $3,500 inheritance check from one of my relatives!
A surprise check for $3,500 doesn't come along very often around here. I mean the closest I came was the $1,300 I received after my insurance settlement. Thus I decided that I needed to finish (for the time being, at least) replacing all the equipment that was fried back in October, but as far as a new television was concerned, a standard TV would not be enough.
It was time to go HDTV.
In the end, I wound up with a small, but more than acceptable, 27" Samsung HDTV, and for $700 it was one heck of a deal. Next I ended up having to spend an additional $55 for the component cables for my PS2 and Xbox. But I had another problem"
The lack of quality HDTV enhanced titles.
In the small library of Xbox titles that I had, I was only to get enhancements from Madden 2003 and NCAA Football 2003, both of which defaulted to a widescreen setting more appropriate for seeing all my receivers on the field. But it was disappointing that none of my other titles would take HDTV. The only possible exception would have been NBA 2K3, which does support HDTV, but only at 720p (which sad to say, my TV doesn't support). Why couldn't Sega take it all the way up to 1080i for the best image quality possible?
In fact, I checked past issues of the Official Xbox Magazine (one of the few Xbox related publications that exposes if a game is HDTV enhanced) and the only game that does support 1080i is Dragons Lair 3D. Every other game I have browsed upon is either in 480p or 720p. One of those titles, Panzer Dragoon Orta, was on my most wanted list, and I was able to get my hands on a copy myself.
After playing Orta for a short time, all I can say is, what a difference HDTV makes! Not only is the image quality sharper, but it all seems to run much smoother, and Panzer is definitely a game that makes good use of widescreen, something I'd like to see in more games.
As we get closer to E3, the top Xbox games of 2003 will be unveiled to us all. I can only imagine how much better they would look in 1080i. OXM is claiming that True Crime: Streets of LA might go as high as 1080i (please let this be true), and the thought of both DOOM 3 and Halo 2 running at this godly resolution is just too much to take in. I can't wait to see it become a reality.