If you have any lingering doubts on the merits of the Xbox, then we challenge you to not be astounded by the nine minute trailer of Halo 2. Truly, this extraordinary piece of footage manages to set new standards in real time gameplay cinematics.
The opening minute or so hardly prepares you for what emerges over the course of the trailer. You start off thinking "same old Halo" as you witness the Master Chief's flight descent over New Mombassa, but any trace of jaded cynicism dissipates with one exceptionally well scripted sequence after another.
Upon landing a fellow soldier beckons you into the action in the fight against the Covenant aggressors, and quickly you're engaging in some quickfire sniping action, before manning a mounted machine gun which leaves the ground covered in purple ooze. Nice.
After a flurry of explosions, a wounded officer hiding from the chaos implores you to take his dual pistols, which the Master Chief is only to happy to do. The carnage count ramps up even more once you hop onto the back of a jeep, which enables you to do some on rails shooting while your buddies go on some reckless driving. The relentless explosions and general chaos around you is reminiscent of the most insane action movie you've ever seen at this point, with a massive scene of unparalleled destruction all around. Cars explode, flying enemy Ghost ships return fire; it's madness. The fearless solider continues to drive the jeep around the block, screaming "Who's for more?!" with typical defiance.
As if this fearless insanity wasn't enough, the Master Chief jumps off the back of the Jeep, leaps onto the front of a passing Ghost ship, knocks out the pilot and uses the Covenant's flying death machine against them, and by them, we mean a giant juggernaut of a flying machine. But it seems too much for even the Master Chief to take on, and the trailer cuts to a sequence where the "genetically enhanced supersolider" attempts to escape, partially crashing into the "Welcome to New Mombassa" sign before careering out of control into a sparking mess on the concrete.
And cue the finale. Dozens of purple pods rain from the sky, embedding themselves in the ground, before opening up to reveal an army of glowing sword wielding Covenant scum. Time for another battle it seems
And thus the presentation ended to enthusiastic applause, and justifiably. If Bungie can learn the lessons of last time around, and pace the game in a more satisfying manner, then this sequel has all the making of an era defining classic. Although we realise this is only a trailer, it did seem to represent actual gameplay, rather than some spurious collection of cut scenes like so many we have seen lately. With Xbox Live in there out of the box, we can't bloody wait.