Seasoned console gamers were given a first chance to get their hands on the future of home entertainment at the weekend when the Xbox 360 roadshow pitched up in town.
The successor to Microsoft's PlayStation rival is due to launch in the UK in time for Christmas and anticipation is reaching fever pitch.
More than just a gaming console, the Xbox 360 is designed to be a hub for family home leisure time. With much more muscle than the original Xbox, games look to evolve into more realistic, immersive events with full opnline play built in.
The option of a hard disc drive option shows Microsoft's ambition. Watch DVDs, dock your iPod and Sony PSP, view a slideshow of your favourite digital pictures or chat live to other Xbox 360 users worldwide . . . all this and more will be possible at launch.
With rumours of Tivo-style recording, internet browsing and much more, the 360 looks set to become the lifestyle accessory of 2006. With a head start over rivals Sony and Nintendo who each intend to release next generation consoles in the new year, Microsoft is perfectly poised to challenge the PlayStation's dominance in the market.
With many consoles rigged up at the Old Library at The Custard Factory, first impressions were positive. Project Gotham Racing 3, a flagship launch title, looked amazing. The extra processing power of the 360 allows ultra-realistic cars and scenery and the graphics engine made mincemeat of the speed and detail required of the game.
Perfect Dark Zero was equally gripping, an atmospheric thriller which appeared as realistic as the most bloody horror movie.
The console be available in two configurations. A basic hard-driveless package will appeal to the casual gamer and can be upgraded later. The smart gamer will probably go for the fully loaded option which has the hard drive option and a wireless controller.
The other exciting thing about the 360 is that it's high definition TV ready, promising amazing graphics on this up and coming format.
We'll have a full hands-on test of the 360 soon. We're getting ready to be blown away.