Since the announcement of the xbox 360 some months ago, I was instantly hungry for the next generation gaming has to offer. Then when the first few screenshots started to appear I was faced with suspicions that the games would not actually look like this. Here is when I started to worry. Not because the playable games might not look like the screens but more that they WOULD. You see I am a keen gamer and have been for over 20 years now. I grew up with gaming as my "thing" so to speak and have watched in wonder and delight as each generation has come to pass, each time the next gen, getting better and better. Now you may wonder why I would be worried about the new screenshots being gameplay footage as they are undeniably nice to look at, However there just isn't the gap between the current generation and the new generation that I would have hoped. Having had ever console known to man except a famicom I unsurprisingly also own a fairly high end PC. Its nothing particularly special and is getting on a bit now but it can still play the latest games at high detail with resolutions between 1024*768 and 1280*1024. Mainly due to this was my initial worry that the screens didn't look all that much better than the games I am playing now, today. Benefit of the doubt and all that I waited in baited breath until some proper Hi-def videos came along and yes I was surely impressed with how shiny the cars are in PG3 and at the amount of orcs on screen but still it didn't impress me the way I hoped it would. Nonetheless I made my pre order with the hope that actually seeing the game right infront of my eyes with a wireless pad in my hand would tell a different story. Now on to the glasgow hour show where I managed to get a single and a double session in with the new console totalling my playtime to 90 minutes of next-gen heaven...................or was it. At the show I had a shot of the following games: Need for speed most wanted Call of Duty 2 Nba06 Fifa06 Tiger woods06 Tony Hawks american wasteland Condemned Kink Kong Gun Dead or Alive 4 Kameo Project Gotham 3 Perfect Dark Zero The simple answer to that is No...no it wasn't. I mean yeah it was nice to see the new console for the first time in all its glory and almost every game was running in hi-def bar a couple of tvs which the cables had broken on and were running the console at standard 480 (not good on a hi def tv by the way, eugh!!!). However even running at 720p the games weren't jaw dropping to look at. When you consider the leap between the ps1 and the ps2 it really was quite substantial, however I felt that graphically, these games looked little more than a gap the size between the ps2 and original xbox. Take the comparison of Project gotham 2 on xbox and project gotham 3 on 360. The real differences are quite clear, but not all that phenomenal. Better lighting Shinier cars smoother edges (on hi def) more crowd in numbers and realism inside the car view All of the above are indeed improvements but they are only what I would consider to be implemented in such a way that they could be classed as marginal improvement. It sounds harsh to say that and of course there are other things to take into consideration such as how much you can fit on screen, artificial intelligence, physics etc. but graphics are what get people enthusiastic about the prospect of a new console. Now obviously not all people are interested in a new console for better graphics as long as the gameplay is up to par and as a gamer I agree with this to a degree but graphics are important. Particularly when you think of a gaming generational leap. When you first show some one a new console, the first think they will say, with out a doubt, is "look at the graphics" or "those graphics are amazing". With these points in mind the question that has been asked so many times can finally be answered. Has the next generation of gaming come to early?? Personally I feel that having a hands on experience with the 360, I can now confirm that, IMHO yes. It certainly has. Dent get me wrong, I am very pro xbox 360 and the original xbox is my favorite out of all the original consoles. Plain and simply however, it just feels like a let down. It appears to me that the biggest aspect of the xbox 360 is based around the fact that it supports Hi definition tvs and games are created with 720p in mind. It is one thing to applaud microsoft for trying to push the technology in this direction but it is another to pat them on the back when they are so clearly relying on it as the basis for the next generation which they offer. The problem I have with this is that, HD gaming has been around for years. Everyone has been doing it on their PC monitors without even thinking about it. Then microsoft come along and state that their new console is hi definition and all games will be able to run at 720p. Having seen it first hand all I can say to that is Whoopeedoo. Yes the graphics are highly defined, yes, they are very sharp on this kind of tv.No they dont look like a next generation of graphics. They look better than console graphics as we know them now but the difference in my opinion is no where near enough to signify the arrival of next generation gaming. I do feel its early but the fact is the next generation of gaming has arrived. Personally I feel it should be introduced as the Hi definition generation of gaming as it doesn't quite have the generational gap that one might hope for without this feature to set it apart from the previous generation. I know that it can take developers a while to get used to a console and the launch line up doesn't necessarily reflect the true capabilities of a console but at the very least it gives you a fair idea of what to expect. Afar as the launch line up goes, it seems there will be a few good games, none great. Some nice to look at, others... well at least they look sharp if you can afford it. In a nutshell, the next generation of gaming is here, Hi definition gaming is here. Is it good? Yes. Is it great? The answer is not yet. The xbox 360 does have the potential but its just a little disappointing how small the gap is between the last generation which is still producing some excellent titles. While this rant may have sounded somewhat like an attack on the 360 I must make it clear that I have mine preordered for launch day and I am sure that I will grow to love it. I love games and at the end of the day, if this is as good as the next generation is going to be, then what choice does little old me have. As disappointed as I am at the moment, The xbox 360 is undeniably going to be better than this generation but how much better it can get, still remains to be seen.