I love good party games, and Microsoft's latest – which relies on the included Xbox Live Vision camera to “film” scenes featuring you and your friends – is a pretty good one at times.
Here's the basic premise: The camera captures players as they participate in mini-games that basically have them moving around as though they have no sense of rhythm. Then you can edit these performances down to make short clips for everyone to laugh at, and you can even put the finished product on YouTube or DVD.
The good news is that setup is easy, and players can select everything from characters to how to light the scene. Unfortunately, the graphics aren't the best, you'll need a lot of room to film, and the camera has a hard time making people out sufficiently unless you're filming against backgrounds that are as blank as possible.
Also, while “You're in the Movies” is fun with a group, it's terribly boring – unless you want to play long enough to unlock enough scenes to edit and do voiceovers – by yourself. Even that's not much fun.
Still, when I played with a few friends, everyone was cracking up. This one's at least worth a rental.
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate
When Microsoft Vista debuted two years back, I basically ignored it. I heard what many people were hearing: that Vista wasn't a worthy successor to Windows XP.
So I was a little surprised when I popped in a version of Vista Ultimate with Service Pack 1 last week. Security out of the box is solid, and the operating system – like most Windows setups – is easy to use and understand.
Ultimate comes with some pretty powerful backup tools to help you recover lost data, a much-needed and useful feature. There's also a heavy-duty data-encryption system, which can protect your personal information if your computer is lost or stolen, plus a super-easy way to search for files on your hard drive.
My favorite Vista feature was the redesigned Windows Media Center, which connects wirelessly to your Xbox 360 so you can enjoy photos, movies and music on the family TV.
I'm not saying this is a Mac OS X killer, but until Windows 7 (in beta testing) officially comes out later this year, it'll suffice.
Both the PC and the Mac handled the upgrade flawlessly (I used Boot Camp on the Mac). In the first few weeks of hard use, I suffered no crashes and it ran games very smoothly. My only quibble was that Vista initially didn't work with many of my programs – as you may have read – although in most cases I was able to update drivers and get everything going again.
Overall, Vista Ultimate does hog a lot of resources, but it is a bit better than XP.
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