We just spent some serious, and we mean serious time with Xbox Live for Windows Phone 7.
Just like your Xbox, this is sort of an amalgamation of "the place you
go to play games" and "the place you go to ping and taunt your friends
who also play games." Unfortunately, it seems there's a bit of a
disconnect between phone-based scores and records and Xbox achievements
-- they all add up to the same gamerscore, but
there are separate charts to pull up your most recent Halo exploits to
show off on your mobile, for instance. Luckily, that still puts
Microsoft in a better position than any other mobile games platform
(until Apple can get Game Center
to stop sucking, at least). Being able to message and challenge friends
all from the same "hub" where you keep your games is great, and being
able to view your avatar and the avatars of friends (you can even play
dress-up with your own) is nice gravy on top.
Of course, what really matters is the games, right? Luckily, Microsoft
has a pretty strong launch lineup, with some of the regulars like EA's The Sims 3 and Need for Speed, along with some exclusives like Rocket Riot and the hotly anticipated The Harvest.
The good news? Games look and play great, just like you might expect
from an iPhone or Android level capacitive touchscreen platform, with The Harvestas an obvious and very important standout in complexityand polish. The
bad news? Everything takes forever to load (our rough estimate is about
three minutes to start playing in , and when you
don't have any multitasking, that's a really bad thing. Check out some
of the Xbox Live hub and capabilities after the break, along with some
games, and make up your own mind.
Update: We got some bad info from the rep in this
video: you can view Achievements earned anywhere on the Live service,
including games on mobile, the PC, and the Xbox 360 -- that's what we
thought! Also, as should seem pretty obvious, the Avatars are being
live rendered on the phone.