One of the most interesting features of the third Xbox besides being able to play all of your Xbox 360 titles, and transfer over your gamertag and gamerscore is forward-compatibility.
Backwards-compatibility of course means that a game from the previous generation of systems works on the new systems. An example of this is PlayStation games working on PlayStation 2, or original Xbox games being playable on the Xbox 360 through emulation and software updates.
This is something completely different however. Forward-compatibility means that games made for the Xbox 360 are made even better thanks to the features and hardware of the next Xbox system. This isn’t a side effect of textures being cleaner and upscaled resolution, this is a new animal completely. Imagine playing Gears of War 3 on your Xbox 360 it looks and plays good right?
Well imagine that the year after it comes out you go out to buy the next Xbox and it looks even better, it plays even better. Features in the new controller are utilized with the game, the graphics do not only look sharper, but the draw distance is better, the speed is better, framerate, and there are even new features, perhaps even levels via DLC for the game on the third-generation Xbox.
GoW3 is of course an example of what this could mean, past the forward-compatibility information, Xbox Evolved has not been given any other information about the next generation of Xbox.
Our sources indicate that Microsoft is in a stage of "testing the waters" before they nail down the final specs of the new machine. Introducing these options early on to developers means that the games they make for the Xbox 360 will have no life on the next platform, and allow them to begin much earlier in figuring out how the next Xbox works.
There are two examples I can think of to better understand what this truly means. Those of you whom are old-school Nintendo fans may remember that if you bought the "Expansion Pak" for Nintendo 64 that it made the visuals much better and opened up far more modes and options in Rareware’ "Perfect Dark".
It could also be compared to playing the PC game "Crysis" on a mid-range setup, updating the videocard, and seeing a world of difference. We will have more on this rumor as it develops. More PlayStation 3 News...
If only the PS3 could do this with PS2 games. It isn't really that hard, PC gamers have been revisiting old games with hardware improvements ever since 3d PC games came out, and we have been able to improve PS1 and N64 for many years now via EPSXE and PJ64. M$ is smart to know people want to play their old games and make them look good. Now if Sony would just get its thumb out of its ass and release this functionality via an update maybe the PS3 would stop losing to the 360 so bad.