Hands on with Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone 7

As you may have read on Pocket-lint, Microsoft has detailed the games that will be hitting the Windows Xbox LIVE platform upon its launch. And we have now had our hands on some of the titles over at Xbox's pre-Gamescom event in Cologne. 

First impressions are that the platform may well make Microsoft a big hitter in the mobile gaming arena. Not only are the games fairly slick (despite being early development versions), the graphics are above and beyond what we expected when we first heard that Xbox LIVE was coming to Windows Phone 7. 

The Xbox LIVE action is available via a hub on the phone's homescreen, which is animated by the user's avatar. 

When pressed, the WP7 Xbox LIVE interface kicks into action, with the usual array of messages, requests, achievements and customisation options that Xbox 360 users will be used to. 

If you haven't got an Xbox 360, then don't worry - you can still sign up with a Windows Live ID and, if you do eventually get the console, then your avatar will be carried over. 

From the hub you'll be able to jump into the games you've bought, or view the store for ones that you haven't. Microsoft has announced just over 60 titles so far, although Pocket-lint was told by an Xbox rep that there will be more before the service goes live. 

So, can Windows Phone 7 compete with iOS when it comes to gaming? Travis Howland, executive producer for indie titles on Xbox LIVE, certainly thinks so. He told Pocket-lint: “I think the Xbox LIVE gaming service, combined with these games and the high quality of the phones, make for a pretty compelling gaming experience". 

“Not only for people with an Xbox LIVE account, but I also think it will introduce a lot of people who don't currently use gaming with us to get involved with the service”.

Pocket-lint had a bash at several of the Windows Phone 7 games being demoed at Gamescom with ilomilo and Twin Blades impressing us most. 

ilomilo, from Southend Interactive, is a 3D-platformer that lets you view in 360 degrees as you walk along the maze-like platforms, collecting tokens and avoiding the nasties. Sure, it's a simple idea that has been done before, but the gameplay feels very fluid and the visuals are very sharp. 

Twin Blades, which we have already seen on other mobile platforms, is an ultra-violent, blood fest zombie shoot/slice-em-up from Press Start. We were thrown in at the deep end on a high level and it was like the pub scene from Shaun of the Dead, albeit a lot more cartoony. There was so much blood on the screen it was hard to see what was going on - but the carnage added to the gameplay. 

The Xbox LIVE hub will appear on all Windows Phone 7 devices, and will go live during “the fall”, which should mean around October time. 

There is no confirmation yet as to how much the titles are going to cost, but we're pretty sure that if Microsoft prices them properly - i.e. in line with the costs of iOS titles - then Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone 7 is sure to be cause a big splash. A blood stained one in the case of Twin Blades.