He Got Game

Five years ago, if you'd asked a home theater nut if you could play Metal Gear Solid on his 50-inch screen, he probably would have beaten you about the head and neck with a copy of the Die Hard trilogy and banished you from the room. Today, with more and more games featuring high-rez graphics, 5.1-channel surround sound, and movielike action, it's a crime not to have your console jacked into a full-blown system. And with Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 promising to up the ante considerably by making high-def gaming standard and by offering a slew of entertainment options that go well beyond games, soon you won't think twice about taking on Madden in your home theater.

A true gaming fanatic, weaned on Space Invaders and coming of age to the frenetic pace of Sonic the Hedgehog and the 3-D ambition of Super Mario 64, Drew Thompson was onto the home theater potential of videogames long before most of us. As art director of Road & Track's Road Gear, Drew works just down the hall from Sound & Vision, and we editors used to head for his office every time a gaming question came up. So when S&V needed someone to oversee its game reviews, Drew was the obvious choice.

Since part of his new responsibilities involved putting every game through a rigorous home theater drill, Drew was eager to beef up his system. Playing Medal of Honor: Frontline and Halo on a 32-inch screen through pint-sized satellite speakers wasn't giving him the cinematic experience he knew many of these games could deliver. His old condo was too small for a full-fledged system, but his new townhouse has an 11.5 x 20.5-foot basement room with all the space he needed for a setup that could do justice to both movies and games. But since almost his entire budget would have to go toward gear, he knew he'd have to do the installation work himself.