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Xbox 360

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Fantastic Games and Improvments in the System Keep Coming (3.5 of 5)

  • Jul 28, 2009
  • by
The XBOX 360, is another console within this gaming generation that's turning heads.  It so far trails in second place to Wii but manages to do better than the PS3.  The system launched in 2005... a year before its competition.  And while many were uncertain at first, thanks to a launch that didn't present a lot of games, the 360 has managed to solidify itself.

I have to do this for the sake of my own sanity.  Gaming has become akin to politics in the sense that people are little chickens running around with their heads cut off.  This review isn't about which console is better.  You will find no fanboyism here.  Any fanboyism you interpret in this review exist wholly within your imagination.  You will also find very few comparisons to the other consoles.  I don't do the fanboy stuff... because I like video games.  A hardware is only as good as the software put on it.  In short, this is a review about the Xbox360.  If you would like to know more about the Wii or Playstatio 3, I recommend looking at their respective data points.  I have written a review for both consoles.  

Lastly, the rating of these consoles does NOT reflect which system is better than any one system.  If you view in that way, you are digging beneath the surface and trying to draw your own conclusions that suit your own and not mine.  Each system is viewed independently and on its own merits.

The XBOX 360
Back in November of 2005 when the 360 launched we were in quite a bit of shock.  It was actually a fairly early launch.  Especially because the XBOX was still riding strong.  And when it launched there wasn't a whole lot to go after.  But just the same, most systems need at least a year to really take off.  And after a year the 360 took off alright.  Being an enjoyable system.  But it still does have a lot of problems that might be worth mentioning.

Graphically most games on the 360 are incredible.  Many of the lighting effects are very nice and smooth and so are the frame rates in most cases.  Visually most 360 games are astonishing.  On the other hand, much like the Playstation 3, in order to get the best out of a game you'll have to get an HDTV.  In fact, some games have text that you won't be able to make out unless your television is in HD (games like Dead Rising come to mind).  At least the 360 actually comes with component hook ups.  But it still stands that when you play your games in Standard Definition you're not getting as good of an experience.  The graphics also look better in HD.  The 360 is probably what really began the HD craze in gaming. 

Yet what the 360 probably does best is serve as a type of entertainment center.  You can upload tons of music onto  your console and even set it to play during your game.  You can also upload tons of videos onto the console as well.  It's almost like having an add on to your PC.  And most of it works pretty well.  Now that they've teamed up with Netflix so that you can download movies right to your console (though you have to go through your PC to do it which doesn't make much sense) the 360 stands as being more than just a video game console.  It's an entertainment center.  Since it also plays DVDs that's also quite nice.

Of course, this brings about the issue of space.  When the 360 first launched, you could get a 20 GB console or one without a hardrive and you'd have to buy one.  With all that Microsoft has now, 20 gigs will go incredibly fast.  With the advent of being able to install games on your console as well (more on that later) 20 gigs will evaporate very fast.  Luckily Microsoft also released a 60 gig Pro and a 120 gig Elite.  Of course, the biggest problem is that if you bought a 360 at launch... you might feel you have to upgrade (at least the hardrive). 

Installing games, however, may seem like a waste of time for the 360.  Load times aren't exactly slow, and when installing most games it was hard to notice a big difference in the load times of the games.  Games such as Resident Evil 5 already load incredibly fast.  They can't load much faster.  Besides that, you'll still have to insert the disc.  Of course, you do that with a PC as well.  The point, however, is that while some might love installing games, there's no incentive to do so, and they take up an enormous amount of space.  For those carrying 20 gigs, installing a game will eat away at you really really fast.

When the 360 first launched, the interface was quite unique and simple.  Later on they changed their interface.  It's still simple, but it also comes off as more kid friendly.  With people being able to customize avatars.  It comes off like Microsoft is trying to mimic Nintendo in this way.  Sure, that's well and good, but Microsoft seems to have a good solid thing going that they shouldn't really have to steal from Nintendo.  It can be fun at least, because there's a lot more you can do to customize your avatars.  People have created some really neat looking ones. 

Where the 360 probably shines best is in the online department... in a some ways.  XBOX Live is perhaps the best online service you can find in a console.  Getting online is simple and can be done without so many complicated things.  The console can also log you in automatically when you sign on.  But it's mostly the interface of the 360 that makes it so nice and the fact that getting online is just simple and fun.  The only downside to XBOX Live is how much cash it'll sap from you over time.  Like Nintendo's Wii Points when downloading games for the virtual console, the 360 has stuff that happens online which you must pay for.  This includes XBOX Live itself.  You CAN get a free silver account, but that's a lot like giving Microsoft a restraining order.  On the "silver" account (as its called) you can't play games online... or really do much of anything.  If you get yourself a silver account on XBOX Live you might as well ask yourself why you even bothered in the first place.  So you'll have to buy a Gold account, and that can cost an upwards of fifty dollars (or as little as 10-20 bucks).  It isn't paying for the online service that's as bad as paying for all the extras when it comes to video games. 

Downloading game extras is bad enough but having to pay for said extras is the pits.  Really, the pits.  Case in point, for Mega Man 9 on XBOX Live Aracade (as well as Wii Ware and the Playstation Network) you have to pay extra money for the difficult levels.  Huh?  But with XBOX Live it can be worse when almost every game requires you to pay extra money to experience all the extras.  Is it really necessary to pay five bucks just for an alternate costume that should've been unlockable in the game?  Or how about paying extra money for a secret weapon?  These are the types of things you'll have to pay for.  The problem is that on XBOX Live developers are much more willing to make you pay than they are on the other console online services. 

XBOX Live is a great online service, but can take a lot out of your wallet if you let it. 

But beyond that, the system itself has a lot of small problems.  For example, buying one at launch means you've more than likely had something happen to it.  It might not necessarily be that Red Ring of Death that everyone talks about.  One thing is for certain, the console just wasn't perfected before they sent it out.  It's a great game console--an entertainment center, I should say--but I've not had nearly as many problems with the upkeep of other systems that I've had with the XBOX 360.  I've not experienced that Red Ring of Death but the console has broken down on me twice.  I thought that perhaps I was just having bad luck, but it turns out that tons of 360's malfunction in some way.  This is a normal thing for any game console, of course, but there is something unusual about it with the 360.  In fact it got so bad that Microsoft gave people extended warranties.  That's not to say your console WILL break down eventually.  Chances are it won't.  I've got friends who are still on their first 360.  For such an expensive console, however, going through two within a couple of years and having to get another repaired is a little extreme.  Thre is that Red Ring of Death, but it should be noted that there are more things that can go wrong with your 360 than just that.  The malfunction rate of other consoles--past and present--isn't quite as high (though in all fairness, the PS2 also had problems... that didn't get solved for years).  At least Microsoft realizes the problem and tries to improve, but it shouldn't have taken so long for them to act on a problem that was widespread quite quickly.

Now, for the most important aspect of any console: Games.  Hardware is only as good as the software.  The 360 has quite a few games.  Tons in fact.  Many of them are multiplatform so you can find them on the PS3 as well.  Yet, for the most part, there aren't that many games that look better on either console.  You sometimes get better lighting effects from the 360 games, but there aren't that many games where the graphical comparison is so stark that you'll just want to get one version over the other (recently people have pointed to that Ghostbusters game).  Yet, where the 360 seems to stand tall is in the form of exclusive titles.  Almost every console has a good haul of exclusives and the 360 is no exception.  They certainly sell really well and have good quality to them.  So most exclusives on the 360 are pretty good... and there are a lot of them.  

One thing in the gaming department people often jump on the 360 for is that far too many of its games are huge first person shooters and that the crowd that primarily enjoys the 360 falls somewhere in there.  That may be, but the 360 has expanded to include more genres.  Many more genres.  While the FPS may be one of the more popular on the system, the 360 is expanding to include many other audiences. 

In spite of its problems, you can still get quite a bit from the 360.  With a good haul of good games and being able to do so much outside of gaming with it, the 360 is quite a nice console in its own right.

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July 29, 2009
I love playing Dance Dance Revolution  on Xbox. Seemed pretty easy to use (can you tell I'm not a huge gamer:) Otherwise, I know my brother and his friends love it (and couldn't live without it!). Nice review!
July 29, 2009
Haha, men and their games right?
More Microsoft Xbox 360 reviews
Quick Tip by . July 21, 2011
The best thing to get for your xbox is xbox live and dont get Ps3
review by . February 05, 2009
arcade box
I think the xbox 360 arcade version has to be the best bang for the buck.  First of all, its only 199 compared to the other 2 (299, and 399).  The only actual difference between them is mainly the hard drive.  So I went around doing some price hunting on how much these hard drives cost if I bought them separately.  So first place I checked, was amazon.com.  For a brand new 120 gb hd, which comes with the elite version (399), it was going for 134.99.  So if I bought …
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this video game console


The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft, and the successor to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles. The integrated Xbox Live service allows players to compete online and download content such as arcade games, game demos, trailers, TV shows, and movies.

The Xbox 360 was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, with detailed launch and game information divulged later that month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The console sold out completely at the release in all regions except in Japan, and, as of January 5, 2009, 28 million units have been sold worldwide according to Microsoft. The Xbox 360 is available in three configurations: the "Arcade", the "Xbox 360", and the "Elite" console, each with its own selection of accessories. The 'Core' system (which included no accessories, except for a wired controller) has now been discontinued.
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Brand: Microsoft
Category: Video Games
Developer: Microsoft
Release Date: November 16, 2005
Console Type: Console
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