Review by Grammar_Cop

"What it has is good, but the appeal is too limited."

Pretty much everyone and their grandmother has likely heard about Microsoft's entrance into the console business by now. After all, they're involved in every other software business, right? Nobody anticipated Microsoft's unveiling of the Xbox console over 4 years ago. The PlayStation 2 had already sold hundreds of thousands of units. Was there really any hope? Well, for a newbie in the business, it's done impressively well thus far, though it could have been doing even better if only it had a wider appeal and selection of games.

The Console
Though the system itself isn't going to win any beauty contests, I really can't say that any of this generation's consoles are that attractive. It's unnecessarily gargantuan, but it's a nice, sturdy piece of hardware. The giant "X" is mainly there for show, and the choice of green is pretty ugly and contrasts far too much with the black. Still, unlike your PS2, this thing won't suffer damage if it falls four feet. It's not quite as sturdy as the Gamecube, but come on, who's going to be dumb enough to drop it from 20 feet, anyways?

The Controller
The Xbox features two different officially-licensed controllers - One of which is the original model, and the other is a revamped one that was released shortly thereafter. The original model is ugly and uncomfortable, which, if you still haven't bought an Xbox, you likely won't receive with purchase, anyways. Poorly-positioned buttons and an extremely uncomfortable grip. Microsoft made the right move when choosing to revamp their controller. While still probably my least-favorite of this generation of consoles, at least I can actually play with this one. There's an unnecessary excess of certain buttons in hard-to-reach places, like the seemingly-useless toggle, but hey, it's not like you have to use them much.

The Games
The Xbox is extremely divided in this category. No doubt you're heard about the Xbox's hard-hitting shooters and beat-em-up style titles. Even if you live in a cave, there's no doubt you're heard about the Halo series, an award-winning (if not slightly overrated) first-person franchise. Since the Xbox controller is practically made for shooters, third-party titles, like Medal of Honor and Nightfire, play even better than on other consoles. Action games are also a big highlight on the Xbox, with such sleeper hits as Ninja Gaiden (Easily the system's best game, IMO). Racing fans will also find a lot to enjoy with Project Gotham Racing, Midnight Club, and the Burnout series.

Unfortunately, the system is severely lacking in the other genres. In terms of RPGs, the only real quality exclusive title is Jade Empire. Fable was a big fat disappointment, as with Sudeki, and Knights of the Old Republic is already available on PC. Platformers are exceptionally weak, with the only real examples being Blinx 1 and 2, both of which pale dismally compared to the likes of Jak, Mario, or Ratchet. Space shooter fans have the relatively-decent Republic Commando, but pretty much nothing outside of that. Sports titles are pretty much the same as they are on other consoles. As you can see, the Xbox's main strength lies in shooters and action titles, while remaining pitifully weak elsewhere.

The Graphics
Microsoft probably figured "You know, there's so much space in this hefty thing. We may as well put that space to good use." That's what they did. The Microsoft Xbox's graphics shine above all the other consoles this generation (Save PC, but I don't really count the PC as a console, anyways.). Even third-party titles available on other consoles look much prettier when played on the Xbox. Lord knows how sweet the Xbox 360 will look...

The Audio
The Xbox also has arguably the best audio of all the consoles. It uses the same Dolby Surround sound, but the sound is just crisper from some reason. Or maybe it's just the disc frying, but I like to assume it's the former. Certain sound effects, like screeches and explosions, sound extra-sweet.

The Conclusion
Seeing as how there are a mixed breed of gamers, I had to critique this console based on a wide variety of perspectives. For those enticed by high-action titles and first-person shooter outings, you'll no doubt be at the very least satisfied with your purchase. For those who prefer adventurous RPGs and regular adventure games for that matter, you're going to be starved for some good exclusive content. That said, the main thing that Microsoft needs to work on with marketing the Xbox 360 is expand the range of titles and genres to not only give itself a stronger fanbase, but to also hold its own.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 07/29/05

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