Review by CloudZ1116

Reviewed: 12/07/07

Get Ready for Some Next-Gen Action

With the 7th generation of gaming well underway, how does Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console stand after two years on the market? Everyone knows that hasty judgments in the first few months after a console’s release will lead to certain individuals being labeled as biased fanboys, but here I will attempt to give an objective review on how this console compares to its two main competitors, the Nintendo Wii and the Sony Playstation 3 (the former of which I also own).

PROS: Amazing graphics/sound, kickass library, awesome controller, some nice multimedia features, high quality online service
CONS: Size, hardware issues, some software issues on backwards compatibility

Graphics/Audio: 10/10
I’ve been a hardcore Nintendo fan since I got into gaming back in elementary school, so in my opinion graphics are not the main point of a system. That being said, it is beyond reasonable doubt that the graphics on the 360 are amazing. I happen to own an HDTV with a 5.1 Dolby speaker system, and I have to say that the 360 provides a truly engaging gaming experience. I won’t go into any technical jargon, but from what I’ve heard the PS3 is slightly better in the graphics department. But since both systems can display graphics in 1080p, there’s really not much of a difference. As for the Wii, well let’s just say that graphics and audio are not the main selling point of that system.

Controller: 10/10
Out of all the 6th generation controllers, my least favorite by far was the DualShock 2. Why, you ask? Because the left stick simply NEEDS to be in a higher position. The original Xbox S controller and the GC controller shared similar designs, both of which I had nothing against. I’m glad to see that Microsoft decided to keep the tried and proven layout, and I must say that the Xbox 360 controller is probably the most comfortable one I’ve used so far. I have had only limited exposure to the Sixaxis, but the only improvement IMO from the DualShock 2 is an updated trigger button. Also, the motion sensors are quite gimmicky and feel “tacked on” when compared to the Wiimote/Nunchuck combo. I’m just glad Microsoft hasn’t jumped on the motion sensing bandwagon when it comes to controllers. I mean, it really isn’t necessary for most games (ever wonder why SSB Brawl has the option of using a GC controller?), and Microsoft did a great job already. There’s really no point fixing something that’s not broken.

Other Accessories: 9/10
I myself bought the premium package, so the only thing I was missing was an extra controller. The accessories themselves are mostly useful, if not a bit overpriced ($20 for a cheap headset? Thank God the premium package includes one). That being said, there is simply no reason to buy the Arcade package, which I think is there only to swindle ignorant newcomers. If you have any sense at all when it comes to accessories, go for either a Premium or Elite package.
A note about the HD-DVD player: Microsoft made a smart move with this one. It’s entirely optional, so they can simply discontinue it if HD-DVD flops. Compare this to the Blu-Ray being shoved down gamers’ throats in the PS3.

Hardware: 4/10
One thing Nintendo has been doing right this whole time is hardware quality. While I certainly enjoy the 360 as a graphical powerhouse, the machine as a whole just feels cheap compared to the PS3 and Wii. It is the only 7th-gen console with a sliding disk tray (which has a habit of screeching loudly), and it can get quite noisy after a lengthy Halo 3 session. The system has been known to scratch discs, especially if it’s moved when the discs are still inside (this includes switching the position from horizontal to upright). Bulky size isn’t a major issue, but I’m under the impression that a smaller, more compact piece of hardware would be less prone to failure. Not to mention the power brick itself is a beast. All that, combined with a reported 33% hardware failure rate, is just unacceptable. I have yet to experience hardware problems with any game console to date, but I still treat my 360 like a newborn baby in the hope that I will never see the infamous “red ring of death.”

Software: 7/10
Nothing special here, just a simple and user-friendly interface. The multimedia features are quite nice, but I’m sure there’s nothing here that the PS3 can’t pull off. Still though, it’s better than the almost complete lack of customizable features the Wii has to offer (come on, Miis? What good are those?). The main issue here, however, is backwards compatibility. I have never owned the original Xbox, so one of the reasons I bought my 360 was to play original Xbox titles. Emulation is good for the most part, but I’ve run into a number of issues with dipping frame rates and glitchy audio in games such as KOTOR and Fable. While that’s nothing too serious, I would’ve liked to be able to play old Xbox games the way they would’ve worked on the original Xbox. I’m hoping Microsoft learns from Sony and Nintendo on this one. While the PS3 initially had many problems with PS2 games, Sony fixed most of them through a number of patches and updates. As of now, I’ve yet to come across any backwards compatibility problems on my Wii.

Library: 9/10
In all honesty, this is what sells a console. I am a college student, and my only source of income is the meager salary I get from tutoring high school kids, so I haven’t yet had a chance to expand my game collection. That being said, I feel that the Xbox 360 has the best library out of the three current-gen systems. Games like Halo 3, Gears of War, and Mass Effect are no doubt console sellers, with some lesser known games such as Rainbow Six Vegas being great titles as well. With a great selection of shooters, RPGs, and sports games, the 360 has something for everyone. In comparison, the Wii has a smaller, more limited selection of killer aps, and don’t even get me started on the PS3.

Online: 10/10
So what if you have to pay 50 bucks a year for Xbox Live? It rocks. Xbox Live is by far the best online service when compared to Nintendo WiFi and Playstation Network. Microsoft was truly the pioneer in this field, and Xbox Live shows that they clearly know how to do things right when it comes to online. In fact, it would be just about perfect if not for immature 12-year-olds who scream like babies every time you snipe them in Halo 3.

Overall: 8/10
This would’ve been the perfect console if not for some annoying issues in hardware and backwards compatibility. If you happen to have $500, save up $100 more and pick this up along with the Wii (or forget the Wii and buy some extra games/accessories). There is simply no reason to buy a PS3 at this point considering its limited number of quality titles. While the Wii is a must-have for pretty much anyone (including hardcore gamers), no gamer’s collection would be complete without the Xbox 360.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Xbox 360 Hardware (US, 11/22/05)

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