Review by Guybrush999

"A quality console but with a few flaws."

I'm one of the many people who regretted getting a PS2 over the original Xbox. The original Xbox was a fine piece of hardware and its games were so much more appealling than the PS2s collections. I knew this time around I wanted to try something different, and I wasn't disappointed. There is some critcism of this console; that it's for giddy gamers, that only fanboys like it, that the PS3 dominates it, and many more. I'm no fanboy, but I do believe the 360 is a console to be appreciated. The one I own is an Elite, which I will only briefly be touching on as there is not much difference between them

Design - 9/10.

The design of the 360 is an attractive concave design. A great feature of it is also customization. The console comes in white, unless you get the Elite which will be black, but you can change the exterior of the console, most notably adding faceplates, which customises your console to your liking. Special editions of the Xbox 360 are released occasionally such the Halo 3 edition, and many of these look decent enough. The controller is one of the best controllers I have ever used. Personally I've preferred analogue sticks being on the top left ever since the GameCube came out, so I'm thankful that the Xbox 360 has the analogue stick there. The 360 also has another analogue stick near the middle right, and four buttons, A, B, X and Y on the right. A d pad is also on the middle left. There are four shoulder buttons, and two are trigger-like, which is very appealling to fans of shooting games, which the 360 seems to excel in, but more on that later. Controllers are also available with or without wires, which is great. Personally I have two wireless controllers and one wired controller for emergencies in case the batteries run out or someone else wants to play.

A notable negative about the design is the power supply. The size of it is ridiculous; it's a brick. The cables also take up a lot of room, so make sure you have a good amount of space to put them. A number of early designs of the consoles are prone to overheating, and I strongly recommend that you keep your 360 in a well ventilated area, and don't stack it on top of things, especially other electronic devices. Another solution would be to buy an intercooler but there are many horror stories about them so it would be best to keep it in a well ventilated area if possible. Also, the Xbox 360 is noisy when playing games. It seems to be a lot quieter when watching DVDs, but when playing games it is loud, not screaming, but loud enough to annoy some. However, once you're involved in the game I don't think you'll really be bothered about this.

Interface and Media - 10/10.

First of all, the navigation of the console is one of the best layouts I have seen. It uses a 'Blade' layout with different tabs such as Games, System, Xbox Live, and many more. The console keeps up to modern standards by doing a lot more besides playing games, allowing you to play music, watch movies, and more. The 360 allows you to both insert and play CDs and rip them to your hard drive. Movies can also be purchased from the Xbox Live Marketplace, in both high definition and standard definition. As 360 games are dual layer DVDs, DVD movies are fully playable on the console too. With a HD-DVD drive added on the 360 can also play HD-DVDs, but this costs extra money and it would be wise to see who wins the format war before buying a drive, unless you're willing to spend that much.

Graphics - 10/10.

The graphics of the 360 on ordinary TVs looks excellent. Character models are very lifelike, environments are huge and detailed, I could go on. Although it should be noted that games differ in graphics. Some push the 360s potential and others are no better than late Xbox games, but most of them have superb graphics. When connected to a HDMI port (obviously with a HDTV or LCD Monitor), the graphics are absolutely stunning; very crisp, very stunning.

Game Library - 9/10.

Having a one year edge on its Nintendo and Sony competitors, the 360 boasts a huge game library. Most 360 games were initially shooters, racing, or sports, which, to be honest, on average appeals more to the males. However, other genres such as RPGs and strategy are making their way onto the 360 and providing a more varied gaming experience. It should be noted that many of the Xbox 360 'exclusives' such as Gears of War and Viva Pinata get ported to the PC anyway at nearly half the price of their console counterparts. However, other decent exclusives such as Saints Row and Dead Rising have stayed on the 360.

Storage - 8/10.

A brief point I thought I should raise is the storage. The 360 can store game data on either memory cards or hard drives, but any other than game data needs to be saved on the hard drive and cannot be saved on the memory cards. You can't rip music, play Xbox games, or use Xbox Live without a hard drive. The 20GB hard drives can also get filled up pretty quickly if you're a pro gamer, which gets annoying, and only if you have the Elite or you buy the 120GB hard drive seperately will you barely be affected by the storage space.

Xbox Live - 9/10.

The tip of the iceberg and one of the many reasons people buy the Xbox 360 is because of its online capabilities. The original Xbox brought online gameplay back after a long drought between its release and when the Dreamcast went bust. Xbox Live has greatly improved and is still a very organised online mode, the servers are operated by Microsoft to ensure the companies don't bring them down like they did with PS2 netplay games. Xbox Live is linked with your Windows Live account and allows you to set up matches with your friends as well as people from all over the world. One thing I really love about Xbox Live is the Xbox Live Marketplace. You can purchase movies, game content, and of course, Xbox Live Arcade games. The Xbox Live Arcade offers a lot of great games including old coin op classics such as Pacman, remakes of great games like Alien Hominid and Worms, and more. They aren't free however, which I will explain later, although demos can be downloaded to see whether you like the game or not. Xbox Live also has achievements; doing certain things in games unlocks achievements and increases your gamerscore, which I really like because it gives you something to aim for. On the other hand you can ignore the achievements and just play your own style.

Yes, there is a catch to the greatness of Xbox Live. It costs money. Yes, real money. There are two types of membership; Gold and Silver. Silver is completely free, and still allows you to download updates, buy things off the Xbox Live Marketplace, and communicate with others. Gold however costs money, and allows you to everything that Silver can, but you can play games with other players, which you can't do on Silver. Upon purchasing any Xbox 360 package (unless you get one of the now discontinued Core packages) you are given a months free trial of Xbox Live Gold. After the trial runs out you can buy a 1 month, 3 month, or 12 month membership. It differs pet country, but in the UK the 1 month costs £5, the 3 month costs £15, and the 12 month costs £40. While it may seem like a lot, it is pretty cheap for 12 months, and is worth it in my opinion. A recently controversial topic of Xbox Live is the amount of offensive language and angry gamers that shout to one another. While this has nothing to do with the hardware, I think I should mention that you can make voice communication friends only, or you can block it out completely, so you won't get verbally harrassed. One final problem I have are the methods of connection. Luckily my 360 is connected to my network via cable, but other people who don't have it close to their network cable will either need to find things to extend the cable or buy a wireless adaptor for the console, which are pretty costly (around 50 pounds in the UK). It has no built in Wi-Fi connection basically. Also modding is prohibited on Xbox Live, so all the modders and hackers be warned because Microsoft will ban you from Xbox Live in a heartbeat if you use the 360 for illegal activities, most notably piracy and hacking.

Xbox 360 Elite extra features - 8/10.

The Elite isn't really much different from the ordinary Xbox 360. It's main differences are the hard drive, HDMI, and colour. First of all, the hard drive is a whopping 120GB, a lot bigger than the premium console and you'll never have to worry about storage space again unless you have hundreds of games. The hard drive is a really welcome edition to any player, and means you don't really need to worry about filling that 20GB hard drive up. However, my Elite seemed to come with about 15GB of space already taken up, which I found was strange as the Premium edition has about 7GB taken up. The Elite also comes with a HDMI cable packaged into the console, but not to worry as it comes with the standard definition cables for all you without some sort of HD screen. Finally, the Elite comes in a black colour, which is a nice addition as in my opinion black looks much better than white and blends in with the other electronic devices in my living room, but that's just me. Someone who knows what they are doing can easily turn their premium console into a black premium console. The Elite is no different from a Premium console other than these three things, and if you already own a Premium it's not worth getting rid of it in order to get an Elite.

Overall, the Xbox 360 is an excellent consoles, albeit with some flaws, but name one thing that doesn't have its flaws. It is a worthy competitor to its rivals and those who bash it are being overly biased.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/29/07

Game Release: Xbox 360 Elite Hardware (EU, 08/24/07)

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