Review by StarOceaner

"The best next-gen console."

Microsoft released the original Xbox back in 2001 and it was competing against Sony's extremely popular PS2, and Nintendo's extremely cube shaped Gamecube. While Xbox wasn't the best console, it definitely did have some memorable games. Now we have the Xbox 360 which is competing with Sony's PS3, and Nintendo's crazy, wacky, innovative Wii.

When you first hook up your Xbox and turn it on, you'll be able to create what's called a "Gamertag". With this gamertag, you can keep track of the really addicting achievement points that you have earned, and communicate with your friends and chat via the Xbox Live service. You'll also be able to choose your own picture for your gamertag and you can customize your unique name and picture to your preference.

The Xbox 360 has a fantastic library of games. It has only been around for two years, and already there are great games to play online and off. Games such as Halo, Gears of War, Bioshock, Call of Duty 4, the list goes on and on. The 360 is getting more and more games and they just keep getting better and better.

Graphics don't slack either as the Xbox 360 runs at full 1080p and every game looks beautiful. Even with a standard TV, the 360 can guarantee that the game will still look good, even though it's not HD. Every level in most of the games are extremely detailed and the graphics just couldn't be any better.

Xbox Live is the online service for the Xbox 360 and it is the best way to play online with friends. Xbox Live lets you add friends to your friends list, chat, Instant Message, and even play with or against your friends. With Xbox Live, you can also access the Marketplace which allows you to purchase downloadable content, movies, music videos, TV shows, and even Xbox Live Arcade games if you have enough Microsoft Points. And with the update back in December, you also have a few Xbox games available for purchase every month.

Xbox Live has a way of matching up players with the same skill level with a system called the TrueSkill system. As you play online more and more, you'll raise or lower your rank based on wins and losses. If you lose a bunch of games, you'll get paired up with people suffering from the same fate as you. If you win a bunch of games, you'll most likely be paired up with people who are the same skill level as you, maybe even better. It's a great way for people to be challenged or to just have an easier time winning online.

Now onto the bad part. While you do get to download Xbox Live Arcade games, most of them are not really good. Out of 100+ games, only four or five of them are really worth the five or ten dollars that you spend on them. Plus most of the games you could really care less about or you've already beaten them a long time ago.

The 360 also suffers some technical issues, most notably, the infamous Red Ring of Death. The Red Ring of Death has had hundreds of Xbox 360 owners frustrated because they had to send their console to Microsoft and many have reported that the consoles came back worse than before. While Microsoft will fix it for you, it seems that they also will make it worse. We can only hope that this will improve over time.

If you are able to overlook the Red Ring of Death, which you probably can't, and if you are able to pay $8 a month for the Xbox Live service, you'll have a really great time with the 360. Out of all the next-gen consoles, the PS3, 360, and the Wii, I would have to say that the 360 is the best offering a huge library of games that keeps on growing, and a great online service. If you're wondering what you should spend that money on, I would extremely recommend the Xbox 360. And don't forget about those extremely addicting achievement points.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/12/08

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

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