"The only Next Gen system you'll want in 2006."

Well, here we are, late 2005, early 2006, and it's the start of a new generation of consoles. Some of you might think this is too early for a next-gen system already, but it's not about that, it's about entering a new era of entertainment, and the Xbox 360 transition to a must have item for entertainment has been executed perfectly.

First off, let me say this, it does not matter what version of the Xbox 360 you get. Yeah, the Premium version comes with all that extra stuff most people without a HDTV don't need. I got a Core version, because of 2 reasons. One, that was the only one left, and I didn't want to go home empty handed. Two, I could get everything you get with a Premium at a store, for a little more money. But anyway, let's go to the reviews...

Graphics: 10
This is why next-gen is the way to go. This console has the best graphics you can have right now. Sure, some Xbox games look as good as a regular 360 game, but the launch titles look awesome already. Think about the future of game graphics, they will get better, there is no doubt about that.

Interface: 10
Everything on the console is so perfectly organized, you can't ask for anything better. The start-up menu has everything you can have, the Xbox Live Marketplace (If you have Live), demos, Xbox Live Arcade, movies, music, network settings, memory settings, and parental controls are all available in the Xbox 360 Main Menu. Then, when you press the Guide button on your Xbox 360 controller during any game, a menu will pop-up, showing your Gamerscore, Xbox Live friends/messages, settings, and the music you're listening to. You can also change the theme your Xbox 360 Dashboard is viewed in.

Accessories: 9
There's only 1 reason why I gave this section a 9, is because some of the accessories aren't necessary. Yeah, you absolutely need a controller (duh), a 20gb Harddrive (This is the only way you can get the full experience out of Xbox Live), a Xbox Live headset, and the HDTV cables (if you have HDTV), but the faceplates? You don't need these, but they do add a nice flair to your Xbox 360, and also contributes the the theory of customization for the Xbox 360. But to the other accessories. The controller is a perfect reason why you should get an Xbox 360. Seriously! The controller has the best design you can have for the Xbox 360. It has 4 shoulder buttons (The White and Black buttons have been replaced with the Left Button and Right Button.) It has the basic X, Y, B, A buttons, a D-pad, 2 Analog sticks, and the Start, Select, and Guide buttons in the middle. Also, the Media Remote is also a nice addition to your list of accessories. It makes it easier to watch a DVD (Obviously).

Xbox Live: 10 (Although I want to give it an 11)
This is the bread and butter of the Xbox 360. Xbox Live is essential to get the full experience out of the system. As I said before, you can access the Xbox Live Marketplace in the Xbox 360 Dashboard. Well, in there, you can purchase new memberships to games (like MMO's or your Xbox Live subscription), download trailers for movies, download music (and music videos), game demos (you NEED the Harddrive for this), Xbox Live arcade games, new themes, new Gamercard pictures, and everything else you can ever want out of Xbox Live. I have been a subscriber to Xbox Live since 2002, and I thought the old Xbox Live on Xbox was awesome. Now that the next-gen systems are here, this just blows my mind away.

Xbox Live Arcade: 10
This is basically self-explanatory. You can download Xbox Live arcade games, ranging from old classics like Joust, Robotron, Smash TV, and Crystal Quest, but you can also download new games, like Bankshot Billiards 2 (Pool game), the highly addictive Geometry War: Retro Evolved, and the awesome Marble Blast Ultra. I think the Xbox Live Arcade was a smart move by Microsoft, because some games like Geometry Wars and Marble Blast Ultra are, in my opinion, better than some launch games for the Xbox 360.

Expense: 8
This gets an 8 because this system is very pricey. Yeah, the Core is only 299$, but the Premium is 399$. Although the expensive prices, you also have to decide on which one will fit your needs. The Core doesn't come with much: just the basic Audio/Video input wires, a power supply, a wired controller, and the system itself. But the Premium comes with the whole shabang. You get the HDTV cables (which also includes the basic Audio/Video input wires just in case you haven't bought a HDTV), a Xbox Live headset, a shinier disc-tray, a 20gb Harddrive (which you will have to buy sooner or later), a wireless controller, a 2 month Gold subscription to Xbox Live, and the system itself. Also, if you got your Premium early, you also got a Media Remote, which is a nice added accessory for DVDs. If you're planning to stay offline, get the Core. But if you are planning to experience Xbox Live and all of it's glory, the Premium is a must-have for you.

Overall: 9.5 (which rounds to 10)
The Xbox 360 is the first next-gen system coming out of the gate. I personally think Microsoft did an excellent job with this system. Developers and gamers think it came out too early, but when you think about it, it didn't matter. Everything on this system is perfect. I wouldn't want anything changed at all. The Xbox 360 will be a good competitor to the PS3, in graphics, games, and online.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 02/13/06

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