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MY 3 360s
Microsoft Xbox 360
Member Name: hamm_sandwich
Microsoft Xbox 360
Advantages: Great games, Live is excellent
Disadvantages: Breaks like eggs, sounds like NASA
The XBOX 360 is pretty well established now after its release back in 2005 thanks in no small part to the constant tv adverts that Microsoft have rolled out over the last couple of years. During its four year life it has challenged people's ideas of what a games console can be and challenged people's tolerance with its well documented reliability problems.
With an enormous catalogue of high quality, high definition games and an unmatched online component in XBOX Live we have the best of XBOX 360. With the string of reliability issues (i'm on my third machine) and shuttle launch sound of the disk drive in action we have the worst. The common consensus seems to be that the 360 represents the best software but the worst hardware of the current generation of consoles.
I'd go along with that assertion to a degree in the context of the Wii and PS3 with these two rivals being quieter smaller alternatives that can't compete with the 360s game libarary and the community in which they can be enjoyed and shared with others that is XBOX Live. For all its faults, Microsoft has a hold over many gamers, myself included with the most complete individual games machine.
Instead of writing a normal review about a now pretty well known product, i'm going to focus on my own experiences with it in a list of pros and cons that might shed some light on why after i've bought two machines and they failed, I bought a third, and will likely buy a fourth.
The biggest and most important benefit with the 360, is the games. With a back catalogue of over four years to draw on and a string of AAA titles coming out all the time there is so much new to see and play as well as a vast libaray of older titles. In the first few weeks of 2010 alone there have been three potential game of the year winners in Bayonetta, Mass Effect 2 and Bioshock 2 with so much yet to come including Dead Rising 2, Crackdown 2, Lost Planet 2, Fable 3, Final Fantasy XIII, Codemasters F1 game, Split-Second and Blur 2010 could easily topple 2009 for quality of games which is no mean feat. Compare this to Nintendo's Wii where Super Mario Galaxy 2 is all i'm excited about and the advantage of the 360 becomes clear.
The next big thing for me is XBOX Live. The online community part of the machine where you can play other gamers over the internet in a huge amount of games spanning all genres with massive gaming groups enjoying shooters like Modern Warfare 2 and Halo 3 as well as sports titles like FIFA 10 and Virtua Tennis 2009. There really is something for everyone here and with Microsoft pushing the online side of the 360 it's very impressive just how many 360 gamers are online when compared with the Wii where online gaming is possible but very underdeveloped by comparison.
Beyond the gaming side of things, the Live facility allows you to develop and store a circle of friends who you can chat to and invite to play as a group so you're not always thrust into a lobby full of strangers. Microsoft have furnished their 'dashboard', (which is the access point to everything 360 out of the game) with a whole host of distractions throughout its life including Last FM, Facebook, Twitter, Sky Player, Avatars, 1 vs 100, Zune movies on demand as well as the ability to download a whole host of games to be stored and played from the console's hard drive.
On the whole this service is excellent and Microsoft are to be applauded for constantly seeking to improve it but some of the add ons like Sky Player and Facebook to me are weak and there has always been a group of people who begrudge having to pay £40 a year for this service when playing online is free on the Wii and PS3.
The third most important thing for me is basically tied into my second point about XBOX Live and that is to do with gamertags and gamerscore. Your Gamertag is tied to your account and it is a profile which you use to play games. The beauty of this system is that you can follow your friend's profiles and see what they're doing as well as compare your progress with theirs which feels like it takes gaming back to its roots with the spirit of competition and high scores. Your progress in games is collected in a single score with games rewarding you with up to 1000 points for full completion and your overall score is tied to your profile and you can easily see your entire gaming history. This can become ludicrously addictive with these 'achievements' which are used to give out score encouraging gamers to play in different ways and play to total completion as well as being able to see where you lie in worldwide leaderboards.
In terms of the negatives, the 360 has slowly shed its reputation as this delicate and destined to break down machine with frequent modifications to the hardware. The ability to install games to the hard drive means that the very noisy disk drive is now silent and i'm pleased to say that my third machine has lasted longer than the previous two combined.
As a video game fan rather than just an XBOX fan I own all three current home consoles but find that most of my gaming is done on my 360 with the Wii there for something different and the PlayStation unfortunately being used pretty much exclusively as a Blu-ray player. i am keen to see how Microsoft further develops the XBOX brand and the inevitable new console but can't help but feel that with all these great new games and the reliability issues now behind them that the 360 is only just spreading its wings and has many years left in it.
Summary: The most complete console available.
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