Newest Review: ... layout, the dashboard, and I think the game selection is just as good. Every update that has been released by microsoft has just made the ... more
The Home Of Entertainment
Microsoft Xbox 360
Member Name: slender_toned
Microsoft Xbox 360
Advantages: Full of features, Great games, Nice design, Comfortable controller, Wireless abilities, Xbox Live
Disadvantages: Original is slightly loud, Still quite a large design
- The Console -
The console first came out in November 2005. It was released as a 'Core' version, which had no hard drive included, but was a little cheaper than the 'Pro' version released at the same time, which came with a 20 GB hard drive. This is the version I bought, and I have had to replace the hard drive once since then as it mysteriously broke. At the time, my console cost around £170. Later, the 'Core' version was replaced with an 'Arcade' one, which contained no hard drive but had a wireless controller included as opposed to the wired one with the original Core version. More recently, the black Elite console was released, which is famous for the new colour and its' 120 or 250 GB hard drive, depending on which you buy. This size hard drive is a lot more practical for serious gamers or those wanting to store a lot on their Xbox. The most recent and only version in production now is the new Slim Xbox 360. These are black and have a slightly newer design. They also have lots of inner improvements and I hear that the fans are a lot quieter, which is a huge bonus for those buying an Xbox now. I shall be reviewing my classic white Xbox 360 with the 20 GB hard drive.
- Design -
The console has quite a modern design, although the size of it seems to unfortunately resemble the 'brick' original console. It doesn't seem quite as large and has a nicer smoother shape to it. You can also sit this console one of two ways up - either lying down on it's side or standing upright. The discs inside will work just as well either way up, but I have mine lying down just because it fits better that way on the TV stand!
The console has a matt white colour to it and this colour scheme is continued with all the accessories such as the hard drives, headsets, controllers, wireless network adapters and more, which also have a slightly darker grey tone in addition. Despite my console is certainly not the slim version, it has a slight inner curve to it, which gives it a much toned down hour-glass shape, which is more obvious when it is standing upright.
The front side contains all the main features on the shell of the console. You have a round power button, which contains 4 lights around it. These lights are used to signify that wireless equipment is connected to the Xbox. They act as channels so you can have 4 wireless accessories such as 2 controllers and headsets connected. The ring of lights may display red lights too, which are warning ones. The much dreaded 'ring of fire' (a ring of red lights) was visible with many of the earlier consoles when they decided to stop working. This was a massive fault, which Microsoft tried to solve by refunding people and not charging to give console replacements. However today this problem has been fixed with the later models.
There are two memory card slots on the front under covers, which are great for use with the Core consoles, which came with no hard drive unit. There is also a connect button to connect wireless accessories alongside these memory slots. An infra-red sensor for use with the various remotes sits on the console too. Mine originally came with a small compact remote, which was discontinued. You can buy a larger one though nowadays to suit your Xbox. The disc tray has a power button to one side, which has a nice and shiny chrome finish. To finish off, the console even has 2 USB ports under a cover so you can charge your iPods and even play music from older iPods right through your Xbox and out the TV. The back of the console contains ports for the power cable, an Ethernet cable and all the other bits to connect it to your TV. It is also designed to fit the sleek wireless network adapter on the back. Overall, the console design is pretty good and modern but it's still a bit large.
- Controller -
The controller for the console is excellent. There are both white and black controllers available to match your console. I think the controller is by far the best controller ever released for a console. It's extremely comfortable to hold with lovely rounded edges everywhere. It has a very smooth design and has lots of buttons for great gameplay. There are the classic A, B, X and Y buttons along with two triggers, which are sensitive to pressure and trigger buttons. There are also two analogue sticks and the mighty Xbox Home button. This button is so useful as you can use it to access a mini version of the Dashboard at any time, where you can change settings, adjust music, view your profile and edit it, view game achievements, friends and more. You can also hold the button down for a few seconds and then choose to switch off the console or eject the disc tray from the controller, which is handy. The controller either takes 2 AA batteries or a rechargeable battery pack, which can be bought separately for around £14 and I would highly recommend it! You then charge it via one of the USB ports in the console. The controller is very comfortable to hold and is a great size for manly hands. I feel younger children may have a bit of trouble reaching all the buttons at once due to smaller hands but I think this follows the age target for this console of around eight plus.
- Dashboard -
The dashboard is a word you may hear a lot about with this console. It's like the main menu of the console, however it contains many different sections and is used to advertise a lot of stuff when you are connected to Xbox Live too. It has many different categories including 'My Xbox, Community, Primetime, Games, Videos' and more. In each of these sub-menus, you can scroll along in a similar fashion to the album artwork you can scroll across on an iPod Touch or iPhone. This is the latest design, which I find excellent as you can always see what's ahead of the main viewing, making it quicker to get around. Some of the advertisements are very attractive and can get your attention to new game releases or videos or popular content. You can use the dashboard to adjust settings, start games, view friends, watch videos, play music, access downloads, change your avatar, play movies, watch trailers, play demos, view news, read articles and a lot more! It's the home of your entertainment system and the latest version is ever so easy to use. It is coloured very nicely with different colours for different parts and it's always very vivid and attractive to look at.
- Games -
The Xbox 360 has loads of great games to offer. To read about a few of my favourite, please check out my future reviews for the lowdown on what I think the best games are. Some of my favourites include GTA: IV, Halo 3, Gears of War, Just Cause, Crackdown and all the Call of Duty games. Most of the games are aimed at the slightly older age range of 8+, and this console isn't really made for young children whereas the Nintendo Wii seems to be aimed at younger children. A lot of the games are action, shooters and adventure games with those from all genres including strategy, simulation, sports, puzzle, arcade and more.
A great range of games is on offer but I'd certainly recommend a few of the ones I've just mentioned. Halo 3 is a fantastic end to the triology with a great campaign mode along with a very addictive and new multiplayer mode. The release of Halo 3: ODST just added to the fun and Halo: Reach is due to be released soon this September, which is set to be massive. GTA: IV came storming onto the console and was superb in a slightly different way to previous versions. It has a greater feeling of realism to it, which is slightly scary considering some of the gameplay. It's very fun to play though and longer than ever with a huge city to explore. It also has 2 add-ons to the game, which extend the gameplay further.
This leads me on to the great thing about Xbox 360 games - you can download extras for them over Xbox Live. This can ever increase their potential. From add-ons such as new weapons and cars, you can add on full new chapters such as with the GTA: IV game. This gives you more missions to play through and a whole lot of fun with a new storyline too. Personally I have downloaded things such as new maps for certain games as well as tracks for racing games and the odd car here and there. Not everyone will buy these updates, so it's purely your choice. Most of them are priced pretty reasonably but it's all according to how much you think you'll enjoy the additional content. This great feature makes a game so much more, and it's one of the best features the Xbox 360 has.
- Xbox Live -
Xbox live is in my opinion the greatest server for online gaming ever created! With a good range of multiplayer games that can make full use of Xbox Live in a variety of ways, Xbox Live beats all online games and other experiences such as the Sony Playstation Online one. It has a great community from all over the world and it's quite a friendly one too, although you imminently get the odd player talking rubbish or acting like an idiot. With the great features of the console, you are able to mute such players and also leave feedback on their profile.
Xbox Live is really necessary once you get your console. You will already have a Silver membership, whereas in the past you had to buy this additionally too. This will enable you to download a few thing such as videos and demos, but restricts you from the endless content available on the games themselves. With a gold membership, which can be purchased for just £30 a year, you can play others around the world in all your favourite games. Whether you are playing as part of a team or in a fierce competition, no game is ever the same and it brings so much more gameplay to the game. It's so addicting that I'll usually play Xbox Live extensively before I have even finished the [offline] game mode.
Xbox Live enables you to race others, fight others and also share your joy with others. You can add friends to your list and then compare your games with them, along with the gamerscore you earn from a variety of games. The gamerscore you earn is from achievements unlocked through completing certain tasks in games. This feature also makes every game a lot more addicting and tends to make you play it until you've rid it of all the gamerscore. You can create and join parties, in which you can talk freely to other players no matter what you or they are doing. One could be watching a movie, one could be playing a game online and another could be sitting on the dashboard. It's a great feature and makes you feel free to catch up with your friends whenever and wherever (on the Xbox of course)!
Xbox Live works very well and smoothly although sometimes it depends on who is 'hosting' the games, although the players with the best connections are usually automatically chosen for this. You can connect via an Ethernet cable or with the wireless networking adapter, which I'd recommend. It's not cheap at around £50 but enables you to wirelessly connect to your wireless router with extreme ease and no wires. Xbox Live is certainly worth getting and opens windows to a whole range of options with the Xbox Live Marketplace, which I shall come on to now.
- Xbox Live Marketplace -
This is the home of all downloadable content, which you are fully free to roam once you have a gold Xbox Live membership. You can buy everything here from clothes for your avatar to themes, gamer pictures, game demos, trailers, videos, add-ons and all the arcade and indie games. The arcade games were added to the console a long time ago. They are like mini games, which you can purchase for a pretty good price and you can play through these simple games to unlock achievements. Some of them are pretty good - fishing frenzy is a favourite of mine, where you swim around eating smaller fish and growing larger yourself with the addition of some unique extras! Yes, it's a classic!
There are also a lot of games on the Marketplace, which have been created by other players (not companies), and these are available to buy too. You can even download a Sky application, where you can use your Xbox 360 console as a Sky Box if you have a Sky card and account. This is really when your Xbox 360 starts to become the only necessary electronic sitting under your TV set! Another one I downloaded was 'Zune', where you can view the latest movies and rent them straight from the console or even buy them with standard and high definition options usually available. An amazing feature is that you can even purchase full games on the marketplace and download them straight to your Xbox 360. Remember the new GTA: IV I was talking about? Well you can buy this on the Marketplace and download it straight to your console. This is quite amazing and saves you even leaving the lounge chair to get a full brand new game. The only problem is that it is then on your hard drive, taking up space and you are relying on it not to break without having a hard copy of the game. Luckily, your purchases are recorded on your Xbox Live account so you can always download your stuff again if your hard drive did happen to break. It all works well!
- General Use & Features -
The console is quite loud when in use with the huge fan at the back. If you are sitting in a quiet room with the TV down and listen to the fan, it's extremely loud and even disrupts the game to an extent. However I have heard this has been fixed with the newest version. It's a very easy console to use and the menus are easy to navigate. It is full of features and comes with lots of accessories including remotes and a whole range of wireless accessories to make all your gaming wire-free!
Some useful features include the ability to send your friends written messages and spoken ones too. You can also compare all your games and invite each other to your games so you can easily play together. Your profile with Xbox Live can be created by having a unique 'Gamertag' and you can create an avatar too. Quite like the film, these are little animated characters, which are there to symbolise you. You can change all their looks in quite good detail and then dress them up as you wish. There is a huge range of clothes on offer as default with hundreds of items available to buy too including tops, hats, props, shoes, accessories and more. Along with your avatar, you can customise your profile too with a 'Bio' about yourself and a motto. You can also add a gamer picture too, and there are loads of these available to download from certain games as well as the extensive default selection. You can really customise your Xbox and make it your own. There are so many settings to adjust, you can determine exactly how you want your Xbox to be. The console is safe for whatever age children you have, as you have the ability to restrict content for younger children and you can do this very easily with the use of email accounts, passwords and parental control on the console.
The console is certainly next generation as it has so many features on it. One of the latest innovations is Xbox Kinect or Project Natal. This involves a sensor, similar to the Playstation Eye Toy but much more advanced. I have seen videos of it and it looks very impressive. It can recognise players by their face and provide some very interactive and clever gameplay with a small selection of current games, which is due to increase. This is truly futuristic as it detects all movements and it even advances ahead of the Nintendo Wii with the motion-sensoring controllers.
- Conclusion -
The Xbox 360 is certainly worth buying if you will make enough use of it. It can replace your DVD player, CD player and even Sky Box potentially. It is currently priced at £200 for the new version with a 250 GB console, which is actually quite cheap considering it's new and has such an enormous hard drive (considering mine has just 8% as much capacity. The console is full of features and best for most gamers in the age range of 8+. The selection of games available is excellent and you can buy most of the best games on this console. Certain series such as the Halo series, which is exclusive to the console is enough of a reason to buy it alone! The Xbox 360 can provide a lot of entertainment to any lounge and is a real family console too, which the ability to play with 4 controllers. The new Xbox Kinect also has facial recognition and you can play with different profiles as well as Xbox Live profiles on the same console, which are all saved on the hard drive. Forget all your other means of entertainment - an Xbox 360 console with an Xbox Live gold subscription will have you sorted for the future!
Please visit Xbox.com for all the information you may want on what I have discussed. This is the online home of Xbox and the site can be used in close conjunction with your console when you have an Xbox Live Gold account too!
Thanks for reading!
Summary: A superb console and source of entertainment for any household
More reviews in the field of Games Console
- Xbox 360, great console
- Playstation 3 - Best on the market
- Great family entertainment
- Nintendo DS
- An enjoyable console for people of all ages
- What Should You Get- The PS3 or The PS3 Slim
- Microsoft Xbox 360 slim 250gb with kinect
- Gameboy Advance
- Cool concept and well made
- A classic controller for those classic style games