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Microsofts favorite child, Hardcore gaming never felt so good.
Microsoft Xbox 360
Member Name: peckinpigeon
Microsoft Xbox 360
Advantages: excellent games console, Hardcore gamers and casual gamers catered for
Disadvantages: people may be put off competitive online playing
The Xbox 360 was the last of the next gen consoles i bought and i arrived a little late (not by choice, by finances), Microsoft has been getting it right with gamers for a long time now, releasing some incredibly popular titles, (i don't think i need to mention Halo and Gears of war.) And the Xbox has been building up a nice fan base with the 360 and i feel it's deserving, so let's lift the lid on the Xbox 360.
It's a good looking console (i think that's a standard for next gen consoles now) i have the gloss black version, i like to have it standing upright, it sports a nice little curve in the middle like a lovely lady and the open disc tray button has possibly the most satisfying beep iv'e ever had the pleasure of listening to, and people with huge gargantuan hands fear no more, there's a big sporty looking silver "on" button sitting nicely in the middle of the front face of the console.
It has vents over the top which unfortunately i have to say collect a lot of dust, i live in fairly dusty conditions but my Xbox seems to attract an awful lot more than most other things in my flat, and the Xbox produces ALOT of heat, you need to be really careful with the Xbox as they tend to have a case of pulling a sickie, i haven't had any problems as yet but a number of friends and associates have reported the occasional box giving up and dying so my real advice there, and i really mean this is, DON'T skimp on the warranty! Warranty packages are usually pretty reasonable and often overlooked but if your 360 decides to give up you'll be glad it's there.
The wiring is reasonable, it's another one of those consoles that has a huge powerpack, and that tends to get a little warm to, i don't think it's excessive heat from the power pack, but as i said above keep your eyes on the heat coming out of the console itself, a couple of occasions i found it to be excessive, it was really hot, like microwave apple pie hot, so watch your fingers!
Powering up the console was nice and smooth, everything loaded up nice and fast, but i did have a problem with the interface, it's very cluttered, there's a lot of adds, and the headings don't help much, when i loaded up a disc i wasn't sure where to go to play the game, it wasn't a big problem but i just feel the interface could be a bit tidier, there's a "music market place" a "video market place" a "game market place" a "spotlight" an area for "your friends" and i just felt that the hub area of the Xbox could do with a bit of tidying up, although it's fair to say that design wise, it suits the style and design of the Xbox itself. Also i really love the sound it makes when you flick between options, a satisfying *bonk* *bonk* affair which for people easily pleased (Me) can potentially sell a console.
It would be worth you picking up an HD cable or an HD component cable, i ran it on the scart just to take a look at the difference and it was very noticeable, with HD games you wont be able to read the text and you just don't get the full breakfast with games without the HD. The shop i found to be nice and user friendly (there trying to sell you stuff so it should be user friendly!) and there's a good range of classic titles which is always a huge plus for me, there's also the Xbox live arcade which has a broad range of titles to download to your console, so i wouldn't skip on the 360's internet capabilities. May i also say that the download speeds are fantastic, i downloaded a video of just over 100mb which isn't a huge file but can present a problem for some internet connections, it took well under 2 minutes to download on my relatively low connection speed which i happily give the Xbox top marks for.
Another note on the internet capabilities would be Xbox live, which unfortunately will set you back a subscription fee, but is very good with good support for online games and seems to run everything online very smoothly, but there is an issue, the online gaming community is incredibly competitive and can often come across as a little unwelcoming and on occasion abusive, I love the idea of online gaming, it's fantastic and can be a great experiance, but i don't have the time to become an expert at the games i'm playing because of work and other commitments, so paying a £40 subscription fee to have a fourteen year old scream "NOOB" at me for half an hour because i can't perform a backflip while firing a rocket launcher at a target the size of a pea 10 miles away, doesn't appeal to me, and could potentially put off gamers who want to get into online multi player and don't have the "skill" necessary to compete.
The Xbox controller is one of the top controllers out there at the moment for consoles, it is a VAST improvement on the original which was chunky and required super hand strain to achieve any kind of special move in a game, the 360 comes back with a gorgeous curvy roundy controller with an excellent layout, i adore the analogue stick layout, moving from the D-pad to the analogue can be a pain on some controllers but having the D-pad below the left analogue just solves the problem wonderfully, plus the D-pad is slightly raised up further simplifying the matter.
Overall the Xbox 360 is a fantastic console and a real contender in the next gen market, it's a user friendly console, it looks and feels great to control and it runs everything smoothly and quickly. I would however say that the Xbox is a gamers console, unlike something like the Wii it's not the most family friendly console and doesn't have much to offer in that respect so have a think about that before take the plunge and go for an Xbox, but if any part of you is in into computer games then you can't really go wrong with an Xbox.
Summary: an excellent platform for the hardcore gamer
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