Saturday, May 26, 2007

XBox 360

It's been awhile since my last post. No real reason, just haven't posted.

A couple months ago, I was thinking of finally taking the plunge and getting an XBox 360. Shortly thereafter I heard about the upcoming XBox 360 Elite, which sported a 120 GB hard drive, HDMI out, and a black case and accessories. Same hardware otherwise - apparently, the 65 nm process CPUs weren't ready in time for the Elite shipment. Anyway, I decided to wait it out till it was released. Come April 29, it hit stores. I didn't bother to get up and get one and the following Tuesday I stopped by Best Buy and they had one on the shelf so I got it. It's a lot better than I was expecting. The 360 in general, not specifically the Elite. The Elite has the ability to upconvert DVDs over HDMI, which I wasn't aware of when I got it, but it saves me getting an upconverting DVD player which I had wanted, so that was a nice surprise.

XBox Live is significantly improved over the original XBox. It's pretty much omnipresent while the system is on. DVDs, arcade games, single player, whatever, it's on and running. Friends can message you regardless of what you're doing, and it just pops a little bubble up telling you about it. Hitting the home button opens a blade that lets you check messages, online friends, and such.

Live Arcade is also greatly improved over the original XBox which wasn't much more than some ports of old games. The 360 Arcade is largely original content. There's some old classics like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade and Contra, as well as some online puzzle games like Bejeweled, and even some real world stuff like Catan and UNO. Still, a lot of the original games are very well-made and fun to play. Most have online multiplayer, which is mostly lag-free. The Live community is still full of 12 year olds who think swearing is the funniest thing on the planet, but there's also some fun people, especially on the more social games like UNO.

The games look very, very nice, from what I've seen (Crackdown and Gears of War) - certainly improved over last generation's best, and anything I've seen on the Wii. I'm sure they'll only get better as time goes on.

I guess my overall feeling on the console are that it's definitely an evolution of the last generation, but nothing really revolutionary, although I think XBox Live is what Playstation Network will strive to be (not so much Wii's online capabilities). It doesn't do anything really new, but does old stuff well, and is certainly more powerful. I can't complain about the system in the least as long as it continues to work.