[Xbox 360] The Review

Discussion in 'Games' started by Abulia, Nov 29, 2005.

  1. Abulia macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2004
    Kushiel's Scion
    XBOX 360 REVIEW (Part 1)

    1. Intro & Background
    2. The Xbox 360
    3. Hookup
    4. The Dashboard & Xbox Live
    5. Controllers
    6. The Games
    7. Compatibility
    8. Final Thoughts & Recommendations

    1. Intro & Background
    While it's always hard to be totally unbiased, if not downright impossible, I like to consider myself open-minded. So while I'll endeavor to provide an honest insight and opinion into Microsoft's latest gaming rig, the Xbox 360, it's fair to tell you where I'm coming from.

    I am a 35 year old working professional (MBA) working for the past ten years in higher education and Information Technology. My annual income is over $100K, I own my own home, own two cars, and am married with two children, ages four years and 8 months old. Because of my IT background I fall squarely in the realm of being a "geek" and aren't ashamed to admit it. At one point I owned six computers at home, now down to a measly four machines. I recently made the switch to the Mac platform just over a year ago, but still have a Windows machine hanging around. It used to be my hard-core gaming system.

    The original Xbox was my first console system and it's notable to state why. Until the Xbox, computer gaming really was my best option. It was only until the Xbox that I felt that the manufacturers finally delivered a system that could potentially take the place of my computer gaming system. Add in the convenience and features -- plus the desire to get off of Windows -- and the Xbox fit a nice niche for me.

    It's also worth mentioning that I am also a budding home theater enthusiast. My first high-definition television set was four years ago. I currently own three HD sets and receivers. My primary HD set (that my Xbox is connected to) is a 60" Sony Grand Wega. The Xbox is also hooked up to a Yamaha 5.1 digital sound system with DTS. Not your typically setup, I'll grant you.

    At the time, the original Xbox was the most powerful system and, in my case, the most forward-thinking system. That is to say, the Xbox supported HD television sets, 720p and 1080i output, and DTS out. Even the most lowly Xbox game, sans a few exceptions, supported 480p. This was important to me.

    By all accounts, I think I am the target demographic for the Xbox but perhaps a bit on the older end of the scale. So, it comes as no great surprise that the Xbox 360 captured my interest. The promise of a gaming machine where every game, at a minimum, supports 720p, 5.1 digital sound, and 16x9 output, speaks to my desires. Finally a manufacturer totally embraces the HD revolution (pun intended).

    2. The Xbox 360
    I presume that you are at least familiar with the Xbox 360 and the hardware. The unit I purchased was the "Premium" or "Platinum" version that includes the hard disk drive, HD component cables (important!), remote, one wireless controller, and Xbox Live headset. The "Core" version does not include these items and instead uses a traditional (cable) controller. One important feature is the that the hard disk drive is *required* if you plan to play any previous Xbox games (see "Compatibility" section for more details).

    The box is weighty, although the 360 itself is sleek and marginally smaller than its first-generation counterpart. Part of this has to do with offloading the power conversion to an external brick. When I say "brick," I mean it too! With a lengthy power cable and proprietary interface, the power brick can be located some feet away from the 360 and giving some ventilation of its own. The A/V interface cable comes with roughly 5' of cable; enough to reach most HD sets or audio receivers/breakout boxes. The HD A/V cable has three component connectors, one composite connector, and L/R audio connectors. A toslink port is on the back of the boot of the plug that fits into the 360. A switch on the side of the boot selects "HDTV" or "TV" for the proper output. The 360 reads the state of the switch and adjusts its output accordingly. Finally, there is a single RJ-45 Ethernet jack for network connectivity and a USB port on the rear.

    The front of the 360 has a sleek appearance and on the premium version, a chrome DVD tray cover. There are two ports for memory cards, a small wireless controller sync button, the power button/"ring of light," and a hidden port with two USB ports. On the left side of the unit is the connector for the external hard drive.

    Also included in the premium version is a media remote control, a Live headset, a lengthy Ethernet cable, manuals and paperwork. As a nice bonus, Microsoft includes batteries for both the wireless controller and the media remote.

    3. Hookup
    Hooking up the 360 is a quick and painless process, with one caveat: the A/V plug must be *firmly* plugged into the back of the unit. When you think you've plugged it in you've actually only gone half the way. It's easy to tell when the A/V cable hasn't been properly seated: the ring of light with have four red lights on startup. (And you will have a heart attack, thinking your 360 is broken!)

    If you use the component cables and the A/V cable set to HDTV, the 360 will output at 480p. From there you will need to sync your wireless controller. Syncing the controller is as easy as pressing the large "X" symbol to power on, pressing the sync button the on the front of the 360, and then pressing the small sync button on the controller. Within five seconds the first quadrant on the ring of light tells you you're connected. It's worth nothing that a controller can only sync with one 360 at a time, so if you never take that controller anywhere else and sync with another 360, you'll never have to sync with your 360 ever again.

    After selecting your default language, the 360 will detect your network settings and ask you to import your Live account/Gamertag. If you have a Live account already, this is also quick and easy. Otherwise you can easily create one from the dashboard. All units come with Live Silver and the premium comes with 30 days of Live Gold.

    On an HDTV set you'll want to go the System "blade" to setup your Xbox and your video output. Select 480p, 720p, or 1080i based on your set. If your HDTV supports 1080i but not 720p, this isn't a problem; the 360 will automatically upscale all content to 1080i. If your set supports both, the 360 will select the native resolution of the game as necessary. For example, Project Gotham Racing 3 only supports 720p while Perfect Dark Zero supports 480p, 720p, and 1080i -- the 360 will select the best mode for your set, automatically.

    Why is this important? Because it is quite easy to distinguish between 480i (standard TV definition), 480p, and 720p/1080i. In fact, each "step" up the chain is a sizable increase in picture quality. In my estimation, two times better than the previous. That is, playing a 360 (or even a regular Xbox) on a "plain old" standard-definition television set at 480i pales in comparison to a 720p image. All Xbox games, even older first-generation titles, support 720p on the Xbox 360 (first-generation Xbox titles are "upscaled" to 720p). That means the 360 provides an instant graphics upgrade to all of your previous Xbox games (provided they are compatible, see later section).

    Sadly, DTS output is gone from the Xbox and the 360 only supports Dolby Digital 5.1. If you don't have a toslink digital receiver you can select Dolby Pro Logic II instead.

    (Continues in Part 2 below)
  2. Abulia thread starter macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2004
    Kushiel's Scion
    XBOX 360 Review (Part 2)

    4. The Dashboard & Xbox Live
    It's kind of funny that prior to discussing the games, that I need to discuss the dashboard and Xbox Live. I have to because perhaps one of the greatest differences between the 360 and the previous Xbox is its interface and integration with Live.

    On the prior Xbox Live was an afterthought, squeezed into the system as an add-on after the launch of the unit. Game developers were left to their individual devices to code and support Live, so much so that different games handled Live completely differently. Even their netcode was different. One game would play great on Live, another not-so-well.

    Now the dashboard, for lack of a better term, becomes the "OS" of your 360 and Live is intergraded at the core of the system. The dashboard is composed of four "blades" -- or sliding panels -- for four sections: Live, Games, Media, and System.

    Live is where you sign-in to Xbox Live, access your Friends list, send a message, or have a real-time voice chat with your buddies. Consider the following situation: when I turn on my 360, the system automatically logs me into Live. I go and play some Project Gotham Racing 3 on the single-mode career. As I play, the leaderboards scroll at the bottom, telling me that "XMASTER521, one of the top racers in the world, is now on PGR TV." Wanting to see how a pro does so well, I go into PGR TV and watch XMASTER521 race and annihilate the competition, as a spectator. While I'm doing this my friend Larry (Cheese Weasel) logs in. Hitting the "X" button on my wireless controller, the Live blade comes up and I send Larry a chat request. In a few seconds I'm talking with Larry. Both Larry and I can play our respective games and chat, discuss strategies, or just hang out, from completely different games. While I play PGR3, Larry is playing Hexic HD.

    In a few moments our mutual friend Marc (Wyrmdog) logs in. We invite him to the chat and the three of us talk together. Someone mentions doing some Call of Duty 2 deathmatch, and an invite is quickly given. Now we play in the same game together. After a bit, Marc has to leave, so Larry and I do some Perfect Dark Zero (PDZ) co-op mode on Live. Finally, we decide to cool off by playing some individual Hexic HD and just chatting while doing so.

    It's difficult to explain the community that exists in Live or just how easy it is to use. You can talk with your fiends on Live while playing a game, watching a downloaded video, or even viewing a DVD. It's doesn't matter.

    Gamertags now also track accomplishments, scores that are earned through play and are linked online, automatically, via Xbox Live. For example, here's my Gamertag web page (courtesy of Microsoft). You can see the last few games I've played and my accomplishments by game. The gamerscore really doesn't have any meaningful effect, aside from bragging rights. However, it sure is addicting to try to earn them! Your reputation is a measure of how people have rated you based on their experience with playing against you on Live. Sort of a self-moderated community.

    Live also includes the Live Marketplace, an area where you "purchase" items online with Marketplace Points. Currently these points are purchased online of in a store and redeemed via your 360 at a rate of 60 per $1 (1600 points cost $30). These points are used to "buy" gamertag pictures (50), a dashboard theme (150), or even change your gamertag (800), something impossible to do in the previous version of Live. These "micro transactions" as Microsoft calls them, are another way for them to get money from your hands but to also allow you to individualize your 360 experience.

    The marketplace also allows you to download free items, such as game demos and trailers. I was able to download the 360 demo for NBA Live 06 from the comfort of my couch and try the game firsthand. Movie trailers are available as well, such as Aeon Flux in 720p mode. Anything you download can be deleted and then re-downloaded again at a later date if you'd like. As of last night there were roughly 174 downloads available, most free.

    The Games blade is where you can launch your DVD game or play a game on your HD (if so equipped) from Xbox Arcade. Xbox Live Arcade may be, by itself, reason enough to own a 360. I have to confess that I was suspicious of the Nintendo Revolution's download model but after seeing something like it in action, I'm converted. I don't have much interest in downloading the old games, like Joust or Gauntlet, but the "new" games like Bejeweled and Hexic HD -- to name a few -- are so fun. Plus, they're all Live-enabled. For example, in Hexic HD, every game you play is saved to your individual leaderboard. You can view the Live leaderboard to see where you're ranked in the world or just amongst your friends. Plus, each game has individual accomplishments that add to your gamerscore. Some games, such as Billiards, allow you to play against another human opponent -- or Live buddy -- via Live easily. You can also talk smack via the headset as well.

    All the games in the Arcade (currently) have trial versions as well. You can demo any game by downloading it to your 360 and trying it out. You can then "unlock" the full version of the game by spending your marketplace points, typically around 800. Most games were roughly 20-30 MB in size, leaving plenty of room on the 20 GB hard drive.

    The genius of this entire setup is the convenience. Everything I've described so far can be done quickly and effortlessly from the dashboard via your wireless controller.

    The Media tab is where your downloaded music and videos are stored and played. Like the previous Xbox you can rip your own CDs or view movies streaming from a Windows PC. If you have a PC with the Windows Media Center edition, you can even use your computer as a DVR and watch shows on your TV via the 360 and your network. Here, clearly, the 360 has become the central A/V hub for your home. The media remote is best for this, letting you navigate DVD menus, pause and play on the fly; everything you'd expect from a remote control and is easier for non-gamers to use versus a controller.

    Using the USB ports on the 360 you can also plug in an iPod and play your tunes from there. A quick connection to Live will download the AAC codec, although DRM-protected files from iTunes can not be played (thanks Apple!). The 360 will even charge your iPod. As an aside, a USB keyboard can be hooked up and used by the 360 to type in the dashboard, send message, update track names, etc. Even a Mac keyboard.

    Finally, the System blade is where you set all of your system settings. There are parental controls to restrict the types of DVDs and gamest that can be played, if a non-attended user can access Live without you, etc. The networking tab gives all the detailed information and troubleshooting for your 360's Ethernet port, although I didn't have need to use it; mine worked out of the box without any configuration necessary. You also setup your wireless USB adaptor from here as well.

    From this section you should take away that the dashboard and Live are close to half of the 360 experience. Major leaps have been made here by Microsoft.

    5. The Controllers
    Wireless controllers aren't new but the fact that the 360 is the first console to have them integrated into the system is noteworthy. The premium version comes with one wireless controller but even the Core system supports wireless controllers. Up to four controllers can be hooked up the 360, one for each quadrant of the ring of light. I covered syncing a controller earlier and it's very easy to do.

    The wireless controllers take 2 AA batteries (included) and installed will give you roughly 30 hours of play. Even with the batteries, the 360 controller is lighter than the Xbox S-type controller.

    The 360 controller feels very good, and is quite similar to the S-type in design. The big change is the removal of the black and white buttons, replaced with "shoulder pad" buttons (left button, right button) just above the analog triggers. They're a little cumbersome to reach, and are used for mostly things like secondary fire, etc. Located in the top center of the controller is the green "X" that you press to turn on the controller. The quadrant lights up to show you which controller number you are, 1, 2, 3, or 4. Holding down the "X" button while in a game will bring up a blade asking if you would like to turn off the 360 or turn off the controller. You can turn the 360 on or off from the couch.

    The bottom of the controller has a small port to plug in your Live headset. Volume and mute are handled by the headset dongle. Because the port is on the bottom, the headset cord doesn't get in the way of the controller buttons anymore (yea!). Sadly, no wireless headset…yet.

    Of course, nothing's worse than having your batteries die on you in mid-game. On the 360 the game automatically pauses and you can replace the batteries and keep going. Or if you have the optional Plug-and-Charge kit, you can plug your controller into the 360's front USB port and keep playing while your rechargeable battery (1 included) recharges. Useful for being out of batteries at midnight! In my case, I keep one of my controllers always charged and just swap out the battery pack as necessary. Supposedly the 360 will charge a controller even while off, but I have yet to confirm this. [Edit] I have since tried and it does work.

    Others have described the 360's controller as "the best controller ever." I think that's going a bit far. It is the most comfortable I've ever held and is clearly an improvement over the S-type and original "Duke" controller.

    (Continues in Part 3 below)
  3. Abulia thread starter macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2004
    Kushiel's Scion
    XBOX 360 REVIEW (Part 3)

    6. The Games
    Before discussing the games, I'd like to talk about the Xbox kiosks that were in stores. For about the past month you could go to several retailers and play an Xbox 360 at a kiosk station. These kiosks are equipped with 23" Samsung LCD HDTVs. The kiosks also had demo versions of the hardware and games. Some of these kiosks left a less-than-favorable impression with consumers as they would crash or their output was less than satisfactory. After doing some online searching and speaking with a local sales rep at ToysRUs, it seems that part of the problem is that many kiosks were setup but not set to "HDTV." Meaning, at best, you were viewing 480p games at these stations.

    After playing with a kiosk and a retail unit, allow me to dispel any fears that the 360 is a refined and "consumer ready" piece of equipment. Most of all, when connected to a hookup that showcases its extraordinary processing power, looks incredible.

    You can set your gamertag preferences for every game from the dashboard as well. For example, in shooter games you may like the Y-axis inverted like I do. Set this global setting and every game you play on your 360 will default to this setup. It's another nice feature that just makes the system feel "complete."

    Now, onto some games.

    I'm not familiar with the series at all, so I approached PDZ from a fresh perspective. PDZ is a stealth/action shooter that is beautiful and delivers some intense action. The game supports 480p, 720p, and 1080i and looks great. If I had to describe PDZ in a few words I'd simply say it's Halo merged with Splinter Cell.

    The game features an comprehensive campaign mode and an array of online multiplayer modes, including deathmatch, team deathmatch, and variations of capture the flag. My favorite part has to be the campaign cooperative play mode, though. Via split-screen or Live you can play the entire campaign with a friend which increases the enjoyment factor immensely.

    The controls are crisp and easy to use; your standard shooter fare with a crouch, roll/dodge, melee, and special equipment button. You have a limited number of equipment slots (ala Halo) to hold typically only 2 weapons. My favorite is going "Jon Woo" with dual pistols on the bad guys.

    I haven't had a chance to play a lot of PDZ -- about 4 missions -- but it's a "must play" game and worth the wait.

    If you like racing games, PGR3 delivers in spades. Just like previous versions of the PGR series, the Kudos system returns, allowing you maximum bragging rights. Because Live is so integrated into the 360, a constant scrolling bar at the menu system keeps you up to date on your friend's accomplishments and those of heroic proportions.

    The career mode starts you off buying a car for your garage and then racing to earn additional credits and kudos through cool maneuvers. Racing online is, of course, easy to do and a lot of fun. Most of this we've seen before in PGR2.

    What we haven't seen before are the graphics. Because PGR3 is a fast-paced game, it's optimized for 720p and looks fantastic. Easily the best racing game you've ever seen. The environments are beautiful and the sense of speed is exhilarating. Perhaps the most visually appealing locale to race is Las Vegas at night. The entire strip has been re-created, as you race around Treasure Island, past MGM, and through the parking garage of New York, New York. PGR3 is one of those games you put in to really demonstrate the graphical processing power of the 360.

    Also new is a mode called "PGR TV." This spectator mode allows you view other people as they race online. The system tells you when some of the most highly-ranked players in the world are online and racing. You can then watch them race on PGR TV, interactively, to see how good they really are. This is the previous Ghost Mode taken to the next level.

    There's talk that new cars and tracks will be available for purchase through the marketplace, plus online racing competitions sponsored by Microsoft. Should be interesting.

    Another "wow" game that must be seen in HD to be believed. I'll assume you're familiar with Call of Duty and just jump straight into the 360 features, specifically the graphics and AI. It's been getting five-star reviews and for good reason: the harshness, confusion, and sights of battle are bought into your home. With my audio turned up and on my 60" TV, it's like a war is being waged in my living room. The graphics are, in a word, amazing, and the AI even more so. The computer is smart, working to flank you, push you into choke points, and holds defensible positions doggedly. The computer isn't afraid to use grenades and attacks you without mercy.

    The animations are first-rate and the sound is impressive in 5.1. Explosions ring about you, allies call out the actual location of advancing troops, ask for cover fire when they're reloading, and plead for help when they're shot. The enemy will crawl towards you and pull out a pistol for a final desperation shot just out of spite.

    My complaints with CoD2 are limited to the lack of co-op mode and the heavy scripting the game uses; this is understandable as the game relies on several events to tell the story, but sometimes if feels as if you're on rails. Both these problems, to my knowledge, also exist on other platforms as well.

    The online options are rather anemic, and the online staging lobby is barebones at best. But for all its faults, CoD2 is amazing and everyone should try this gem at least once.

    By far the weakest of the four games I own, I won't go into much detail on Madden but to say that because the game engine has be rebuilt from the ground up for the 360, several features from the franchise have been cut. The game looks great and plays a tough game of football, but the weird control scheme and inability to change camera angles, challenge plays, or a play creator/practice mode just highlights this rush job. It's not a bad game, its just that to this Madden fan, it's a disappointing game.

    With that said, if you love football like I do and enjoy the franchise mode, then Madden is worth a look. The actual gameplay -- beyond the controls and the 2 camera angles -- appears solid and "realistic." I've yet to try any online play with Madden.

    7. Compatibility
    I have to confess, I've never understood the big deal about being backwards compatible. If you already own a game for a previous generation system, doesn't it stand to figure that you already own the system, too? I can understand the desire to "clean up" your home theater system with only one system, but backwards compatibility doesn't strike me as the all-important buying factor that some claim.

    In any event, the Xbox 360, via software emulation, plays (currently) 212 Xbox games, provided you have Internet access and the hard drive. (Note, I've read that you can burn an emulation profile to a CD and load onto your 360's memory card to emulate games that way.) When an old game is placed into the system, an emulation profile is downloaded from Microsoft. If no emulation profile exists, then you can't play the game. If you were to review the 212 games that currently work on the 360, you'll see that all the major titles are covered, including a few games that have yet to be released for the original Xbox.

    As stated earlier, all previous generation Xbox games get an automatic graphical upgrade to 720p by the 360. Now this isn't as good as being natively scaled for 720p and on a standard-definition television you may not appreciate the difference, but it is there. Halo 2, for example, looks simply amazing. Old games, like Halo 1, receive a graphical boost and new features, such as widescreen support. Nice.

    You can take these games online with Xbox Live and even play against another Xbox via system link. The shoulder buttons map to the black and white buttons from the original Xbox controllers.

    (Continues in Part 4 below)
  4. Abulia thread starter macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2004
    Kushiel's Scion
    XBOX 360 REVIEW (Part 4)

    8. Final Thoughts & Recommendations
    With a retail price of $399 for the "best" version of the 360, I can certainly understand some people's reluctance to get an Xbox. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that there are some people who should NOT buy an Xbox 360. For me, the money isn't the factor: Does the console provide a superior gaming system and/or features that merit a purchase? In my opinion, most certainly. For others, not-so-much.

    If you are a student or someone tight on funds, who does not currently own an Xbox or a high-definition television, I would say DO NOT purchase a 360. Perhaps a regular Xbox or the "Core" version of the 360.

    If you currently own an Xbox and are perfectly happy with it, don't play a lot of Xbox Live, or down own a high-definition television, I would say that you would POSSIBLY enjoy the Xbox 360.

    If you currently own an Xbox and enjoy online play via Xbox Live, regardless of your home setup, the "Platinum" version is for you. You'll enjoy many of your old games and the new Live experience.

    If you have a high-definition television in some capacity and are interested in gaming, then I would RECOMMEND the Xbox 360 for you. You can get the "Core" version and the HD cables separately, or just get the "Platinum" version (the better deal).

    If you currently own an Xbox, enjoy online play via Xbox Live, and own a high-definition television, I would ENCOURAGE you to purchase an Xbox 360. I'm confident that you would be satisfied with this purchase.

    Ultimately, consider what it is that you want from a console, how you will play it, and if the library and selection of games meets your needs. In my opinion, all three manufacturers -- Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft -- target DIFFERENT console buyers.

    Some people have called the 360 "Xbox 1.5" and I can see why they'd say that. I mean, after all, the original Xbox did HD games as well. What really did we gain? Well, a lot of processing power and improved graphics for one, but also a tighter and more refined system. The games alone probably don't merit being call "next gen" -- yet. It's the entire 360 experience that really sets the Xbox apart. It's the sum of its total parts, including Live, that make the 360 so forward-thinking, not just the graphics in Call of Duty 2, for example.

    I'll be looking forward to seeing what Sony does with the Playstation 3. With the largest launch title selection of a console in recent memory and three easy "must have" games -- and until the PS3 is anything but talk -- I'll be playing my Xbox 360.
  5. Abulia thread starter macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2004
    Kushiel's Scion
    A Request:
    As a final note, please limit discussion in this thread to the review, questions about the 360, or games. Please start your own thread if you just want to make disparaging remarks or start the normal flame-wars of which console is best.
  6. Symtex macrumors 6502a

    Jan 27, 2005
    You resumed exactly how I feel about my X360. The new dashboard is incredibly well intergrated. The Xbox live arcade is amazing. I never though I would use it but Hexic HD is plain awesome.
  7. cubist macrumors 68020

    Jul 4, 2002
    Muncie, Indiana
    From the bolded text, I take it that, unless you have broadband internet access, you cannot play any old Xbox games? It seems the system would lose a lot of its value.
  8. Symtex macrumors 6502a

    Jan 27, 2005
    I agree to a certain extent, unless you never own an xbox before I could see how BC would be an asset. I have an xbox and I bought a next-gen console to play next-gen games. It's hard to go back after you have played game like CoD2 or PDZ.
  9. clayj macrumors 604


    Jan 14, 2005
    visiting from downstream
    Don, very nice review! I agree with your assessments almost completely... Madden 06 looks beautiful and actually plays fairly well once you've had some time with it, but it is missing a LOT of features from the Xbox version (particularly, there is no Al Michaels or John Madden!). PGR3 is my favorite game at the moment, with CoD2 running a close second... Hexic HD is videogame crack, I can't stop playing it.
  10. kuyu macrumors 6502a


    Sep 16, 2003
    Excellent review! You summed up my thoughts exactly. I'm incredibly impressed with Xbox Live and the Arcade. These two features are the 360's "killer app." However, I've been telling my friends that an HDTV should be their first purchase. Compared with xbox or PS2 games on a high-def set, the 360 is light years ahead. However, I think you need a monitor that can handle the true gfx power of the 360 to get the full experience. But if you already have one... OMG! These games look amazing!:eek: (way better than the kiosks, if you're wondering)

    The other thing I've noticed is the sound quality of 360 titles. With surround sound on, the 360 rivals THX DVD's in quality and immersion. This is another major feature that most reviews ignore, and really adds to the "next-gen" aura that the 360 exudes.

    My uncle was dead set on PS3 because of backwards compatibility and the cell. After toying around with my 360 for a few hours, he's really reconsidering. PS3 will be cool, no doubt. But in my opinion MS has underpromised and overdelivered this time around. I give the system a very high 9.5/10. This is console gaming at its finest.
  11. crap freakboy macrumors 6502a

    crap freakboy

    Jul 17, 2002
    nar in Gainsborough, me duck
    'Hats off' for a well-rounded review.
    Sounds a brilliant gaming experience, which is sometimes lost sight of in the console wars. Would I buy one? Well based on your review, I would, however my modded Xbox still produces the goods at 480p. Game prices also seem stupidly steep, but I suppose they would when I pay £2.50 for the latest and greatest <cough> 'backups'. PGR looks to die for. Driving beats all in my books. Don't even get me started on how disappointing Forza was compared to say, RallySport 2, PGR or Burnout 3...ah well.
    Heres hoping come Christmas 2006 the console price war starts in earnest and we have some spare cash to move up a generation (as if :( )
  12. XNine macrumors 68040


    Apr 7, 2005
    Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?
    From osmeone who was a PC gamer long before a console gamer, you wrote a very thorough, honest review. Thank you for taking the time to experience this. Your review shows more of what others on this forum (and in the world) should be doing instead of their flaming and trolling.

    This is possibly the best review I've read on the 360, and 100% accurate.

    Thanks for taking the time to do this.
  13. takao macrumors 68040


    Dec 25, 2003
    Dornbirn (Austria)
    exactly... while i wouldn't buy one (ironically because of Live mostly) i think they made a very good console overall

    i would say it's somewhere between 8 and 8.5 out of 10

    it's nowhere near the "wouldn't take it as a present" ;)
  14. Abulia thread starter macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2004
    Kushiel's Scion
    Hi all. Thanks for the comments. If anyone spots any errors please let me know and I'll try to correct ASAP. I threw this together at work today. :)
    Yes and no. Officially you need Live (at least Silver) and a connection. The emulation profiles are small (I believe), so there not that big of a deal. The HD is the real problem. You need something to store the profile onto so that the game can be emulated. As I mentioned in the review, I've stumbled across some reports on the official Xbox forums that people have figured out how to download the emulation profiles from a PC, burn to a CD, and then play on their 360 using a memory card to hold the profile.

    If you have a lot of old Xbox games around, this would get to be a hassle pretty quick, I'd imagine. The HD is $99 by itself, so at some point you'd likely just want to get that.
  15. Abulia thread starter macrumors 68000


    Jun 22, 2004
    Kushiel's Scion
    This is the crux of my opinion as well. You'll enjoy a 360 if you don't have an HD set.

    You've love the 360 if you have an HD set. :D

    I spoke with one of my friends today who plays his Xbox and his 360 on the same TV on 480p component output. He says the 360 is still clearly better looking and he loves it, but at some point he's going to haul it downstairs to play on his HD set (when the wife isn't around) because he doesn't feel like he's getting the "entire gaming experience."
  16. Piarco macrumors 68030


    Jun 24, 2004
    Another round of thanks Don M! I was having some doubts about the 360 over the last couple of days (I think down to the fact that I have to wait until the next lot of 360's come in stock) but after reading your review, I've got no problem with the wait. All good things.....!
  17. 2nyRiggz macrumors 603


    Aug 20, 2005
    Thank you Jah...I'm so Blessed
  18. commonpeople macrumors regular

    Nov 9, 2004
    Thanks for telling us your income. Now I really feel depressed.
  19. dotdotdot macrumors 68020

    Jan 23, 2005
    That was a great review!

    But, hows playing a DVD movie? I've heard its not so good on the Xbox 360.

    And, does anyone with a Windows Media Center PC have a "review" of the connection between the two? Does the XBox 360 actually become the PC, watch TV and stream in real time from the computer directly to the Xbox 360?
  20. TheMonarch macrumors 65816


    May 6, 2005
    Bay Area
    Well done, Don :)

    Except one thing confused me... The backwards compatibility part...

    When you said that old xbox games get converted to 720p, did you mean to say that the 360 takes the 480p signal and converts it to HDTV compatible 720p signal [Like it does for Project Gotham 3... Taking a 720p signal, and turning it into 1080i]... Or did you mean to say that the 360 actually emulates the entire x86 & nvidia GPU in High Definition :eek:
  21. jared_kipe macrumors 68030


    Dec 8, 2003
    Yes, the backwards compatible games are RENDERED in 720p, and maybe 1080i who knows about that one looks good on both my mom's 720p and my 1080i.
  22. GFLPraxis macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    It doesn't truly emulate. Microsoft keeps using the term "emulation", but you have to download a different patch (which they call "emulation profile") for every game, and hardware emulators don't work like that.

    They essentially patch the game so it runs on PowerPC and ATi processors instead of x86 and NVidia.

    Then it runs in 720p and adds 4x AA.
  23. Bubbasteve macrumors 65816


    Dec 23, 2004
    Charleston, IL
    Great review, you've just made me want a 360 even more now... my one question though, since I don't have a HDTV in my dorm room will the games be graphically "meh" or still better than the original Xbox but obviously not as great as with an HDTV?
  24. buryyourbrideau macrumors 65816


    Mar 1, 2005
    There will be a very noticeable difference.

    You just wont be blown away right now.

    Just wait a few months or a year and see the visual glory :p

    Its still all good even without HD
  25. MacAztec macrumors 68040


    Oct 28, 2001
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    I'm waiting for the PS3, heres why:

    Blu-Ray Technology
    1080p output (THAT WILL BE SO AWESOME)
    Better Graphics
    Better Looking
    Not "rushed" out there

    I think teh xBox 360 is great, but I think the PS3 will beat the crap out of it when it is released.

    I can't wait until BluRay DVDs are released, and you can watch them in 1080p on your TV (given you have a 1080p TV)

    My dad is thinking about getting a 73" Mitsubishi DLP 1080p tv, sweet...

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