XBOX 360
(November 23, 2005-????)

This could be the real XXX!
The original Xbox game console proved to the world (sans Japan I guess since it didn't do too well over there) that Microsoft does know how to compete with Nintendo and Sony at the console wars. Sadly, the biggest weaknesses of consoles themselves in general is that they will age very quickly and it only takes a few years before they become obsolete (like my NES and Sega Genesis systems). Although the Xbox was technically more powerful then it's closest rivals (the Sony Playstation and Nintendo GameCube), Microsoft wanted to get the jump on the competition by jumping in the next generation first. Now here we have the big sequel to the Xbox simply called the Xbox 360. The 360 not only comes with more processing power then any other past console on the market but the system comes with a bunch of new features as well. Will the Xbox 360 be the next big thing or was this thing released way too early?

In case you haven't already seen it yet the design of the second more supped up edition of the Xbox is a slightly smaller yet goofy white concave unit that can stand up or lay flat much like the original Playstation2. Also like the original PS2 (see a pattern here?) you can add on or remove the system's Hard Drive so you can either save your games through a memory cart or just get the Hard Drive so it's more like the original Xbox. So far you have two options if you decide to buy a 360. You can either get the green box Xbox 360 Core System with the standard options like the system itself, cords, and standard wired 360 controller all for 399.99 Canadian. For a extra hundred bucks though you can get the white box deluxe set instead. The Xbox 360 Premium Package will feature the system with all the necessary hook ups plus a bonus 360 wireless controller and 360 Hard Drive. Although the Core system itself sounds kind of lame you can easily buy the Hard Drive or Wireless controller separately so it's no big deal. The choice is yours and I like that. Each 360 lets you use a cool silver menu system once you turn it on. There you can select from System or the new Xbox Live online service options before you start a game. Like the previous Xbox you can use Custom Soundtracks by down loading your CD to the Hard Drive but now you can even hear your MP3's songs or see Digital camera photos as well thanks to the new USB ports. All these down loading features are nice but I brought this thing to play games of course your system is only as good as your titles. Like the previous Xbox, the system seems catered made for the more mature market because there are plenty of violence First Person Shooters and serious Sports already available. The only game that I see is kind of kid friendly is Rare's Kameo and in it you can easily see up her short skirt when she's flying around. I'm not complaining though (it's great actually) but I'm just saying the 360 may not be the ideal machine for younger kids.

The graphics for some of these games can be either absolutely jaw dropping to down right mediocre. Games like Project Gotham Racing 3 do such a good job with camera angles and look so realistic that it could easily be mistaking for a real TV event. Other games like Perfect Dark Zero and Call of Duty 2 also have a massive amount of detail in the environments yet they run on a high frame rate which would be impossible a few years ago. Sadly, some of these 360 games are definitely not as good in terms of graphics to say the least (the pop up in Ridge Racer 6 and the bland Tony Hawk American Wasteland are good examples of averageness) but that can be blamed for programmers not fully utilizing the new technology yet. The big problem with the new 360 graphics is that the original Xbox itself was already more powerful then the competition already so some gamers may not be too impressed and say: 'That's it!' It was smart that Microsoft got the jump on Nintendo and Sony but you may be one of those gamers that's fine with the current generation especially with the prices coming down, eh? Just look at the big games released in 2005 like Resident Evil 4 (GameCube) God of War (Playstation2) and the console version of Half Life 2 (Xbox), they all look amazing even though they are on the 'so called' older systems now. Although there have been some good to great so far but it's a shame that's no game like a Halo 3 or New Knights of the Old Republic at launch because they were some of the biggest franchises for the old Xbox. If you have the Xbox 360 with the Hard Drive you can also play a selection of hundred or more standard Xbox titles as well. Remember you can't play everyone of them though because the 360 won't recognize them all (BBOOOO!) but it will play some of the bigger hits like Halo 1 or 2.

Bottomline: When it is all said and done the Xbox 360 is definitely an improvement over the last system. I love being able to turn off and on the system from the controller and its great to see these high definition graphics in only the year 2005. Speaking of the system's early 2005 launch it was a wild success with Xbox 360 shortages reported everywhere and it even sold up in the thousands on online auction sites. It just goes to show you gamers wanted next generation even if the prices were outrageous. Because of this the future looks very bright for the 360. It's not all good news though. First off how are you going to tell your wife, girlfriend, (or both), husband, boyfriend (or both) that you are going to drop close to a thousand bucks just to get a new system with accessories and games? Another problem some may have is the new graphics are great here and everything, but some may not be impressed has others and what's the deal with the lack of full backward compatibles of all the original Xbox games? If you are unsure about the system (or you happen to live in Japan were everybody seems to hate it) it may be a good idea to see what the Playstation3 and Nintendo Wii have to offer first before you invest in the Xbox 360. The system is still off to a great start and it looks like the best is yet to come.
Xbox 360 overall rating: 71/100
Find this system on eBay here!

XBOX 360 Wireless Controller (November 23, 2005)

Usually when a big gaming company releases a new controller for their consoles it's no big deal. Take that lame the Playstation2 pack in pad for example; it was pretty much the same controller as the Playstation1 Dual Shock controller but now you had to paid more money for it now. Microsoft wanted to do something special if gamers purchased the Premium Xbox 360 package though because it came with a fun new wireless 360 pad with a bunch of exclusive features. Is it any good though you ask? First thing first; although the wireless pad comes free with the Xbox 360 Premium pack (well kinda free, the system is still 500 bucks, eh?), buying one by itself will set you back a whopping 60 bucks Canadian! Sure you get free AA batteries with it, that's still the price of a regular Xbox game and it is definitely a lot cash for just a mere controller here. Because of that this product won't be getting a full five star rating but that's not to say it's all bad. Although I hate the giant price tag of the wireless 360 controller, it's hard going back to those stupid old fashion pads with all their messy cords and square designs once you get your hands on this baby. It's light and easy to use for several different 360 or Xbox games ranging from violent first person shooters to more family friendly retro games like Ms Pac Man, the battery life is good with over 50 hours of playing time, you have 30 plus feet of range (just be sure there isn't too much blocking the way though) plus the whole wireless angle just looks cool and it feels like the wave of the future. If you got the cash (by the way can I borrow a few bucks?) I say go for it.

Xbox 360 Elite
In 2007 here Microsoft and their Xbox 360 gaming console are in a really good spot in the gaming industry. Since the Xbox 360 got a huge head start over the competition (the Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation 3 of course) it managed to capture the number 1 position and have a great list of games already in their library while their rivals still struggle to build up support. All this is great news for Microsoft but the problem with being the top dog is maintaining it. Microsoft just got out their double barrel shot gun called the new Xbox 360 Elite console to answer the challenge. The system comes loaded with HDMI cables, more memory in the hard drive, and a sleek new look. See if this gun has any bullets though.

The first thing you will notice about the Elite is the price. It's 550 Canadian and 480 US so it's quite a bit more then the standard 360 Premium package which is 400 bucks in the states. The second thing you will probably notice right off the bat is the new black finish instead of white. Sadly the PS3 is also black as well and that thing bombed worse then Paris Hilton's movie career (although I liked that one where she looked all green). Still I remember how much cooler Michael Jackson was when he was black instead of white so maybe changing it up isn't a bad thing.

Enough about the pointless stuff though let's get to the other goodies the system has to offer. The big thing driving up the price of the Elite is the new and massive 120 GB hard drive. That's 6 times bigger then the original 20 GB one on the 360 Premium set and twice has big as the one found on the most expensive PS3 model (although I heard rumours of a 80 GB model in the works). The funny thing is my old and smaller 20 GB model was find with me and the only reason you would need a bigger hard drive if you want to download a lot content. I guess they mainly did this to show off and say: "Oh ya, we have a 120 GB hard drive, beetyoch!" The system also comes with these HDMI which I don't care too much. Yeah this is great for those with HDTV's because the new wires adds more colours and junk to the picture but I have a piece of sh*& TV here and don't care about getting a fancier one just so I see some of the games or downloaded stuff in slightly better Hi-def. Maybe I'm old fashion that way but I got this sucker to play some games and that's it. If you get sick of the standard 360 or Xbox compatible titles then you can download demos, movies, and even classic and exclusive games like the original arcade edition of Contra.

Sure, the Elite is a improvement over the previous system but the biggest problem with all the latest editions is that it's meant to look more enticing to the buyers who are looking to get a PS3 instead. The thing is as many gamers know the PS3 is in the doghouse right now and in the first month of May 2007 the original Gameboy Advance was out selling it. No, I'm not talking about that Nintendo DS portable system, I'm talking about that wimpy little 32-bit piece of out dated junk. OK, I don't wanna count out the PS3 just yet and be some fanboy jerk but my point is I think Microsoft should be more worried about Nintendo since their Wii and DS systems are killing Sony's other gizmos. Look at the Nintendo Wii: no high def cables and the games look like Xbox 1 games (if we're lucky) but buying the system gave you the interactive WiiSports with it and that was freakin' awesome! Why not steal that idea instead and pack in a killer app game, eh? The Elite system also has the same old issues with it getting too hot so you have to be careful it doesn't overheat and you don't get the dreaded three red lights of death. Another thing they missed out on was there is no motion sensitive feature added to the wireless black controller either even though the competition has them.

There is no denying the 360 itself has a lot of good things going for it and the Elite is just an improvement on a already great console. The graphics in Gears of War are still some of the best visuals I ever seen in a game and that includes anything on the PS3 at the moment (at least until Killzone 2 comes out...... heh heh just kidding). If you're looking to get an 360 system and you plan on downloading a lot of content through the Xbox Live market place then the Elite is definitely the system for you. All others should just get the cheaper editions.

Xbox 360 Elite overall rating: 65/100
Find the Elite on eBay here!

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