The Xbox 360 was the first to launch amongst the three competing “next-gen” systems – those being the Nintendo Wii and the Sony PlayStation 3 alongside Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Released originally in late 2005, the Xbox 360 has had its fair share of ups and downs during the market cycle but remains the substantial favorite this console generation amongst dedicated gamers.
Early Problems, Including Hardware Failure, RROD or “Red Ring of Death”
Most criticism surrounding the Xbox 360 focusses on the hardware failure rate of the initial console, which was staggeringly high. Most common problems included failure of certain components, such as the video card or the CPU itself.
Due to a number of consoles being bricked by the infamous RROD or “Red Ring of Death” as it came to be known colloquially, Microsoft instituted a very liberal warranty policy that covers all Xbox 360 units for one year against all defect, and for a full three years against the RROD (three red lights). Microsoft policy is such that the corporation will generally pay for shipping, as well. If you want to fix it, check out our article – Fixing the Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death
Jasper Chipset, Enormous Game Library, Xbox Live Features
In recent years Microsoft has recovered a great deal from the initial problems they might have suffered from their hardware, bringing the new and improved Jasper chipset online and tentatively announcing a remodel of the original hardware in late 2010.
The Xbox 360 also boasts a much more robust software library than its primary competitor, the Sony Playstation, at 684 games versus 557 (including those planned for release in 2010). Further, the Xbox 360 boasts 71 console exclusive titles in production or on shelves versus 9 for the Sony Playstation 3. The Xbox 360 also, in an unexpected turn of events, has come to dominate certain genres as well, most notably the Role-Playing genre (RPG’s).
Another interesting feature touted by the Xbox 360 is its online functionality via the Xbox Live service. Two subscription levels are offered, Xbox Live Silver (free) and Xbox Live Gold (roughly $5-7 per month). The Gold level subscription allows the user to play against other online opponents, as well as offering some deep discounts on specific Xbox original titles or perhaps downloadable content, or DLC.
Two subscription levels are offered, Xbox Live Silver (free) and Xbox Live Gold (roughly $5-7 per month)
Silver Xbox Live membership includes the ability to join a party and chat via microphone with your friends, access MSN Messenger, download a variety of playable demos, and watch streaming video. Netflix, Facebook, and Twitter are all features that have been added, or are in the process of being added, to the Xbox Live service.
Xbox 360 Exclusives, Upcoming Features Such as Project Natal
The Xbox 360 is loaded for bear when it comes to exclusive game franchises in the console market, blockbusters such as Gears of War, Fable, and Mass Effect are rounded out by less well-known gems such as Lost Odyssey and form a stable of fantastic games that cover the bases in all genres. When it comes to exclusives, the 360 has a solid line-up of third party developers who rarely fail to impress.
Other interesting developments are also in the cards for Microsoft’s second video game console. As featured during E3, a lot of buzz has been circulating amongst internet users concerning the release of what has been called “Project Natal“, a high definition camera and microphone peripheral that seeks to explore the possibility of using a gamer’s own movements and image to control and influence gameplay. Not simply a remodeled PlayStation Eye or Xbox Vision Camera, Project Natal seeks a rather ambitious place amongst game interfaces in that it seems to hold potential for all sorts of games, and not simply relegated to gimmick party games or tertiary content in other releases as the existing products have.
The Xbox 360 is an inexpensive and fully featured console that will surely exit this generation’s “console war” with a great degree of success. For persons looking for a great first person and third person shooters, racing titles, party titles, and role-playing games the Xbox 360 comes highly recommended.