The Xbox 360 hit the streets of North America in November 2005 beating the competition by at least a year. The rushed launch brought on some hardware issues with some consoles however the early launch did wonders for the system overall. The system now boasts the largest library of games available amongst the three big consoles (Nintendo Wii & PS 3). The early launch has proven successful for Microsoft as early on in the console race they seem to have the lead.
Pros:Great game selection - Most original Xbox games still work on the 360
All titles play in HD
A great digital media hub when used with Windows Media Center Extender
Wireless controller functionality out of the box
Xbox live platform is amazing for replay value and multiplayer gaming
System generates a lot of heat
Many systems come with defective hardware
DVD playback quality could be improved
Power supply is gigantic
Xbox live costs money
First Impressions:When I first picked up my Xbox 360, I had already played the hell out of my Nintendo Wii and was craving some good old fashion regularly controlled video games. I started my 360 gaming experience off playing Bioshock (which is a great game), but was handed a few buggy issues right off the bat which kind of put a sour initial taste in my mouth. My Xbox 360 kept freezing up on me and my autosaves weren't working. This was pretty frustrating since I hadn't saved for at least 30 minutes every time it happened. When I finally beat the world 'level', I manually saved it then took a break. I came back the next day and all my saved files for the last two hours had magically disappeared. That was the last time I ever played Bioshock!
This wasn't the end of the crashing unfortunately! I decided to start playing NHL 2008 by EA sports and mid season I would randomly get disc read errors that would result in any game time I had put in being erased; VERY frustrating. I kept playing, just learning to save after every game and the issue became less and less apparent.
Once I got over our my constant disc read errors Guitar Hero 3 came out and I couldn't help myself and picked up a copy. Surprisingly, I never had any complications with the system stalling with GH3 which leads me to believe it may be software related. Time to point the fingers at the developers huh? Maybe there is a bug in the developer's kit? Who knows? Regardless its annoying! Guitar Hero 3 was a great game and I've since hopped back on the Xbox 360 bandwagon playing many other games but making sure to save very frequently due to this 'disc read error' problem that seems to rear its ugly head from time to time on some games.
The System:The system comes bundled with one wireless controller, which is a plus because the system is also setup to use wired controllers. Coming with wireless controllers out of the box, while standard on the three big systems is always a nice feature. My biggest beef with the wireless controllers is the fact that the batteries do tend to die rather quickly; but this is the case with anything wireless I suppose.
The controllers are very ergonomically designed and don't cause any hand cramping even after hours of non stop gaming.
While the system does come with a network adaptor, it lacks where the other two big consoles excel; a wireless network adaptor. Honestly, this is one of the major reasons I tend to not use Xbox live; I don't want to run wires around my house. Sure, you can buy a wireless adaptor for $100, but that is atrocious considering Microsoft is charging us to use Xbox live in the first place.
One of my major beefs with the system is the extremely loud exhaust fan on the system and the extreme amounts of heat it gives off. If you live in an apartment with no air conditioning, this is not a system you are going to want to have on during the warmer hours of the day.
Now, on to probably my favorite feature aside from the games themselves; If you are a media buff and have your computer loaded up with music, movies and pictures you can use your Xbox 360 as a media extender by connecting it to your Windows based computer. You will need to have the Media Center Extender for Windows XP or own a copy of Windows Vista to stream the content to your Xbox, but once it is all setup; your Xbox 360 is now a giant freaking music and movie jukebox. Listen to any song or watch any movie on your computer on your big screen TV all through the convenience of your Xbox 360.
Even though I sound a little negative on my opinions of the system, overall I am more than happy with it. I use it 100 times more than I use my Nintendo Wii and the game selection blows all the other systems out of the water. If you are hunting for a gaming system, I would recommend the 360 over the other two platforms.