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January 2, 2006

Xbox 360 Review

Posted in Category: Tech — amr @ 4:20 pm | link | | comment (0)
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xbox 360

Now that I have enjoyed my xbox 360 for more than a week, its time to write a review for it.

First, the xbox 360 is not just a gaming console, its an entertainment hub, and it excels at that. The user interface is very intuitive, slick, and customizable. Its able to transparently connect to my music and photo folders on the desktop in the office room and play them on the TV and sound system in the living room.

Further more, since I have a Media Center Windows XP, I am able to control it remotely from the xbox 360 (through a technology called Media Center Extender) and play back movies, video clips, etc. For example, I used the xbox 360 remote control to connect to my media center PC, then I downloaded the “Crash” movie from Movie Link and watched it on the living room TV with Shirin (my wife, I am trying to validate the xbox 360 purchase to her by showing that its more than just games ;) ). We were also able to view our digital photo albums and video clips from our pc directly to the TV, which is much cooler than watching over a computer screen.

Now for the games, my favorite game for the Xbox 360 is …. “Halo 2:) Yes, it turns out that some of the games are backward compatible on the 360, and Halo 2 is one of them. The full list of backward compatible games is at:

http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/backwardcompatibilitygameslist.htm

My second favorite game for the Xbox 360 is “Dead or Alive 4“, mainly because it has “Miss Master Chief” (aka Nicole or Spartan-458) as one of the fighter characters. The graphics is visually stunning as you would expect from Team Ninja, and the fighter model details are impeccable (though I noticed a bunch of hair intersection bugs here and there).  

Miss Master Chief (Nicole)

I also tried NBA2K6, Need for Speed Most Wanted, Call of Duty 2, and Perfect Dark Zero (aka PDZ). They are all ok, nothing super about them. It was cool how the players actually sweat as the basketball game proceeds in NBA2K6. I also liked the skeleton weapon in PDZ, it shows the skeletons of the other players in a special sniping mode for better aiming at the skulls ;). The game play for Call of Duty 2 was really fun, a very nice W.W.II action game, you see and hear the bullets whizzing by you as you fight, but the graphics was not super impressive, not what I expected from a machine as powerful as the 360 is (I cant wait for PS3 and Kill Zone 2 to come out, the video clips for that blew me away)

Kameo

My kids (Ahmed 10 and Lina 8 ) *loved* a game called Kameo. The game graphics are so sweet, just like eye candy, and the variety of characters you get control of made it very enjoyable for them.

Also a bunch of the Xbox Arcade games that you can download with Xbox live are really fun. I liked a game called “Geometry Wars”  a lot, its very simple but darn addictive and beautiful, its like fireworks. Other cool arcade games are Zuma, Mutant Storm Reloaded (like Geometry Wars, but also supports two players at same time), Bankshot Billiards 2, and Hexic HD.

 The Xbox live integration in the 360 is also very well done. Not only is the integration well done within the xbox 360 environment, but on the web too. So there is a web page where I can go to see my gamer card, see all my current scores, see if my friends are online and compare my scores to theirs. You can also see a nice small version of the gamer card on the right sidebar of my blog.

  Another killer feature in the Xbox 360 is how you can download game demos, HDTV movie trailers, and many other content directly into the Xbox 360 from the Xbox Live Marketplace. I do not think we will wait long till we see MS/Xbox striking deals with TV studios to download your favorite episode of Lost or Battlestar Galactica (ala what iTunes lets you do now).

 So in summary, IMHO, there is no killer game out for the Xbox 360 yet, just a bit better games, but nothing super impressive. You are better off waiting for PS3 and Kill Zone 2 if you expecting a next gen game that will blow you away. However, if you need an entertainment hub, then you should go out and get the Xbox 360 (I sure like it).

– amr

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