It’s clear that Microsoft isn’t willing to let history repeat itself with the Xbox 360, which is why the console is launching well before Sony gets the PlayStation 3 onto the streets. In fact the PS3 won’t be hitting Japan until spring 2006, so it’s not likely to make it over to the UK until this time next year, giving the X360 a full 12 months to build up a healthy user base. In some respects I feel quite sorry for the outgoing Xbox, because some of the recent titles look truly stunning, showing that the machine is far from the end of its lifecycle. But ultimately Microsoft knows that if it wants to win the next console battle it needs to hit hard, and more importantly, hit first.
So, is the Xbox 360 worth shelling out your cash for? The simple answer is yes – actually that should be YES! The X360 really is an impressive bit of kit in so many ways, but let’s talk specifics.
Microsoft received a great deal of criticism about the styling of the original Xbox – let’s face it, it was an ugly, big, black box. Although the Crystal Xbox looked better, it was still no looker. The X360 on the other hand does look great – in fact I get the feeling that if Apple had wanted to produce a gaming console, it would have looked something like this. A lot has been said about the curves of the X360 – it’s supposed to have an hourglass figure when it’s stood vertically – and they definitely enhance the machine’s appearance, but there is one very good reason why the X360 could be prettier than the original Xbox, the external power supply.
The original Xbox had the power supply built into the unit, with only a figure-of-eight power cord plugging into the back of the console. The X360 uses an external power brick, and I mean brick! The external PSU is massive, probably the largest I’ve ever seen, but I have to say that I’m not particularly bothered by it. You see once you’ve got the console set up where you want it, the power supply will be under the table or desk, or just lying dormant by the plug socket – the point is that you can hide the PSU out of the way, while having the console itself on display. The original Xbox was never something that you wanted to have on display. You may have read reports about the power brick becoming excessively hot during use, but I’ve encountered no such problems with mine.