You can also purchase games online – not proper A-List titles, but games specifically crafted for download. Once such game is Geometry Wars and I’ve got to say that it’s one of the most addictive games I’ve played in years. If you’re into “old school” shooters, you need to download this game – go for the demo and if you like it buy the full version (the demo only gives you four minutes of play). If there’s one problem with the purchasing aspect of Xbox Live, is that there’s no easy way of working out what the “credits” equate to in your local currency – although I’m sure that some bright spark will create a currency converter soon enough.
Another great feature is that you can edit your profile so that you have global settings across games. For example, if like me, you prefer your Y axis inverted in first person shooters, you can set this in your profile, then whatever game you happen play, the Y axis will be inverted by default. Likewise, if you like an internal view in driving games, you can specify this too and every driving game will give you that view by default.
You can drop back to the Dashboard whenever you like by pressing the central X button on the controller, but you will lose your game progress when you do so. What you can do without losing your game progress is set up your in-game music. Now, the old Xbox let you rip CDs to the hard drive and play your own music during games, but the X360 is SO much cooler than that. I plugged my iPod nano into one of the USB ports on the X360 and it was instantly recognised. I was then able to playback music from my nano during gameplay.
One of the big selling points of the X360 is the High Definition output, although it will work on a standard TV. That said, if you’re planning on buying an X360 and connecting it up via composite video, you’ll be wasting your money. I hooked the X360 up to a standard definition widescreen TV using component video and it did look very good, but once you hook up to an HD screen, you’ll never want to go back. I connected the machine to a 26in widescreen LCD TV using the official VGA cable – with the resolution set to the panel’s native 1,280 x 768, the image produced by the X360 was breathtaking. It looked like I was running a very high-spec PC – although the graphics card alone in such a PC would have cost me more than the X360!