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Microsoft Xbox 360 - Xbox 360

One of my pet hates is the lack of component video support on TVs in the UK, but no doubt the X360 and the new generation of HD TVs will change all that. Hopefully this will also address the common misconception that RGB is component video – it isn’t. One thing's for sure though, the consumer electronics industry should be very happy, since the X360 is bound to increase HDTV sales.

Of course any console lives and dies by its games – without great software it doesn’t matter how good the hardware is. When the original Xbox launched, Halo was so good that it was reason enough to buy the console in the first place, but is there a “killer app” for the X360? Well there’s a very strong launch line up, although it must be said that many of the titles are already available on other platforms. Stand out titles for me are Perfect Dark Zero and Project Gotham Racing 3 – both these games have a strong heritage and live up to that history well.

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I’m not going to go into too much detail about the games here because I’ll be publishing full reviews of some of them along with this review of the console, but what’s out there right now is pretty impressive. There are some very cool visual effects going on in some of the games – stuff that we’ve yet to see put to work in PC games in fact, and even the titles that are also available on other platforms do look a LOT better on the X360.

Do I have any gripes about the Xbox 360? Maybe a few. First off I would have really liked to have seen integrated WiFi networking in the console – the fact that I’m still having to plug the X360 into a wireless bridge like the old Xbox is a little disappointing. I understand that wireless standard will change during the life of the console, but you could always use a bridge then if you wanted to, it just would have been nice to have a seamless connection to your router and the Internet.

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Also there’s the backward compatibility question. As it stands only a limited number of Xbox games will run on the X360, and when I loaded Halo 2 up I had to download data from the Live server before I could run it. The good news is that you get the chance to run games like Halo 2 up-scaled to High Definition, while anti-aliasing can also be applied. Of course there will always be people that will complain about not being to play all their old Xbox games on the 360, but how much of an issue is that really? Do you really by a next generation games console so that you can play last generation games? A lot of fuss was made about the PS2 being able to run PS1 games, but I don’t think I ever bothered to play an original PlayStation game in my PS2.

My final issue is availability – quite simply, there won’t be enough of these babies to go around today. Add to that the fact that most of the consoles that will be available to purchase will be Core systems – no hard disk, no wireless controller, no remote, no HD AV cable – and the situation looks even worse. Given, the Core package costs less, but believe me, you WANT everything that ships in the Deluxe box. Hopefully it won’t be long before stock starts to roll into the retail channel, but even then I can see X360s selling out before they even hit the shop floor. Ultimately, I think there will be a lot of tears on Christmas morning!

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