So, the Elite offers a sleeker colour, HDMI and a 120GB hard disk for a £50 premium over the old package – at least for now. You see Microsoft as admitted that the Xbox 360 Premium (or Pro as it now seems to be called) will start to ship with HDMI support towards the end of the year. In fact the Halo 3 themed X360 that will appear next month in line with the game launch, will be a Premium console with only a 20GB hard drive, but with HDMI output.
”’Halo 3 branded X360 and accessories will be available next month when the game arrives.”’
But even with the standard Xbox 360 destined to be HDMI equipped, the Elite still looks like good value, especially when you consider the price that Microsoft is charging for the large drive. The Elite is definitely a nice package, and it’s good to see that the black console has also been bundled with a black controller and black headset.
Slightly disappointing is that the Elite is every bit as loud as the original X360 consoles. So if you’re trying to play a quiet game, late at night, the effects are likely to be drowned out by the sound of the disc and fans spinning. By contrast, the PlayStation 3 barely makes a whisper, even when playing a game. At least you know that if your X360 suffers from the red ring of death within three years of purchase, you’ll get a replacement free of charge – no questions asked!
But even though the PlayStation 3 is quieter, fuller featured, can play Blu-ray movies and sports niceties like built in Wi-Fi, it lacks something very, very important – decent games. If I were to try to make a list of A-List games for the PS3, I’d probably get stuck trying to think of number one. With the Xbox 360 it’s a simple procedure – Gears of War, Bioshock, Oblivion (OK, so it turned up on the PS3 over a year after the 360) and of course the soon to be released Halo 3. Yep, if you’re looking to play a clutch of superb high definition games, the X360 is where it’s at.
Ultimately, it’s that large catalogue of great games that makes the Elite such a compelling proposition. Not only is it reasonably priced and well specified, with everything you need in the box, but it also opens the door to some awesome titles that will keep any gamer happy for months on end. When it comes down to it, a gaming console should be about games and not multimedia functions, and that’s just what the Elite gives you, in spades.
The Xbox 360 Elite may not address the noise pollution issue that has plagued Microsoft’s console since launch, but it does bring some key new features to the platform. HDMI support is a welcome addition, while the increased hard disk capacity will definitely be needed when the full Video Marketplace launches in Europe.
The lack of an integrated HD DVD drive could well be a missed opportunity though, especially considering that there are no plans for a black external HD DVD drive to match the Elite. That said, the sub £300 price point makes the Elite a very attractive prospect for anyone looking to move up to high definition gaming, while the ”very” strong catalogue of titles keeps Microsoft well ahead of Sony in the next gen console race.