The removable hard disk is a stroke of genius and allows users to take all of their X360 content with them if they visit a friend. This was a big problem with the original Xbox, but once again Microsoft has thought things through and come up with a solution. Of course you can still use memory cards with the X360, but thankfully they now slot into the console (like the PS2), rather than into the controller.
Talking of the controller, Microsoft made a big mistake with the original Xbox controllers by making them suitable only for giants! The original controllers were so big that it was almost impossible to hold them comfortably. Strangely, when the Xbox launched in Japan it shipped with a smaller controller, and many gamers, myself included, imported one of these as soon as they were available. Eventually Microsoft realised its error and started shipping all new Xbox consoles with the smaller controller. So has Microsoft learned its controller lesson? You bet it has!
The wireless controller that shipped with my review sample is simply fantastic. It feels like an evolution of the Xbox Controller S (above left), making it one of the best gaming pads I have ever used. Nintendo may have invented the analogue controller, but with this new X360 unit, it feels like Microsoft has perfected it. There are a couple of important changes to the controller over the outgoing Xbox version. The black and white buttons have been binned in favour of two shoulder buttons located above the analogue triggers – this is a major improvement, since the black and white buttons where never the easiest to access. Also, the analogue triggers just feel more sensitive – whether you’re accelerating in a Ferrari 360 CS in Project Gotham 3, or zooming in on a target in Perfect Dark Zero, it just feels as if you have a greater degree of control.
Surprisingly the weight of the two AA batteries didn’t bother me at all, in fact the wirelss controller feels better in the hand with the batteries inserted. If you’re worried about the wireless controller not responding when you need it to, don’t. I’ve used my wireless controller for hours non-stop and I haven’t once died or crashed through any fault of the controller – the fault is always my own!