- R2-D2 designed console
- C-3PO designed wireless controller
- White Kinect sensor bar
- Xbox 360 Wired Headset
- Kinect Star Wars game
- Kinect Adventures game
- Exclusive DLC.
As many people who know me know, I have long resisted the idea of getting an Xbox, to the point of swearing that the day would never come. This bias came about because at the time of release, the Xbox 360 was just the runt of this generation of gaming consoles. The Playstation 3 had so much more functionality and power (it could be used as a server for crying out loud), not to mention the initial draw of buying a console and BluRay player in one (they were about the same price when they came out), and the Wii was just so much more innovative in terms of game play. It seemed redundant to purchase one. Plus, I didn’t like the fanboys. The loudest Xbox 360 fans were often blindly following their beloved console, despite the facts laid out to them. They just loved it, and I didn’t understand why. What was worse was when they started bad mouthing every other console in existence, spouting rubbish about how the Xbox 360 was the best console ever made. The only comment I have left to those people is “and it took how many versions to finally get it right?” Because, unreasonable bias aside, they finally did.
I have to admit, after purchasing and playing the latest version of the console, I can see many ways in which this is also a worthy console in its own right, and many ways in which it has potential. My favourite feature is how easily it connects to the pc through the network to watch videos and listen to music. Interconnectivity is one of its major selling points (I believe) over the Playstation 3, which was much more involved in how you did this (too much conversion and moving of files). Another, similar, feature I liked was the Zune application, especially the webisodes section (but it definitely needs a remote for these features). I was somewhat surprised to see it, as I hadn’t seen anything Zune related in a long time. I was one of those people few people that imported a Zune way back when. It was a great device. Brilliant features, nice big screen, ability to customise – it was much better than any iPod out at the time, even though it was incredibly heavy for its size. My only issue was that the software would decide it knew better than me and would automatically change details in my music (artist, song title, genre, etc.). But let’s be honest, iTunes isn’t much better these days. Considering the relative failure of the device to penetrate the market when it came out, I think the move to syncing music on other Microsoft devices is a much more sensible approach (although secretly I want a new Zune device as I don’t like cluttering my phone with music, and I’m over my iPod Nano 5th gen).
Another feature that I felt had great potential was the team up with Foxtel. Long have I wanted access to many of the shows on Foxtel, but could never justify signing up. Even with the inclusion of IQ and being able to record shows I wanted to watch (a must when you feel like you are never home), I could never find a package that included all of the channels I wanted, even though they were similar interest channels (is it just me or are the packages offered a bit all over the place). I wasn’t going to pay for the all-inclusive deluxe package if I wasn’t going to watch most of it, or even have the time to watch it. The Foxtel feature on the Xbox 360 has implemented the wonderful concept of prepaid Foxtel and pay-per-view, across all of the channels available, which means I can browse as much as I like and just pay for a single show. For someone like me that is a wonderful way to do it, (it is how I’ve said pay tv should be for a long time). It’s just practical.
This isn’t to say that I thought everything about the console was great. Visually, I found the menus to be a little annoying. I am very systematic and like everything else to be so, otherwise I get frustrated. Although the menus have logical headings for their groupings, there are too many areas in which things overlap, and thus not everything is where you would expect it at first, and it takes so many levels of menus just to get where you want to go. Perhaps it is because I am new to it and just need to get used to it. I personally find the PS3 and Wii menus much simpler. One thing the Xbox 360 menu could stand to gain though, is a favourites menu with a recently visited feature. I think that would help in terms of navigation and customisation (even Internet Explorer has one). Also, there seems to be confusion in regards to account vs. console DLC. The PS3 simplified this, making all DLC console based. From what I’ve been reading, on the Xbox 360, not all DLC is console based, but some is account based, meaning some people have had to purchase multiple lots of the same DLC for a game. I’ve not had any experience with this yet, and can only go by what people in forums are saying (not the most reliable source, I know), but it seems to be unnecessarily complicated. If you know more about this aspect from experience, comment below, as I am really interested to know what the deal is with it.
What really brought the Xbox 360 to the playing field though, was the addition of Kinect. In terms of innovative gameplay, it was a much better add on than Playstation Move, which only really made PS3 games similar to Wii games: you still had to hold a controller, regardless of whether it was the controller sending info back to the sensor or the sensor determining where the controller was, it was pretty much the same, and felt entirely like an add on. The Kinect sensor, using you as the controller, means games must be developed purely to use it. From a developer standpoint, that makes much more sense to gameplay and marketing.
I found its sensor recognition to be a bit slow and not very precise though. It was also rather annoying in regards to someone else taking over, as it stops responding if it isn’t the same person, and oddly enough doesn’t automatically pause the game. Sometimes we just want to pass the controller to someone else. It did, however, get me up and active, even building up a bit of a sweat, and is a fun way to play games, without the ability to “cheat” like on the Wii (e.g. shaking the controller instead of actually running on the spot). It is far from perfect, but there is plenty of potential there. As for the speech recognition to navigate menus and videos, it interfered more than helped. I would be more than fine without it.
Enough about the console features, and on to the design: I was never a big Star Wars fan when I was younger. It was actually my husband who was the fan. But even though I didn’t care about the movies enough to care who shot first (don’t worry, I know Han Solo doesn’t take shit from anybody), I always liked R2. His sounds were just cute…. I kind of have a thing for WALL.E too, lol. Obviously, I have since become a bit of a Star Wars universe fan (most apparent in my love of The Old Republic). As soon as I heard there was going to be a Star Wars themed Xbox 360 console design based on R2-D2 and C-3PO, with R2-D2 sound bites, it was hard to say no. I am a sucker for collector’s this and limited edition that… Since I didn’t already own an Xbox 360, it wouldn’t be a waste if I purchased it, and my husband won me over with the logic of needing a console hat trick if I am going to be serious about game reviews.
All I can say in regards to the theme design is: you have to be a fan to appreciate it. It is only aesthetic, apart from the audio, and doesn’t affect gameplay at all. I, personally, love it and think it is awesome. The only new feature that isn’t Star Wars related is the inclusion of the first custom white Kinect sensor bar (but I’m sure there’ll be others if you are not a fan of Star Wars), and it has the largest hard drive available on Xbox 360: 350GB. The bundle also comes with two games: Kinect Star Wars and Kinect Adventures (both reviewed separately) and some DLC (C-3PO as a playable character in the dance aspect of Kinect Star Wars), as well as an Xbox 360 Wired Headset (which I was willing to throw away due to having better quality headsets already). I’ll let you decide whether you consider it worth it or not. I don’t think it is worth buying for everyone.
The Xbox 360 now sits happily next to my TV, alongside my Wii and opposite my PS3. Each of them has their purpose: the PS3 is our primary gaming console and is also used for watching DVDs, BluRays and TV (I absolutely love PlayTV); the Wii is a purely gaming console, mostly party games and Mario games (yeah, my nostalgia is showing a little); and the Xbox 360 will be used for Kinect gaming and streaming, especially watching files (converted from our personal disc collection of course) from the computer, and possibly a little Foxtel every now and then. Now an owner of all three main gaming consoles, I can see how harmoniously they can fit into one household. I’m just happy they finally got it right.
Hi guys. Also, don’t forget you can pick one up from Gametraders Blacktown. But hurry, they have limited stock, so call up in advance.