The Xbox 360

...this is what an Xbox 360 looks like on its side
...this is what an Xbox 360 looks like on its side

After deliberating between the PS3 and the Xbox 360 for well over a year, I finally caved in a bought a 360. Depending on which console you own, you might be thinking that I wasted a bunch of money. Give me a minute, and I’ll give you my reasoning why I feel that the $300 was well spent. (No, I will not mention the Wii from here out because I think it’s a sick joke Nintendo is playing on the world right now. I’m sorry if you bought one.)

The Games

First and foremost, the games that Microsoft and its third-party developers have created are some of the best out right now. From first person shooters (Halo 3), third person shooters (Gears of War), arcade games (Geometry Wars), puzzle games (PuzzleQuest), racing sims (Forza 2), and sandbox games (Grand Theft Auto 4), nearly every genre of game is covered multiple times by the 360’s library.

The Xbox Live Arcade only strengthens the long list of games going for the 360. While the Microsoft Points system is initially annoying, once you realize that 800 MSP equals $10, 800 MSP for a game doesn’t sound so bad. While the XBLA doesn’t offer extremely deep titles like GTA4, games like Geometry Wars and the recent Braid make up for their shortcomings with ingenuity and fresh innovation.

In comparison to the PS3, it wouldn’t be fair to say that the games on the PS3 are bad, there just isn’t nearly as many great games as on the 360. Yes, Metal Gear Solid 4 looks amazing, and yes, LittleBigPlanet will blow everyone’s mind when it comes out, but the games on the PS3 are coming too little too late for me.

I wanted to buy a console that is playable now, not one that might be more playable come Christmas.

Xbox Live (Online)

I’m not the best at sitting down for a day by myself and playing through a game start to finish. I can usually play for an hour or two, but after that I just want to put the game down and do something else for a while; it just gets monotonous. This is why the ability to play games with my friends online is a huge deal to me.

Since the original Xbox, Microsoft has worked very hard to build the infrastructure of LIVE and keep the community thriving. Their efforts have payed off, and the LIVE system is light-years ahead of where the PSN is or will be any time soon. Whether it’s through simple leaderboards where I can see my friend’s top scored in plain sight for me to beat, of if I can play a real-time 16 player match, Xbox LIVE has done nothing but boost my enjoyment of playing video games.

The ease of using Xbox LIVE is something that I didn’t take into consideration when buying the Xbox, but I’m very glad that it has worked out in my favor. The integration of LIVE into Xbox games is great. For example, in Halo 3 after my friend has invited me to play with him, I hit two buttons, and I’m sent to the correct waiting room where we can set up a group game.

The Price

This is pretty straightforward. The Xbox 360 Pro/Premium (20gb) is only $300 right now, so compared to the PS3’s $400. While it’s true that a feature-by-feature comparison of the two systems reveals that the PS3 is a better value, I simply don’t need the features that the PS3 is touting as making it next-gen.

After paying for the console, I had the games to consider. Because I was working for Microsoft at the time, I received a discount on first-party games like Gears of War and Halo 3. Ignoring those games, the Xbox has been around long enough that there are many quality titles that’s prices have dropped significantly. All in all, the Xbox delivers the features and games that I want at a price that works best.

The Fall Update

The current “Blade” UI design on the 360 works fine, but with the massive amounts of recently added content (movies, games, etc.), it is clear that a more scalable design is needed.

At this year’s E3, Microsoft showed off its brand new uer interface for the Xbox 360 that will be rolled out this Fall. Along with the UI overhaul, features like Netflix integration and new genres of XBLA games piqued my interest. It’s pretty clear that the 360 won’t have the 10 year lifespan that Sony says the PS3 will, but it gives me hope to see that Microsoft has been really working on improving an existing product rather than pushing out a new console every three or four years like they could.

Basically, I love my Xbox 360. It fits all of my wants/needs out of a current gaming console.