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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hits and Misses:Xbox 360

It has been more than 10 months since Microsoft released their Xbox 360 next-gen console. How has the console been doing so far? Powerplay analyzes the hits and misses of the Xbox 360.


Early Release Date
Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 one year earlier than its rivals, the PS3 and the Wii, to gain a stronger foothold on the next-gen console market. It launched in November 2005 and since then, 5 million units have been sold worldwide as of Jun 30 2006. Microsoft hopes to meet its 10 million target before the PS3 and Wii are released. Launching the console a year earlier than its competitor does has its advantages. By the time the PS3 and the Wii are launched, the Xbox 360’s game library will dwarf the game libraries of the other 2 consoles and people will have more selection options. More games like the highly-anticipated Gears of War and wresting game WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 will launch this year-end to help push sales of the Xbox 360. By now, Xbox 360 already has its established share of fans and Xbox Live is up and doing fine. The early release date also gives Microsoft time to correct the problems of the Xbox 360 like crashing, freezing among some others.

In-the-middle price tag
The Xbox 360 is not as cheap as the Wii, but it is also not as expensive as the PS3, so where does the Xbox 360 does falls into? For your buck, you get HD capability, in addition to the ability to play DVD movies, a bundled controller and a few months of Xbox Live. For its price, the Xbox 360 is a well-rounded entertainment machine that can hold its own against the many gadgets in your living room. The Xbox 360 is also backward-compatible with most of the Xbox games.

Xbox Live Arcade
Several interactive and original game titles are available in the Xbox Live Arcade right now. These games can be downloaded for a token fee, or if you have ample Microsoft points, you can buy the games with these points as well. Classic hits like Doom and Defender are also available over at Xbox Live Arcade. All these games give Xbox 360 owners more choices and provide them with additional hours of enjoyment.

Exclusive Game Titles
Lately, we have been seeing some new exclusive Xbox 360 game titles that are set to make anyone drool. Dead Rising is one example. The game puts you into the role of a photojournalist, but with a slight twist for the images that you will be taking are not actually the norms, but zombies! Survive the ordeal and live to tell the tale. Another exclusive game is Saint’s Row. For gamers who cannot get enough of Grand Theft Auto, this game is it. Saint’s Row replicates the experience of Grand Theft Auto, yet at the same time, repairs the lingering minor flaws of the game. As the Xbox 360 progress further into its lifetime, we may see more of such games.


Design Issues and Controller
When Microsoft first released its big black Xbox, people complained that it was too huge. It is not as compact as the slim PS2 and small GameCube. When Microsoft launched its Xbox 360, the problem still remains. Why is the Xbox 360 still so large? Compare that with the PS3 and the Wii and it is going to be obvious that Xbox 360 is going to be a loser in terms of size. It is a welcomed fact that the controller has gone wireless, but the controller is still lacking in motion-sensitivity. With the PS3 controller having some form of motion-sensitivity and the Wii embracing the technology to the fullest extent, the Xbox 360 controller looks obsolete next the other 2.

Lack of Many Big Titles This Holiday Season
What could have been an added bonus for the Xbox 360 game library recently went up in smoke. Forza Motorsport 2 was delayed. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Mass Effect and Too Human are also following in the footsteps of Forza Motorsport 2. Finally, to add to Microsoft’s headache, Nintendo is releasing a game of epic scale, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, as a Wii launch title. This particular Zelda game, as promised by Nintendo, will be the biggest Zelda game ever and will definitely serve its role of being a console sales-puller. Sony has got a bunch of juicy games too. Besides Gears of War, Xbox 360 will have little to show this holiday season. The situation would have been a lot different if they could stop delaying games.

The Cruel-to-Xbox 360 Japanese Market
The Xbox came in last behind PS2 and GameCube in the last-gen console war in the Japanese market, so will the Xbox 360 inherit the fate of the Xbox as well? If early signs are any indications, it will. The Japanese have been slow to adopt the Xbox 360, with many units shipped, but yet, many remain unwanted in the stores. Some retailers in Japan have resorted to a price cut, but to no avail. At least Microsoft is aware of this and is taking a positive step towards changing the situation. 2 heavily-hyped Japanese RPGs, Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, are set to launch on the Xbox 360 and Microsoft’s aim is to woo more Japanese buyers. Recent release Enchanted Arms does not seem to have any impact at all, if any. Microsoft must learn the way of the PS2 in order to survive in the harsh Japanese market.


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