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Published:February 22nd, 2007 20:05 EST

Xbox 360 - Challenger or Champion?

By George Gildersleeve

See how Microsoft`s gaming behemoth stacks up

I obtained my Xbox 360 on the day of its launch, November 22, 2005, after much hype and intriguing previews. Being a fan of the original Xbox and knowing how innovative that system was, I had high expectations for this new incarnation. Once I brought it home, the aesthetically appealing box (which is not exactly light) and unpacked the contents.  I was not hesitant to inspect the system components. In the box, came the Xbox 360 system, the external power brick, a component/composite video cable, a wireless controller, a media remote, and a headset for online communication. Needless to say, I was not disappointed with what I discovered; everything was well packaged and well designed.

The next thing on my list was to hook it up to my TV and try it out. Hooking the system up to my TV was not a difficult feat at all since Microsoft included a cable that could hook up to both HDTV`s and standard definition TVs, both of which are selectable by a switch on the cable`s connector. I fired up my system, hooked up to my HDTV and after a very simple setup process; I was racing my BMW in Need for Speed: Most Wanted. I was truly amazed at the speed as well as the ease of setting up my system, not to mention the game play.

With the hookup and system setup out of the way, I was ready to get my system online to prepare for some multiplayer racing and skirmishes. I have been a loyal Xbox Live subscriber for a few years on the original Xbox and was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I could easily follow a short process and simply migrate my account to the new system. This process was also simple and rather quick. With the tasks I had to go through, I was wondering how anything could be done so well.  I give Microsoft a lot of credit for being able to accomplish this feat.

The Xbox 360 had a few good games available at launch and even more arcade-style games available for download through the online marketplace. Although there were just a few good games at the system`s launch, there are now floodgates opening, releasing droves of great new games at a very high rate. For example, one of the best rated games available on the system, Gears of War, was announced when the console was launched.  However, it took a lot of development to get it to the quality standards of the Studio that created it (Epic Games). This was the first Xbox 360 game to feature the Unreal Engine 3 which provided great new visuals and great game play.

With good packaging, easy setup, great games and a multiplayer, the Xbox 360 is arguably one of the best video game consoles released to this date. It will be some time to see which company`s game console comes out on top, but Microsoft definitely has a shot for the top spot. The graphics of the Xbox 360 are truly amazing and the online play can`t be beaten.  However, only time will tell how it stacks up against Nintendo as well as Sony.