If you haven’t bought an Xbox 360
, yet, stop reading this and go buy one. Even if you do not play video games–I certainly don’t have much time to play them–then you still need one.
I finally convinced the wife a week ago. We picked one up from Best Buy with a copy of Need For Speed: Most Wanted. It is a great game, and I am quite addicted to it, but I’m more impressed with the non-game features.
Windows Media Connect 2.0. (Sell your CD player)
I have already disconnected my CD player. It is going in a box, and I will probably sell it at the neighborhood garage sale next weekend. All of my CDs were long ripped to MP3, so that they can be played on the computer or on the iPods. The only bad thing is the home stereo system has always been the best in the house, expectedly better than iPod headphones or the computer speakers. However, now all that has changed. The Xbox 360 will stream all of my music from my computer. I no longer have to pick 5 CDs and toss them into the player. I can just turn on the 360 (wirelessly, via the remote or controller) and play whatever music I want to play. I’m not even sure if I will ever even buy a CD, anymore, instead opting from some sort of digital media, like iTunes.
One of my favorite “Cool Features” with this is that you can play your MP3s while playing a game. You can replace the in-game music with tunes to fit your current mood, yet it does affect the other sound effects in the game (like the sound of the police car behind you in NFS: Most Wanted). Through the 360, you can also control the volume of the MP3s independently of the other game sounds.
I plugged in my iPod. They had a chat for a few seconds, and I was instantly able to play anything off my iPod, just as if I was playing through the iPod UI. There was no setup, no drivers, and (my favorite) no iTunes installation. The 360 just knew what it was, and that was that. It even uses the iPod name that you gave your unit for iTunes. So, in the 360 Dashboard, I have “Jay’s iPod” or “Amy’s iPod.” This was the system I used in the 2 or three days before I got my 360 on the network. Though it is really cool, I no longer needed it thanks to WMC2.0 and streaming MP3s from the computer, since all of my MP3s are on the computer.
It’s all Wireless!
This may seem small, but it is the feature to beat all other features: the unit is totally wireless. The controllers are wireless, and the controllers can turn on the unit. I no longer have wires running across my livingroom (well, I do when I play GameCube or PS2). And if I’m going to be playing the same game I just played, or if I want to play some tunes while I’m sitting on the couch reading a book, the controller can turn on the unit, so I can be lazy and never have to get off the couch.
Xbox Live Arcade
There are over a dozen (and growing) small, downloadable games you can buy from Xbox Live Arcade. My wife loves Hexic, a small Bejeweled-like game that came with the unit (I got the fully-loaded package), though it can be purchased on the Arcade. She is addicted to it. Soon I will also buy Bejeweled 2, Gauntlet (”Warrior needs food badly.”) and Joust. This feature was available on the original Xbox, though not as fluid. There are a bunch of cool Xbox-only games that I hope come over to the 360, soon, like Pacman.
As for the games:
Need For Speed: Most Wanted
I love this game. It is a mix of NFS: Hot Pursuit and NFS: Underground. I like this much better than either one. It has the city-based racing of NFS:U, without some of the street-racing types that I didn’t like, such as URL or street-X, and above all, drifting. The pursuit is much better than NFS:HP, as the cops are much smarter, and will tag-team you to box you in using 4 or 5 cars.
I did download the demo of Project Gotham Racing 3, and I liked NFS much better. PGR3 was too touchy for me.
The next games on the list to buy are Fight Night and Oblivion.