After pushing himself away from his Xbox 360, Sharan M. decides to gives us the highs and lows of this gaming sensation.
Microsoft's plans for the Indian market have always been quite promising with good releases and great support for its products. So how exactly does the Xbox 360, the successor to the Xbox and rival to Sony's legendary franchise, the PlayStation, and Nintendo's family-aimed product, the Wii, stand out?
I'd say pretty good. Reasonable promotion, a great library of games and certainly the best customer support as compared to other competitors make the Xbox 360 a player to reckon with on the Indian scene. As an owner of the console, I decided to force myself away from it and bring this review.
High on tech
The U.S. and other western countries are spoilt for choice on which model of the console to buy — Arcade, Elite or the recently introduced Xbox 360 250GB model (or unofficially, the Xbox Slim). We Indians have no other option but Arcade.
The pack comes along with the console itself, a wireless controller and the necessary TV component cables. An HDMI cable is sold separately for those who want to get the max out of their High-def TVs. This package is probably the most basic to get off the ground and jump into your favourite games. The console has an inbuilt memory of 256Mb that allows you to save your games and store updates.
Now moving on to the awesome part: the way it handles games. Gaming on the Xbox is a joy that must be experienced by players of all ages. Its award-winning controller design provides great comfort even while holding it for hours. The console does a pretty decent job of rendering scenes at an average of 30- 40 fps (frames per second). It might seem small compared to what monster computers can manage, but considering the fact that the average Indian household does not own such a rig, I'd say they'll be blown away by the quality.
It does not suffer any noticeable lag even while rendering graphics-heavy scenes and make the gaming experience a revelation. Add to that the many Xbox-only titles (exclusives, in pro-speak) and we have a product that can certainly give its opponents a run for their money.
The Xbox also has a dedicated online service known as Xbox Live that acts as a virtual hub for gamers to meet, connect and obviously, go head to head against each other. It's great fun and is a no-nonsense service that will be a welcome addition to any gamer's needs. Besides featuring a multiplayer service, Live also acts as a virtual store. You can browse through and buy more games, movies and songs and store them on your hard-drive. Also included is the console's ability to play movies, music and also display your photos.
But since the ancient Chinese theory of Yin-Yang says that everything good is balanced by the same amount of evil, the Xbox also has its share of shortcomings. Topping the list is the price. While the console on most western markets is priced at around $150, the Indian market is forced to deal with a $300 price tag. While you can always find it available for much, much cheaper rates elsewhere, I wouldn't recommend buying it anywhere else but from authorised dealers.
The next minus-point is the Live service itself. While it's great to have a free Silver membership, the paid Gold version is where all the fun lies. Online multiplayer is available only on Gold and that's another huge bummer. But nothing can prepare you for this; there's no inbuilt wi-fi and you have to shell out around Rs. 6000 for an MS-branded one.
Next is the options we are given (or no options, rather). For a few thousand rupees extra maybe, we could have gotten a version that included a hard-drive with much more capacity than the bare-bones 250Mb one. It's okay if you're not planning to store much on it, but in this age, 250Mb is like being stuck with a 50 paise coin in a mega-mall.
The final shortcoming, but important nonetheless, is its unreliability. Xbox 360s are known around the world to suddenly fail with an over-heating problem, infamously referred to as the Red Ring of Death. Fortunately a solid three-year warranty offered by MS should cheer you up a bit.
Rounding off, I'd say the Xbox is a good product to buy. They have some incredible exclusives and tons of others just waiting to be released. With the future moving towards motion-control, Xbox's ‘Kinect' seems to have it covered as well. Get the Xbox if you're not willing to pay the sum demanded by Sony for their colossal PS3.
Sharan is a III Year B.E student at RMK College of Engineering and Technology.