Xbox 360 launches tonight


Unless you’ve recently emerged from a long respite in a nuclear bunker, devoid of any communication with the outside world, you might have heard about this neat little doohickey that the kids at Microsoft have cobbled together. After a lightning fast first week sell out in the US, we lucky Europeans are next in line to get our hands on the must-have Xbox 360, even ahead of Japan, which makes a nice change. However, demand for the new console has been extremely high and stock allocation has yet to live up to the public craving. Therefore we’ll be scouring the streets of London tonight in search of one of these rare beasts and will let you know how we get on tomorrow. Some of you may still be wondering what all the fuss is about, so a sum up of the key features can be found on the turn.

The Xbox 360 is the first of the next-gen consoles; because
games development is constantly evolving, every few years companies have to put
out a new piece of kit that technologically surpasses its predecessors to keep
up to date with the latest and greatest games. The big development with the 360
is the implementation of High Definition technology, which means that anyone
who has splashed out on an HD Ready television will be able to experience
console gaming in a clarity never before seen. This is backed up a 500 MHz
custom ATI GPU with its own high-speed ED-RAM, processing is handled by not one,
but three 3.2 GHz processors. All of which basically means you have a gaming
system packing a pretty heavy punch, however most developers won’t have been
able to tap too far into the capabilities of the unit just yet but it does mean
that it will be better equipped to compete in the long term future.

The other defining factors in Microsoft’s gaming vision are
the peripherals. Wireless control pads have formed an essential part of the 360’s
“simple, elegant design”. On top of that, Microsoft has been expanding its
enormously successful Live! service which now includes a new market place as
well as increased amounts of downloadable content. Although the basic 360
packages comes without a hard drive, you will need to get one if you want to
enjoy many of the peripheral services and the console’s slightly limited
backwards compatibility options. Once more, Microsoft’s console has designs
beyond that of a mere gaming machine and can now, on top of normal DVD
playback, stream music from MP3 players, rip CDs to its hard drive and even
stream media direct from a Windows Media Centre Edition 2005 PC. 

Phew, I think that just about covers everything. Don’t
forget that your beloved console can even be customized with its own exciting
face plate to make sure your 360 is cooler than everyone else’s.

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