In preparation for the impending release of Halo 3, I finally got around to picking up an Xbox 360 yesterday, after nearly two years of waiting. Best Buy has stock of some of the newer consoles with a built-in HDMI port, so I opted to get one of those, so I could hook it up to a DVI computer LCD if need be. After being bombarded with offers of expensive extended warranties, unnecessary accessories, and “nitrogen injected cables”, I got out of there with just the new console and a game. After unboxing it and playing for a while, these were some of my impressions:
The power brick for this console is huge. It’s quite literally the size of a standard red masonry brick, only a little longer. Taking a slightly modified computer power cord for AC input, the adapter consumes just over 200 Watts of electricity when fully active. It has a big indicator LED to let you know when it’s working or failing (yikes), and at least one fan for cooling. This is one power-hungry system.
Cables & Wireless
Xbox 360 came with everything I needed to get it up and running, including a few extras like a wired headset and RF controller. Noting that the headphone jack on the controller is the same mini port on the audio unit from the original Xbox, I was pleased to discover that my Halo 2 headset attached and worked with no trouble (sans the volume control and mute button). Being able to remotely boot up the console from the couch with the Xbox button is the ultimate in advanced laziness technology. Count me in!
Performance and Games
The system is louder than an off-the-shelf original Xbox, but no louder than my modified version, so the noise isn’t too much of an issue, thankfully. Graphics performance is quite good from what I’ve seen: high polygon models, textures heaping with detail, and plenty of processing power to sustain high framerates will serve the 360 well for years to come. I was decidedly unimpressed with gameplay in Gears of War, and felt thrown into action with little instruction. Normally, I enjoy first-person-shooter games, but the lack of a constant targeting reticle, somewhat confusing controls, and weak plot will send me back to the store hoping to swap for BioShock or another title.
Overall, the Xbox 360 seems to be a fine console with plenty of horsepower and extras, but my (admittedly short) gameplay has not impressed me so far, save for the graphics. Here’s hoping Halo 3 will make it all come together… Only 16 days to go.