Yesterday the hottest new thing in gaming went on sale: Microsoft's Xbox 360. Gamers have been waiting for months for the cool new version of the Xbox to hit stores. The game console, with its curved edges and round buttons, sure looks slick. But the real question is: Is this the must-have game system for the holiday season? Tom Ham, who reviews video games for The Washington Post, has tried out the new system and offers this review for KidsPost readers.
There's a lot to like about the new Xbox. It has a lot of power and memory, making it seem like a computer that has morphed into a game system. That extra power helps create visuals and sound more lifelike than any other game system. (For details see the box at right.)
But the new Xbox is not cheap. Microsoft has made two versions of the 360. The Core version costs $299.99. It comes with the console, one controller and an audiovisual cable. It can play Xbox 360 games (but not old Xbox games), plus DVDs and MP3 music files.
The Premium edition sells for $399.99 and comes with console, high-definition AV cable, a wireless controller, headset and membership in the Xbox Live Entertainment and Chat Network. It also has a hard drive to store games, music and other content downloaded from Xbox Live. The Premium system also plays some old Xbox games.
With both versions you can plug in digital cameras, an iPod, even a PSP.
There are 18 games now available for the new system, but perhaps not the variety you would like. There are 11 sports titles, including racing, skateboarding, snowboarding, football, basketball, hockey, soccer and golf. This leaves seven non-sports titles -- not many if you're not into sports.
Sure, some of the games are excellent, but most are just okay. While Project Gotham Racing 3 and Call of Duty 2 are very cool, with high-resolution graphics and great sound, most games for the 360 don't offer much you haven't seen (and played) before. They aren't good enough yet to make you beg Mom or Dad for a new game system.
So who should buy an Xbox 360? Right now, only serious gamers -- those people who spent Monday night sleeping in front of stores because they had to have it right away.
Casual players (or their parents) won't want to spend that much money on a game system they're not likely to play much. When there are more -- and better -- games for the 360, that could change.
listed at $399.99.Adam Welsh, 15, is first in line for an Xbox 360 console in West Manchester, Pennsylvania.