So, had my 360 for a bit now and I've finally decided to review it. Yay. Microsoft entered the fray between the former champ, Nintendo (whose N64 was walloped in sales by the PSX) and Sony (whose PSX became enormously successful). The Xbox came in right between the two, beating the Gamecube but behind the PS2 (which went on to be the highest selling console ever made). With its successor setting the bar high and, for now, coming right in the middle (beating the PS3, for now, and behind the Wii), it seems like deja vu all over again. But in all reality, the Xbox 360 is a good console, if you're willing to invest in it and if it's up your alley. By invest in it, I mean you have the dough. The Xbox may be cheaper than a PS3 (with brand new, cream of the crop Elite models running for the same as the less feature filled PS3 Slim), but you'll need the cash to really enjoy your Xbox. Keeping a Live subscription, and depending on the model, costly repairs. Which brings us to the first point, build quality. In all honesty, the Xbox 360 is built like crap. It's ridden with a lot of game over issues, from the infamous Red Ring of Death to the E74 error. When you have an ENTIRE Wikipedia article devoted to all your Xbox 360 technical issues, you know it's built poorly. Mind you, newer models are less prone to these problems, but if you're in the market for a used one or buy a model that's new but isn't a "Jasper" model, then you'll be skipping through the minefield of problems. Still, these are all fixable by repair services or Microsoft themselves, for a nice big price tag it is (provided you are over the warranty). The system can also be pretty damn loud too, particularly when loading up or playing games from disc. Still, you won't notice it throughout the game though. Otherwise, it does have USB ports, wireless controllers that are built well, ejecting disc drive, removable hard drive attachments (so you can upgrade any time), etc. Overall, these issues may be enough to turn away people from the start, but there's still a lot to look forward to on the Xbox. As for functionality, the 360 has a lot of neat features... For a catch. Microsoft still keeps the whole "Xbox Live" thing, which means that you still have to pay around $60 a year. It's rather stupid considering both the PS3 and Wii have free online functions (with the Playstation Network having many features that Xbox Live does), but really, it's not terrible. You can do subscription plans on monthly to yearly plans, with monthly going to $8/month and yearly being $60 a year. Well, if you're savvy, you can just buy subscription cards to re-up your account for cheaper, like $40 or so for a one year subscription, off Amazon or other sites. But with Xbox Live you get a lot of neat stuff. The big thing is of course the online gaming, which is what really fuels the Xbox (more on that later), but you'll get cool things. The big ones are Facebook and Twitter for your fad feeding needs, watching movies in your Netflix cue, and listening to music via Last.fm. The Xbox 360 also has a nice amount of person-to-person integration. Adding Friends and keeping in touch with them is easy. You can form "parties" with a group of friends and voice chat, then invite them all to a game and voice chat all the way. You can also invite other friends on your list to join your party or join your game. There's also other bells and whistles like text chatting, video chat, DVD playing, and one of my favorite features, playing music from a MP3 player while in-game (as well as adjusting it in-game). It's got a whole lot of things to play around with and is really quite neat in the end. As for graphics, the Xbox is one of the two HD consoles this generation, so it has high definition graphics. I really don't know if the 360 or PS3 look better than one another, but regardless the Xbox looks great. You can use HDMI cables for better picture, but even your standard cables look good. Games feature an incredible amount of texture and fantastic effects. Look at Resident Evil 5, for example (which, yes, is a cross platform title). The models and animations are smooth as butter, the environments are made with incredible detail, and the effects from reflection to lighting are spot-on. There's not much else to say other than games look damn good. The main problem with the Xbox 360 library is the lack of exclusive titles. The same goes for the PS3. Both have exclusives (and damn good ones), mind you, but since both systems are rather comparable, practically any game that isn't under a Microsoft or Sony brand is multiplatform. If you look at all the great, multiplatform Xbox 360 titles, there's Bioshock 1 and 2, Grand Theft Auto IV, Fallout 3, Call of Duty (4 to 6), Prince of Persia, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Rainbow Six Vegas 1 and 2, Assassin's Creed, etc etc. The Xbox does, however, have some superior exclusive titles. The Orange Box runs better on the Xbox 360 than the PS3, same goes with FEAR, Bayonetta, etc. As for exclusives, you get Halo (3, ODST, and eventually Reach), Mass Effect 1 and 2, Gears of War 1 and 2, Fable II, Left 4 Dead 1 and 2, etc. The thing you may notice is that the 360, much like the PS3, is jam packed with shooter games, particularly first person shooters. Mind you, they're not all the same. Left 4 Dead, The Orange Box games (Portal, Half Life 2, and Team Fortress 2), Call of Duty, and Halo are all different, but are all first person shooters. If shooters aren't up your alley, then odds are you shouldn't go with a 360. Still, if you are, you'll feel right at home with the 360. My main issue though is the multiplayer and sequels. 360 games are heavily driven on multiplayer, and when a game's sequel gets released, most of the online gamers from the previous game migrate to the next game. So you'll have to slap out another $60 or so for the new game. Sure, sequels are usually improvements, but if you're someone who isn't exactly able to buy new game after new game, it's annoying. Also, when a game's population moves on, so does a lot of that critical lasting appeal. Of course you can still play with friends and probably some people who are too stubborn or can't afford the new game online, but you won't get that massive community as before. On the other hand, Xbox 360 multiplayer is huge. People will throw hundreds upon hundreds of hours into online games without getting bored at all. Big hitters include Halo and Call of Duty. The 360 also has a surprisingly awesome selection of downloadable titles via the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA). Rare hasn't done like anything good since their acquisition by Microsoft (hell, they didn't do anything good since the N64 days), but Microsoft did get all their big name titles from the olden days, provided they weren't ridden with unworkable copyrights (aka Goldeneye 007 and Donkey Kong Country/64). You get Banjo Kazooie and Tooie, as well as Perfect Dark. There's also other fantastic titles like the Metroid-inspired Shadow Complex, the addictive RPG brawler Castle Crashers, the remake of the classic Bionic Commando, an exclusive version of Portal, the numbingly addictive Puzzle Quest, and one of the best iterations of Magic the Gathering in videogaming, Duels of the Planeswalkers. There's also a lot of DLC for games, which makes them even better (provided you have the cash). Overall, the Xbox 360 may be an investment too risky or too big for some, but if its library and features are right up your alley, you'll be loving it from day one. Can't get any simpler than that. Build Quality: Ugh. It's fraught with technical issues, ranging from the infamous Red Ring of Death to the E74 error to disc scratching to video failures. Repairs aren't exactly cheap or easy to do either. The console is pretty loud too. Otherwise, it features USB ports, ejecting disc drive, easily switchable hard drives, and nicely laid out and solid built wireless controllers. 3/10 Functionality: $60 a year for Xbox Live is a little stupid, but you can get it to around $40 a year by buying subscription cards online (which is overall cheaper than your typical pay-to-play game). Still, with it you get Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, last.fm, and great friend features such as party formations, text, voice, and video chat, and an easy interface to spark up game parties in no time. It also has a DVD player and can play music from MP3 players in game. If you're willing to pay the price, it's a got a wealth of great features. 8/10 Graphics: It's a HD console and has HD games that look great. Textures, lighting effects, character models, environments, everything looks great in most games. Not much else to say, but games just look beautiful. HDMI cables are an add-on though, not required or included. 9.5/10 Library: It's a console with an overwhelming majority of shooter, multiplayer driven video games, so it's definitely not for everyone. Multiplayer gaming is vast and addicting, but at the cost of having to buy a new game every time there's a sequel (most of the time). A lot of titles are cross platform with the PS3, but the 360 also features some cross platforms titles that run better. Exclusives are rather good too. There's a surprisingly great amount of downloadable, XBLA titles that are a bargain at their prices. It really comes down to your preference, but for those looking for addictive, multiplayer driven games, look no further (except maybe a PC ). 9/10 Overall: 7.5/10 It may seem kinda disproportionate, but the technical issues are a massive drag down. I still love my 360 though and don't regret it one bit. DISCUSS MINIONS.