XBox Advice

By Shamus Posted Friday Aug 22, 2008

Filed under: Random 74 comments

I’m probably still a couple of weeks from my XBox acquisition, but I wanted to solicit some advice as I contemplate the purchase.

I see there are three tiers: The $200 “Arcade” machine, which has no harddrive. Probably not what I want? The $350-ish “Pro”, which has… a couple of different sizes of harddrive? And finally, the $450 “Elite”, which is likely more of a money-sink for the hard-core XBox fans than a legitimate purchase option for a newcomer like me. I can see the specs and make the required features / price comparisons, but that isn’t really leading me any closer to making an informed purchase.

For example: Microsoft is clearly charging a king’s ransom for harddrive space. The jump from 20GB to 120GB is over $100, which is more than I just paid for a 320GB drive for my PC. Fine. I understand the economic realities that create this price structure, and I don’t begrudge them for simply trying to make money. But I am trying get some sort of handle on what these numbers mean. There are things you just can’t learn from reviews and feature lists. Like, how much hard drive space do you need, anyway? Like, how much space does the average game take up? What happens when you run out? Do you have to un-install a game? I don’t have a back catalog of XBox titles. I’m going to start with a library of one or two games, and that library is going to grow slowly.

What else differentiates the various tiers?

A few other notes on my particular needs:

  1. Here in the command center, a premium is placed on wireless devices.
  2. I’m not big on multiplayer, and I’m certainly not going to be jumping on XBox Live to swim in the sea of brats and morons unless I think it will make for a funny comic. I certainly won’t be signing up for their premium XBL while I still have command of my senses.
  3. I’m aware of the hardware gremlins that infect the device. Mine will reside in a cool, smoke-free environment, which should keep it safer than average from the leading cause of XBox 360 death.

Any advice? Anything else you wish someone had told you before you picked up your (first) XBox 360?


From The Archives:

74 thoughts on “XBox Advice

  1. WWWebb says:

    I picked up a refurbished “premium” model this month for the price of the “arcade” and I’m happy with the decision. I had a starter library of XBox (original) games handed down from a friend, and you need the hard drive to run those.

    Other than that, your choice of hard drive depends on if you want to use the XBox as your media center or just a games box. If you just want a box for games, 20 GB is plenty. If you plan to download game demos, Netflix movies, and store all your music, you’ll need the elite.

    The main thing to avoid is the wired controllers. Having played without wires, I never want to go back. Other than that, you’ve already said you want to get wireless network interface so factor that into the total cost. The official xbox one is more expensive than a ethernet-to-wireless adaptor, but it gets its power from the XBox so you’ll save a plug.

    Multi-player or not, you’ll pretty much be forced to sign up for XBox live if you want to download any patches or updates for the games or the console itself. If you setup the console to boot straight to the game instead of going through the XBox desktop, you’ll avoid most of the advertising.

    As a “family” device, I like that it has plenty of easy to setup parental controls; however, unless I find an old copy of dance dance revolution, there aren’t that many games appropriate for my small children. I mention this mainly in contrast to the Wii, which my wife and four-year-old had a fantastic time with at a family reunion.

  2. Patrick says:

    I am also contemplating a purchase of an Xbox 360. But from what I have been reading it sounds like a good idea to wait a little bit before buying one. Rumors are flying around Kotaku, Destructoid, Joystiq and many other sites that in the next month or two (before the Christmas shopping season) all Xbox 360 models will see a price drop. The will drop to 199.00 for the Arcade, 299.00 for the 60 GB model, and the Elite will drop to $399.00.

    Also for those who say these are just rumors it is true they could be wrong. But these sites have properly predicted the last 2 Xbox 360 price drops.

    Also, I have considered buying a used one but with all of the technical difficulties the 360’s have been having I want a new one simply for the full warranty. Also they have changed the construction slightly to help resolve some of these issue so new 360’s fail less often than the original models.

  3. eloj says:

    I thought the 20GB model was discontinued and replaced with a 60GB model?

    I can’t say for the XBox, but on the PS3 (where you can change the harddrive to an off-the-shelf one without voiding the warranty, BTW) a game use around 3GiB of hard drive space, demos around 1GiB and a typical HD trailer say 200MiB.

    If you’re anything like me, and want to keep everything you’ve downloaded that isn’t _complete_ crap, you’ll definitiely grow out of the 20GiB. Just keeping the demos of games you don’t buy will eat into that 20GiB plenty fast, I’d think.

    Likely ‘Premium’ is the model you want. AFAIK the “elite” only adds fluff like a headset, different color case, whatever.

    What I don’t get is, which version ships with 802.11? None?

  4. LazerFX says:

    Go PS3? Seriously – most games are dual-release nowadays, you get wireless, Hi-Def, unified media streaming (Rather than proprietary), cheaper/free games addon downloads, PSN (Instead of paid-for Xbox Live), PS Home… plus, it’ll play Blu Ray which will knock your socks off.

  5. Jeremiah says:

    I got my 20GB 360 on the day they were released. I doubt I’ll ever come close to filling that up at all. Granted I don’t buy a lot of games and I rent one game about once a month (but that’s split between the 360, PS3, and Wii). Once I’m done with a rented title, I generally wipe the save files off, unless I really liked it in which case I’ll probably buy it. I also don’t replay most games, so when I know I’m done with something, I wipe the save files.

    I don’t get a lot of downloadable content — mostly new songs for Guitar Hero & Rock Band. I download demos from time to time, but delete them when I’m done.

    If I were in your position, about to buy a brand new one, I’d probably get a bigger hard drive than I have now, just for the peace of mind all that extra space would be.

    Either way, good luck with your new purchase. I’m sure I and many others will be looking forward to your thoughts on the 360 and any games you play on it.

    Oh, also, comment 3 reminds me: a big difference between the PS3 and 360 is that some games on the PS3 actually install stuff onto the hard-drive, which is why some take up so much space. As far as I’ve seen, the 360 only does save games and patches.

  6. Ross Mills says:

    Be aware that, yes, you are likely to get the Ring of Light issue in your XBox.

    Also be aware that Microsoft fixes it for free(!)

  7. Tom Armitage says:

    Well, some of the demos are getting on for a gig, and the 20gigger is really about 14gig of usable space – so a larger option isn’t too stupid. They are also about to introduce a form of installation, I believe, which might be useful for games like Mass Effect…

    The only other thing I’d say is vital is the Play And Charge kit – it’s a replacement battery for the joypad that lets you charge it over USB from the console, and keep playing whilst it’s charging. I guess you could use rechargabale AAs, but I just like being able to plug the pad in and keep going.

  8. Russ says:

    1. Wait until September when the price drops hit.
    2. The hard drive is worth it, skip the Arcade. The 20 GB Pro is being phased out and replaced with the 60 GB Pro.
    3. Unless you plan on downloading all sorts of media to your Xbox or just really really like black, skip the Elite and get the Pro.
    4. The hardware issues have more or less been sorted out. I wouldn’t fear buying a new system.
    5. Xbox Live does have its fair share of idiots, but any good multiplayer game (Halo 3, CoD4) allows you to individually mute people. I’ve also found that 3 out of 4 times I can get the player to watch their language if I just tell them that. So, by no means is Live necessary, but there are ways to get enjoyment from it.

  9. Chad Mercer says:

    20GB is probably enough, honestly, unless you keep every demo ever. That said, I wish I would’ve gone for the super-ridiculous upgrade, due to the fact that it’s got the HDMI cable included, which costs like $100 separately.

    So if you want to go HDMI, you really ought to check into that.

    And you should definitely wait until after the September price drops!!

  10. Mob says:

    I’d probably recommend a larger hard drive. Demos are quite large (2GB or more). Also, I don’t imagine that patches will be very small either. Then there’s save games, arcade purchases, plus any other media you might download (tv shows, movies, CDs, NETFLIX[coming soon]). Over the life of the console, this is going to add up. 20GB is right out. 60GB could be acceptable, but you’ll probably have to do cleanup periodically.

    Be aware that in order to play any kind of multiplayer at all, you’ve got to have one of the premium Live subscriptions (Silver or Gold). This includes all of the arcade games as well.

    Oh, and don’t worry too much about the HDMI cable. You can get those from discount cable sites for much cheaper than $100. I got the one with my Elite, and can’t tell the difference between it and the one I bought online for around $10.

  11. Factoid says:

    The 350 dollar model is going to be upgraded to a 60GB hard drive very soon, if it hasn’t already hit store shelves. 20 GB Hard Drives are going to get a drop in price to 300 until such time as they are all gone.

    The Fall Update that’s coming in september/october-ish will include a new feature that allows you to install any game directly to the hard drive, reducing load times. You still have to have the disc in the system, for DRM purposes, but content will stream off the drive.

    My guess is that for most games the performance boost won’t really help much. It certainly doesn’t make a big difference for Xbox Classics and larger Arcade titles.

    I have a 20GB drive, and I’ve never dipped below 5GB freespace, even with having a bunch of XBLA games, demos, trailers, etc…

    The nice thing about Live Marketplace is that once you’ve bought something you can erase it and download it again later.

    Make sure you invest in the battery charger, though. The wireless controllers are good for a pretty decent amount of time, but batteries are expensive. They sell one that has two slots and plugs into the wall, which is infinitely better than the Play and Charge kit, which is the same battery, but charges by plugging into the USB port on your console, which has to be turned on. It’s like 4 bucks extra for the charger…totally worth the price.

    Unless of course you buy rechargeable AA batteries. Those would work just as well also.

    EDIT: re: the comment just above this one…all models of 360s have HDMI now, not just the Elite. Those came first, but now all of them have one, including the Arcade. Found this out when mine died and Best Buy gave me a new unit. Same Premium package…but this time I got an HDMI cable, as well as a copy of some Marvel game that was bundled.

    That also reminds me: BUY THE EXTENDED WARRANTY. Microsoft doesn’t charge to fix red-ringed systems anymore, but it still takes like 4 weeks to get it back. For 50 bucks I went to Best Buy and they handed me another one off the shelf, plus they let me swap the hard drive so I didn’t lose anything.

  12. eloj says:

    A HDMI cable does not cost $100 (unless you’re buying 20m?)

    It _can_ cost $100, just like an audiophile speaker cable can cost $400/m, but… don’t do that.

    You should be able to buy 1m HDMI for ~$15 easy. Over here in europe there’s a brand called ‘Deltaco’ which is cheap on cables.

  13. lebkin says:

    You definitely want a hard drive. It is very valuable for saving games, profiles, and other content. It is also required for any backwards compatible original Xbox games (as is an internet connection). As for the size, it depends on what you want to do with it. If you’ll never buy Xbox Live Arcade games nor will you buy downloadable content, the smallest hard drive is probably the best.

    On the other hand, if you get into things like Rock Band, which have tons of downloadable content, you could be filling it up nicely. Also note that with the coming fall dashboard update, you will be able to optionally install games to the hard drive for faster load times. More space would definitely help make that easier, since it will allow you to install more games.

  14. henebry says:

    Is it possible to crack the box and upgrade the HD without violating your warranty?

  15. JT says:

    EDIT: yikes, looks like I took too long typing, lots of repeats below…

    Having done all the same figuring that you’ve entered into, Shamus, but around this time last year, here are some tidbits from my experience:

    – eloj is right, the 20GB model was discontinued in favor of the new 60GB model (and he’s pretty spot-on with the space estimates of demos etc.). And the price drops are very likely not a question of “if”, but “when” (as in, “sooner, or closer to Thanksgiving?”).

    – the 360 doesn’t install any portion of a game disc onto the HDD, but just patches and DLC. For that reason unless you want to download and keep tons of demos, the Elite (120GB) is unnecessary. I had to clear off some space from my 20GB to make room for the Force Unleashed demo, but it was just some other free demo that I’m able to download again later if I want it back.

    – This Fall however an OS update will allow users to install entire games onto the HDD to speed up loading times, keep the noise down (the disc doesn’t need to be spinning the whole time you’re playing), etc. With that in mind (and knowing that a typical game on a dual-layer DVD will likely have almost 9GB of data on it), I personally would rather have the 60GB but I’m not about to spend the kind of money MSFT is charging for their proprietary HDD – that’s one arena in which Sony firmly leads MSFT (that, and integrated 802.11).

    – Speaking of wireless networking, if you can I’d avoid the branded XBox wireless adapter, as you can connect it wirelessly for far cheaper if you’ve got enough know-how to manage your home’s wireless network/devices in general. Methods include flashing a router to make it a bridge (free if you’ve got an old wireless router lying around) or using the original black XBox wireless adapter (which I found off Craigslist for $20) which works like a charm (but needs AC power, as mentioned above).

    – I’d recommend against going refurbished, no offense WWWebb. The track record (and not having any idea which generation you’re buying) for Red Rings of Death is just too prohibitive to bet $300 on, IMO.

    – XBox Live memberships: you’ll get a Silver one for free when you first sign up and logon (if you have a MSFT Passport ID or something or other, you can use it as your signup account, sorta like single identity sign-on), and that’s all you’ll need for system updates, game patches, demos, DLC, etc. etc. The only things extra that Gold gives you is 1) online multiplayer, which includes all flavors of multiplayer including the Halo/CoD4/GTA crowd as well as XBox Live Arcade titles like Settlers of Catan, Chessmaster, Lost Cities, etc; 2) you get DLC on the release date (like the Force Unleashed demo, released yesterday but Silver can’t download it until a week later); 3) if you’re a Netflix customer, you’ll need to be Gold to download movies to your XBox this Fall when that service starts up. Gold is only $50/year (cheaper if you look around at places like or Newegg for lower-cost cards) but if it’s of no value to a particular gamer, then cheapskates – like me – tend to pass on it.

    – EDIT for exceptions to the above: for a very specific subset of cross-platform (read: Games for Windows Live and XBox Live) multiplayer games, Gold-level multiplayer on the 360 is available to Silver-tier members. The games this holds true for are Shadowrun, Lost Planet: Colonies, and Universe at War. Allegedly, this is only for a limited time and speculation is that when the big system update hits in the Fall it will go away.

    – Can’t agree more on the wireless controller comment. No comparison at all. Fortunately, I believe the current generation of every version (Arcade included) comes with a wireless controller.

    – I took some initiative to not hope that my 360 stays cool enough to fend off an RRoD, and bought a super-quiet (and I mean that, no marketer-speak here, I’m serious about noise abatement) PC case fan (120mm from Nexus) and a 120v-to-5v-Molex adapter and positioned it to pull the hot air from the back of the 360 and push it out into the ambient living room air. The difference in air temperature surrounding the 360 is noticeably cooler when the fan is on than when it’s off. Other folks have done other, simpler things like using one of those laptop cooler pads, or other, more complex things like building scoops & ducting to vent the heat all the way to an exhaust port in an exterior wall.

    – Not about the console, but about the games. For the most part, there’s absolutely no reason for a consumer to spend full retail on console games. Unlike PC games, there’s no serial numbers to enter & get used up, etc., so you never have to worry if a secondhand game is going to let you play once you’ve brought it home. With Craigslist, eBay, and AnandTech Forums around, there’s ALSO no reason to pad GameStop’s coffers by buying their still-overpriced used games, obtained by fleecing their customers. Only having bought/played 8 games since Christmas last year, I’m probably on the low side of most XBox owners’ buying rates, but of those 8, I paid full retail for only two (and they were two that I wanted to play so bad that I couldn’t wait, Mass Effect and The Force Unleashed – the first game, PC or console, I’ve ever preordered); the other 6 were off Craigslist or eBay and I’ve saved an average of $25/game (which if you do the math, is half the price of an XBox 360). Now that I think about it one was from GameFly’s Used store when they had a sale, and the quality of the disc was outstanding (though I feared the worst, having seen Blockbuster discs in the past).

    – Headphones are a must if you’re thinking of playing late & night and not disturbing the family, and wireless is the way to go when you’re playing from the couch with a wireless controller. Contrary to my cheapskate ways with subscriptions & game purchases, I splurged on a set of wireless (infrared) Surround Sound headphones designed specifically for the 360 from Turtle Beach. Got ’em on sale @ for $163 and I’m immensely pleased with my purchase. The positional sound is amazingly splenderrific, and I say that having played the last half of Bioshock with them. Skeptics should read up on the advancements that Dolby has had with their Dolby Headphone technology and give some of those samples a shot.

    – Wow, a guy can certainly wander when he’s got something to say, can’t he?

  16. supermank17 says:

    The premium is probably the most useful of the systems at the moment. It has wireless controllers, and you’ll definitely want the hard drive, if only to save games. The hard drive is also nice for downloading demos, updates to games, and xbox live arcade games (none of which require the Gold Live service). 20 GB is more than enough for that type of activity; the added space is really only necessary if you’re using the system for multimedia purposes. That being said, the premium 20GB is in the process of being replaced with a 60 GB model for the same price as the original, and the 20 GB model has been reduced to $300 until the stock is sold out. You also might want to keep an eye out; there are rumors of another price cut across the line in the first week of September.

  17. Skip says:

    You don’t need to crack the box to upgrade the hard drive – however, with some very few exceptions, you’re stuck buying an overpriced HD from Microsoft.

  18. Matthijs says:

    The 360’s being sold for the last year all have the new 65nm “Falcon” motherboard, which is much less likely to RROD. They are quieter and cooler.

    Just get a 60gb model when you can find one.

  19. Chris says:

    I feel like I waited too late for this.

    The one thing to keep in mind about multiplayer is that, even for simple things like co-op, most games are beginning to lose split screen. I HATE this, and I imagine that most companies will argue that the system can’t handle that level of stress (which is just short hand for “We’re sorry we suck at programming so much we can’t take advantage of all three processors in this system” since it is more than capable).

    I’m usually not the sort of Capture-the-Flag or Deathmatch playing fellow myself, so I understand your perspective on not doing Live, but if you are any fan of co-op then it is totally worth it, and in some cases no option. Now that Turok is $30 I have friends thinking of buying it, meaning a friend of mine and I will finally be able to tackle that game’s co-op with the three or four people it demands.

    Also, never underestimate the party system of most games. I never really found Halo fun online until I played team games with five or six friends on my team, meaning I was playing with people I knew. Since you can’t hear what other people are saying unless they are on your team, the worst you have to deal with are idiots tea-bagging you. Not to mention that some of the best games to play online are the less popular ones. For some reason people hate Shadowrun, but most of the time I’ve played the team has, at the very least, been polite, even if everyone sucks.

    You’ll get a free month of Xbox Live, so I’d recommend getting a game with some co-op when you grab a system and testing it out. After all, you have plenty of folks here that would be willing to friend you (plus, I STILL have yet to experience Halo 3’s 4-player co-op). Honestly, most games truly are more fun when you co-op with a friend, even for primarily solo gamers as you, me, and probably a large portion of your readership.

    As for the price drop, it has pretty much been confirmed through Radioshack. Chances are the price drop wouldn’t have come until you got it, anyway.

    In terms of hard drive space that you’ll need, well, that really does depend. I hate having a 20GB, but don’t want to pay so much for a 120GB. Even the 60GB is going to be over-priced. I download a lot of demos and trailers, so I often enough have to go through and manage everything when new demos come out. It is workable, certainly, but still a pain.

    The real issue is with the upcoming Fall update. Netflix may take up some serious space itself. The real thing is, will you use the hard-drive installation features? If so, that certainly warrants an Elite.

    Overall, though, I’d recommend the Premium. The Arcade is a waste. The Premium is the REAL system, and the Elite is added toys.

    I wouldn’t worry much about the Red Ring of Death, either, since those systems tend to be remnants from pre-2007.

  20. Cadrys says:

    #14 Henebry: The HD is an external unit, intended for consumer upgradability.

    Shamus: Go for the new line with teh 60GB HD and you should be fine until/unless you find you want the Netflix ability/an urge to download demos like crazy/own lots of original Xbox games.

    Or, if you’re like me, you get addicted to Rock Band the the downloadable songs. [ok, not likely given your stated preferences]

    Red Ring o’ Death: getting rarer, and comes with automatic 3-year warranty if it happens.

    Disclaimer: I’m a MS employee, but not in the Xbox group. Therefore I don’t know more than anybody else…they’re a close-mouthed bunch!

  21. The Lone Duck says:

    Quick response to JT, paying full retail helps support developers and publishers. Seeing as my favorite publisher, Working Designs has long since been out of business, I try to pay full retail when I can, so the money goes to the people who made the game, and not someone else. That’s my reason, don’t expect everyone else to do the same, but there is a good reason to do so.
    I own a PS3. Regardless of what you do, you’ll want a hard drive. Downloadable games are really good, plus you can can download demos. It sounds like your mind is made up on consoles, so I’ll just describe a few things about the PS3. My model has backwards compatability with PS1 and PS2 games. Newer models dropped the PS2 coverage to lower pricing. All PS3s can play PS1 games, as I understand.
    I would ask what kind of gamer you are. Do you tend to play for single player experiences, or do you want to play and connect with other people? One of Xbox’s big strengths is it’s Xbox Live service for multiplayer games. If that’s not something you’d use… Also, how many games would you be getting? The 360 has a much bigger library of games. As a side note, the 360 tends to get more PC ports than the PS3. Having said all that, I hope you are satisfied with whatever decision you come to

  22. PixelSocks says:

    If you’re looking for the end-user experience with the extra HD space, it comes down to this:
    “¢Demos mostly run (on the high side) 1-2 GB
    “¢XBLA games have size caps at 350 MB
    “¢Game installs (like Xbox Originals) can vary widely, but they’re all pretty big.
    “¢Downloadable content can be deleted and re-downloaded at a later date. It doesn’t cost you money, but it does eat your time.

    So, even with a 20 GB hard drive, you could have one game in the optical drive, one or (maybe) two XBox originals, and a handful of XBLA games and demos installed at once. After that, you’ll have to start deleting and swapping games for space, just like you would on any other computer.

    So the question you really need to answer is, “Am I more comfortable with storing the games I’m not currently playing on a remote server and having to download them again if they catch my attention, or am I more comfortable shelling out the price difference to forego that?”

  23. I would recommend you get the Pro. The Arcade, in addition to have no hard drive, doesn’t have an HDMI port and comes with wired controllers instead of wireless ones. The Elite comes with a lot of nice extras, but if you’re new to the system and not a “hardcore” video gamer, you’re not going to need them. The Pro I think is just right, and it’s the one I have. Just make sure that if you’re going to use XBOX Live (which I’m assuming you’ll want to) that you can put your router somewhat near the XBOX since it doesn’t have wireless support (you can buy the wireless adapter but it’s pricey).

    Good luck! If you do get on XBOX Live, my gamertag is slimindie.

  24. elias says:

    Russ has it right with his points. I have a 20GB from less than a year after it was first released and it hasn’t had a Red Ring of Death yet, though it may. I wouldn’t expect it from the new models, though. I am considering getting another 360 myself, to put in my office for XNA development (and to play on, since my wife kicks me off the TV in the living room most of the time).

    So, some points:
    1. The above comments are correct: the 60GB version of the Pro is replacing the 20GB. There are probably some 20GB versions still floating around but they are only there while supplies last.
    2. They are also correct that the price will be dropping soon. Of course there will be no official confirmation of this until the day the price actually drops. (After all, why would they announce it beforehand and effectively tell people to stop buying it?) Wait until that happens (probably in the next month).
    3. You want a hard drive. 60GB (Pro) or 120GB (Elite), your choice. I will probably get the 60GB on my next one (and actually put the new one in the living room and use the 20GB for development). Microsoft rips you off to a ludicrous degree on all extras for the 360, so yes that 120GB hard drive is extremely overpriced, but remember they will rip you off even harder if you decide you want to switch to the 120GB drive later ($180).
    4. Games generally don’t require an install on the 360, and game saves are like 2MBish. No big deal, but like the commenters above said, demos can take up 1 to 1.5 gigs at the higher end, and demos are one of the best things about the 360. However, reportedly in the new dashboard update (the patch for the 360 operating system) which is coming this fall, you will be able to optionally install any game to the hard drive to reduce load times. I assume this takes as much space as the data on the disc (~5GB for 1 disc on average), but the benefits are likely marginal (you still have to have the disc in the tray to play), and you can choose to uninstall or not whenever you want. I like the idea of optional installs but I hope they don’t become required as the fact that you don’t have to install is one my favorite things about console gaming. Note: the first comment is incorrect in mentioning Netflix as a factor here, as you can only stream movies from them, not download them. You can, however, purchase TV episodes and rent movies through Xbox Marketplace, which will take up some space (I have never done either, so I’m not sure how much).
    5. You will want an internet connection for it. There is not a version of the 360 that comes with Wi-Fi built in. You have to again be outrageously robbed by Microsoft ($100 for the wireless adapter). I have this anyway, though, as running an ethernet cable from the living room to the office was out of the question. You want to be on Xbox Live (no need to pay for it, Silver membership is free and even though you can’t play online multiplayer, you can download demos and Xbox Live Arcade games–which are some of the coolest things about having a 360).
    6. Also, Pro and Elite come with wireless controllers. I don’t like wired ones. I bought the battery charger that charges 2 batteries at once and have 3 rechargable batteries (for 2 controllers) so that there’s always a fully charged battery to swap with when a battery runs out.
    7. You asked about things we wish we’d known. Well, this wouldn’t have changed my decision, but: more about how MS rips you off on extras. The controllers don’t come with rechargeable batteries. You have to either use AAs or bite the bullet and buy the rechargeables (they are worth it in comparison to using AAs, but still sucks you have to buy them separately). Also, USB drives like thumbdrives and external hard drives will not work on the 360 (except, I think, if you do something special you can play movies off of them, but that is all). If you want to transfer save games to another 360 at a friend’s house or something (maybe won’t matter for you), you have to buy the ridiculously priced proprietary memory cards (the other 2 console manufacturers saw how stupid this was and let you use SD cards now).

    So: do not get the Arcade pack. It’s a waste of money, as most of the cool stuff about the 360 needs a hard drive and you’ll end up paying more than the difference picking up a hard drive later. Either the 60GB Pro or 120GB Elite will be good. Wait until the price drops. The Elite will be $399 and the others will fall accordingly.

    Despite the complaints about MS pricing I have above, I think the 360 is the best console this generation, if only for the games it has on it. MS has done an admirable job of getting good games for this system. From the beginning of this console generation I had been planning to eventually get all three consoles (got a Wii on launch day), but now I don’t even want a PS3 anymore as the games are generally inferior (it’s harder to develop for) and there aren’t any coming out for it exclusively that I want enough.

  25. Tirgayon says:

    First off, it looks like th price drops will be on September 7th:

    If you get a 360 I’d get an Elite. The black case fits in better with most home entertainment centers, and if you are big into media the HD is nice.

    Second… you don’t seem like a huge gamer, but wireless seems important as are media features. So, I’d advise you to get a PS3 80GB Metal Gear Storm bundle right now. You can sell the unopened game if you don’t care for it.

    Why PS3? 4 reasons that might seem important to you:

    I have both consoles in the house, and I’ve played lots of other peoples 360’s and PS3s. The 360 controllers lose their connection all the damn time. Its so bad my brother in law prefers to use a wired controller. Never once have I dropped a connection with a PS3 controller. Never. (If you do get a 360 keep the controller batteries topped off!)

    RROD is ridiculous on the 360. The Elite we have in the house has been solid, but frankly the whole situation has been ridiculous.

    Media galore! You can play a huge variety of files on the PS3, and you can even play them right off of the huge variety of media that the PS3 reads. The 80GB version has a a CF slot, an SDHC slot and a memory stick slot. Also, you can stream media from your PC. Oh and Blue Ray.

    Hard drive upgradeability. I was shooting an interview, and when we were done the guy opened up a 256GB Intel SSD he got for review/testing… which we dropped in his PS3 in like 10 minutes…. then played Soul Calibur. It was easy. (SSD is the way to go on consoles, it ran much cooler. It would be a huge benefit for 360 owners.)

    The systems both have a lot of pros and cons, but the PS3 sounds like a better fit for you than a 360

  26. Reed says:

    One quick note on the Play and Charge USB thing is that you can plug it into any USB port and it will charge the controller, so if you don’t want to leave the XBox on overnight, but your PC is on anyway, just plug it in there and the controller will be all charged up by morning.

  27. Chris says:

    I’ve had my 360 for less than six months, and I’ve already had to care about HD space several times. If you’re not planning on downloading any demos, XBLA games, movies or DLC, and you’re not planning on owning both Rock Band and Rock Band 2, then you’re probably safe with 20GB. Otherwise, I’d try and get a bigger drive.

  28. Tirgayon says:

    I forgot to mention that all versions of the PS3 include wireless b/g, which is a $100 add on to the Xbox 360.

    It so happens that my PS3 is set up by my FIOS router, so I have it cabled, but in most other situations this is a big issue, and erased any price advantage the 360 has.

  29. Freykin says:

    About a year ago I got a refurbished Premium model, with 20GB of hard drive space. I haven’t come close to filling it, and this is with my downloading expansion packs and putting quite a bit of music on it. Save games don’t take up a lot of space, and I’ve yet to play a game on it that actually installs anything to the hard drive.

    My only complaint is that the wireless adapter for it costs $100, which is beyond ridiculous.

  30. Danel says:

    I’m not sure how much I can add. Between us, my family has all three of the next gen consoles: the family regularly plays Wii, while I have a 360 and my brother got a PS3. To describe the pros and cons… PS3 probably looks a little prettier, and is technically the better console in several ways. But I don’t know if you’ll actually be using the advantages the PS3 would be capable of giving you in any case – it’s considerably better for online multiplayer what with standard wireless and not having to subscribe, but you’ve already disdained that.

    The 360 has game advantages. I’d imagine the chance to play Mass Effect and Bioshock without jumping through silly DRM-hoops would appeal to you, and you could even pick them up used if you’d rather, to avoid giving money to the people that set up this situation. Many other games are dual release.

    When I got my 360, I got a free month of XBox Live Gold the first time I connected to the internet, which sadly I never actually used; you may wish to check it out and see if you actually like it, at this price. In any case, you don’t have to pay for Live Silver, which allows you to download demos and DLC.

    For the purposes of this, the middle package is great. I think my HD is 60gb or thereabouts, and that’s more than enough space unless I went totally mad for demos and refused to delete them after trying ’em.

    As regards cables… if you’re not going to be playing multiplayer, you don’t need to be connected all the time. I use wired and just hook it up for a few minutes, look for any new demos or DLC that catches my eye, queue it up and leave it downloading while I go out or to bed. You can set it up to download while on standby, shutting off completely as soon as it’s finished. In which case, it doesn’t really contribute to potential snarls. Also, the wireless converter is ridiculously overpriced, which is especially disgusting given how both the Wii and PS3 are wireless ready out of the box.

  31. Dev Null says:

    I'm not big on multiplayer, and I'm certainly not going to be jumping on XBox Live to swim in the sea of brats and morons unless I think it will make for a funny comic. I certainly won't be signing up for their premium XBL while I still have command of my senses.

    Aww… c’mon, you know you want to… Theres bound to be at least a couple of comics in that.

  32. Justin says:

    I apologize in advance if I’m re-capping things people already mentioned. The comments, while well-written, get kind of verbose. I have been able to download (rent) movies, buy games, and store video and music on my 20GB with little concern for space. The only caveat: make sure to clear out things like expired movie rentals and obsolete demos. They tend to clock in at 1 1/2 GB a piece. Signing up for XBL isn’t the insanity that it first appears; the console probably comes with 1 month free Gold and so do most games anymore. It’s only $50 a year after that. Silver is free, and still conveys access to DLC. The wireless adapter is cheap at twice the price, especially if your cable mess is even close to mine. The Pro version is probably your best bet.

    My Gamertag is ChurchV50 if you do decide to “Jump In(tm),” and I’m proud to say I got a launch day box and I’m only on my second one.

  33. Alexis says:

    AFAIK the gremlins are mostly fixed now.
    HDMI used to be the big issue, but comments say it’s standard now. Yay.
    PS3 has blu-ray and Cell gives more room to grow. OTOH the controllers are less comfy. HD movies really are beautiful.

    Assuming you’re fixed on the xbox, get the infrared remote if you might use it for movies.
    The wireless headset is a bit rubbish tbh, it picks up okay but any music or sfx sound terrible.

  34. Nilus says:

    I read some of the comments here are my thoughts

    1) I bought my X-Box about 2 years ago and It runs fine. never had the red ring of Death. I keep mine in a well ventilated spot and spent 20 dollars on one of the fans that attaches to the back. Works great for me

    2) I have the 20 Gig hard drive and have still not filled it up. X-Box games don’t install a lot to the hard drives(at least not yet, this might be changing soon). So the only thing you might be deleting is demoes you download from X-Box live

    3) One thing to know about the XBL premium. A lot of games wont let you play online at all without it. And you are forced to wait a week before you can download the newest demoes on XBL.

    As far as the PS3 vs X-Box debate. Based on what you like the answer is simple. X-box has Mass Effect and Fallout 3. PS3 don’t. I know there are a lot of debates on why PS3 is better because its a blue ray and it has wireless. Wireless adapters for X-box can be found cheap online if you look(especially used and refubished ones) and by Christmas there will be 100 dollar Blueray players on the market. Personal I like to keep my game systems seperate from my movie systems. My past experience shows that using a game system to watch DVDs tends to wear them out quicker. Everyone I know who used there PS2 for DVD players ended up having to replace them.

  35. Michael McHenry says:

    @WWWebb – If you’re looking for an XBox game for a 4-year-old, I recommend Cars for the original XBox.

    It’s an excellent re-creation of Radiator Springs from the Cars movie, and has a lot of personality and charm. Best of all, it is very forgiving to a kid that wants to drive out into the desert barely touching the roads.

  36. SAD says:

    Does this mean we might finaly get to see a Bioshock review?

  37. Shamus says:

    I might get BioShock, although I’ll probably get the demo first and see if I’m up for it. Otherwise the whole review will be I HATE PLAYING FPS WITH A JOYSTICK ARRRRRRRRG!

    I really really do hate thumbstick FPS. We’ll see how bad it is in the demo.

    But first up is probably Mass Effect.

  38. pl says:

    Does the arcade version have a hard drive bay? ‘Cause I’d just buy it and install my own drive.

    Perhaps I’d warranty it with Best Buy or some other place that lets me do that.

  39. Hawk says:

    Mass Effect is definitely fun (if a bit repetitive after a while), and I wouldn’t knock the thumbstick design — the Xbox controller is fantastic for FPS (and FPS-lite like Mass Effect) games. I’ve had my 360 for a little less than a year now, and after using the dual stick dual trigger design, I’m never playing another FPS on a PC again (I’ll stick to RPGs and strategy on the PC, which is where having a keyboard really shines).

    I got the 20MB Pro, which seemed to be a good package: HDMI port, wireless controller, plus it came with two games, one of which (Forza 2) was the whole reason I got the Xbox in the first place.

    I have yet to use Xbox Live, so I probably don’t know what I’m missing, but after experiencing multiplayer PC games with the idiots on the internet, I suspect there are enough idiots in Xbox Live to ruin that experience, too.

    I don’t acquire games at a very fast rate, though, so I’m sure I’mm missing out. I’m up to 5: Forza 2 (love it; this gets most of the game time), Halo 3 (loved it, finished it), Mass Effect (great, 70% complete), Oblivion (about 40% complete), and some superhero game that came with the package that I have yet to try (comic book superheroes leave me cold). Tempted to pick up BioShock or Call of Duty IV … eventually.

  40. Taellosse says:

    I got the Elite version as a gift from my wife last Christmas. If you usage habits are likely to be anything like mine (and I suspect they are) you probably don’t need a 120 GB HD, but it will free you from ever having to worry about cleaning the thing up.

    I have never payed for XBL, since I’m as uninterested in multiplayer as you, and you can buy things from the online store with the free Silver version. I’ve downloaded a bunch of demos (which is a GREAT idea, I have to say–makes it much easier to make informed buying decisions) and free preview videos, most of which are a gig or less in size. I’ve purchased one full game from the Arcade (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which I’ve always loved), and the expanded content for Mass Effect. That’s all I’ve actually bought from the store–my PC and iPod have my music, DVDs are what movies are for, and I haven’t bothered with anything else.

    The space taken up by save games is generally pretty minimal. I’ve got maybe a half-dozen to a dozen different games, and I tend to be pretty wasteful when it comes to using save slots (I like to have lots of backups in case anything ever goes wrong and one gets corrupted–a holdover from finicky PSone memory cards, doubtless, I’ve rarely ever had actual problems with saves on this system), and I’m pretty sure I’ve got over 90 gig still free on the thing.

    On the other hand, if you intend to mess with the system, as a friend of mine has, so you can install games directly on the hard drive (or, I hear, you’ll be able to do this without altering the machine soon, apparently), or you intend to take heavy advantage of the “media center” features, the big hard drive will not only be handy, but essential. But if this is likely going to be just a game console for you, as it is for me, the 120 GB drive is more than you’re likely to need.

    But get the rechargeable battery packs (at least 2) and the charger for them. They last longer than the AA batteries the controllers come with, and if you keep one as backup, you’ll never find yourself with a dead battery in the middle of a game (wireless controllers are WONDERFUL, and having to use those USB recharger cords when the battery runs down kinda sucks). Although they do seem to lose a charge over time, so if you stop playing the XBox for a while, then come back, you may get a dead battery pretty quickly–but a regular recharging brings them back well enough.

  41. Chris says:

    Otherwise the whole review will be I HATE PLAYING FPS WITH A JOYSTICK ARRRRRRRRG!

    I really really do hate thumbstick FPS. We'll see how bad it is in the demo.

    I swear I’m the only person that likes.

    Either way, pretty much any shooter on the 360 comes with aim assist. There are a few that do not, but I hardly ever notice because, well, I dunno. I adapted really quickly to using a control pad and it feels second nature. Bioshock certainly has it, though it kind of feels cheap since it may follow the enemy as they run behind a wall. Sometimes I turn aim assist off since it just feels like it’s screwing with me.

    In any case, there is aim assist on most games to help out.

  42. Mike Lemmer says:

    Yes, the $350 360 Pro has a 60-gig HD. It also costs $100 for the 360 Wireless adapter, which is just nuts to me when the $250 Wii can use wireless out of the box.

    I would definitely hook up to Xbox Live occasionally, though, just to get their downloadable games. With stuff like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, online Settlers of Catan, and the Bionic Commando remake available, I’d argue I enjoy those more than the “actual” $50+ games for it.

  43. Heph says:

    @Chris: the reason they all come with aim assist is because, well, otherwise, it’s rubbish and nowhere near as good as a mouse to point :-P

    I’m trying to not comment here, because me and console controls are like matter and antimatter. Grah.

    One thing though…all the people raving about “oh you get free demos, what a wonderful idea”…Am I really the only one who remember the good old days when we got demos for, ohhh, say, the PC? Jeeze, a demo is nice, but it should be a standard right, not a cool perk you get for picking one system.

    Oh well.

  44. StingRay says:


    Yes, the Arcade has the option for installing a hard drive later. However, I don’t think there’s really a way to do that without buying a specific for Xbox hard drive, which costs about $100 for the low-end size (I don’t remember how big that is at the moment).

    The Arcade really, in my opinion, isn’t worth the time. You’ll spend more upgrading it than you’ll save. The Elite is only worth it if you really think you’re going to want to use it for a lot of media center type applications. It comes with an HDMI cable which is nice, I suppose, but it’s kind of overkill if you’re not going to be downloading stuff on a constant basis.

    If you can find them, the 20 gig Pro models are $300 now, and should have plenty of space for the average user. (Regardless of how large demos are, do you really intend to keep them for long than one or two plays?) Of course, if the price drop rumors are true, it’s probably worth it to just hold out until the 60 gig version drops.

  45. Ian B. says:

    @Heph: Offering demos outside of magazine demo discs in an widely accessible fashion (i.e. using no external communication devices, having a seamless UI, etc) is a fairly new things for console systems.

    But anyhoo, it’s going to be kind of hard to say something that wasn’t said before, but here goes.

    I’d definitely advise getting the Pro/Premium model. The Arcade simply too limited (only composite cables are offered so no HD support, plus it only has a 256MB memory card) and the Elite is a bit too pricey for my tastes. I have a 20GB Pro model and it’s treated me well so far. I did have one RRoD, but Microsoft was very quick about getting it replaced and, on top of that, they gave me a 3 month general-purpose warranty on the replacement system should a non-RRoD event occur. I can’t complain.

    For the record, it really doesn’t matter how cool or well-ventilated you keep the 360. It might buy you some time, but with the older non-Falcon motherboards it’s not going to guarantee anything. My 360 was always kept in a cool place and it still bit the dust (fortunately, it happened immediately after I upgraded my computer, so all was good).

    If you don’t have an HDTV in whatever room you plan to put it in, I highly recommend picking up a VGA cable for it. Considering just about all monitors nowadays are capable of at least 1280×800 or 1280×1024 it’ll essentially give you cheap HD. Games are generally letterboxed, though some games are awesome enough to completely support PC resolutions (meaning that they’ll actually fill up a 1280×1024 screen). There are a couple of games that don’t work properly with screens with a 5:4 or 4:3 aspect ratio (original Xbox games, Project Gotham Racing 3, and Tony Hawk Project 8 are the only ones I’ve personally run into) but overall it works very nicely.

    I’d mainly recommend it because some developers really dropped the ball when it comes to SDTV support. Dead Rising, for example, is a fantastic game, but it sports an impossibly tiny font.

    But yeah, that’s just something else to consider.

  46. Justin says:

    I second Ian’s advice. The icons on Assassin’s Creed make alot more sense on a decent resolution, and the VGA cable is the cheapest way to wrangle yourself an HD system. The downside? You’re on your own for sound…

  47. Ian B. says:


    The downside? You're on your own for sound…

    My 360 and my computer basically share a corner, so I just plugged the sound output of the 360 into the line in on my PC and set the volume level appropriately. I’ve been doing this since I bought the adapter and it’s been working great so far. :)

    Oh, one thing that is kind of important to add: the VGA adapter does include a gender changer, allowing you to connect the 360 to a monitor with an attached VGA cable (i.e. most cheap CRTs) and attach it to extension cables. As far as the audio goes, you’re on your own when it comes to changing from RCA to a mini-jack style connector. It’s not a problem that a five minute trip to Radio Shack won’t resolve, of course, but it’s something to keep in mind.

    Edit: On another note, all of my comments seem to be getting flagged for moderation now. *tear* :(

  48. eloj says:

    I basically find FPS games completely unplayable on a console controller. However, thanks to the FragFX I’m happily playing along with a mouse. From what I understand this is pretty much impossible on the Xbox360 because Microsoft is locking down peripherals (they require a key signed by MS). Now, it’s pretty crappy that you’d have to buy a special mouse-controller when the only reason your normal USB-mouse doesn’t work is that developers don’t support it (except for Epic or whoever developed Unreal Tournament on the PS3 which does support normal USB mice; credits to them), but what are you gonna do? This is a hardware DRM issue which really mess with players.

    I actually have all my computer USB-gear (keyboard, mouse, memory) and console gear plugged into the same USB-hub, so when I switch between gaming on the PC and the PS3 I just move one USB cable. Now, messaging isn’t a big part of consoles, but when you have to do it, the USB keyboard sure helps a lot.

    Anyhow, now I can enjoy both BF:BC and Uncharted (great fun — got the “100 headshots” trophy about 30% into the game :-)

    It’s a weird time when the Sony platform is ‘more open’ than the Microsoft one, truly.

  49. Bryan says:

    It looks like everyone has said what there is to say. Hard drive good. It boils down to game selection for most people, and as an RPG fan the 360 is far superior in this regard. Loose ends:

    – Regarding 360 wireless controllers losing connection, I have never seen this happen once with either of mine.

    – Regarding xbox live: like others said, the silver account is free and this gives access to demos, patches and downloadable content. No worries there.

    – The wireless adapter retails for a hundred bucks, which is ridiculous. I’ve been told there’s an aftermarket adapter that does the job for ~$35. I’d look into it.

    – There are a good dozen or so Xbox Live Arcade games that really rock the house. It seems board games in particular translate well (see Catan, Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne.)

    All in all, do what you think is best for you. I will say that I had an original Xbox for about a year and sold it because there was nothing in the library for me. I’ve have my 360 for about a year and a half and I love it.

  50. General Karthos says:

    I am a mass effect fan. Yes, that should absolutely be your first choice. It is one of the most brilliant games I have seen in a long time. However, because I am not a “fanboy” I will not begrudge anything bad you have to say about the game, because it DOES have its faults. Like it’s hard to really see the extra .5% of damage you gain by leveling up your Assault Rifle ability, etc.

    As far as XBox goes, you should get a premium, the 20 GB hard drive, with wireless controllers. I am assuming that you’re not gonna turn it into your media center? I am sure someone else has mentioned this, but if you are, then obviously, the Elite’s hard drive space would be useful.

  51. OM3G4 says:

    everyone else has said a lot so I’ll just suggest games

    Bioshock – pretty good on the console, doesn’t require cracker-jack aim as far as I was concerned

    MassEffect – I had a good time with it

    and it might just be me but I thought that Assassin’s creed was wicked.

  52. Mark says:

    For myself, I much prefer the wired controllers, as they are more comfortable with no battery pack, and connect over USB so you can use them with your PC. I find them just about the best gamepad I’ve ever encountered, provided you don’t need a d-pad. Combine with a third-party driver that does the sensible thing of treating the two triggers as separate axes, and….

  53. =Dan says:

    You want the 20 GB with the wireless adapter and the Gold Subscription to Xbox Live. As others have said if you plan to d/l movies or upload all your music into the system you will want the 120GB.
    I can understand the impulse to not sign up for the Xbox Live service, however game add-ons are only available on Gold and you might want to play a game co-op with a friend. Over all $50 a year isn’t that large an expense. Your WOW subscription costs a lot more than that and is limited to one game.
    Have fun,

  54. Nixorbo says:

    1. Do not, under any circumstances, get a 3rd party external fan that plugs into the console itself. They a) void the warranty, b) can cause power fluctuations and c) don’t work that well in the first place.

    2. Likewise, Microsoft advises not plugging it into a surge protector. Apparently these also cause power fluctuations and the power brick (which you can kill a man with) has a protector built in.

    3. Don’t bother with the Arcade version.

    4. People complain about the cretins on Live, but they never bother to mute everyone not on their fiends list, which can easily be done. I can’t tell you how much my Live experience has improved due to this one simple setting.

  55. TeamNutmeg says:

    A few thoughts:

    – I have less than a dozen games, but have my 20GB drive more than half full, even after uninstalling the pre-installed stuff. Downloadable content is a real space-eater, and Rock Band is my particular vice. Go for at least the 60GB.

    – Don’t put it in any sort of confined space. It’s a real heat-pig, and needs as much ventilation as possible. That said, if it’s in open air, it runs pretty cool.

    – With the downloadable codec pack (which downloads on first attempt), it’s a great HTPC. I watch all sorts of AVIs, and I haven’t come across one yet that it doesn’t properly handle. If you have a decent-sized thumb drive, you don’t even need to worry about burning discs.

    – I’m not sure the Elite is worth it just for the HDMI (which was the only major difference when I was shopping, IIRC). I’ve got no complaints about my image quality using component cables.

  56. I only recently got a 360, so it’s not that long ago that I was thinking about these questions myself.

    Some stuff to note, then (while I try not to hate you for paying in dollars not much more than what I paid in Sterling. Bastard.) :

    – The newer 360s appear to be a lot quieter and cooler than the older ones; my brother’s used to be run in the exact same conditions and got very hot in the process. My new one doesn’t even get warm after several hours of use.

    – You don’t need a large hard drive. 20Gb is plenty. Save games are a couple of Mb at most. People who are downloading a lot of videos, games, game content and the like from Xbox live may use increased HD space. Otherwise you’re going to use bugger all. You need a hard drive for your 360 to be backwards compatible.

    – The wireless controllers are funky (you’ll probably get one with your console); get a charging pack as well, or at least rechargeable batteries. Bit of an obvious one there (especially as you’ve got kids so you’re probably well used to battery woes), but still.

    – You can update your xbox (most useful for the keeping the backward compatibility up to date) without xbox live; you can download something from the xbox website & burn a CD. This is handy if you don’t plan on spending several million pounds on a wireless adaptor for no good reason (seeing as you’re not eager to multiplay & you don’t like wires).

    – Despite what loads of people keep saying, Microsoft only repair the red ring problem for three for up to 3 years after purchase. And other problems (including red lights that aren’t the big one) are standard warranty issues.

    – Loads of 360 games require a 60Hz TV. That’s probably not a problem in yankland, but I’ll mention it anyway. Quite a few seem optimised for widescreen (actually, probably HDTV now that I’m thinking about it – the text in some games can be unreadable on a bog standard TV, but is fine on a widescreen or HD one). Oh, and you get HDMI cables with the Pro nowadays.

    – Guitar Hero is much more fun than you might think. Or Rock Band, whichever. Dead Rising is also one of the most fun games I’ve ever played. Yes, those games totally fit together in the same bulletpoint.

  57. duncan says:

    I was also thinking it’s about time to get the 360 after holding out this long. A couple of friends did the same recently just to get GTA. On the interweb there were rumours that the 60Gb wouldn’t be out in the UK until spring 2009, then they went and released it already, bonus. I’m off on holiday most of September, and got my birthday when I get back, so I’ll pick it up then as a present to myself.

  58. Chad says:

    You’ll definitely want to check out some of the (150 or so) Xbox LIVE Arcade games. These are smaller games that you download from Xbox LIVE and store on your HD (or MU). A free silver account is fine, but if you ever want to play online multiplayer (and some games have a great, as in not juvenile, group of regulars, e.g. Catan) you’ll need a Gold account. Most of the games range from 25-150 MB (and $5 to $15), but there are exceptions.

    Some standouts off the top of my head:
    * Pac-Man Championship Edition (completely new game with all there was to love about the original, in a completely new way)
    * Braid (absolutely incredible puzzle platformer that reinvigorates the “games as art” discussion.
    * Catan (great implementation of Settlers of Catan board game with design help from Klaus Teuber himself)
    * Geometry Wars Evolved 2 (like asteroids robotron crack)
    * GripShift (awesome racing/platformer, tons of modes and maps)
    * Pinball FX (lots of tables, and the best pinball game in 20 years)
    * Puzzle Quest (add RPG elements to anything and it magically becomes better…I like “Bejeweled” now. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration.)
    * Portal: Still Alive (yes, Portal, plus a bunch of other maps from Flash)

    Plus a bunch more. As with any Arcade game, you can try them out for free. I definitely spend more time on Arcade than with disc-based games, although the Guitar Heroes/Rock Bands, Mass Effects, Oblivions, Lego Star Wars etc have given that statement a run for its money.

    Anyway, long story short, get yourself the 60 GB model for $300, along with the wireless adapter ($80?), a “play & charge” kit (battery charger), and extra battery, and at least one extra controller. With HDs, keep in mind that 7 GB or so is reserved for system use. So in a 20 GB drive, you only have access to 13 GB.

    PS: It’s “Xbox,” not “XBox” (or “XBOX”, or even “xBoX”).

    PPS: And if you let you gamertag be known, I’d like to send you a friend request and maybe show you some of the ropes

  59. Usman says:

    NOOOOOOOO!!!! Dont surrender to the dark side!!! The Xbox is the devil i tell you!! Go for the ps3 for no other reason besides tht i have it :D (oh and its an amazing system too) *sigh* another potential ally lost to ze damned xbox! Oh well. oh btw, happy belated birthday Shamus.

  60. Flying Dutchman says:

    I’d get the 20GB, more than enough space if you play casually and don’t save music or demos you will never play or listen to.

    Get wireless controllers, but prepare for battery loss on all fronts.

    Avoid playing games with strangers – like momma always said – on XBox Live.

    If you do plan on XBox Live: the headset will cause inner ear trauma as the excited 12-year old boys on a sugar rush call every one a “fag”, repeatedly, with a volume only lil’ rascals, whose voices haven’t matured yet, can achieve. So turn it off.

  61. Eric says:

    @nilus: Bioshock is coming to the ps3 with extra levels and achievements, and fallout 3 is multi-platform.

    Everybody says that the 360 is the gamers machine, and I can’t help but notice from the comments is that the ps3 delivers on everything to a greater degree. Now I’ll be honest I have 2 ps3’s(speaking of which shamus, do you want to borrow my old one? I’ll bring it with kotor.) but I’m going to remain neutral.

    #1. The Ps3 comes out of the box with a wireless controller, and built in wireless card no matter which tier you get.

    #2. No monthly fee for the playstation network, or multiplayer. If you bought the game, you can play online co-op or multiplayer immediately.

    #3. Whatever tier ps3 you get, you can put in a bigger HD, and not void the warranty.

    #4. There are practically no idiots on online multiplayer. I was originally quite opposed to playing online with others, because of all the horrid stories I’ve heard come from the xbox live nation.( adam sessler did a entire podcast to the fact that he and his friends don’t play public games anymore on xbox live, because of all the racial, and sexual epitaphs that not just the adults use, but also the little kids use. I’ve had my ps3 for months now, and I’ve only had two incidents of this, and none since.

    #5. You can have your ps3 hook up to your PC, and use it as a media server to get videos, music, and photos.

    #6. Sony has said the ps3 will be a ten year system,(the ps2 is an 8 year old system that they keep manufacturing)this definitely makes your ps3 investment worthwhile.

    #7.(optional) This one depends if you got the 80 gig. ps3, if you did you have the entire ps2 library to play, as well as the whole ps1 library (the ps1 games you can play on all systems) you automatically have a huge library of games.

    #8. Metal Gear Solid 4 (I had to use it great game)

    The only thing I might give to the 360 is current shelf library, although the only games I’m willing to try is the Gears of War franchise.( I’ve played halo, and no it’s garbage. end of that.) The only reason I might be able to concede this is because the 360 came out a year earlier. Still most of the blockbuster games come multi-platform for example mass effect(regardless of drm it’s still on the pc), Bioshock, Call of duty 4, and Grand Theft Auto 4.


    Sorry if someone brought these points to everyone’s attention earlier, but reading the comments was actually kinda making me mad just how much microsoft is ripping all of you off. Now if you love your 360, good for you I’m not trying to argue any of that console war bs that the younguns try to argue cause I don’t care, I actually hope to have inter console online gaming, for the multi-platform games. Anyways, I was trying to look at both systems as a consumer trying to get his bang for his buck.

    EDIT: You can Download demos, and trailers for games as well for movies. This is all free, right out of the box.

  62. Kennet says:

    I actually just bought a PS3 to add to my arsenal (for the Blu-Ray mostly) and after having used it for a couple of days I have come to the conclusion that I will probably continue to buy and play most of my games on my Xbox. The one, simple reason why is that I vastly prefer the Xbox controller to the PS3 one. I really don’t like the shoulder-triggers or the placement of the sticks on the PS3 controller.
    It’s a point worth considering, I think, if you are wavering between the two.

    Also, if it hasn’t been mentioned, I would heartily recommend hooking it up to some sort of high-resolution display. I played Mass Effect on a normal TV and I had to squint most of time to read the text. I suspect it gave me a head-ache at one point, but that might just have been a coincidence.

  63. Eric says:

    Sony is releasing a 160 GB ps3 in November for 499.99. it comes with more memory, drake’s uncharted and a voucher for pain! the game. that’s super sweet.

  64. RadioDave says:

    For what it’s worth:

    I bought an Arcade version back in February. It comes with a 256mb memory card. I have about 10 saved games on there (including several sports “dynasties” and BioShock) and I am using a mere fraction of that card space.

    I also have no desire to go online, so the Arcade version fits me well.

    If you do want to go online, you can apparently buy a hard drive of your choice and install it later, which would be cheaper then getting one pre-installed and paying the microsoft price.

    Hope that helps a little.

  65. Khoram says:

    I didn’t read all of the other responses, but in case no one mentioned it:

    – If you are a member of Costco, get it there. I bought mine there in Feb of 07, and have had 1 red ring of death and 1 failed power supply. Costco replaced it for free both times with a new unit (which also got me upgraded hardware versions – ie, I now have one of the newer models made since MS fixed certain problems, now have added HDMI, etc). MS wanted to charge me $150 for a new power brick and they are the only ones who sell them, and it’s not covered by the warranty. Also on the topic of the power brick, be aware that it is HUGE and it has fans in it and needs good ventilation as well.

    – I’ve never been in danger of running out of space with the 20GB HD from just playing games. I don’t download HiDef movies or anything though. I do, however, use Media Connect to display HiDef content on my PC through my 360 onto my HDTV, which can be nice.

  66. says:

    In my country (Croatia) original games for the PS3 cost an ridiculous amount of money (gta4 collector about 1/4 of an average monthly pay, in the U.S. it’s about 1/50 – 1/75, go figure it), the X360 games are somewhat cheaper, around 30%. By flashing the drive the X360 can play all games bought via ThePirateBay ( :) ) so it’s selling somewhat better than the PS3. Lately there’s been a increase in PS3 sales mainly because in the past everybody had an PS2 (Now the fanboys are buying the PS3), the xbox player base was pretty small… The marginally useful Blu-ray drive is useless because the movies and games are unavailable or heavily overpriced.

  67. Eric says:

    This discussion was for people who don’t live in third world countries.

  68. says:

    Croatia is not exactly an third world country, it’s in central Europe (see the facts @ ), only the games are sold like they’re printed on gold tablets.
    What do you mean by saying this discussion isn’t for third world countries? I think everyone can participate in the discussion, no matter who he is or where he’s from…

    Topic-related: This could be interesting…

  69. Eric says:

    sorry dude I should’ve put down a <@;) it was a bad joke, I was just being a douche.

  70. says:

    For: While I respect the friendly and intelligent tone of this comment, it sadly breaks the no politics rule. This comment is fuel for a flame war / thread jack. Sorry.

  71. Simplex says:

    I bear good tidings – it is possible to replace 20GB Xbox 360 HDD with a 120GB hard disk at a cost of $50, thus preventing Microsoft from robbing you.

    A 120GB Xbox 360 compatible HDD costs about $50:

    You need this disk (this specific model, no other), a program called HDDhackr 0.9.1 ( and a specific “hddss.bin” file (which can be googled/found on torrent sites).

    (Apparently it is also possible to install a HDD inside the console but this voids warranty and requires much fiddling: ).

    I hope somebody found it helpful.

    Shamus, if you plan to connect the console via optical out to a Dolby decoder/ampli[fier/tuner] and use HDMI at the same time, prepare for pain (I can elaborate on it if need be).

  72. TheEggplant says:

    While I don’t currently own a 360 I plan on getting one when the “Jasper” chipset becomes prevalent.
    I’ll be buying the xbox-pc hard drive adapter and the XFPS to handle some of the problems you have mentioned.
    On the wireless route I’ve got a Linksys access point and some instructions on setting it up to plug directly into the Ethernet port. This is all theoretical though, but since you look to be purchasing one before me maybe they can help.

  73. James says:

    Best Buy is listing the 360 at what looks like the reduced pricing that is being mentioned. Is this correct?


  74. Simplex says:

    TheEggplant – what is the exact purpose of this xsata drive bay you linked to? Can it serve to replace X360 drive with a bigger one, or is it used only to transfer data betweeen PC HDD and X360 HDD? If this is the case then I personally think the 50 bucks it costs could be beeter invested in WD 120GB drive for X360 I mentioned in an eralier post ;)

    The 20GB X360 is being phased out and so it is sold at a reduced price of $299 “while supplies last”. The X360 that will be replacing it has 60gb HDD and will cost 349$ (which is previous price of 20GB model).
    Personally, this $50 difference is almost exactly the cost of X360 compatible WD 120GB drive so I personally would suggest buying the ‘old’ 20GB model for $299, plus 120GB HDD for $50 and effectively you would get a 120GB X360 for $350 – the same price as 60GB HDD and whole $100 cheaper then Elite.

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