Should You Buy An Xbox 360?

The Xbox 360 was the first of the current generation of home consoles to launch, all the way back in 2005. If you haven't decided to buy one by now, is there any reason to buy one, well, now? Updated.

Consider this guide our formal advice on whether you should buy an Xbox 360 or not, and if you do, which games you should get.

[This post was last updated on September 29, 2010 and will be updated if events, news, games, prices or acts of nature cause our opinion to change.]

If I Don't Own A Console, Should I Buy An Xbox 360 Now?

Answer updated September 29, 2010.

No. In November, Microsoft is releasing a pair of Xbox 360 bundles which include the Kinect hardware and a copy of Kinect Adventures. With the bundles $US50 cheaper than the console and Kinect separately, waiting is your best option.

This June, Microsoft unveiled a new, smaller Xbox 360 that sports a 250GB HDD and built-in Wi-Fi. Priced at $US299. In July the company debuted another new model using the same body as the slim but with 4GB of memory instead of a hard drive for $US199. Both are currently in stores. However, the older models will also work with Kinect.

Both consoles will be getting a Kinect bundle in November, which will include the Xbox 360, the Kinect hardware and a copy of Kinect Adventures. The 250GB version runs $US399, while the 4GB bundle retails for $US299.

But What If I've Already Got A PS3? Should I Buy One Now?

No. Most games are released on both systems, most play (and look) just fine on both systems, and most of the important multimedia capabilities (Netflix, movie stores & DVD playback) are available on both, so unless you really want to play an exclusive series like Halo or Fable, you should be fine with just a PlayStation 3.

But What If I've Already Got A Wii? Should I Buy One Now?

Yes. The Wii excels in certain roles, like Nintendo titles and social games, but is severely lacking in just about everything else, from sports games to role-playing games to shooters to action titles. It's also missing DVD playback, high definition support, true surround sound and a capable online network.

The Xbox 360 has all those, so in many ways would be an "upgrade". And if you don't care about any of those things, and just want to have fun with friends? Project Natal is a motion controller that doesn't need a controller, and should usher in a whole new range of party games to replace Wii Sports and... Wii Sports Resort.

What Else Does It Do Besides Gaming?

Answer updated September 29, 2010.

The Xbox 360 is home to a wide variety of non-gaming applications, from entertainment to social networking. The Netflix movie streaming service is probably the most useful, though Microsoft's own video marketplace allows you to store movies to your hard drive for more convenient viewing.

Music can be played via the Last.FM service, and users can access both Twitter and Facebook through their console. The Xbox 360 can also play DVDs, and if you've got a Windows PC with Media Center, you can connect the two so you can watch videos, play music and browse photos. In fact, it does just about everything you'd want it to do except browse the internet (the 360 is the only console this generation, handhelds included, to not at some stage include an internet browser).

The Xbox 360 will offer live and on demand sporting events via a new ESPN3 service that is free to Xbox Live Gold subscribers. It launches in November with the 2010 fall dashboard update.

If I'm Going To Buy An Xbox 360, Which One Should I Get?

Answer updated September 29, 2010.

With the phasing out of the original Xbox 360 models, the new, slimmer version of the Xbox 360 will soon be the only model on the market. The new Xbox 360 currently comes in two flavours. The 250GB system is the new model's answer to the Elite, sporting a large amount of storage space and built-in Wi-Fi for $US299. The 4GB system replaces the older Xbox 360 Arcade system and is essentially the same console as it's 250GB big brother with less storage space for $US199.

You can also find the newer model Xbox 360 in bundles, including a Halo: Reach bundle with a silver 250GB console and controller.

Both versions of the console will be bundled with Kinect in November. The 250GB bundle will run $US399, while the 4GB is priced at $US299. The bundles represent a $US50 savings over buying the consoles and Kinect separately.

The older versions of the Xbox 360 can still be found at some retailers in limited quantities, though the lack of built-in Wi-Fi in both the Elite and Arcade models plus the limited storage space (256MB) in the Arcade model makes them tough to recommend. If you really want an Xbox 360 on a tight budget, refurbished consoles can be found cheap, but be prepared to pay extra for a wireless adaptor and hard drive in order to get the full experience.

Our advice: Wait until November and pick up one of the Kinect bundles. If you've been this long without an Xbox 360 you can suffer through another month or so, and you'll save $US50 over buying the console now and the Kinect hardware later. We suggest the 250GB bundle, as 4GB isn't very much space for downloadable content, installing games to the disk to improve performance, and some games will not run fully on the 4GB model.

Oh, and if you are upgrading from an older model of the 360, do note that your old hard drive will not fit into your new unit. You can transfer your data with a $US20 "data migration kit", but you'll be using a new drive.

Wait, I Have To Pay Extra For Xbox Live? Is This Worth It?

Answer updated September 29, 2010.

Yes, you have to pay to use Xbox Live. Sure, signing up is free, but if you don't have a "Gold" subscription, you can't play online, can't rent Netflix movies, and these days can't even download a game demo on the day it comes out. This may come as a sucker punch to those who have budgeted for just the console and a game or two, especially since it costs $US60.

You're mad if you don't pay it, though. While it sucks it's a "hidden cost", the benefits you gain from paying, not to mention the features and stability Microsoft's online network is able to provide, make it worth it. And if you're savvy, you can find retailers selling the "$US60" subscriptions for a lot less.

The normal price of a year of Xbox Live will be $US50 until November 1, 2010, when the price raises to $US60. Microsoft has a limited-time offer in effect for North American 360 owners to purchase a year for $US40.

What Are The Best Games On The Xbox 360?

Tough question, as the Xbox 360 has arguably the strongest software lineup on the market. Shooters are the console's specialty, with classic titles ranging from the futuristic (Halo 3) to the underwater (BioShock) to those where chainsaws are as important as firearms (Gears of War 2) and those whose popularity has helped define the console itself (Modern Warfare). Those after something with a little more room to move can try Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption or Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

There's plenty more to choose from, though, from Japanese role-playing games (Lost Odyssey) to sports games (FIFA 10) to zombie survival challenges (Dead Rising). Epic quests (Fable II, Mass Effect 2), driving games (Forza 3) and old-time arcade thrills (Castle Crashers) can also be found.

Which Ones Are Worst?

Since the 360 has great games in just about every genre, there's no entire swathe of games you should be looking out for. And because it's never been the "in" console, it hasn't been flooded with shovelware like the PS2 or Wii were. Kids titles are usually found lacking, though, perhaps because the console struggles with a "core gamer" stereotype, and "party" games have had similar problems.

So I've Bought A 360... What Should My First Three Games Be?

Answer updated September 29, 2010.

1) Halo: Reach: It's the highly polished and refined swan song for the franchise that launched a million Xbox consoles.

2) Dead Rising: It's like no other game to have come before it or since. Be warned, though, a sequel is on the way.

3) Grand Theft Auto IV: It's more than a game; it's a living, breathing caricature of New York City, and you can lose yourself in its alleys and plazas for months on end.

What About Downloadable Games?

There are several ways you can get new games for your 360 without getting up from your couch. Provided you're online, you can purchase shorter, smaller games from Xbox Live Arcade, try out independently-developed titles from Xbox Live Indie Games or revisit your youth (or your parent's youth) in the Game Room, which offers classic arcade titles for download.

Some of the better games available from these include Braid, Castle Crashers, Shadow Complex, Chime, Geometry Wars and Inside Lacrosse College Lacrosse.

Full, retail titles (like the ones you buy in a store) are also available for download from the Games on Demand Marketplace, though be warned, prices can often be higher than those you'd pay for a physical copy.

What's Wrong With The Xbox 360?

Answer updated September 29, 2010.

Older models were notorious for breaking down, and while any console manufactured these days should be fine, it's a stigma that will plague the Xbox 360 for the rest of its shelf life. It also means you'll want to avoid buying a pre-owned console that was manufactured before, oh, let's be safe and say 2009. It can also get a bit noisy at times.

Those reliant on wi-fi for their internet are also in trouble, if you buy a non-slimline model of the 360, as all versions of the Xbox 360 released prior to June 2010 did not support it out of the box. For those buying the older chunkier model of the console, you need to buy a Wi-Fi adaptor if you want to connect wirelessly, and those are extortionately priced.

Are There Any Hidden Costs?

Answer updated September 29, 2010.

The $US60 Xbox Live Gold subscription is a hidden cost, since it's almost mandatory. You'll want at least one extra controller, and they retail for $US50 (though you can normally find them online for around $US30-$US40). And you'll definitely want rechargeable battery packs, which depending on whether you opt for official or third-party solutions will cost you $US10-$US20 each.

Note that the price of a year of Xbox Live rises to $US60 on November 1, 2010. North American gamers can upgrade to a full year for only $US39.99 for a limited time.

But Wait, Won't The 360 Be Replaced Soon?

Answer updated July 6, 2010.

Aside from the Xbox 360s sold bundled with Kinect, we don't forsee any major new console changes coming to the Xbox 360 any time soon. With Sony moving the hard drive-size arms race up to 320GB, we could still see growing hard drives, but the hardware designs of the 360 are likely to stick to the June 2010 redesign for quite some time.

Essential Facts About The Xbox 360

Released in 2005

The Xbox 360 is a home video game console sold by Microsoft. Its key gaming features are high-definition graphics, surround sound and the ability to play with or against other people over the internet. Its key multimedia features are the ability to network with a Windows PC to share movies, music and photos, a partnership with Netflix that allows subscribers to stream movies and TV shows and DVD playback.

Microsoft has attempted to sell the Xbox 360 as a family console, however the vast majority of games released for the system are targeted at 18-40 year old males. The impending release of Project Natal should change that.

Currently Available Models: Xbox 360 Arcade ($US199), Xbox 360 Elite 120GB ($US299), Xbox 360 Elite 250GB ($US399) Price of New Games: $US40-$US60 Discount Line of Games: Xbox 360 Platinum Hits ($US10-$US30)


    what if I game mostly on PC?
    No. The style of games you probably like will at worst be ported to the PC anyway and if you are pc gamer you will be more comfortable on the keyboard and mouse anyway.

      Let me know when you get to play Gears of War 2 on PC.. oh wait you wont, because the developers learnt their lesson from the first one.

        You seem to have left out the fact that the PS3 will never get their hands on GoW. What you should have done was use an example of a shooter that was exclusive for both consoles and there haven't been too many of those.

        let me know when you find a PC gamer who is interested in Gears of Wars 2, .. oh wait you wont, because because they learnt their lesson from the first one.

          Bought and played Gears of War 1 on the PC... got bored, couldn't be bothered finishing it.
          I still don't get why people would willingly play shooters on a console, so much easier to use a mouse to aim.

        Oh noes, what ever will we do without another generic shooter with retarded cover systems implemented to overcome the retarded console controls!!

        this IS a very valid question that should have been there. and in this regard, the PC is just like another next gen console, although it shares EVEN MORE games between it and the 360 than the ps3 does with the 360, so yes, the answer would be 'NO'.

        I have a gaming PC and a PS3, because there are less games shared between the two, and that way I get all the multimedia stuff that the consoles offer (trust me, HTPCs might be easier to set up now, but back in 2008, it was an exercise in frustration that would never lead to the same results as the ps3 with a decent server offers).

        so if you ONLY have a PC, and you don't wanna screw around with htpc stuff, you could get a 360, but in my opinion, you would be better off with a ps3, because there is less overlap in games, and the ps3 is slightly better at the htpc stuff, especially if you don't have a bd player.

    Depends on your PC, if you have to go and upgrade yr graphics card or CPU, you might find yr happier spending less money to just grab a 360 and game in the loungeroom instead of sitting at yr desk.

    wi-fi is $150au and it's looking like natal will be a similar price... & this is Microsoft we're talking about so be realistic, they will charge an arm and a leg for it and xbox owners have no other option but to pay up.

    I could go on but i dont want to rile up the xbots like they have in the US comments. :eek:

      Ahhhh actually they are both optional. Neither are needed to game on live.

        Yes wifi is optional... you could just run a big ol' CAT5 cable into your living room...

        Charging 150 AUD for functionallity that should be built in is a rip off, Don't defend it. (PS3 has had it built in since release)

    Wow. That's pretty informative.
    Pity I've had an Xbox 360 since launch...

    "on both, so unless you really want to play an exclusive series like Halo or Fable, you should be fine with just a PlayStation 3."

    IMHO the exclusives on the Xbox are far better than PS3. You forgot Forza 3 (which has come out, unlike the PS3 equivalent) and Gears of War. Two awesome "must have" games.

    PS3 has it's fair share too. Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet are 2 stand outs. But Resistance, Killzone and the never coming our GT3...meh

    He hasn't even mentioned what i beleive to be the main selling point.
    The 360 is now hackable and has many other options not listed above. Play games from hardrive without disc in the drive, emulators, XBMC is in the works, ftp acess to transfer files (store movies and music on 360), game mods and hacks, Networked game play so you don't have to pay for Xbox live, you can use any sata hardrive no size limit. And that is just the start.

    With the PS3 you can....change the hard drive and instal linux.

    That is why i have 2 360's. One for modding and one for xbox live.

      i dont think M$ are pushing that as a selling point... but yes if you like to pirate games the xbox360 is the sytem for you, or you can mod the wii too, the ps3 is still hack/pirate free thankfully.

      linux option has been removed from the ps3 in a recent firmware update (was never avaliable on the slim models anyway) because of geohot's attempted hacking of the xmb through linux. yes, amazingly sony seem to care about their developers IP and system/network security.

      "He hasn’t even mentioned what i beleive to be the main selling point.
      The 360 is now hackable ...Blah,blah,blah..."
      Doesn't that get you banned from live nowdays?

      "With the PS3 you can….change the hard drive and instal linux."
      Nope can't install linux on the PS3 anymore.

      "That is why i have 2 360’s. One for modding and one for xbox live."
      I guess thats a yes on the banning then...

    Just get them all and dont miss anything lol

    DO EEET!
    I have 2...

    Pretty informative. Comes off as a bit of an advertisement though.

      Especially with the constant Natal comments.

    360 fails at not breaking. I can't even hear my CECH-21xxB PS3 1m away from it.

    I've heard rumours that MS may be launching a revised slim console with built in wifi for the Natal launch. It would make sense to see something at e3 if this is true. Could be bollocks though

    The hidden cost is US$50 Xbox Live Subscription PER YEAR

    Another hidden cost is the Wifi module for Xbox360

    Is it worth it? Yes if you play a lot of online games, and No if you don't

    "Be warned - A sequal is on the way" shouldn't really be a detterent for Dead Rising.

    More than 5 years on and it's still one of the best xbox games, and THE BEST xbox exclusive. The sequel will be fun, but It's no deterrent to buy the original.

    Ah, another story just reprinted from the US Kotaku with no adjustment for Australian readers - Netflix? Indie games? When?

    A wireless bridge can be purchased for around $50 it connects and extends your currant Wifi network and puts a network hub near the 360.

    At the same time I run my speaker cables to the back of the room where my Hub is so running a network cable too is not a big deal. If you seriously consider buying the Wireless adaptor you should have purchased a PS3.

    Microsoft will gouge you on HDD's and Wifi. Considering you can shop around for cheap Live it's not so bad. Sells 12 months of Live for half price. I don't own a PS3 so I can't recomend that service online.

    (Thank you David Wildgoose for putting me on to that)

    I own a 60Gb I have 5gb free, I need to shuffle around somethings and buy a 16Gb USB drive for it. But if I see a 120Gb or 250Gb cheap I'd buy it. In Australia (EB) it's a $70 difference between the 120Gb and the 250Gb with slightly different games.

    I recomend a PS3 for built in Wifi, Free online and install your own HDD. Unless you want the 360's Exclusives or all your Friends are on X-Box Live.

    At the time the price difference was much greater and all my friends are on Live. At the end of the day they are both good.

    i bought a 360 after upgrading my pc roughly a month after and i dont regret it. i use my pc for pretty much steam games only and my xbox for the console exclusive titles. i prefer my pc for graphics and serious online play but my xbox has better games to play and offers pretty good online games too.

    only shit thing in my situation is the fact that all my friends are tight asses and bought a PS3 cause you dont play for online gaming

    I just bought a 360 about a month, got an elite with sc conviction, fable 2 and halo 3 and later went and bought mass effect 1, gears 1 and left 4 dead. I already had a ps3 and wii. I dont... regret buying the 360... its just that its alittle disappointing. I know this is partly cos ive got most of the good cross platform games already but... the 360 annoys me.
    The exclusive games all feel the same (except mass effect), the controller is slightly wonky with the left control stick up a tad to high and the controller needs batteries, the frickin console is NOISY, i think its raining when its on, you have to pay for online (although the online is definately better).
    I enjoyed left 4 dead but thats bout it. I am a little bit of a fanboy of the ps3 i admit, but it feels like the only place the ps3 fails is its online content and abilities. the xmb works so much better than the dashboard.
    I could rant and rave all day so ill stop :S

    too bad the 360 sounds like a 747 landing all the time.

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