I've only had it hooked up since Friday night, and I didn't spend any serious time with it until Saturday afternoon. But my first impression of the new Xbox 360?
Impressive. Most impressive.
First, what the 360 is not: with a few exceptions, it's not as jaw-dropping as the first Xbox was. Oh, it's far superior to the previous machine, but it's definitely an evolution of the first-generation machine. Which, to its credit, is a big part of its charm. If you owned an Xbox, and were a member of Xbox Live, then migrating to the new machine is a snap.
What's most welcome is the overall streamlining of the 360. After all the pre-release horror stories I heard, I find it surprisingly polished. The dashboard interface is clean and intuitive, and features a lot more functionality than the first-gen Xbox. Even better, you can access the dashboard and all its features in-game now, which makes Xbox Live a lot easier to manage. With the wireless controllers, you finally also have the ability to turn the 360 on and off from the comfort of your couch, which is a welcome advance.
As for problems setting it up, I had only a few. First, I couldn't remember my Xbox Live account info, which is necessary in order to migrate your old account to the new machine. So, after I hooked up the 360, I had to unhook it, hook my old machine back up, check the info, and then go back on the 360. Frustrating, but simple.
There's ostensibly network functionality with a Windows Media Center PC-- allowing you to play your PC's music and video files through the 360-- but I couldn't get it to hook up right. Which is hardly surprising, since I can't seem to hook up my Media Center PC to much of *anything* from up in the attic. Still, I hope to figure that out eventually.
Finally-- it's loud. Real loud. My guess is nearly twice as loud as the first-gen Xbox. No surprise there, as the thing needs one heckuva fan to cool it off. I've had no overheating problems as others have had, but one can tell that Microsoft packed a major amount of high-power hardware into a very small space.
Okay, enough about the interface-- what about the games? I haven't played all the games I got yet, but here's my thumbnail sketches:
Quake 4: What is the deal with these FPS games ripping off Aliens? James Cameron should get royalties. Seriously, has there ever been a movie more influential to a video game genre than Cameron's film? Doom, Quake, Half-Life, Halo-- everybody rips off the Aliens motif (some better than others, of course). As for the game itself, it's ol' time Quake action, basically Halo crossed with Unreal Tournament. The play is fast and furious, the Xbox Live experience is more arcade than strategy. As for the graphics, it looks good on the 360, but not a big leap over the first-gen Xbox.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted: Eh. A beautifully-rendered opening movie makes you salivate at the prospect that the game will look like that when played, but instead it looks even worse than some first-gen games. Basically, a cross between Burnout and Project Gotham Racing, with the latter expected to far superior (can't wait for my PGR3 copy. . .).
Perfect Dark Zero: Splinter Cell meets Shadowrun, only with less stealth and more redheaded goodness. The gameplay is solid, although I wish the characters had more movement options-- the game is first-person, but the style cries out for an over-the-shoulder presentation. Graphically, the game is gorgeous, and really showcases the rendering power of the 360.
They're real, and they're spectacular.
Call of Duty 2: If there is a killer app for the Xbox 360, this is it. Words simply can't describe how phenomenally well done this game is. The graphics are excellent, although not quite as stunning as Perfect Dark Zero. However, the game shines in every other department-- crafty enemy artificial intelligence, wall-shaking sound effects, and furious action. It's by far the most amazing war game I've ever played-- the level of immersion in Call of Duty makes the Medal of Honor series seem musty. If we can get a Halo, Rainbow Six and a Ghost Recon that approach this quality, the 360 will be worth every penny.
Anyway, more thoughts later as I continue to mess around with the games. . .