10 Reasons Why The Xbox 360 (And Live Platform) Is Awesome

From the perspective of a PC GAMER FOR LIFE! (until now) 

For those of you who haven't jumped into the "next-gen console" wave yet, I have some words of advice. The 360 is, as Peter Griffin might say, "freakin' sweet."

Let me first give you some perspective on my situation. I don't want to give the wrong impression. So here are some assumptions:

  • I work for Microsoft, and personally would never spend more than $250 on a game console.
  • I have a refurbished 360.
  • I do NOT own a Wii or PS3, and the last console I had was a PS2. I never owned an original Xbox.
  • I'm not attempting to say the 360 is better than <insert console here>, but rather, that the Xbox 360 is "Freakin' sweet."
  • If an item in this list is a repeat of a previous console's feature, or an "obvious" feature everyone knows about, sorry... I'm just listing some things I noticed that I think are cool!

With that minor disclaimer out of the way, here's my ten reasons in no particular order:

  1. Voice chat.
    I know this is a bastion of the original Xbox, and I don't know about the PS3 situation. As a long-time PC gamer, I know that the PC gaming world can be fraught with voice chat issues - from the inability to mute yourself, to users using various programs to connect, and of course, the obvious "different headset" problem, voice chat is never very dependable in multiplayer PC games.

    The difference with the Xbox is that everyone gets a headset, and while it isn't the most heavy-duty headset in the world, the point is that it works well and I can hear people.

    Voice chat is also seamlessly integrated into most things, making for a pleasant experience that doesn't take much to figure out!

  2. Wireless controllers.
    I used wireless controllers (based on RF) for the Playstation 2, but the battery life was awful and it never felt right. The Xbox 360 controllers are wireless, have a great feel, and the aforementioned headset plugs into the controller. I didn't know that at first and felt dumb when somebody told me, but it makes sense - you hold the controller, and having to plug a headset in anywhere else would defeat the purpose of having a wireless controller.

    Pairing the controller to the Xbox itself is a snap, and you can also pair it with the Microsoft bluetooth receiver that is used for products like the LifeChat. It's really cool to be able to zoom around Virtual Earth with a game controller.

    The convenience of being able to play a game of PGR3 with your friend 500 miles away while sitting in bed on paternity leave is just super awesome.

  3. Windows Live Messenger chat integration.
    If you are slow like me and can't figure out where to plug in your headset, you can always type to your pals via Windows Live Messenger. There is a Messenger Kit you can buy for $30 that lets you use a QWERTY-style keyboard to make chatting easier. The big value here is that you don't have to integrate yourself into a whole new piece of community or chat software if you already use your Live ID for chatting.

  4. Live Platform integration.
    Continuing from above, a feature I found really neat is that you can identify others on your Live contacts from Messenger who have gamer tags and add them as friends.

  5. Media servers.
    If you are running a media server like XP Media Center edition, you can stream all of your music, movies, shows, videos, etc. to the Xbox. This means a more easily organized library of entertainment, especially if you have surround sound in your home - the Xbox distributes the media that your media PC serves.

  6. Zune support.
    I don't have a media center PC, but I do have a Zune on which I have lots of music, baby pictures, and videos I obtained from the Internets. You can plug your Zune in and play music from it while you're playing your favorite game, or show off pictures. I have friends with Xbox 360s, and I can bring my Zune to their home with hundreds of baby pics on it and show them on their TV instead of having a ten rolls worth of pictures in my wallet.

  7. DVD controls.
    I'm sorry, but I am going to go on a limb here and say that the Playstation 2's DVD playing capabilities were really depressing. They were not easy or fun to use, and the controller-navigable menus were useless. And you always had to guess what each button on your controller would do to the movie. The Xbox 360 has much better, more intuitive controls, and it actually plays all my movies all the way through without hiccups. If you push a button on the 360, you get a small menu of controls, and it's really simple to navigate.

  8. Killer graphics.
    I think this goes without saying, but I played the first level of Gears of War with my mouth open.

  9. Xbox Live.
    The whole experience of online gaming over a broadband connection with Xbox Live is so seamless and easy that it makes PC gaming mostly obsolete. The only thing I miss about PC gaming is the mouse and keyboard, and that's because I have years of experience killing friends with those tools in the Unreal Tournament series. I'm having some problems adjusting.

  10. Simple Conveniences.
    The Xbox 360 experience is littered with so many things that make life easy. And that was the point behind this console. It helps you to bring your media together into your home, helping you enjoy the things that make you unique. Being able to turn both the controller and the console on and off, using one single button on the controller, is such a simple and easy idea that makes life easy. The only reason you need to approach the 360 console itself is to change the game or movie inside.

I am a relatively new hire at Microsoft, and I am really beginning to understand from personal experience what this company is all about. The mission to bring technology to everybody (and make it ubiquitous in the process) is being realized with the Xbox and the Live platform. I encourage anyone who hasn't explored their Xbox to dig a little deeper - I know I have a lot of digging to do!