Xbox 360 FAQ
[Update - part 2 now available, delving into Xbox Live!]
We'll start off with the absolute basics, as inspired by the BBC's Xbox 360 Q&A.
What is the difference between the original Xbox and the 360?
The 360 is a next-generation console; everything has changed from the original Xbox. Its look is sleek and white, as opposed to the bulky black first-generation Xbox, and its processing power and graphics have been significantly upgraded as well as its hard drive. It also provides HD quality output to help usher in the next generation of television.
When does it go on sale?
It's already on sale in the US, and was launched on November 22, 2005. Europe will get the console on December 2, Japan on December 10 and Australia must wait until March 2, 2006.
What are the package options?
Microsoft is offering two packages; the Core and Platinum editions. The Platinum bundle includes console, wireless controller, 20GB hard drive, wireless media remote, headset, audio-video cable and Ethernet cable. The Core bundle only includes the console, wired controller and AV cable. Additional accessories such as memory units, remotes and the hard drive are available separately, but the hard drive is required to play original Xbox games.
The recommended selling price for the Core edition is $299.99 and the Platinum edition is $399.99.
What about Xbox Live?
There are two levels of Xbox Live membership; Silver and Gold. Silver membership is free, and included with the console, allowing players to download demos, chat and record high scores. Gold membership is $69.99 a year, giving you access to online matchmaking, and furnishing you with points that can be spent on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Existing Live subscriptions can be transferred to your 360.
What games will be available at launch?
The North American launch lineup includes: Amped 3; Call of Duty 2; Condemned; Dead or Alive 4; FIFA 2006; Gun; Kameo--Elements of Power; Peter’s Jackson’s King Kong; Madden NFL 2006; NBA 2K6; NHL 2K6; NBA Live 2006; Need For Speed Most Wanted; Perfect Dark Zero; Project Gotham Racing 3; Quake 4; Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2006; Tony Hawk's American Wasteland.
What else can it do apart from play games?
Microsoft want the console to be used as a home media device as well as just a gaming machine. The 360 can play music and videos as well as display photo slideshows, and it comes with USB ports so you can plug in an iPod and play music from it. You'll need the Media Center Edition of Windows to take advantage of all its capabilities, though.
Will I be able to get one?
Debatable. As our readers have already told us, getting their hands on one on launch day proved difficult for those who didn't preorder--and for some of those who did. If you've preordered, you may be lucky, but we'll report any confirmed availability when we know it!