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Microsoft's Hits and Misses With The Xbox 360 Hardware

With Microsoft revealing its next system on Tuesday, the time is ripe to explore what Microsoft did right with the Xbox 360 and where it could have improved. Whether or not the new console carries on the legacies of its predecessor, it's fun to reminisce about these hits and misses as Microsoft prepares to pass on the torch.

Hits

Controller

Microsoft impressed many with its 360 controller; the trigger buttons were ideal for first-person shooters. The controller was not only much more comfortable than the original Xbox's S, it also sported superior button placement. Unfortunately, the d-pad was its weak point, but fixes are available, and Microsoft even released a 2010 silver controller with a twist-up d-pad to help the issue. While the issue was never completely dissipated, at least attempts were made to fix the shortcoming.

Xbox Live

Gamers have always been skeptical about paying for an online service, but once they experienced Xbox Live's superior quality, it convinced many it was worth it; currently, it has over 46 million subscribers. Connecting to matches is quick, drop rates are low, and chatting with friends is smooth for the most part. It could be said that the service brought gamers together in a new way with its accessible features. Microsoft figured out the recipe to creating a solid online community well before Sony by including a headset with consoles, encouraging communication.

Accessing Genre Weaknesses

When Microsoft released the first Xbox, it became a destination for first-person shooters, especially with its Halo franchise riding strong. But Sony remained on top with a stronger variety in its library. For the Xbox 360's beginnings, Microsoft targeted the RPG genre, something Sony's PlayStation 2 catered to more, especially in regards to JRPGs. Microsoft secured games like Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Tales of Vesperia, and Eternal Sonata. Microsoft even shocked people by getting blockbuster Final Fantasy XIII, a series previously exclusive to Sony. While it didn't by any means win the RPG war, it still measured up, and Microsoft's library is much more diverse than it was in the previous generation.

The Multimedia Marketplace

You could say an app exists for almost everything on the Xbox 360; tailoring your console to your interests is easy. In 2008, Microsoft brought in Netflix fans with a year exclusivity deal and then continued to grow from there with Hulu, HBO Go, and a wealth of other apps. It made the 360 more than just a gaming device, but also an entertainment hub, where with a touch of a button people could access tons of TV, movies, and music.

Achievements

Let's face it; we all love that little blip sound as we gaze at,"Achivement Unlocked." Having a gamerscore to show off the fruits of our labor not only gave bragging rights, but also provided new reasons to experience games. Whether it was collecting hidden items or winning battles without taking damage, we worked to obtain that perfect 1,000 gamerscore. While developers struggled initially at what to give achievements for, as time went on, they got smart and made gamers do more creative tasks all for the thrill of watching their gamerscore grow.

Non-Intrusive Updates

Updating a system can be a pain, locking the player out for some time. But Microsoft made these updates go much faster, smoother, and less frequent than Sony ever did with the PlayStation 3. Not having to dread an update is a godsend to gamers; after all, who wants to wait any longer than they to to dive into the next big release?

Adapting Its UI

Resisting change can be a company's biggest downfall, but Microsoft wasn't afraid to update its interface to fit with the times. Keeping navigation and its app-friendly structure in mind, the 360 has seen a number of dashboard redesigns, and each time, it attempts to keep its growing sections, such as movies, music, sports, and downloadable games, easily accessible. Its biggest achievement? Not bombarding the player with too much when loading up the console.

Up next: See where Microsoft missed the mark...

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