The Update

Keeping you constant on all things gaming.

New Xbox Experience Review… Sort of…

Posted by haunt506e on November 20, 2008

Those of you Xbox 360 owners who are connected to Xbox Live will have no doubt already discovered the New Xbox Experience.  Most Live subscribers downloaded the update yesterday when prompted by their 360s upon trying to sign into Xbox Live.  Well, it’s here, and I’ve gotta say, I’m impressed.  This “review” isn’t gonna delve into a bunch of the features and details, but instead I’m just going to briefly tell you guys what I think thus far.

NXE Party SystemMy favorite aspect of the New Xbox Experience (NXE from this point forward) is the option to create a Party.  Sure, you’ve created parties before in maybe Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, or, more recently, Gears of War 2.  But have you created a party linking your friends that are playing Halo 3 with your friends that are playing Gears of War 2?  The NXE allows you to do so, and enables open voice chat between you and up to 7 other friends to communicate, no matter what game each respective party member is playing.  Just last night I played Left 4 Dead while my buddies were playing Custom Games in Gears 2, and I was talking to all of them with extreme ease.  Parties are very well constructed, allowing you to, when viewing the dashboard, check out your party.  This screen will show each party member’s avatars milling about a small area, with random items in the background (depending on your current theme).

As far as downloading content goes, I haven’t had a chance to download anything too major.  However, speeds seem to be about the same, and the NXE hasn’t done anything to really improve the speed of the servers (didn’t think it would) or the speed of the operating system.  It is still relatively cumbersome to open the guide and invite friends to games, but it’s not a whole lot to complain about.

In addition, the entire Xbox Guide screen has been redesigned.  I’m not talking about the dashboard, but rather the menu that comes up when you hit the middle Xbox button on your controller.  It’s been reconstructed as well, this time showing you a miniature version of the older Xbox Dashboard, complete with various tabs, including Marketplace, Xbox Live/Home, Games, Media, and System Settings.  I haven’t messed with any of the mini guide’s settings, but I think you can do just about anything with the mini dashboard as you can with the old dashboard (you can’t view friends’ avatars when using the mini dashboard, however).

Games TabA few other neat additions that I’ll have to try are hard installing games onto your drive and Netflix.  Hard installing lets you install a game directly to your HDD, and, while this isn’t really that great if you’re stuck with the 20GB, it supposedly cuts down your load times by up to 40% when playing that specific game.  Netflix allows you to rent and watch movies directly from your Xbox, and, as I’ve heard from friends (no confirmation though), you are able to watch movies with your friends over Live, even if you didn’t pay for the movie.  As long as one friend has a Netflix subscription and rented a movie, you can all watch it together.

So all in all the NXE is a great new social experience for Live.  Microsoft took a pretty swell direction in the creation of this update, and I’m liking all it has to offer thus far.  For those complaining about the Avatars, they’re not really that bad.  Sure, we could all do without them, but the new party systems and friends lists wouldn’t be the same without the Avatars.  If for some reason you haven’t downloaded it yet, what are you waiting for?  For those without Live subscriptions, I think Microsoft will be putting out a file that you can write to a CD or something like that.  As far as I know, they’re still working on providing the NXE for Xbox 360 owners without Live.

I won’t be putting a rating on this because it is a mandatory update for all 360s connected to Live.

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