Exploring the Xbox Experience Feature - The Next Level

Exploring the Xbox Experience

MS gives the 360 a virtual nip and tuck.

Article by Chris Bahn (Email)
November 19th 2008, 02:37AM

The installation executes just like any standard update, taking approximately 2 – 3 minutes depending on your connection speed. Once completed, a welcome page loads up, followed by a short cinematic that's supposed to get users pumped up for all the great things they're about to explore. The next step is an area you'll either dread or adore: the avatar creation phase. While there's some obvious similarities to Miis in customizing your avatar, you're presented with a lot more options of hairstyles, apparel, footwear and the ability to wear body accessories (i.e. watches, wristbands).

I hope Microsoft takes into consideration that most of us may actually want to expand our horizons, and create custom characters that are a bit more alien and bizarre. That means you can't create General RAMM from Gears of War or some uber-cute creature from Viva Pinata. That must suck for those of you who love keeping their identities anonymous (ha!)

So now you've got your avatar, what now? Well, don't expect them to be making special appearances in anything beyond family-oriented titles ala Wii Sports. If you're a fan of Bomberman Live, UNO! or the Hardwood series, MS has plans to update these 4 XBLA titles to give your avatars some real activity other than being idle on the dashboard homepage. There isn't a great deal of information available on just how avatars will be incorporated in future first and third party titles. It'll be interesting to see what develops in the months ahead.

You might get a sensory overload the first time you set sights on the new dashboard. Navigating through each section feels a lot more organic, intuitive and elegant. The content is laid out in a "Vista-esque" format which is very easy on the eyes, and makes exploration a breeze. Even basic utility functions like texting or pulling up gamer profiles runs at a smoother pace. Make no mistake, the Xbox 360 UI has come a long way from those awkward, buggy days when it was customary to lock up every few minutes.

In case you're wondering, all those themes you've downloaded for the original dashboard will not only remain intact; in fact, they've all been upgraded to look even better in the new Experience design. My Halo theme for example, now proudly features Master Chief and a much warmer shade of blue, which is a welcome change from the harsh tone offered in the previous design.

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