Tag Archive | "Xbox 360"

Xbox 360: Surviving the Red Ring of Doom

We have all heard the horror stories and for many owners of early generation Xbox 360 consoles, the Red Ring of Doom/Death (also known as RRoD) is the eternal boogeyman lurking in the shadows of the Microsoft console.

What makes RRoD so ghastly for players is simple fact that it count compromise and destroy all your progress. But before we get into that, let us see what RRoD really is. The term “Red Ring” comes from the three quarter-circle red indicator lights that appear on the console once it experiences any form of general hardware failure. In short, RRoD is actually a visible symptom for a wide range of potentially dangerous issues with the console.

In a few very rare cases (such as voltage spikes/power surges), fixing the RRoD simply require plugging the device from the power outlet and giving it time to cool down before resuming play. Most of the time, users will have to send the device back to Microsoft for replacement or take it to a third party to have the console fixed.

Many players prefer to take the system to a third party developer. Despite the fact that Microsoft is manufacturer of the device (and is most suited to fix it) player tend to pass up on this service since they have a policy of completely wiping out all data on the console. This means that all game data, save files, media and more are completely removed from the system. With many games averaging at least 20 to 30 hours to finish, many gamers are not too happy with the prospect of having all their gaming hours be lost.

So what do you do when you get hit by RRoD? The first thing that players should do is to check on all the quick troubleshooting steps. This usually involves letting the device rest, checking if the vents are blocked or if the power brick is heating up. If the console still does not turn on properly, it is time to take it to a professional. While there are plenty of online tutorials and how-to guides to take apart your Xbox 360, applying thermal paste and even installing a third party cooling system, these are not recommended. Not only do they void warranty, but unless you yourself are a professional in handling delicate electronics, attempting to do this on your own could lead to disastrous results.

As always, an ounce of prevention is indeed better than a pound of cure. In the case of the Xbox 360, making sure that your system does not overheat is a key factor in maintaining a long life. First off, store the device in dust free area –if you can spare a small sheet to cover it with, do so. Keeping out the dust allows the system to cool itself better –naturally, remove the cover when you need to play it. Next is to ensure that you run the system in a cool, well-ventilated area. This means that all the vents should have ample room to ‘breathe’. Do note that not only does the console need to be checked; the power brick also requires similar attention as well.

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Only 360: 5 of Our Favorite Microsoft Exclusives

Nothing makes a console stand out more than its line-up of exclusive titles. While the Xbox 360 may be best known for its highly competitive multiplayer FPS titles, it also has its own share of hardcore games from other genres. Naturally, if you want to get the full experience of all the gaming goodness that this Microsoft gaming console has to offer, you need to try out its many different games. To help you get started, we compiled a list of our top five favorite exclusive titles for the 360.

Alan Wake

Intriguing, suspenseful and highly imaginative, Alan Wake is a great game that players should not pass up on. You take control of the titular lead character, Alan Wake, as he embarks on a strange quest to save his wife from a race of bizarre beings known as the Taken. The gameplay is a combination of exploration-investigation and horror-action; players seek out various clues to find Alan’s wife while trying to get past beings that are only vulnerable when exposed to light. Combat is combination of using in-game light sources and basic firearms –forcing players to include a lot of strategy into their playing style. Combined with lushly detailed environments, the creepy and haunting atmosphere of Bright Falls, a musical score designed to keep you on the edge of your seat and very lifelike voice acting this is a game that certainly ranks high in the immersive-meter.

Gears of War 2

Despite the 360’s heavy reputation as a console for competitive players, it also has its share of great local coop games. And in this category, none stand out more than Gearbox’s Gears of War 2. This epic third person shooter game allows you and a buddy to team up and take down more of the invading alien horde known as the Locust. The combat is visually visceral, and keeps you glued on the screen. Much of the game’s atmosphere is similar to that of wartime film footage, complete with shaky-hand-cam effects, dirt splatters and of course, gore. Keeping you away from focusing entirely on these details is the action. Gears takes you (and optionally, a friend), into the heart of the Locusts new location underground, surrounded at all times and shooting your way towards the goal. A deep and well delivered story narrative provides players with a reprieve from the action-intensive gameplay.

Halo 3

Master Chief is back with the third game in the main Halo trilogy and once again, players are back in the Chief’s iconic armored boots. The game brings players back in touch not only with the big MC, but also with other returning cast such as Cortana, the Arbiter and more. Speaking of the Arbiter, he and the Covenant are taking a big role twist in this game as players get to directly interfere with the politics of the alien race. Halo 3 also reveals more about the rings, the flood and more importantly, provides the groundwork for an even more epic undertaking for the next game. Much of Halo’s classic FPS gameplay is back, along with a few new extra weapons. There is also a bit of balance with the use of special thrown weapons and melee combat –giving players that much needed diversity that most first person shooters lack.

Tales of Vesperia

Nothing says video game more than a Japanese RPG, and Namco Bandai’s semi-exclusive offering for Xbox 360 owners is the incredibly fun and intriguing Tales of Vesperia. The Japanese version of the game has been released for both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 (with the PS3 getting additional content). However, only the 360 was given an English version. The game takes you to the fictional planet of Terca Lumireis, a land where people rely on magic as much as technology. This magic is basically a unique kind of planetary energy stored in blastia -when the blastia start reacting to strange viral form of magic energy, the binding forces of the planet hit a terrible imbalance. Taking on the role of ex-knight Yuri Lowell, players embark on a journey that could very well spell the fate of the planet. JRPG veterans will know what to expect: funny voice acting, well written dialogue, a deep storyline with light delivery and of course, Namco’s Tales-series real time combat.

Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation

Once again, another title in the list comes from Namco Bandai. This is Project Ace’s special work for the Xbox 360, AC6: Fires of Liberation. Taking on the same story universe established in previous Ace Combat titles, players take flight and burn through the skies as the ace pilot, Talisman. Fighting to defend the fictional Republic of Emmeria from invading Estovakian forces, players are slowly introduced into the harsh repercussions of war as told from the perspective of civilians. The gameplay brings back more of that fast-paced and simplified dogfight controls that have made previous AC titles famous. Speaking of which, gigantic bosses and massive, epic dogfights dot out major points in the story –providing players with a unique kind of challenge not seen in other flight simulation titles. Overall, with its great game controls, action-oriented gameplay and stylish aircraft simulation, this is one dogfight game that will keep you happily playing for hours on end.

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Bring On the East: J-RPGs for the Xbox 360

One of the hardest challenges that Microsoft faced with the original Xbox home console was the fact that they had little Japanese game developer support. This affected the console’s sales performance slightly in western markets and strongly in Japan. With the Xbox 360, Microsoft is showing that they are learning from their mistakes. The next generation console now sports a vast number of JRPG titles, and even a few special exclusives for the US market. Here is a quick peek at some of these great games.

Namco Bandai’s Tales of Vesperia

The “Tales Of” series from Namco Bandai is one of the longest running RPG titles in Japan and Vesperia is one of the latest titles. While the Japanese version of the game is available in both the PS3 and the 360, only 360 owners will be able to enjoy the English version of this game. ToV follows the adventures of Yuri Lowell, a former knight out in search of a way to restore balance to the Blastia cores which govern magic energy. His adventure brings him back in touch with his long time friend, Flynn Scifo and together, they try to unravel the mysteries of magic and ether. Vesperia makes use of a semi-real time combat system known as the ATB which adds a degree of action to the battle sequences.

Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII

The latest in the famous Final Fantasy series originated by Squaresoft, FFXIII brings you the tale of Lightning, a soldier who takes on a system she once served in order to save her sister. While many of the older generation of FF fans find Square-Enix new RPG formulas to be a little dry and unimaginative, it is hard to deny that the game developer truly pushes the limits of the video hardware in today’s consoles. Originally meant to be released only for the PS3 in Blu-Ray format, the game went through several cuts and edits in order to shrink down content for the HD-DVD. While many fans cried foul at losing content, 360 users in the US finally had their first taste of the FF series.

Microsoft’s Lost Odyssey

Taking the lack of actual Japanese support for the older system into consideration, Microsoft has teamed up with Mistwalker and independent game company headed by legendary Squaresoft icon, Hironobu Sakaguchi. Their product: the ambitious Lost Odyssey RPG for the Xbox 360. This game rings back many elements of the original FF series that has been lost in the newer titles. A simplified items and inventory system, an easy to follow turn based, menu driven combat engine and of course, a plotline filled with plenty of twists and turns. While critics have panned the heavily political undertones of the game, many have also recognized the brave step that Mistwalker and Feelplus are taking in order to re-shape the JRPG industry. This game will certainly be a fan favorite of Sakaguchi purists and older-generation RPG fans, though the deep storyline and slightly reverse-experimental feel of the game system might put off newer players.

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Covering Your Gaming Needs with the Xbox 360

The home video game console market is currently dominated by two powerful giants: Sony’s high end Playstation 3 and of course, Microsoft’s Xbox 360. While some may argue that Nintendo’s Wii console is a third alternative, many often see the motion gaming system as a secondary platform designed mostly for casual players. On its end, Microsoft is taking all of the lessons they learned from the original Xbox system and bringing all the great things back for their new console –plus plenty of great innovations.

One of the first massive improvements of the 360 is its size. The original Xbox is considerably one of the consoles of its time. Many complained about its robust size and the shelving space it occupied. Microsoft addressed this problem by creating a smaller system with the additional option of being able to decide whether you want it flat or standing upright (a feature that was first used in the original Playstation 2).

The Xbox 360 also brought in new hardware that pushed the gaming capabilities of the home console well and beyond that of high end PCs. This helped usher in great games such as Mass Effect, Halo 3, Gotham Racing and many more as developers now had faster processors, better graphic cards and bigger storage space to work with.

Speaking of storage space, the 360 makes use of the HD DVD media format. While this is much smaller than the Playstation 3’s Blu-Ray discs, it still provided a significant amount of freedom that standard DVDs could not afford.

Beyond its lineup of great titles, the 360 itself is a gaming marvel fit to be in the center of your home entertainment system. The device hooks up to the internet through LAN or WiFi and allows players to connect to the Xbox Live network –a paid service which allows users to access Microsoft’s online gaming platform and various media services. The console also works as a media hub of sorts –able to playback varying types of image, music and video file formats.

The 360’s wireless controllers are well made for fast paced gaming, with color-coded buttons which allows players to easily create a mental map of the layout. The only drawback is that it makes use of standard batteries. Microsoft does sell an official rechargeable battery pack kit (complete with specialized chargers) for those who love to have long gaming sessions.

Microsoft has also launched a second version of the Xbox 360, the “S”. This new slim version has a lower energy consumption rate, built in Kinect support and more importantly, is rumored to be resilient to the issues that caused RRoD failures for the first batches of 360 systems.

RRoD, or Red Ring of Death, is a nickname given to the indicator lights of the 360 that indicates a complete system failure. There are plenty of theories and hypothesis as to the varying causes of RRoD, though all conclude that once the system hits this stage, recovery is nearly impossible. This issue has caused demand for the Jasper edition of the unit to soar, as its lower voltage rates appears to make the system immune from the much dreaded Red Ring of Death.

Being Microsoft’s second platform in the home gaming console, the 360 has shown how far the PC software developer has come in terms of being able to expand. In terms of gaming, Microsoft is now one of the biggest names in the gaming industry, with their high end console, impressive games and impressive online service, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 community continues to grow each day.

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