After what seems like years of hype, Microsoft's monstrous Xbox has finally arrived on British shores. When I say monstrous, I mean this not only in terms of reputation and power, but also its physical size; while the PS2 and Dreamcast are fairly portable, the Xbox is a bulky piece of kit. The reason for this is that, unlike its rivals, the console has internal architecture impressive enough to rival many home PCs: a 733Mhz processor, 8GB hard-drive, 64MB RAM and a DVD drive.
Such high specifications may seem frivolous for a games console, but it gives the Xbox the potential to run games with an unparalleled detail and depth. An advance taste of this has already been shown in early titles such as Halo.
However, while it may be the most powerful console available, it is still not without its problems, not least its size. For those of you who don't blanch at the machine's steep purchase price, you will also have to fork out another £30 for a piece of hardware that enables you to watch DVD films. The games themselves cost, on average, £45 each, so with extra control pads, network adapters and other peripherals, your Xbox could become a money pit.
Its other major flaw is the awkward control system, due to the unusual design of the control pad. These criticisms aside, Microsoft have managed to produce a powerful machine that, due to its aforementioned architecture, will benefit greatly from the ease with which PC games can be ported across.
Whether or not the Xbox will fulfil its potential as the greatest console ever is, however, still to be proven. For now, with the limited number of games that are currently available and its ludicrous price tag, gamers may wish to wait and see the Nintendo Gamecube, which is due to be launched in May, before parting with their cash.
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