Microsoft did a fantastic job with the Live community on the Xbox. I was there from day one on the original Xbox. A small fee was required and entering your details via the control pad I remember playing Midtown Madness 3, taking to other gamers via the controller headset and thinking at the time, “this is really cool”. It was a genuinely enjoyable experience. The closest you could ever get to playing games with your friends, without them actually being in the same room. It had so much potential and although Microsoft updated the dashboard, it didn’t really offer anything new. Sure, it looked better and the chatroom facility was a nice adition but it didn’t really offer anything else.
Fast forward a few years. The Xbox 360 has replaced the original Xbox. Sony and Nintendo are yet to unlock the potential of online gaming and the Xbox Live is still the best gaming community on a console. The Xbox 360 has a new dashboard. Its not that easy to navigate and is clearly aimed at hardcore gamers. There is the same great online community via Xbox live as the previous carnation, but its far superior, thanks to the Xbox Marketplace. Game demos, Video trailers and Arcade games can be downloaded to the Hard Drive. Although it doesn’t take that long to fill up the 20GB Hard Drive.
The new Dashboard is better than the original Xbox Dashboard, but it feels like something is missing. It’s not that great to navigate and to be honest it feels at time cumbersome and unintuitive. I really don’t like it.
19th November 2008. The day the new Xbox Dashboard is released, known as the NXE or New Xbox Experience.
For my birthday my wife bought me the Xbox 360 Premium so it was a great opportunity to setup the new Xbox 360. I was nearly finished entering all my details, including email address and gamertag when a message popped up advising me to update my Xbox 360. I always do what Microsoft tells me, so I went ahead with the update. A progress bar moves across the screen. The anticipation is killing me. A few minutes have past and the update is complete. A restart is required. It feels very Windows like. Upon restarting I am greeted to a lovely abeit blocky video showcasing the Xbox 360. A screen then appears prompting me to enter all my details, again. I then have to create an Avatar, which to honest was quite fun. It was very Wii Mii like in appearance, but far superior, interface and graphically.
After creating my avatar I am greeted to the new NXE Dashboard. My first impression is. Wow. It looks like the Sony Playstation XMB, in a horizontal format. For the first time since owning an Xbox (Original and 360) it feels like a console. It actually feels like a games console with a great, user friendly and fun interface. Ok, so Microsoft has taken all the best features from the Sony Playstation XMB and Nintendo Wii and blended them with the Xbox 360 Dashboard, but thats a good thing. The Xbox 360 now feels like a console which can appear to a wider audience. Those unable to navigate the original Dashboard will love the NXE. Everything is there from before, Xbox Live, Xbox Marketplace, Game Demos, Video Trailers, only in a more user friendly, more appealing way.
Microsoft took a huge risk changing the interface. As a loyal Xbox user myself, I think the NXE is brilliant. It has made the Xbox 360 fresh and fun to use again.
Microsoft I applaud you for making such a daring, yet brilliant overhaul to the Xbox Dashboard that was definitely needed.