Feature Article

Why You Should Buy an Xbox 360 in 2014

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Never too late.

Join us over the next few days as we look at all of the leading games consoles and platforms out right now and try to convince you why you should spend your hard-earned cash. Today, it's the turn of the Xbox 360, with Shaun McInnis telling you why you should grab Microsoft's last-gen console.

OK, I know what you're thinking. Why on earth would I want to buy an eight-year-old console right now? Good question! And to you I say, why must technology grow obsolete over time? Who's to say it can't simply age like a fine wine? It may be 2014, but there are still plenty of reasons to buy an Xbox 360.

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The Library

This is where the maturity of the Xbox 360 shows its strength, because the library of games available for Microsoft's console is absolutely massive. If a third-party game was released within the past eight years, chances are it was released on the Xbox 360. You can choose from no fewer than nine Call of Duties, six Assassin's Creeds, and two Grand Theft Autos. But perhaps those mega-franchises don't appeal to you. Maybe you'd prefer something smaller, more experimental. Well, how about Spelunky, Braid, Castle Crashers, or Limbo? Sure, all of these games have since become available on other systems, but there's something to be said for the simplicity of having so many great third-party games available on one device.

That library becomes even more impressive when you factor in the Xbox 360's back catalog of system exclusives. The flow of 360-specific games may have slowed considerably over the past two years as Microsoft has shifted its focus toward next-gen, but for a while there, the company's first-party studios (and development partners like Epic) were churning out one great exclusive after the next.

The Xbox 360 is no longer a destination for new indie games, but Braid is just as impressive today as it was in 2008.
The Xbox 360 is no longer a destination for new indie games, but Braid is just as impressive today as it was in 2008.

Forza Motorsport came of age on the Xbox 360 and now stands toe-to-toe with Gran Turismo as one of the best racing sims on the market. Halo continued to offer some of the most exciting sandbox shooter action around, even after the series' stewardship transferred from Bungie to 343 Industries with the excellent Halo 4. And then you have Gears of War, Fable, and--if you're OK breaking a sweat--Dance Central.

And I haven't even mentioned Geometry Wars 2 yet! You know, the single best console exclusive of the last generation? Argue all you want, but you may as well be arguing with gravity, or a mountain. It's just science.

Upcoming Games

The Xbox 360 still has plenty of games coming out this year; you'll just need to make sure you're comfortable playing what is likely to be an inferior version of that particular game. From here on out, you won't see many Xbox 360 games that aren't also on the Xbox One. But so long as you don't need 1080p graphics and fancy-pants lighting effects, you'll be just fine.

The Xbox 360 still has plenty of games coming out this year; you'll just need to make sure you're comfortable playing what is likely to be an inferior version of that particular game.

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, Watch Dogs, and Destiny are some of the biggest multigenerational releases this year, and they'll all receive Xbox 360 versions. And then there are the cross-generation Microsoft exclusives like Titanfall and Fantasia: Music Evolved. Sure, no one has actually seen the 360 version of Titanfall, and it's not even being developed by Respawn, but on the plus side...well, it's probably going to have at least some giant robots in it. Probably.

The Hardware

While the first iteration of the Xbox 360 was plagued by hardware issues like the notorious red ring of death and an ambient noise level that could only be described as helicopter-like, Microsoft has improved the console hardware considerably with the S model in 2010 and the E model in 2013. These new designs are far smaller and quieter than the original version of the Xbox 360 that first came out in 2005, but they both include that same great controller--regarded by many as one of the greatest controllers ever designed.

The Xbox 360 has undergone several makeovers since 2005. (Credit: CNET)
The Xbox 360 has undergone several makeovers since 2005. (Credit: CNET)

But more important than the aesthetics of these new systems is that they continue to drop in price. You can grab the 4GB model of the newest, slimmest Xbox 360 E for $199 USD, or you can spend a hundred bucks more and grab the 250GB model in a bundle that also includes Halo 4 and Tomb Raider.

No matter which bundle or retail configuration you go with, you're pretty much guaranteed to save piles of cash compared to buying a next-gen console. And all of that comes with the peace of mind in knowing that this hardware has been revised and improved after years and years on the market. Launch hardware is exciting and all, but it can be a real minefield when it comes to technical issues.

Other Stuff

The Xbox 360 has plenty of other ancillary benefits, especially when you compare it to its next-gen counterparts. On the Xbox 360, you can play a game without a mandatory disc installation. You can download videos on your computer, slap them onto a USB stick, and play them on your console--something you can't do on either the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4. And while the Xbox One still lacks video streaming apps like Twitch and HBO Go, as well as sports apps like MLB, NBA, and NHL, you can find every single one of those apps on the Xbox 360.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the single biggest drawback to the cost-saving opportunities of buying an Xbox 360. You still need to pay $60 a year to access multiplayer and--frustratingly--several of the best video apps, including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. But so long as you're prepared to swallow that bitter pill, the Xbox 360 makes for an awfully enticing purchase in 2014. If you don't already own the console, there's no better time than now to pick one up.

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