Leaf on Xbox Live

Leaf Xbox Live

I finally upgraded my Xbox 360 to Xbox Live, though it cost me over £100 to do so! Why so expensive? First, I needed to buy that official wireless adapter as a way of connecting to the Internet without the aid of cables. Due to the way my router is set-up in my house, it was impractical to run the long Ethernet cable from the router to the console (as the router was in the lounge, while the console was upstairs).

The wireless adapter cost £60, but luckily I had enough points on my HMV games card to take £10 off. Still, it is a bit much for this accessory… The next item I had to purchase to access Xbox Live is a 12-month Gold subscription. With this special membership, I can download playable demos, film trailers, music videos and Dashboard themes.

This so-called ‘Gold’ membership – an upgrade over the limited Silver status – cost £40 and it only last for one year… Once this is over, you will need to spend another £40 to remain a member on Xbox Live.

So that’s £90 spent already just to go online. For the Nintendo Wii, it was free and the Wi-Fi was built in to the machine…

But I haven’t finished yet, as I needed some Microsoft Points in order to purchase items available on the Xbox Live Marketplace. So this means spending a further £20 to get 2,100 points.

Now that I got everything required to play Xbox Live (wireless adapter, 12-month subscription and points) just how much did I spend? Well, that’s £110! But was it worth it in the end? Yes, absolutely.

The ability to play online games in multiplayer mode is fantastic and I had the opportunity to sample this experience for the first time while playing against MrSamuari (Jason) in Virtua Tennis 3.

There was a slight bit of lagging – due to the different broadband speeds – but it was playable. In fact, the tennis game was quite competitive between Jason and myself. He won in the end, but I will get him next time!

I wasn’t a fan of online gaming initially but since playing the excellent Mario Kart DS with a group of friends over the ‘net, I have to admit its addictive. Now that I have Xbox Live, I’m looking forward to playing the sublime Gears Of War with Jason, Josh and Nigel soon. This should be a blast (sorry, bad pun)!

So playing online is one great part of Xbox Live, the next is the ability to download new stuff for your console including new game levels and Dashboard themes.

In the case of Dashboard themes for example, for only 400 Microsoft Points you can have the Heroes look (see the image above). There are many more to choose from but surprisingly there wasn’t any on 24 or Formula One

In addition you can download playable demos for forthcoming Xbox 360 games. So with that, I’ve downloaded two games I was interested in: Top Spin 2 (a tennis game) and Forza Motorsport 2 (Microsoft’s answer to Gran Turimso). Both were free.

But the best part of Xbox Live is the ability to communicate with your friends with instant messaging thanks to the new update. MSN Messenger works quite well on the Xbox 360 and even though it was quite tricky to type messages using the controller, by using a spare USB keyboard ‘borrowed’ from my old Apple iMac, I can now type out my messages just like I do if I was on my computer.

So despite the high costs to get going, it is worth every penny.

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