I bought XBox Live yesterday and if this review seems incoherent in spots, it's because I was up all night and early this morning playing. It's better than I thought.
I have a headstart because I'm a bit techy. I knew that I'd need some RJ45 Cat 5 cable. So I got an overpriced bright blue 14 foot length at the local CompUSA for 30 bucks. That's long enough for it to reach my Netgear RP114 router which is under my desk in the next room. I plugged it into an empty slot, turned on the XBox and put in the Live disk.
It loaded XBox Live software to the XBox disk in about 45 seconds and then started playing videos. I thought they were part of the setup but they're not. Just take out the disk, power down and power up and you have a new menu on the XBox bootup. Nice.
I let it autoconfigure and it did a good job of guessing but it couldn't connect at first. I went to the website and it was easy to find the instructions for my particular router. I entered a new IP address at the Router for the XBox and started again. I made the adjustments on the XBox manual configuration and it worked like a charm.
The registration is a bit tedious - filling out addresses and personal info takes a long time with the XBox controller. But I was up and running in no time. I picked my gamertag (sixoseven) and it was available. Cool!
The disk I got has demo versions of MotoGP, the superbike race, SUPER COOL and MechAttack, AWESOME. So you don't have to buy full blown versions to play online. I didn't expect that. I had to wait until my wife gave up the big TV so I didn't get started until about 12 midnight West Coast time. Still, there were people ready to play as soon as I got hooked up. Needless to say, most of them were in Western Europe. Wow!
The voice thingy works brilliantly, but sometimes it's hard to understand French accents with the Helium voice. Which is just as well sometimes when the trash talk gets crazy. I have to say, even though some gamers get rude, the network is a step above your average chat room in civility. Plus if you really don't like someone, you can gang up on them. But you can also meet cool people - while playing Destruction in MechAttack some of us discussed the ending to Matrix Reloaded. Great!
This dimension of play is great. You will find yourself shouting, groaning, laughing and discovering personalities behind the robots (or motorcycles as the case may be). I'm really looking forward to trying a first person shooter, I'm sure it will be incredibly great. I've already made some new friends from France and the UK (since I've been playing in their daylight time zones) and I'm looking forward to building up my reputation in a bunch of game worlds.
XBox is everything it promised to be. It's worth respecting Microsoft for, and for me that's really saying something.