Here we are: ten days after the November 22 launch Stateside, the "next generation of gaming" lands in the UK. It's December the second, 2005, and it's Xbox 360 launch day here in Blighty.
Some of you may already have been up for hours, queueing to get hold of the console. You may have had luck, you may have lucked out. Some of you might have been waiting for more reviews to roll in, for more thoughts on the initial lineup of titles, or for more information about the hardware. Well, we're here to give you the run down on the ins and outs of the console as it launches here in the UK.
We're going to be talking about the games we've played, our experience of the hardware and the user interface, our high definition experience, and our overall thoughts on the system.
We got our hands on ours earlier this week, and we've been frantically testing, playing, fiddling and photographing to bring you this article today. As far as we know, there are relatively few UK websites with the console, so we hope you'll find a British take on the whole affair interesting. Our thanks to Microsoft for pulling out the stops to get us the console early.
This is the package that, if you're lucky enough to get the Premium bundle, you'll get. Inside the Premium bundle you'll find the console with the hard drive, a wireless controller, a wired headset, a video cable with component, composite, SCART and digital audio connections and the mains adaptor.
In terms of the console itself, you'll surely know the specs by now. A 3GHz, triple-core IBM PowerPC chip sits at the heart of the box, and an ATI graphics chip with a unified shader architecture provides the graphics capabilities. The GPU provides for all the high-end features you'd expect, such as normal mapping, parallax occlusion mapping and also includes a dedicated RAM module that provides anti-aliasing for 'free'. The 360 supports Dolby Digital, has a 10/100 LAN port on the back, and also has three standard USB 2.0 ports (two on the front, one on the back). It has two slots for memory cards.
Despite appearances, the 360 isn't actually a heck of a lot smaller when you put it next to a first-gen Xbox. The curved look makes it look a lot thinner, but really, the difference is minimal. A triumph of appearance over reality!