Turn on your Xbox 360 after work today and you’ll get an update for the dashboard. A lot has changed and will take a little getting used to. Things aren’t where they used to be, others are lumped together, you’ve got new features, options, games, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria.
Now when you go to your friends list you’ll see their full name, which is handy for remembering everyone’s stupid moniker. You’ll also see right from the first page how many of them are in games you can jump into. Demos and Arcade games have joined hands and are now frolicking together under the Games Library section. There’s also a handy "New Arrivals" section where you can see everything that’s been updated, and not just a specific kind of content like before.
Videos can now be previewed in full-screen, and they’ve added the option to start playing all the content before it’s finished downloading. There will also be a weekly video from a few people from Xbox.com, such as Major Nelson who will have a minute to update you on any stuff that needs pluggging.
There’s more than this (check the dashboard for a full list) but for the most part it’s all the same stuff, just all prettied up and in new spots. It’ll take a little getting used to, but it seems to be organized a helluva lot better.
We do have some new features, though. First up are Xbox Live Arcade Hits, which is a Platinum Hits of sorts for Arcade games. All these best-sellers have dropped in price, with more to come out soon. $10 (800 points) will net you either Bankshot Billiards 2 or Lumines Live!, while Marble Blast Ultra, Small Arms, and Zuma Deluxe will be available for 5 clams (400 points). Not a bad deal. It’s good to see them finally getting more realistic prices, cause let’s be honest, some of them are a little ridiculous.
They’ve also announced few more games that will be released soon, the most interesting of which is Rez HD, the update of the weird cult classic shooter. Give us a date, dammit!
Along with the Arcade games, we’ve got some Xbox Originals available for download. Yes, for 15 bucks you can buy a few original Xbox games. What’s out so far: Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge, Halo, Fable, Fuzion Frenzy, and Psychonauts.
Let me take the time to say- PLAY INDIGO PROPHECY. It’s possibly my favorite game of the last generation, and kinda hard to find anywhere, used or not.
Pissed off that Mass Effect doesn’t allow you to change the storyline based on your actions as much as it claimed? Check this one out.
Let me give an example of how awesome it is from the first thing you do in the game. In it, your character wakes up in a diner bathroom after having visions of murdering a man for no apparent reason. The bad news? It really happened. You’ve stabbed a guy to death and have to figure out how the fuck to get out of there. Just as you’re starting to freak out at all the blood, the screen splits in two, and you see a cop enter the diner.
Everything you do affects the rest of the game. Do you try to clean yourself up? Hide the weapon? Stash the body? Do you bolt from the diner, or walk casually out the door? If the cop looks at you strangely, what do you do? Finish this part and you’ll find one of the most compelling adventure games around, a truly cinematic experience that’s as cool to look at as it is to play. This update reminded me to go back to the game to try to get a better ending…
Anyway, sorry for the tangent, but Indigo Prophecy really is a sleeper that I wish found a greater audience. Same with Psychonauts, of course, but even that is fairly well known as a great game. $15 is a steal for either one.
All in all, a pretty good update. There’s nothing earth-shattering here but it’s easier to get around, and since we’ve got so damn much content to check out lately it’s very helpful. Make sure to check out the Xbox Originals sections even if you don’t want to download the games, because each of them has free themes and picture packs. See you on Live.