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15 Years of Xbox – The Consoles

15 Years of Xbox

It's 15 years to the day since Microsoft entered the video game market with their Xbox console. Yes really 15 years!! How old do you feel right now?

To mark the occasion me and Andreas - your writers here at Zatu Games - are going to spend the day writing about all things Xbox. This will include articles on their three consoles and our favourite games on each console.

I'm getting the day started by giving a quick overview of Microsoft's three Xbox consoles.

Xbox - 15 November 2001

Back in 2001 Microsoft embarked on a dangerous mission to enter the video games market. Back then this world was dominated by Sony's PlayStation 2 console and even, to some degree, Nintendo's Gamecube machine.

Could Microsoft really compete? Or would they end up in the sales bins around the country, gathering dust. The original Xbox console was the first American-built device since the Atari Jaguar stopped sales in 1996.

The console was launched on November 15, 2001. The hardware came in the form of a chunky black box with and X shape on the top. In the middle of the X there was a green circle with the Xbox logo inside it.

The main talking point about the new console was the huge controller which came with it. This chunky device has been given nicknames such as Fatty and has been ranked as the second-worst video game controller ever by IGN. The controller can even be found in the Guinness World Record Gamer's Edition - as the biggest controller in the world.

Fortunately this beast was replaced with a nice smaller version by the end of 2002. The controllers featured two analogue sticks, a pressure sensitive directional pad, two analogue triggers, back and start buttons and four main buttons similar to the PS2 controller.

The Xbox didn't hold back when it entered the market. It was graphically more powerful then its rivals and was the first console to include a built-in hard-disk. Of course, the major revolution with the Xbox was the inclusion of Xbox Live. This gave players the chance to download new content and connect with other players through a broadband connection - unlike the PlayStation 2.

With the online capabilities came the amazing multiplayer games such as Halo 1 and 2. Other top titles from the console include Project Gotham Racing, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Fable and Forza Motorsport.

Xbox 360 - 22 November 2005

The follow-up to the Xbox console was released back in 2005 and in my opinion this is the best Microsoft console. The Xbox 360 was the console that persuaded me to leave my PS2 behind and to avoid the PS3. This was due to the great games available on the console and the fact that all my school friends were playing against each other on Xbox Live every night after school.

The Xbox Live subscription service went from being good to great on the new console. You could now download new games through the Arcade, play demos of upcoming games through the marketplace and stream music, TV programmes and movies through Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps.

The new console was designed to stand up-right - although some still chose to lay it down - and came with a detachable hard-drive on the top of the machine. The Xbox 360 came with battery-powered, wireless controllers which features a interactive Xbox logo button. Pressing this would send you straight through to the Dashboard. It would also flash when a friend came online or when you received an achievement on a game. Pressing the button would send you to your achievement page or to your friend options.

The social aspect of this console is what won a lot of PlayStation users over. With the free headset you could chat with your friends, either in a private chat or in a party. This came in very handy when you were battling with gamers around the world on Halo 3!

Other exclusive titles on the console were significantly better than their PlayStation counterparts. Forza Motorsport became king of the racing simulators whilst Gears of War and Halo trounced the Killzone series. The 360 was also boosted by the arrival of the Grand Theft Auto series on the console - this was previously a PlayStation only title.

The 360 lasted a good eight years before a replacement was released. The reason behind this was great games, updated consoles and the introduction of the Kinect Camera system. The Kinect helped to defeat the Nintendo Wii as you didn't even need a controller to play.

Of course it wasn't all good. The red ring of death hampered early models of the console - I went through three consoles!!!

Xbox One - 22 November 2013

Microsoft's current games console has the confusing name of Xbox One! I mean really? Just to confuse anybody who is talking about the history of Xbox consoles!

The Xbox One was released in 2013 and is in direct competition with the PlayStation 4. In many ways this console was similar to the 'original' Xbox console as it was a chunky bit of hardware finished in a matt and shiny black colour. The controller was also slightly larger than the 360 and the console was designed to sit horizontally.

It was also technically similar - with the Xbox One reverting back the x86 architecture used in the original console. The new hardware featured an AMD APU built around the x86-64 instruction set.

With the new console came a new version of the Kinect camera - which could now be used for video chat whilst playing games and for apps such as Skype. Players could now also upload clips of  themselves playing games and can even share live footage through the Twitch App.

Users can also feed live television through to their consoles and watch movies through various different apps. The Cloud is also very relevant on the Xbox One, with users able to save music, films, games and content on there.

Some of the best titles on the latest console do include new entries into classic Xbox series, such as Forza Horizon 3, Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Grand Theft Auto V. Other, independent titles that have received a positive response include Quantum Break, Titanfall 2 and Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition.

Although its not my cup of tea the Xbox One is starting to show signs of life in the console wars. Sales are beginning to pick up and they have replaced the VCR-style console with a nice shiny, white Slim version!