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With Bill Gates and some of the most potty-mouthed teenagers on the planet in its corner, it's difficult to see Xbox 360 as a loveable underdog... but until recently, that's exactly what they were. The awkward growing pains are over – with the breezeblock-sized Xbox a distant memory, the slimline convex 360's a worthy addition to any living room, and uncle Bill's near-bottomless pockets mean there’s plenty of funding for the war effort. If there's an exclusive they want, Microsoft have got a good shot at keeping it – witness the alleged $50 million they flung at Rockstar for exclusive GTA IV content. With regular appearances on Entourage and the most vibrant online community around, 360's your pick whether you’re into sniping or ping-pong. If you're into hyper-cute Japanese RPGs? Okay, no so much.
Master Chief's the new face of gaming
Described by Time magazine as 'A new kind of celebrity for a new millenium', he was the first game character to be made into a waxwork at the Las Vegas branch of Madame Tussaud's.
It's a global phenomenon
In its first year on sale, Xbox 360 launched in 36 countries – more than any other console before or since – including Chile, India, Taiwan, Colombia, South Korea and the Czech Republic
They make the best ads
Remember that one where the mum gives birth and fires the baby through a window, then the baby turns into an old man and lands in a grave? Brilliant, right? Well, that got banned by the Independent Television Commission after mothers complained. Meanwhile, the most offensive ad Sony could manage was a PSP billboard reading 'Take A Running Jump Here' – swiftly pulled from train stations in case it inspired idiots to do what it said.
The leader of Team Ninja likes it
Tomonobu Itagaki's been quoted as saying: "I think Xbox 360 is the best game console on the earth. It’s better than PlayStation 3. PS3 has too complicated of architecture." And who are we to disagree with the man who made Ninja Gaiden and, um, DOA: Beach Volleyball?
It's going to get quieter and cooler
Microsoft are moving to the 65 nanometre manufacturing process – the most advanced way of making semiconductors around at the moment – later this year, meaning that it’ll give off less heat and noise.
It's more powerful than PS3 (sort of)
Although Sony's made a lot of noise about its seven-core Cell architecture, Xbox 360 has more general-purpose processing power than PS3, since it's got three general purpose cores compared to Cell's one. It’s also got 278 Gigs of memory system bandwidth compared to the PS2's 48 Gbs… That impresses some people.
Microsoft thought rumble was a 'next-gen feature'
When Microsoft and Sony were sued by rumble-innovators Immersion Technologies in 2002, Microsoft settled immediately while Sony held out until March this year. It’s been speculated that this was behind the removal of vibration from the Sixaxis – Sony claimed that rumble would have interfered with the motion-sensing technology – a move that proved unpopular with developers and gamers. Sony's laughable about-turn, going from claiming that rumble was a 'last-gen feature' to announcing the Dual Shock 3 in Tokyo last week is a great little anecdote to drop into any Sony Vs Microsoft argument.