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The beginner's guide to Xbox 360

Haven't got your 360 yet? You need to know what's on offer...

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HALO 3
Everyone knows the Master Chief. He's the Spartan that appeared in a game so huge, it made the evening news. The final chapter in an epic trilogy, Halo 3 is, in many ways, the pinnacle of the Xbox's golden franchise.
Price: £30.50 / AT: amazon.co.uk / XBW SCORE: 95%

BIOSHOCK
The decaying beauty of Rapture - an Art Deco underwater city bathed in the lurid glow of fluorescent lighting - is a sight that just has to be experienced. Tightly plotted, genuinely creepy and brilliantly realised.
Price: £18 / AT: game.co.uk / XBW SCORE: 94%

ELDER SCROLLS IV: OBLIVION
If you've not explored Oblivion to your heart's content by now, it can only be because you're afraid to lose your life to its all-encompassing brilliance. An RPG so good, the real danger is that you'll never see daylight again.
Price: £15 / AT: game.co.uk / XBW SCORE: 94%

GETTING ON XBOX LIVE

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All 360s come with free Silver Live membership which entitles you to create a gamer profile, maintain a friends list, access Xbox Live Marketplace and send and receive text and voice messages.

But, really, there can only be one place to go if you're serious about games, and that's Gold Live membership. An annual subscription of £40 and an active email address is required, but for £3.33 a month you'll get everything offered in the Silver Membership as well as the ability to play against folk all over the world and even exclusive content in the Xbox Live marketplace. When you first sign up to Xbox Live you'll be given a trial Gold month which can then be topped up by either inputting your credit card details or purchasing a prepaid top-up card from a gaming store. We recommend the latter as you can usually find retailers selling the cards for less than the RRP.

GAMING IN HD

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All Xbox 360 games are designed to be played in high definition. To make the most of your console you need a television capable of receiving HD signals and also the right cables. New Xbox 360 consoles all carry an HDMI output which, if your television has one too, is the best cable to plump for (although a separate adapter is needed if you have a surround sound system, lucky sod). Otherwise the component or VGA cables are your other HD options.

Each Xbox 360 package comes with different cables: the Elite with HMDI and component cables, the Premium with component and the Arcade with a lowly standard definition composite lead. Choosing the right cable for your television is a vital part of the Xbox 360 experience, so make sure you pick the best one before playing.

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