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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...

In the run up to Christmas, console prices plummeted. So, if you've finally decided to take the plunge and invest in an Xbox, you'll want to know what's on offer.

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The 360 comes in four flavours: Arcade, Premium (20GB or 60GB models) and Elite. All these packages come with the basics, but exactly which you plump for will depend on your gaming needs. The Arcade pack is the cheapest option at £128 but, unlike the Elite or Premium, you'll have to buy your HDTV cable separately. The Arcade's lack of hard drive also means a restricted amount of memory - not good if you plan on building up a respectable library of games. You'll need to obtain some form of additional memory if you want to keep save files and run Microsoft's new user interface. Luckily MS has launched xboxstorageupgrade.com to offer extra memory at the fraction of the cost.

At the other end of the scale is the Elite. At £220 it's the most expensive but has 120GB of memory. Representing fantastic value for money at only £165 is the 60GB Premium model. It's the best option for beginners and has everything you'll need for a complete next gen experience.

THE TOP 10 GAMES

GEARS OF WAR 2
The original was a balls-out, chainsaw-wielding classic, but the sequel ramps everything up. Online and off, this is Grade A gunnery. Just make sure your dear old gran's out of the room when the blood-letting begins.
Price: £40 / AT: lovefilm.com / XBW SCORE: 91%

FALLOUT 3
Genre-defining stuff, marrying an immersive world, memorable characters and some of the most inspired RPG mechanics ever. Its bleak outlook on humanity is the perfect antidote to the tinsel-joys of Christmas.
Price: £40 / AT: game.co.uk / XBW SCORE: 93%

GTA IV
The gratuitous level of detail crammed into the beautiful freeroaming world of Liberty City is God-like. This is a masterpiece of design and scope and arguably one of the best games of all time. Go and buy it. Now.
Price: £20 / AT: play.com / XBW SCORE: 98%

THE ORANGE BOX
At 1p short of 18 notes, this must rank as one of the best pieces of VFM in the history of gaming. Five superb games for the price of one: Half-Life 2, Episodes 1 and 2, multiplayer fun Team Fortress 2 and the genius of Portal.
Price: £18 / AT: hmv.co.uk / XBW SCORE: 97%

CALL OF DUTY 4
Incredibly tense from start to finish, CoD4 delivers a cinematic take on the brutality of modern warfare. A compelling narrative-driven campaign, jaw-dropping set pieces and a near-unmatched online Live experience.
Price: £40 / AT: play.com / XBW SCORE: 90%

DEAD SPACE
A megamix of old-hat ideas from other games and movies, Dead Space still stands tall as a tightly plotted mini-masterpiece, with every aspect of gameplay gelling perfectly. An irresistible horror title.
Price: £38 / AT: lovefilm.com / XBW SCORE: 91%

FABLE 2
Any 360 gamer not spending any time with Fable 2 over Christmas deserves to be visited by three spirits. Engrossing, attractive, dramatic and thoroughly entertaining, this is the most charming game on 360.
Price: £35 / AT: lovefilm.com / XBW SCORE: 90%

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