|First off, you don't need any extra hardware to use the XBox on line. It already had the ethernet port built into it when it shipped. All you have to do is buy the $50 software to enable that port.|
For better or for worse, Microsoft controls the entire connection. So instead of making accounts with each gaming system depending on what games you play, you log into a single XBox Live Central, and create one account there. Then you can play any Live-Enabled game through that central resource. With the $50 starter kit you get a year subscription to XBox Live, plus a voice headset. After that year expires, you'll have to pay for more time.
The XBox Live only plays over high speed connections. The PS2 online service plays over a phone line too. Really though, if you only have a phone line connection, it's probably better not even to try either system. The kinds of games you'd want to play over these systems - very graphic intensive - would be dog-slow. While those with modems might complain they're being left out, if they got to play, they'd probably complain about it always being slow.
The voice headset adds a neat dimension to the system, letting you talk with teammates and yell taunts at your enemies. It might not be very helpful on some games, say a car race, but in other games like multi-player team combat it can be completely necessary.
There are skill rankings to help keep your game enjoyable. Beginners don't need to worry about being trounced by experts -they can simply join games with other beginners.
Some of the games coming out shortly (or already out) for the XBox Live include:
* Sega Sports NFL 2K3 - Read the Review
* Whacked! - Read the Review
* MotoGP - Read the Review
* NFL Fever 2003
* Unreal Championship
* Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon
* Sega Sports NBA 2K3
* Capcom vs SNK 2 EO
If you're an XBox fan, this is definitely the next step! Instead of playing only against the computer, and throwing away a game when you finish it, you can now play 'forever' against the real challenge - human fans!
Buy XBox Live from Amazon.com