Xbox 360 Dashboard Update December 2011: Metro

When I log onto Xbox Live and see no one online, I feel I shouldn’t be here. The people I know are too busy to be playing online and I should be productive too! Though, today the new dashboard launched, so it gave me something to investigate before everyone else woke up. But I should have been doing something more productive.

Metro is the name of the new dashboard we all have to get used to, and it has changed the line of squares into a group of smaller flat squares. Split into Search, Home, Social, Video, Games, Music, Apps and Settings, each page provides a handful of options to select for ease of use. On the start-up page for example, you can jump straight into a game, play one of your last ten played games, or look at huge adverts. It seems the big bold menus were designed for the Kinect add-on.It is simple enough to get through with a controller, though for some reason it takes a fair deal of button presses to find the newest released items on sale. Unless advertised on the front pages, I can only see this causing some confusion and worry for smaller games.

Other niggles involve trailers being combined with games, no ability to split demos from full games and the game tab being after social and video. Isn’t this a games machine! Bing search is there for those who get a little lost, but you have to know what to search for.

It does have some neat functions however, cloud saves and beacons. Now you can save your game data on a cloud! Floating up in the sky, your date is beamed up and unless it rains,you will always have that data waiting online. Beacons allow you to point out what you want to play with others, though I do wonder how many of my friends will jump on the offer to duel me on Rumble Roses.

It seems the whole dashboard has been designed as a multi media centre for Kinect, rather than a games base for all. Applications such as LoveFilm and BBC iPlayer are on the way to enhance the features of the Xbox, but what of the simplicity of finding your game library and popping on for a quick game of Pac Man without having to trail through a mountain of unnecessary menus?

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