With the month of November over, the staff here at Console Monster reflect back at the last month’s current events in the gaming world, as well as give a little insight of their gaming antics this month, and what they are looking forward to playing next month.

Today we take a look back at the recent launch of Microsoft’s New Xbox Experience (NXE), and we ask ourselves – Is it any good?

Craig: The dashboard for me is between good and excellent. At times it seems to be a little sluggish when flicking through my already full friends list of 100 people. I love the new layout of the dash though, especially the guide button. No more hanging and waiting around as the clumsy bulky guide loads up. So far (touches wood) it opens seamlessly and allows you to create party’s in which – another great feature coming up here – up to 8 gamers can join and chat while skipping between games. I think over time Microsoft will slowly add new features that can only keep us gamers happy.

Dave: My main disappointment regarding the New Xbox Experience was the way Microsoft allowed all those who signed up to the preview program in. A good load of people got in before its actual release though it didn’t feel right. It may have helped the servers slightly, though I didn’t notice it. Despite having problems within the first hour or so of it becoming available, I was soon up and running and loved it.

It feels like a new console. I’ve made my Avatar, installed some games to the hard drive and more-or-less attempted to do as much as I could. There are a few problems such as people with bigger friends lists may struggle to find a certain friend on the dashboard itself (I don’t have that problem myself) and it has locked up on me once or twice. Otherwise, Microsoft has done really well.

Lauren: Massive improvement on the blades! I really like the look, the feel and how quick it seems to run now. I know there was a lot of hate pre-NXE but now it’s out and people are using it, a lot of them are admitting to being wrong before.

Avatars seem to be a big hit and I am surprised people are using them so much compared to the backlash they received online. There are some great creations and to be really honest… I probably change my outfit at least once a day. I can’t wait for more outfits to arrive and to see how much content will be available for the avatars in future titles.

I am starting to think maybe 60GB was not enough when I upgraded and am looking into getting a 120gb because the install option is a massive plus! While it’s not a massive difference, as the read speed on the Xbox was pretty fast anyway, the texture pop-ins on some titles seems to be fixed and loading times are dramatically reduced on certain titles.

The content for the games I own is also much quicker to find now and the party system is a life savour. Much easier to organise game time with friends and what to play. All in all, I am a very happy lady!

Chris: I like it. It’s fresh, it’s different. It’s a heck of a lot easier to navigate as well. I love the Install to Hard Drive feature. I installed Left 4 Dead to my hard drive and whilst the loading screens aren’t much quicker, it is a LOT less noisy. I feel like I have a games console beneath my TV, not a jumbo jet. The avatars are pretty cool and it’s quite funny to see everyone else’s on my friends list. However, the friends list is a bit annoying. Being the popular guy I am, my friends list is full which makes it a pain to flick through to find someone. Which is why I use the Xbox Guide blades when I want to find friends now. The guide blades are also a neat feature, making it easier to find things in-game.

Reece: I was a little sceptical to begin with, but after having a hands-on with the update I was very pleased. The simple case of seeing 70% of my friends list online, and only on the dashboard was fantastic. I especially enjoyed the initial party chat spam and look forward to using the feature more as co-op sessions ensue.

One surprise was upon installing a game to my 360 for quick “pick up and play” appeal, but upon loading up Mirror’s Edge after a session of Lips I find that it asks for my disk? This was an obvious and fair move to reduce piracy, but I don’t see the point in wasting 7gig of hard drive space to increase loading times minimally.

Anthony: I missed out on the NXE preview for the site, so my first look at NXE was at The Gathering event and hearing views on the new dash from people buddies in the preview. Initial impressions were a little subdued. It looked like just a new way of presenting with very little new, but after finally installing it on my own console I managed to see the appeal everyone has been raving about. The avatars are a great touch and a good move to boost community interaction and presence over LIVE. Increase group chat and party features is another much needed and worthy addition to Microsoft’s already establish LIVE experience. The friends are is more garnish than function, it was good at first but I always end up going to the guide to access and message anyone of my friends online. It will be good to see what new features roll out over the next year.

Rob: I love the new dash, it is very fresh and modern. It works much faster for me especially as mine is a launch console and I like the fact it is easier to find content. There are a lot of adverts but I find these generally add to the experience.

The friends list is a bit crowded, but I prefer the new blades when looking for what people are doing. The install option is useful but I’ve filled 20GB very fast and I need another hard drive!

So that is our impressions, how are you finding the New Xbox Experience? Do you agree or disagree with any of our staff’s views? Let us know your feedback on Microsoft’s NXE in the comments. In tomorrow’s Monster Month we will be looking at Sony’s claim of the year for its PS3 console and whether they have been successful.

Console Monster

Console Monster is an independent gaming website that is dedicated to the Xbox and PlayStation gamer. Established in 2005 our team of UK and USA volunteer gamers bring our readers regular console gaming articles. If you are looking for a platform to get yourself heard, we would love to hear from you!

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