Halo and Halo 2 are backwards compatable out of the box. Theres a sizeable list of other games that are backwards compatable when you get the automatic download from xbox live when you put that certain game into the 360. You just need to get the xbox live silver account, which is free, have broadband and your ready to go.
Do you know what is weird, nobody I know who likes video games on a casual level is even talking about the 360. I think one reason is b/c it is too confusing. I heard certain Xbox games could be emulated, some could not. But from my experience, emulation is a lame lame thing to begin with anyway. Is the 360 emulated Halo gonna be as good as Halo on the Xbox? I dunno. But the uncertainy should bother most casual gamers.
Also, I have not figured out what the difference is between the stripped down 360 and the bells and whistles 360. I think fathers looking at the two, buying systems for their kids in their 40s and 50s will be like "Oh sh*t, here we go on the $$$ drain again"
And that's not to mention the lack of the killer app. The whole thing is off-putting. I liked my Xbox, but I'm just gonna wait and see what the other big two are gonna do. I'm excited about the PS3 and about two generations of backwards compatibilty (and hopefully the system won't be built like sh*t) and Nintendo and that innovative mess they have going on over there. I just hope they get decent developer support.
Anyways, all of that to say, I'm confused too.
Due to hardware changes (e.g. switching from Nvidia to ATI graphics), it is impossible to make the 360 backward compatible to the Xbox through hardware. What this means is that in order to support the current-gen games software patches have to be built for it. At the time of the 360 launch this process was far from complete and therefore as of right now you can run only about 200 of the original Xbox games. Future patches to expand support can be downloaded through Xbox Live, burning it onto a CDROM at Microsoft's Xbox 360 website or they can send you a disc through the mail. Only one patch was been released so far, with expanded support of the Tom Clancy games, with the next patch rumored for release in March. If you're used to the PS1/PS2 backward compatibility you're going to be disappointed how some of the games run. People have complained about framerate issues, miscoloured textures, and other bugs. There's also no possible ways to transfer your XBox game saves to the 360.
Whatever you do VGC, DON'T sell your Xbox after you get the 360!
XBOX 360 Compatibility List
Well the thing is that for performance reasons Microsoft decided not to be shackled by making the machine directly backwards compatable. It allowed them to change chipsets and allowed them to switch from an nVidia graphics card to an ATi (a good move in anyone's book). You then have the fact that Microsoft are clearing implementing their old price discrimination policy by having the core system as it allows many more people to gain access to an XBox system by offering it at a lower price. It's the same business model that MS has used in every industry they have operated in. It allows them to maximise their profit margin. And it is proven to work and be a good business strategy.
So you end up with a system that while being free from the design choices of old and able to provide much better performance for this reason you have two main complications - a completely different architecture, and a question mark over whether a hard drive is present. Clearly there are some games that used the HDD where even despite the huge amount of RAM to try to emulate them without an HDD would require some very difficult to manage calls to the DVD and some like Blinx are questionable period. The result is that emulation is hard enough given the different architecture even without taking consideration the lack of a HDD. Most believed it would never happen.
So they were left with two choices - delay the XBox 360 release for several years while they get every game emulated perfectly then ship it on board the system which would kill the XBox 360 or ship on time and gradually add support which was the correct and only right choice to make. It also follows the business practices that MS used back in the day - first to market usually works out best (when you have money to support yourself - unlike Sega).
They've done an amazing job with the emulation I must say, I didn't think it could be done I really didn't but kudos to them, their work on Virtual Machines has clearly really helped. So MS are now currently going through and making the games backward compatable. As they do related tech games also become emulated hence titles like Barbie's Horse Adventures (although this has led to some idiots on web comics and message boards thinking that they are vastly clever by pointing this out time and time again doing nothing more than indicating their lack of technological understanding).
So yeah that's why you need to download the files that allow you to emulate the old games - they are very small. To my knowledge Halo and Halo 2 are not compatable out the box without downloading off Live. It's a good system and the only viable one.
Don't forget you DO NOT need an XBox Live subsciption - at least I do not think you do anyway. MS have introduced XBox Live Silver and Gold. Gold lets you play games. Silver which comes free with every system lets you download system updates and I am pretty sure all the emulation files. I'm not sure but I would imagine Live Market Place is in the Silver package too .
And yes the emulation works perfectly, providing improved performance in some games with better frame rates and the like. It's a crowning achievement. Of course there are still the occasional hickups with newly emulated titles but that is to be expected.
With regards the difference between Core and Premium it is quite simple. Premium includes a hard drive, has wireless controllers and equipment as opposed to wired, and a high definition cable (or and some goodies like an ethernet cable but I'm sure you have those already). Personally I think the Core system is a great deal and would buy it over the Premium anyday. It's vastly cheaper and once the emulation list gets longer I would purchase a HDD - I would want a bigger one anyway.
With reagrds the lack of killer apps that's subjective. I think it has the strongest launch lineup of any console. And don't forget the amazing titles on Live Arcade (though of course for those you would need to purchase the HDD to play them) including a strategy games among them! And all playable over Live . The advantage of the emulatoin is also that it allows you to play the old XBox games over the improved Live service.
I'm staying out of the next gen battle, but the 360 is looking mighty tasty alongside the PS3. The Revolution on the other hand....
For the record though, I was at a CompUSA playing the Xbox 360 version of Project Gotham and I was not impressed. Maybe the monitor was lousy, but it looked like a normal Xbox game to me. There's definitely a law of diminishing return with regard to these graphics.
Although I know ms had to do it the way they did I still wish all of the x box games could be played. And at the rate I'm going with this system they may be by the time I buy. The games haven't grabbed me, no rpgs or really any adventure games worth playing, it just doesn't interest me yet. I can guarantee you I will get one it just might be a while.
The revolution is a must, and if the ps3 has some good looking launch games I will probably try and get that sucker at launch too. I would be foolish not to buy both, since I have gotten a ton of play out my cube and the ps2 has to be one of the greatest consoles for rpgs ever. Of course the x box has the fantastic kotor and the cube has tales of symphonia, paper mario and fire emblem all great games. But the selection on the ps2 truly is second to none in terms of sheer genres of games. Such as a taiko drum game and just tons of crazy stuff that begs to be played.
If it weren't for the amount of star wars games on the x box I would never play the thing, I love the controller and some non star wars games are great but the amount of ps2 and cube games I play just dwarfs the x box play time. I remember for a bout 6 months after I got it after that first week I never played it. Then I think I fnally got into kotor and has gotten semi regular play ever since, that was in 2004.
Then again I went even longer without even touching my ps2, but some strange game always brings me back to it eventually. The cube has seen a ton of play since I purchased it, so I have high hopes for the revolution as well.