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Sunday, November 13, 2005

360 to play 200+ Xbox games

After playing coy for months about the Xbox 360's backwards compatibility, Microsoft has finally come clean. The software behemoth announced late Friday that over 200 games from its current-generation console will play on its next-generation console.

As one might expect, Microsoft has made sure all the top Xbox games are supported, including Halo and Halo 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I and II, Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden Black, and the three Grand Theft Autos: III, Vice City and San Andreas. A total of 212 Xbox games will be playable on the 360 at launch, though Microsoft says that number will increase.

Friday also brought good news to Xbox Live addicts. Any of the backwards-compatible games will be playable cross-platform between the Xbox 360 and Xbox over Xbox Live. That means would-be Master Chiefs with a 360 can still own their friends playing on current-generation consoles--although the former will see the carnage in higher resolution.

However, there is a catch. To play an Xbox game on the 360, players must first insert the current-gen game into a next-gen console hooked up to Xbox Live. The system will check if the console has the latest emulation software. If not, it will automatically download said software, install it on the 360, restart, and load the original Xbox game. Obviously, a 360 hard drive--which comes with the Halo and Halo 2 software preinstalled--is required to store the backwards-compatibility software.

For 360 owners who either can't or won't log onto Xbox Live, Microsoft offers two other solutions. First, they can go to Xbox.com, download the emulators, burn them onto a CD, and then insert said CD into the 360, which will auto-install the software. The other option is to order a free CD from Xbox.com which will be mailed to the requestor for a "nominal" fee. However, the CD will be mailed out for free to Japanese 360 owners.

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