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Why You Need an Xbox 360 With Kinect This Holiday Season

This post is part of the Mashable 10, Mashable’s gift guide of the 10 hottest gadgets that that our editors think should be on everyone’s wish lists this holiday season. To view all 10 posts, please visit this link.

Recommending a gaming console is about as healthy as walking into a minefield. For such a novel activity, gaming can be as polarizing as politics and religion. Nevertheless, I’m going to take the risk and make this recommendation, because what’s a holiday gift guide that doesn’t have a gaming representative?

The Xbox 360 first hit shelves in November of 2005. The oddity of recommending a five-year-old console isn’t lost, but the reality is this: the Xbox 360 might be the same platform that it was back in 2005, but it is not in the least bit the same console.

In 2010, the 360 not only made a huge update to its core hardware, it also added a peripheral that has the potential to hugely revolutionize the console gaming industry. For a device that just celebrated its fifth birthday (basically the equivalent of about 50 in electronic years), the Xbox 360 is still clipping through the crowd like it’s the new kid on the block.

Titles and Multiplayer

Both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are hovering around 200 exclusive releases, and while the vast majority of these games aren’t legacy titles, the 360 has Halo, Gears of War, Fable 3 and the entire Mass Effect franchise. (Yes, PlayStation 3 will be getting Mass Effect 2 in January 2011, but it doesn’t have the first game in the series — so unless you’ve played part one elsewhere, you’ll only get the full experience on Xbox 360. The biggest titles going for Sony’s console are arguably, the unquestionably amazing, Uncharted series and, the epically delayed, Gran Turismo.)

Another deciding factor is the multiplayer experience, and Xbox Live wins this category outright. In my almost sad amount of experience, multiplayer gaming on the PlayStation Network has never rivaled that of Xbox Live. Modern Warfare 2 is practically a different game on Xbox Live, and for any gaming experience focused so heavily on multiplayer, that matters a lot.

Motion Gaming Comes to Both

That brings us back to motion gaming. For the time being, PlayStation 3 might have the two best motion titles in The Shoot and The Fight, but, compelling as they may be, they showcase the entirety of the PlayStation Move experience — i.e., connecting a wand to game movements. It’s fun, but it exists as more of a technological progression from Duck Hunt, which was released for the NES in 1984, than a truly disruptive new gaming technology.

Kinect, on the other hand, is by no means perfect, but it has revolutionized the player-to-controller dynamic, connecting players to game movements, by turning their bodies into controllers. This alone could be the basis of my recommendation. It’s not.

The promise of Kinect, along with the excellent franchise titles (including 2010’s Alan Wake) and a superior multiplayer make the Xbox 360 the best gaming console out this holiday season. Don’t forget that it’s also a highly functional streaming device, with support for Netflix and Pandora (Pandora) now and Hulu Plus coming soon. Taken as a package, the Xbox 360 with Kinect becomes not just a gaming console, but a versatile addition to your home theater system.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto (iStockphoto), hatman12

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