I suppose I should start this off by mentioning a few things about the new Xbox 360 Dashboard. In the past whenever Microsoft was planning to add an update to the current dashboard, it was usually a big deal with big announcements at E3 regarding new partnerships and there was of course always a beta. The beta was usually given to press, media outlets to test out or write about while anyone could usually apply to receive the new beta as well. However you might have considered yourself lucky if you were just an average gamer and you received an early wave of beta access. With the latest dashboard update if you applied to take part in it (which was a widely spread application), you were basically guaranteed access to it.
This particular “Fall” update had been in beta for the longest period of time that any other dashboard beta has been. To top that off there is not a whole lot of updates that the new dashboard has, granted the ones it does have are fairly big like Internet Explorer which not only is a big deal for Microsoft to have an internet browser on the Xbox 360 but it also does away with all the now useless little apps like Twitter and Facebook, now that you can go directly there from the browser. Having used the internet browsers on all consoles including handheld ones, I will say that without a doubt Internet Explorer on the Xbox 360 is the most least awkward, even comfortable to use rather then another other console browser. In fact by hooking up a USB Keyboard (or a chatpad if you are used to that) makes it almost easier to browse the web then using my laptop or desktop; as a gamer who spends much time on a console(s). Using the right joystick is an ease while you can scroll with the right stick, however you really will not know just how comfortable if feels until you actual test it out and see first hand how less awkward it is compared to other console browsers.
Okay, well enough on what most of you already know although I will just add that the update also brought the “Pin” function which is definitely a convenient plus as you can pin any type of media (except a live playing video/ad straight from the dashboard) such as games, demos, themes, videos, DLC… pretty much anything you can download. So for an update that has been in beta for so long just to add these main things for the most part makes you wonder if they were just having a lot of problems, as people did experience Xbox Live connection issues but the browser works flawlessly with bookmarks and shows you anything you would see on a PC with optional cookie support among other features. Now it has finally been released to the public, but not how past updates have been. Microsoft is rolling this one out in waves, which as far as I can tell are random. So your buddy may have but you don’t or everyone you know may have and you don’t. Either way it will get to you and it seems that they are working on improving Kinect features as well as all overall Xbox 360 functionality; possibly even testing capabilities for the next console they create. October 26th is when everyone should have the new dashboard, with the key word being “should”. The Nintendo Wii-U, set to release November 18th, has better hardware in it overall then the Xbox 360. Now for all the free stuff with some of it to help Microsoft improve on thinks like Kinect functionality.
So you have the new dashboard and you probably have heard of a free Xbox Live Arcade Game called Happy Wars. If you have not, now you have and it may be only available to download from the new Dashboard, that I am not sure of. Happy Wars is actually a pretty fun co-op.multiplayer game where it is a hack and slash, tower defense, RPG type of game, that is well worth downloading for free giving you a full set of Achievements as well as Avatar Awards. Along with that there is also Discovered yet another free mini Kinect game that is supposed to boost your self esteem making you the star as Achievements will ask you to upload pretty ridiculous picture of yourself to Facebook. With that said the free mini Kinect game with get you an easy bunch of Achievements which featured actor Chris Evens (The Avengers), Channel Iman and Redfoo from the band LMFAO. You go from fill in Stuntman, do DJ a party to walking the red carpet. Now those are games you can easily find in the marketplace, but if you want more free stuff, it gets a little more tricky.
You can gain a slew of Avatar Awards and Props with some luck along with a lot of patience. The next set of stuff come up as advertisements that you may normally just ignore. Unfortunately some of them are not available anymore, or just extremely rare to pop up on the dashboard. One of them is called Voice Studio which is an App/Game where Microsoft uses you to help them improve the the voice features of Kinect as you simply say the phrase on the screen at a certain point in your room, then repeat. This will get you can easy 50 Gamerscore on top of 3 Avatar Awards for free. I am sure many of you are used to seeing live trailers play on the dashboard while hovering over them brings out the sound and clicking on them usually shows you the full trailer. Well that is not the case for a couple of upcoming films. Clicking on the on the Wreck It Ralph Trailer, then choosing Ralph (the main character) will get you the option to download TWO free Avatar Items. If you catch the Chasing Mavericks upcoming surfing film trailer playing on your dashboard; clicking it will get you a free Surf Board for an Avatar Prop if you choose to download it.
There is also the Verizon 4G ad that may pop up and if you see this one, definitely click on it as it includes a number a mini theme park. You can play a bunch of mini-games, while one of them resembles wack-a-mole which will get you a hovercraft avatar proper, on top of a tablet prop you can attain as well. The marketplace is also offering two Gamestop Gamer Pack pics, including the Gunzerker from Borderlands 2, Masterchief, Issac from Dead Space, Lara Croft from the upcoming Tomb Raider among others. Bottom line is that there seems to be a wave of quality free stuff on Xbox Live, so be on the look out. To further make you feel bad about anything you may have missed out on, if you watched at least three of the Presidential debates on Xbox Live you got Halo War Armor for your Avatar. Of course you had to be in the Xbox Live Reward program, which if you are not you can easily navigate to by going to browse games on the dashboard, then extras, then event