could i build a computer cheaper than buying an xbox360 and get better or the same style and smooth of game play?
You will also not beat the smoothness and graphics for that price either. 360 games are optimized to run perfectly on your 360, but on a comupter you will get conflicting drivers, spyware, and other headaches.
Short answer: unless your spending big bucks on a mosnter computer, and willing to constantly update it, your most economical option is a xbox 360.
A computer is going to cost more because it isn't just for gaming and it requires a lot of hardware parts to purchase to put together a system.
You can though build a computer and get better looking games than the xbox360 and you won't lose any smoothness in gameplay.
The 360 is more affordable solution but pc gaming with the right hardware can give you a great experience, and the games will also look much better than the 360.
However with pc gaming most of the games are first person shooters and rts, and those games are best played using a keyboard and mouse.
Confilicting drivers, spywares and other stuff isn't really a problem that is being made out to be. Once again a pc isn't just for gaming, its got so many other purposes so resources will be used for lots of other things too. Spyware and so on can be taken care of by applying anti-virus/spyware/firewall programs.
End of the day xbox360 is a good choice to get if you want to pick up and play straightway whereas with the pc you have to first install a game; there are also lot of different types of games to choose from not to say the pc is lacking. The 360 is cheaper solution and still has games that look really good but some xbox 360's do break down. My personal opinion if you want variety in console gaming then have a look at the ps3 too as it is picking up the pace.
With PC gaming if you build a good system it can play better looking games than the 360 with smooth gameplay intact and for the long run in terms of graphics and functionality the PC is the choice but only if you have the money. Online play is free too.
As for constant upgrading, you don't have to that much if you already bought good piece of hardware; and upgrading will always be there to constantly make games look better then it is and add better gameplay experience where the consoles can't improve its graphics.
If its just a base unit you are looking at then you can build a more than decent pc by buying wisely for not that much, more like $700-$900 but will still cost more than the 360, so you get what you pay for.
Playing pc games in HD resolution is possible, 1280x1024 is 720p and games still look and perform great. And with price figure I quote it can definately be achieved if its just a base unit.
Higher resolutions than that can be achieved but it is then when you most importantly need a powerful graphics card to get those higher resolutions.
I myself prefer to enjoy the best of both worlds, I enjoy console gaming sitting on the couch having fun but I also have PC that is capable of producing better graphics/gameplay and performance than a console.
A gaming machine that could match the 360 in terms of power and graphics would cost at least $1200 or so, since you'll need a fairly powerful graphics card to drive the HD resolutions the 360 is capable of (granted, a REALLY powerful PC graphics card is capable of much higher resolutions...)