Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Xbox 360 - six months later.

By "the Xbox 360," I don't mean it in general terms. I mean, precisely, The Xbox 360 that sits by my television, next to my old PS2 Slim.

Now, clearly the 360 is a decent piece of kit. If it weren't, it wouldn't be the most popular HD console in North America - but I'm not talking about its commercial performance or its value to the average Xbox 360 owner, I'm talking about how it's treated me. Or perhaps, more to the point, how I've treated it.

The answer, I'm afraid, is not very well.

The very first thing I did with my 360 was... well, based on this article I spent a good half hour/45 minutes just navigating its interminable set-up. As soon as I could, however, I purchased Limbo. I really liked Limbo.

After that I tossed in Alan Wake, the only other 360 exclusive that I was really dying to play. I rather liked Alan Wake. And then..?

Well, then there wasn't much I felt a pressing need to play. I picked up Gears of War and its sequel because, well, that it was one does with a 360 - or so I've gathered. I felt much the same about it as I imagine folks do who've had Uncharted mercilessly overhyped to them. Meh.

It was good. It was okay. It was disappointing here, here and there - and I felt more uniformly positive about the opening of Gears of War 2 - but not positive enough to keep playing it.

The only other game I've actually completed on my 360 is Shadow Complex, which was rather pleasing. That's... pretty much it.

I put thirty or so hours into Mass Effect, I threw Bayonetta in to see just how much better it looks on the 360 (answer: a lot), I never put Deadly Premonition or Splinter Cell: Conviction into the drive and I found Halo 3 so boring I don't think I played past the first level.

Aside from the occasional Xbox Live Arcade title and Alan Wake, I've gotten very little out of my Xbox 360.

For the sake of clarity - I don't believe this actually reflects badly on the system.

I have reckoned a principle, which I call The Theory of RPG Love. Essentially, it's the concept that the longer you spend with an RPG (particularly JRPGs), the more love you'll have for it - no matter how good or bad it is. The more time you spend with something, the more understanding you have of its systems, the more affection you have for it. This concept is well-documented.

The fact that I have no great affection for my 360 doesn't speak to how well-designed its systems are or how good or bad it is as a console - it merely speaks to the relatively small amount of time I've spent with it. Let's be honest - I play a shitload of games - I just don't play many on the 360.

When a multiplatform game comes out, I buy it for the PS3 and that's that. Over the years the PS3 has turned into my Movie Theater, my Game Demo and Trailer Destination, my Other Internet Browser and most of all My Video Game Console. It's the RPG I've spent the most time with.

It's my video game home, and I'm simply not as comfortable anywhere else.

It's entirely possible that the dashboard on the Xbox 360 is actually more elegant and immediate than the PS3's XMB - but it sure doesn't feel that way to me. I still feel like in a lot of ways, the 360 throws more obstacles between me and my entertainment than the PS3 does.

Y'know what is really cool about it, though? They have a shitload of full games available for download on Xbox Live. You can get Darksiders and Alan Wake and pretty much every other major release, downloaded straight off the network.

That is sweet. Why don't you do that, PSN?

Now, I'm not saying I would buy a virtual copy of a game - I much prefer owning actual property instead of virtual - but still. That's cool. The only downside to it is you can't buy them using Microsoft Points, it seems.

That's kinda' douchey.


  1. Nah, the XMB is better than the 360's UI. I've had a 360 pretty much since launch (the old 'Blade' UI was great), and I've used the new dashboard since its launch; the XMB is vastly superior to it. The Blade was pretty good, and it could compete nicely with the XMB, but this new dashboard is a giant, steaming pile of feces.

  2. Ah, that makes me feel better.