Like so many others I’ve become introspective on my last 4 years of gaming, which has largely been centered around Microsoft’s XBox console.
Ever first I since started gaming on a Commodore 64, I’ve always loved video games. For me, games fulfill one of two desires: socializing and working my mind.
Any game which doesn’t allow me to either play with friends, or think my way through a problem simply isn’t worth playing. So it was early on that I came up with a list of criteria for every generation of console, and so far it has served me very, very well:
1. It must push multi-player gaming
2. It must be easy to use, and not crash constantly
3. It must “get out of the way”
4. It must have several killer features above the competition
5. Great games
In past generations, I chose the NES (due to multi-player focus, as well as interesting peripherals), the SNES (ditto… Sega’s systems until then were weak in both these areas), the Genesis (better graphics, better controller, better multiplayer games), the Nintendo 64 (multiplayer, better games, the rumble pack and RAM upgrade, GoldenEye) and the Dreamcast (killer games, loads of multiplayer, decent controller, innovative features, best graphics).
When it came time to buy a console in the current generation (PS2, Gamecube and XBox), my choices were fairly clear. The PS2 had nearly no 4-player games. The multiplayer games were hardly there. This was a “single-player console” – something it did quite well at. In addition, constant hardware failures (even in today’s units) and a controller I’ve yet to ever feel like I was in charge of pushed me away. Which left me a choice between the Gamecube – with less powerful graphics, more innovative games (but less of them) – and the XBox.
The XBox was my obvious choice. In fact, here are my top 10 reasons for loving the XBox (and the reasons I would still buy one today, if I had to make a choice today):
1. XBox Live: Love it or hate it, the fact that there’s a centralized service, with shared friends and contacts and messaging between all games is huge. Sony will try and emulate this in PS3.
2. Hard drive: Yes, it made the console huge (biggest console EVER). Yes it added to the price. And, yes, initially it meant Microsoft lost money on the console (as a note, Microsoft now makes a profit off of each Xbox sold, just in case you cared). But not having to buy 3-4 memory sticks (ahem @ all my PS2 friends) was a huge draw for me. I still have 45,000 free blocks on my XBox.
3. Break-away cables: If you’ve ever had kids, you know that this is perhaps the single greatest piece of evidence that Microsoft actually put real THOUGHT into the console. This is the first console that’s never fallen down, never cracked, never had a controller ripped out of my hands when someone ran over or tripped over or walked through a cord. Heaven, let me tell you.
4. Multiplayer focus: From Halo to Tony Hawk to Counterstrike to a dozen other games I can play with all kinds of friends, the Xbox has more multiplayer-focussed games than any system in history.
5. Halo & Halo 2: Every console has great hits (especially the PS2). But for me, these are two of the best games ever made. It’s nothing you can put your finger on, it’s just a variety of things. I love introducing people to Halo 2, dropping them into a great level and watching them get completely engrossed in it. The first time someone steals a vehicle from someone else is pure heaven.
6. Built-in networking: The Dreamcast first had a modem, but Sega never really capitalized on it. The PS2 kind did and kinda didn’t (not initally). The built-in networking is huge, and since the XBox is effectively a PC (for good or bad), in terms of architecture, it allows anyone to connect to a regular network.
7. Media Center Extender: Yep, stream movies and pictures from your PC to your TV via your XBox. This is a feature you’ll either love or hate (just like the Media Center), but for those who love it, it’s huge. No other console does (or likely will anytime soon) do anything like it.
8. Fable & KOTOR: While there are lots of fantastic RPG’s for the PS2, I’m a bit of an RPG hypocrite. I enjoy them, but I want to play an RPG where I can PLAY and not worry about the intricacies of class and weapon balance, what order I’m doing things in, etc. Both KOTOR and Fable let me do this incredibly well. They both had their flaws, and neither deserves to win any awards, but they’re both really good games for the non-RPG RPG’ers out there (like me).
9. The games: The Xbox library isn’t as large as the PS2′s, but for me it’s the perfect mix of sports, FPS, RPG, action and “other” games. When I finally sold my XBox this week I had a wide variety of games from all of these classes, and I’ve rarely felt that there was a game I was missing (except GTA… Which is now available).
10. XBox Live: This is the XBox’s killer feature. It deserves at least 2 mentions.
11. The tools: Sure, I said this would be only 10, but 11 doesn’t really impact me directly. Microsoft has built for Xbox the best set of developer tools ever produced. Every developer loves working for the XBox. In fact, EA has switched all primary development for their games to the XBox tools, and they then port the games to other systems. It’s that good.
As I look forward, it seems that my choice is equally clear. While the Revolution and PS3′s specs aren’t really finalized yet, and while nobody’s really played either console (the PS3 might, if we’re lucky, make its way to North America in October of next year) there is still enough talk from the makers to figure out what the focus for each console will be.
In short, this is:
Revolution: Flip gaming on its head, get back to the “fun” of gaming.
PS3: More of the same, with more power.
360: More of the same, more power, more Live, fixing stuff that bothered certain gamer groups.
Realistically, the Revolution is the only one doing anything truly revolutionary this generation. The 360 will completely push the XBox Live experience to extremes no other console will match in this generation. Live will make or break the 360. It’ll have better graphics, better networking, wireless controllers, better features here and there. But where the real push will happen, and where the differentiation will happen, will be in the Live area.
And for me, this is why I’m buying a 360 in 3 weeks, and why I sold my XBox this week. It gives me more great games (including XBox Arcade, for family games), gives me a better multiplayer experience (since most of my friends no longer live in the same town) and gives me more choices.
If you love the PS2, you’ll likely love the PS3. And that’s fine.
But, the 360 is the console for me because, like the XBox before it, it lets me be the gamer I am, instead of trying to change me into somebody else’s idea of what a gamer should be.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Jeremy Wright on October 24, 2005 at 7:36 pm, and is filed under IT Thoughts. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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