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At long last we meet, XBox 360

Sometimes I'll just get this low level subsonic hum going on in my body that means I've got the jones for some piece of consumer electronics that I've been deferring the purchase of for months. And when the vibration hits -- well, it's good I'm well compensated. Today, the compulsion hit, and it was for the XBox 360.

It's been several weeks since the 360 finally hit production in force -- and several months since release -- and I've been biding my time, telling myself I was waiting for "the killer game" to come out. psu succumbed and has been incessantly talking it up to me, and -- although as of press time he hasn't blogged it yet -- peterb has succumbed to. Cosmic irony requires that we walked into identical Best Buys at the same time today, since clearly the compulsion hit him too. (But how could he resist -- how else was he going to play Oblivion? Too many mind control rays were focused on him, and it was only a matter of time.) And Parrish, a WoW compatriot, has been talking his up for about the same length of time.

So what did I get? Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. This has widely been talked up as the prettiest 360 game out there, and I'm here to tell you it's all true. Oh, the textures. Oh, the high dynamic range. Oh, the little screen gewgaws. It's got the same vibe as Rainbow Six 3 from back in the day, but gussied up and ready to hit the burning, desolate town. I played the first few missions from the campaign, and then Parrish and I spent some time with the co-op discovering how we regretted we had but infinite lives to give to our country.

So what's to like about the 360?

  • It's extremely pretty. At first it seems like it might only be incrementally pretty, but then you put back in Halo 2 and play it through the 360, and you realize that no, this is hugely better. Sure, Halo 2's improved on the box, but it only points out how much better something like GRAW is.
  • The Live support has been kicked up another notch. The original XBox Live service is already a sterling example of how to do online gaming right. Now it feels like they've taken a page from the MMORPG world -- messaging is ubiquitous and easily accessed in the same way from within any game. Same with your friends list. The demo & trailer downloading just makes it all the sweeter.
  • Wireless controllers rule. I hadn't realized how much I hated dealing with cords until I tried the new controller. Of course, I have no sense for how crap the battery life is. The ability to actually turn on and shut down the console from the controller is, in a word, genius.
  • I actually like the new controller design a lot. The shifted buttons work for me. The revamping of the black & white buttons into extra shoulder buttons is great. The "Live" button works nicely, and the feedback as to which controller using works well, too. A subtle UI touch -- the same "Ring of Light" quadrant icon on your controller indicating which player you are also shows up in the dialogue blades to indicate who's using the blade.
  • The XBox Arcade stuff is cute and interesting. Hey look, games that require a fraction of the development cost that you can buy online on a whim, for whim prices! Perfect. I only grabbed the demos, though, so they didn't quite seal the monetization deal for me.
  • Apparently Microsoft has a big push to get demos from the E3 stuff out this week to coincide with E3, as well as getting trailers and other content out there. Again, brilliant.

Basically, my only complaint is that you can't start a demo downloading and then let it download in the background while you go play a game.

So yeah, I'm feeling the love. I even like the box design. Yeah, the power brick is big, but it tucks away fine.


I was tempted by the XBox 360 when I saw a palette of them at Costco about a month ago, but I ultimately decided to wait a while. While the Live support looks very nice, and I've got a strong hankering to try out Geometry Wars, I decided that I wouldn't get the hardware until I could start getting games in the $20 range, which will probably be in about 18 months. My next console will probably be the Nintendo Wii; I'm very interested in its control schemes and it's retro game library.

Any temptation I may have had for an xbox360 disappeared as soon as this was announced:


By the time it comes out, sony may have dropped the price to where the console is cheaper than a vf arcade cabinent . . . barely.

Have you checked out the jeff minter light synth thingy yet? That and geometry wars looked like the most interesting 'games' available on the 360.

I tried VF...4, I think. I kind of sucked at it. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the DOA series; obtaining DOA4, warts and all, will only be a matter of time.

I just got a GameFly subscription, so I can try out all of the mediocre launch titles, though.

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