Editorials

End of a Generation: Evaluating the Xbox 360

A look back at what the Xbox 360 did to and for the gaming community.

Chris Barnes

As one console generation comes to an end and another one is about to begin, it’s time to take a good look at what the Xbox 360 did to and for the gaming community. After owning an Xbox, I was eager to see what Microsoft’s next generation console had to offer me, so I bought the Xbox 360 just days after it hit store shelves. I did my research beforehand and found out both what the console had to offer and what games were coming out for it. Satisfied, I saved up and went into this purchase knowing what I was getting myself into. Little did I know there was more to this new platform than what Microsoft had advertised. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console had a wealth of new titles available for it and an online community that kept players coming back, but it also had its fair share of issues.

Xbox 360 RROD

The Dying Lights

On November 22, 2005, Microsoft launched its second video game console and called it the Xbox 360. Microsoft launched a year before its chief competitor Sony, giving them an extended window of sales. Although this seemed like a good idea at the time, what it really did was take away that much needed testing time Microsoft could have used to find any potential flaws in the console.

The biggest flaw in the Xbox 360 was the dreaded Red Ring of Death. It’s the reason I went through multiple Xbox 360’s just like many of you did. What caused this failure? For starters, the CPU sat right under the disc drive adding extra heat to an already hot processor. Over time, that extra heat would warp the motherboard and unseat the CPU causing three flashing red lights to appear around the power button. If I had known this was going to happen, I would never have bought an Xbox 360. But, who could anticipate this sort of issue? Fortunately Microsoft went out of their way to replace every broken system at a cost of 1 billion dollars. Not that they had a choice in the matter. If they didn’t replace the damaged systems, then it’s class action lawsuit time. I’ve seen the Atari Jaguar and the Sega Dreamcast fail due to a lack of sales and third party games, but I’ve never seen a manufacturing flaw almost kill a console. Fortunately Microsoft managed to fix their mistake and eventually started manufacturing new redesigned consoles. Now all that Microsoft needed was to sell games to stay in business.

Game On

SkyrimWith the Halo franchise continuing on to the Xbox 360 with Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4, the Xbox exclusive titles were headed in a good direction. New titles like the Gears of War franchise, Alan Wake, and Forza followed making the Xbox 360 a hit with gamers. The game that got my attention and made the Xbox my console of choice was Mass Effect. I didn’t just purchase exclusive games for the Xbox, but games that were released on multiple platforms as well, such as Bethesda’s Fallout 3 and Skyrim. I saw how buggy both titles were first hand on PlayStation 3, which made my decision all the easier to purchase them on the Xbox. That doesn’t mean that all games on the Xbox are perfect. All games have bugs; the Xbox was just easier to program for. That helped me make up my mind when purchasing games like Ghostbusters and Dead Space 2. I bought Dead Space for the PlayStation 3 and flip flopped on the sequel. The game wasn’t buggy, I just found another reason to buy it on the Xbox 360. I wanted to get it on the Xbox 360 so I could collect achievement points.

Achievement Whore

I think achievements are the greatest addition to gaming since the invention of the controller. Microsoft introduced an arbitrary incremental achievement system giving players a numbered score to rank themselves against their friends and others. It doesn’t seem like much when you first start, but when the Xbox chimes in on the player acquiring a set number of points that are connected to your account, then it all starts to click. It’s almost like a drug. I was instantly hooked and ran up my achievement points to 29,785. I was tempted to go into XBLA and buy cheap games for the achievement points but I just couldn’t see myself spending the money for a game that I was only going to play once. I thought I was doing really good with my achievement score until I saw people with 50,000, 75,000 and 100,000 achievement points. It’s easy to pick up 1000 achievement points off games like Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Terminator: Salvation, Avatar: The Legend of Aang – The Burning Earth, and many more. Then there are games like The Simpsons that give you an achievement for starting the game. I’m two achievements away from collecting them all in Mass Effect 3. There were plenty of games to purchase on XBLA if you were willing to spend the points to do so.

XBLA

Xbox Live Stole My Money

$500 for an Xbox 360, $60 per game, $50 a year for XBox Live, and on top of all that, Microsoft wanted $10 for 800 Microsoft Points (MSP). Microsoft introduced some lame arbitrary number system as a way of getting more money out of its customers, and it worked. I would buy points to purchase a game and for some reason, I always had points left over. I always felt like I was being scammed. Don’t get me wrong, XBLA is still a great online community gaming service. It’s free for Silver members while Gold members pay $50 a year Halo 4to play multiplayer games with friends and strangers. I didn’t play multiplayer games that much but when I did, I was glad I had it. Listening to people say the most God awful things over XBLA made me wish I didn’t. XBLA is what made Microsoft the console giant it is now.

More people play online multiplayer through XBox Live with games like Halo, Gears of War, John Madden Football, Fifa, Forza, Call of Duty, and Battlefield than they do on PSN. That’s one of the reasons the Xbox 360 became so popular. You buy the console all your friends are playing on. If you don’t have any friends and you’re looking for some competition, then you buy the Xbox 360. That’s where the most and best console competition is. That’s the reason I purchased an Xbox 360… well, that and to play Halo.

Was It Worth The Money

I loved my Xbox 360, but all good things must come to an end. With the Xbox One set to release on November 22, 2013, I knew I had to eventually get rid of my Xbox 360. So I packed everything up and traded it in to Gamestop. I wasn’t using the system much and had started buying more and more games on the PlayStation 3. I was still holding onto the Xbox because of the Mass Effect trilogy even though I was looking to get rid of the system. Once I saw Mass Effect on the PlayStation Network, the Xbox 360 was done. I was considering buying the Xbox One but was on the fence about it. Especially considering all the DRM Microsoft forced on the consumer during their press conference. To their credit, they did renounce a lot of their DRM policies after getting trounced in the media. If I do decide to purchase Microsoft’s next console, it will be well after the launch of the system.

Was the Xbox 360 worth it? Yes. Despite the Xbox 360 suffering from the dreaded red ring of death, Microsoft made up for the hardware failure by replacing each and every console. The selection of games released on the Xbox was more then enough to keep me entertained and I still love the achievement system. Despite having to pay for a Gold membership on XBLA and that stupid Microsoft Points system (that has since been abolished), I enjoyed the level of competition the Xbox 360 brought to the gaming community. If I had to give the Xbox 360 a review score for everything its done for me, I would give it a solid 8. It was a great console and I loved every minute of it.

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  • http://virtualgamemuseum.webs.com/ Louis

    I love achievements, this should be a industry standard, looking at you Nintendo, imo. As for the XBox360, it’s okay, I just prefer PS3.