about six months ago, i wrote a quick little article decrying the xbox 2′s pathetic existence. so now i would like to set the record straight. or at least give a current summary of the situation. you know… because everyone seemed to be asking me about it… they were like, “hey pj, why don’t you pontificate about the xbox 2 on your webpage?” well sir, this if for you.
overall, not much has changed with the xbox 2. had i not gotten it as a present, i would still be holding off on buying it. there is still a massive dearth of games. because of that, currently i have only three games. i received one game as a gift, one game for 2/3 off from a co-worker that i have yet to play and one game that i payed full price for which was a mistake. so software-wise, the xbox 2 really isn’t cleaning up on me. in the immediate future i am looking forward to three games. that’s for the entire year, three whole games. so yeah, not exactly a stellar lineup here. however, i’m finding i am playing my xbox 2 nearly every single day. and that’s where this article is heading.
1. xbox live arcade – XBLA (abbreviating not because i’m lame and think i’m hip but because it’s faster to type (that is, unless i comment about why i abbreviated it (*sigh*))) is awesome. plain and simple. awesome. it’s by far the #1 use of my xbox 2. xbox 2 games by and large are stupidly over-complex, stupidly overly “cinematic,” stupidly single player, stupidly expensive and take stupidly long to be enjoyable. they _are_ fun, but you have to invest for that payoff. XBLA games are the exact opposite of all that. they’re mindless, they’re quick, they’re immediately enjoyable and they’re cheap. you can even download demos of every single game that are amazingly full-featured. when you do buy one of the $5-10 games, you get no intro cinematics, no need to use all twelve buttons on the gamepad, no unskippable EA logo being displayed for two minutes, you just get pure fun.
i love XBLA games. here’s the kicker though, so does my girlfriend. the last time she visited, she stole my controller and we almost didn’t leave the apartment because she was playing uno, hexic, astropop and bejeweled. when i get home, i don’t necessarily want to sit down and play through a two hour long quest in oblivion. no, i want to preheat my oven and play a quick game to relax before i pop in dinner. i love it.
and yes, i realize that this is apparently the type of game that the nintendo revolution will be targeting. it’ll prove to be interesting.
2. xbox live – playing console games online is sweet. there’s no more worrying about upgrading my video card or having the right drivers or anything like that. i just pop in the disc and play. the built-in voicechat is essential for co-op missions and it’s handy for catching up with friends. when i was in high school, i could go over to a friend’s place and play goldeneye with him and the rest of the crew. now however, and especially because of the DNA layoffs, my friends are all over the country. it’s great to put my headset on, look like a complete dork, and play co-op games online with them. it’s great to be able to catch up and act like we’re sitting in the same room. and there’s no hurdles or hoops to jump through, it just works.
3. xbox live marketplace – so last in the triumvirate of the xbox live suite is marketplace. marketplace is where you can download demos, movie trailers, expansion packs for games and “more!” demos keep this thing alive for me. demos of the XBLA games or demos of upcoming games, it doesn’t matter. it’s such terrific fun to download new content so easily. also, during e3, it was great to be able to download the just-released e3 demos. some of the demos that were being played in LA were immediately available to me for free in my living room (most generic statement ever). it’s convenient to be able to download HD trailers and play them directly on my HD tv instead of viewing them on my 12″ laptop screen. if i were 10-15 years younger (or burke), they even have silly gamer pictures and themes and music videos from awful artists.
so after all this praise, i’m going to end it with some more criticism/rants.
1. games – holy crap, why are there only a handful of non-XBLA games that are actually good out for the system?! where’s my guitar hero and katamari damacy?! where’s my monkey island and master blaster?! where’s my doukutsu?!?!
2. dashboard UI – as much as i love the xbox dashboard and all it’s access to live stuff, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE outsource the UI to Apple. every single option is buried behind 40 other options. my phone handles deleting multiple files better than my xbox 2. oh wait, my xbox 2 doesn’t even support multiple file deletion.
3. SIMPLIFY – my last point is similar to my second and it’s aimed at mostly developers, but SIMPLIFY. it takes so damned long to start a non-XBLA game it’s staggering. you have to sign into your profile, you have to create a game account for saves, you have to go on a scavenger hunt for bent toothpicks, then you might actually get to the options menu where you have to choose if you want to play off or online. holy crap, it’s a game, not a test. i want to play. i do not want to read your four thousand item options menu, i want to play a game. i don’t want to see your publisher’s logo, your logo, the xbox logo, the live logo, the abc logo and then a dissertation on copyright law, i want to play.
so that’s it for now.
at launch, i would have given it a C-, now i’ll give it a B or B+.