So The Xbox 360 Is Five Years Old…

…at least it was yesterday. I remember wanting one during college until I saw it’s paltry launch lineup. It had a few standouts in PGR 3 and Call of Duty 2. But I ended up sitting on the fence until I could afford one about two years later.

In my 3 years owning one (or two and change since my OG died on me) I’d say I got tons of fun out of it. So much fun that I’m getting cold feet towards getting a PS3 yet again. That’s largely due to the fact that their libraries aren’t THAT different outside of exclusives and the thing is still 300 bucks.

On the flip side I have to say I’m pretty displeased with 360’s build quality. Getting a 3 year warranty extension is nice but I shouldn’t have to look at a piece of hardware as a ticking time bomb.

At any rate them folks up in Redmond got me good. I don’t feel too bright paying for Xbox Live but I don’t have viable alternatives. All of my friends and family have and primarily game on 360s. I have a PC that runs games well but I usually end up lobby hopping by my damn self. The same thing will likely happen once I get around to buying a triple since this gen seemingly won’t end.

Oh and I caught this article about the 10 ways the 360 changed gaming. It’s got some questionable picks but I get what the author was trying to accomplish: misleading title notwithstanding. Also I’m not one to beef over someone else’s opinion. Nevertheless, if I had all that power I would’ve drafted my own list as such.

The 360 is 5: The good, bad and ugly since it hit the scene.

The Good

1. Xbox Live Marketplace – Well this is mostly meant with a focus on the arcade. XBLA has a great lineup of relatively cheap games (Trials HD, Perfect Dark, Shadow Complex etc.) well worth copping. They kick in the clutch especially when on sale. Speaking of which I’m dropping 2 bucks on ‘Splosion Man when it gets its price slashed this week. More importantly, you have to admit that it’s implementation encouraged Sony and Nintendo to use similar stores on their systems.

2. Custom soundtrack on EVERY GAME – another thing you could do on the PC for years but serves as a godsend on a console. It really helps for sports and racing games with soundtracks you don’t care for (Forza 3, PGR 4, and NBA 2K11 I’m looking at all yall.)

3. Dashboard updates – The UI isn’t universally praised but the features each revision brought were great. The party system, incorporation of apps (although Netflix is the only one I use regularly, let alone at all) and optional game installs are all kinds of convenient among other features added over the years. I wish I could say the same thing about the ESPN app but Cablevision won’t let me shine.

4. Streaming Media – It sort of goes hand in hand a bit w/ custom soundtracks. Being able to stream music and moviees from your computer is pretty slick and got much better since Divx support was added.

5. Xbox Live – Matchmaking is spotty at times but the ease of rounding your friends together for a game is welcome. PS3 is catching up but it’s hard to ignore Live’s influence on PSN’s online capabilities.

The Wack

1. Hardware quality – I already harped on this. MS’s handling of the system really showed how earnest they were to get ahead no matter the cost. Consumers played guinea pig for 2 or so years while Microsoft get the money, dolla dolla dolla bills yall (did I just type that?) Anyway, the newer systems are reportedly better in build quality but I shouldn’t have to pay another 3 bills just to get the right version.

2. Xbox Live Gold Ain’t Free – And it won’t be free as long as us idiots continue to pay for it. It’s not a bad service. In fact it’s improved drastically since the Xbox days. But it doesn’t feel like a $60 value what with PS3 and Wii offering online gaming for free. Nevertheless I’m an all day sucker for it and it’s not like I can convince the 20+ people I play with regularly to jump ship w/ me. It also doesn’t help that the system feels flat out worthless without a gold subscription.

3. Ads, ads, ads! – They don’t bother me as much as other heads. But it’s annoying to log in to live and get greeted by the damn spotlight page every time. I’d rather go right to my friends list but that’s just me.

4. Weird original design – OG systems don’t have built in wifi, their hard drives were criminally small and it sounds like I’m booting up a Compaq Presario from ’95 every time I load a game that’s not installed.

5. Where are the retail exclusives? – Many of 360’s hallmark exclusives are timed or always available on the PC. It seems like MS Game Studios daid “Well you got Gears of War last year. But guess what? That means you’re getting Halo this fall! aren’t you excited!” since 06. Alan Wake looks like a nice change of pace as I haven’t played it yet. Additionally Forza 3 is good, PGR 4 quells my stannish PGR needs and I’ve enjoyed, yet dropped, other games like Banjo N&B. But Microsoft’s golden box is in dire need of some variety when it comes to retail games.

So there it is. The 360 is influential in a few ways but not as much as the article would lead you to believe. It’s also a prime example of how rushing to be first isn’t a good look in the long run. Here’s hoping whatever comes after this console is much better.

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