Almost A Decade Under the Influence
As we sit on the cusp of a new wave of gaming revolution–the Wii U already patrolling store shelves, and the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One about to be deployed just in time for the parents to go wait in line once more–one can’t help but think back on how we got to this point. For the better part of a decade, gamers have enjoyed the comforts of their Xbox 360s, PlayStation 3‘s, and Wiis, but that is all coming to an end. All of these systems have had their glorious, exciting ups, as well as their embarrassing, unfortunate downs. Each console has given gamers countless hours of fun, and their fair share of head scratching/shaking/pounding moments. So as the curtain closes on the 7th Gen, I think it’s high time we get all nostalgic and whatnot!
Over the course of my next few posts, I’ll reveal my innermost feelings about each of the 3 major consoles I’ve enjoyed these past eight years. I don’t plan on giving these consoles grades, per se, but rather want to parse out some of the best and worst aspects of each system, now that we can think of their reigns retrospectively. So, without further ado…
November 22, 2005; A Date Which Will Live In Gaming Infamy
This crisp, and certainly chilly, morning found anxious gamers and holiday shopping parents across the country lining up at retail stores to get their hands on the first system of the 7th gaming console generation: the Xbox 360.
Over the next year, Microsoft‘s heralded new system would see the rise of competitors in Sony‘s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo‘s Wii. Thus began the gaming arms race that has spanned the better part of the last decade. And what a wild, entertaining time it has been.
A Red Ring and other things
As the first of its generation, the 360 inspired a great deal of hype. Gamers were blown away by its advanced graphics, breadth of game choices, and the addition of Xbox Live, which at the time was unifying online gamers as no console had ever done. With great advancements, however, came a slew of issues. I mean, who can forget the “Red Ring of Death” that plagued so many 360s early in its distribution cycle? Not to mention the 360s comparatively poor structural design when compared to the subsequently released PS3 and Wii.
Even so, the system persevered through these problems and its early years yielded great successes. Major label games like Halo 3, Mass Effect (before it was later released on the PS3), and Gears of War 2 as well as a slew of indie releases garnered rave reviews and gave the 360 some strong exclusive titles. On top of that, Live Gold was far and away the most used online service among the new systems, and its community was as expansive as it was accessible.
Yeah, the 360 started out pretty darn strong.
Flash-forward to today, and the system is not the juggernaut it once was.
The two-pronged attack of decreased support from indie developers and the onset of stronger, and more importantly free, online communities from their competitors have slowed down the 360’s progress. On top of that, Microsoft has dumped incredible amounts of money into the utilization of the Kinect camera, looking to appeal to a more family-friendly audience. While targeting a family audience makes for good business, it doesn’t necessarily make for good gaming.
In short, Microsoft has seemingly treated this console generation as a sprint rather than a marathon. The 360 has provided some incredible gaming during its run, and it is undoubtedly a great system. Still, some occasional system bugs and poor business kept it from being and even better system than it was.
What do you think about the 360, though? If you’re reading this, I’d wager the 5 bucks in my wallet that you’ve played at least some on the system. What experiences with the 360 did you particularly enjoy? What games stuck out to you? What would you have changed?