Discovering the Xbox 360 in 2017

There are some people that might consider this a confession. There are others that might consider it a revelation. Most will just read the headline and skip right over this one. Nonetheless I am here to describe the long journey it took for me to finally get into gaming on the Xbox 360.

The bottom line is, I am a gamer. That description alone is often plentiful when telling people who I am. There are different stereotype of gamers, because frankly there are different types of gamers. Some are PC gamers. Others are console gamers. There are mobile gamers, arcade gamers, casual gamers, hard core gamers, Nintendo gamer, retro gamers, etc., I have tackled this before but honestly I am none of these and all of these. What I mean is, oh forget it, let’s just get down to business.

I never cared for the Xbox brand. In fact I cared so little about the Xbox brand that I refused to buy a console, made fun of people who owned them, and went out of my way to avoid them. This probably makes me sound like some kind of PC snob, (the internet refers to PC gamers as the “master race”, or it could make me sound like some type of console fanboy, i.e. a “Pony” for those who prefer Sony Playstation, or Nintendo Nerd for those that prefer the Big N, or worse, the casual non-gamer who only plays crap cell phone games.

Why all the commentary? Because this is my blog, it’s about making sense of the things in my world so deal with it or go someplace else. It’s ad-free, I don’t make money off this so I don’t bother caring what the readers want, I’m pretty sure there’s not more than 2 of us out there, if that. So I say whats on my mind, thank you very much. Unprofessional, sure it’s a personal blog after all.

Getting back to the discussion. Xbox never appealed to me for reasons that weren’t entirely fanboyish. Trust me I have never been a fanboy. I currently own a Pong, an Intelivision the entire Playstation family, and Xbox, a 360 a Wii, Wii U and Switch, and that’s just the consoles. So no I have never been a true fanboy. But I do have a weird set up that made the Xbox systems seem, useless.

I have owned every Playstation console as they have come out. I migrated from PS1 to PS2, PS3 and recently PS4 all within a couple of years of their launch. But I was never a Sony only guy. No sir, I bought my trusty N64 the exact same day as my original PS1, less than a year before getting my GameCube, and two years out from picking up a Sega Saturn and Sega CD/32X complete with Genesis. Yeah I have always been a die hard gamer.

As a die hard gamer I game on everything I can get my hands on, that includes the Windows PC, and by extension, DOS gaming too. So when I owned a PS2, had a desktop gaming rig, a Game Cube, a Game Boy Player and a Nintendo DS, that honestly left me very little room for an Xbox. Why bother? It’s not like the other consoles where you have TRUE exclusives, right? That is what I always thought. I knew it had a handful of games tied to the platform, but I always figured they were just more Call of Duty clones or generic First Person Shooters. Since I am not a fan of FPSes, sports games, or racing games, and since I have a Playstation for the 3rd party stuff, a PC for the Microsoft stuff, which I had Fable and Halo on PC no need for Xbox right? Then I had the Nintendo for everything else. This set up left me in a position where I was just not that interested in Xbox as a brand.

Now that you have read the back ground let me get into what I discovered about the Xbox 360 following my purchase.

First, it’s not a bad console. The system itself runs smooth, in fact from start to loading a game takes roughly the same amount of time as it does on PS3. Both are snails compared to the blazing fast PS4, but I haven’t noticed any major delays on the 360 that are any longer than PS3. So I rate them as equals in that regard.

System library

A game console is only as good as the games it plays, no gamer would disagree with this. What I learned, however, is the reverse of what I always thought. Bottom line, instead of just looking at the games I can’t get on Xbox 360 and focusing on the true exclusives I realized so what if game is on PS3 and 360, if I own both consoles then I can pick and choose which version to buy. I have done this with Sega and Nintendo in the past owning both SNES and Genesis at the same time. I did it while owning N64 and PS1 at the same time and even Wii and PS3 at the same time. So for me owning 2 consoles and picking which one to buy the game for is no big deal. The real benefit, especially today, is that Xbox 360 has been out longer than any other console currently on the market. This means it not only has the largest library, but many of those games are cheaper, and still jut as good as their Playstation counterparts. I just picked up Titafall for 360 and they only wanted $5 for the same store wanted $20 for the Xbox 1 version and guess what, there wasn’t even a Sony version at all so that was at least one game I enjoy playing that I discovered I had to own a Microsoft system to get.

Also the second benefit in terms of games is, Microsoft has a to more money than Sony so they can offer discounts on their digital games Sony can only dream of. I mean this, I have been buying digital games on Sony and Nintendo since 2006, I have never seen sales with deals a great as this last week’s Backwards Compatibility sale that I took full advantage of. I mean I was able o pick up 31 FULL retail digital games and I spend less than $75 bucks! A brand new PS4 game costs $60 new and takes well over a year to get down to $40, so to pick up full games like Fable 3, Lost Odyssey (a game that was going for $18 at the game store I got for less than $5 on sale, full game!) and a bunch of other games, and I checked many of them were on PS3 shop, for twice, or even triple the money in some cases. This was a bargain the likes I have never seen on a Sony console. Sure PS2 games are dirt cheap,  but damn I couldn’t get 31 PS2 games for the price I picked up these digital games. Oh and by the way, while I do prefer physical copies for the most part, I have over 120 digital games EACH on Nintendo and Sony consoles so I am okay with buying digital games. As long as I can download the game and play locally that is. In fact I am starting to get to the point where I think digital games are better than physical ones. IN some cases.

The Controller.

I gotta say as much as I DO love Playstation, the Dual Shock sucks compared to the Xbox 360 controller. I have been hearing gamers say it is essentially the perfect controller for, well over a decade! So yes, I am not officially on board, count me in the camp who spent several hours playing a game on 360, booted up the same game on PS3 and was shocked at how different the controls were. Now Nintendo, hasn’t made a decent controller since the Game Cube and their last truly good controller was the SNES pad, so if you game on Nintendo consoles you have to get used to terrible controllers. Or gimmicky crap.

What about the features?

OKay Playstation wins here HANDS DOWN. Sorry but I can watch Blu Ray movies, Netflix in full HD, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime plus Vudu movies all on the same Sony device that I play my favorite games on. Xbox plays DVD’s sure and it does have many of those same video apps, but at a cost. You have to have a Gold membership to use them. Which means an extra $10 a month for the standard price, or if you have the cash $60 for a full year. I am broke so I have to go the $10 a month route until I can get a head a little. I am okay with paying for it, partly because I want to try out the features and services of Xbox Live, partly because I want to sample the free games, and also, there is a part of me that wants to try getting into online gaming for real this time. Yes, you heard that, here in 2017 I still hardly ever play games online. I played ten minutes of Mario Kart Deluxe online on Switch and said screw this. The last game I tried online was Smash Bros. U, which I barely played three matches before giving up. I am just not competitive enough, or good enough for that matter, to get into online gaming. Maybe that will change if I find the right game?

Anyways moving forward, form factor.

I personally think the original Xbox 360 is ugly. It looks like a white 90’s desktop PC and squished in the middle. I hated it. The black model was just black, it was like an early 2000’s Gateway or something, trying too hard to be cool but still ugly as crap. The Slim model was slightly better but the one I have, the 360 E, is the best looking of the bunch. Too bad it has to remove features to get the cost down, still a fair trade all things considered. If I had to spend more on the machine up front, that’s less money for games. So I took the cheap route because I wanted more games.

But even thought the E is the best looking of the series, it’s still nothing compared to the futuristic sci-fi stylish sleekness of the sexy PS3, or the super cool Skynet looking PS4. Say what you will about Sony, they have style. Microsoft, on the other hand, does not.

So while I am still experimenting with things my initial impression is that, if someone is in the same boat as me, a multi console owning gamer with a gaming PC who overlooked the Xbox 360 for all the reasons I said, this is the time to pick it up. The machines are cheap, the games are cheap, and you can get some of those games that are pricey on the Playstation platform for a very good deal and you aren’t sacrificing quality hardly at all. I have noticed that in some cases certain games do look better and run smoother on the PS3, but my experience is limited as I am mostly concentrating on exclusives and personal favorites of mine. Still, the library alone is vast competed to PS3. Sure PS3 as a lot of good games and it did catch up to Xbox 360 in terms of hardware units sold, but Xbox still has the edge here in terms of number of titles. Sometimes they have multiple entries in a franchise Sony has only 1 or 2 in. I haven’t researched the library extensively, and yes the whole not being nto Sports or FPS games is starting to limit the games I am looking at already. With 31 digital games and 14 physical games, I have already amassed a good start of a collection so I am on track to discovering the library as I go.

Some games I like.

Halo 3

Fable 2

Blue Dragon

Lost Odyssey

Ninety Nine Nights

Quake 4

Kameo

Banjo Kazooie Nuts N Bolts

Perfect Dark Zero

Gears of War

Crackdown

I haven’t tried many others yet, but I can honestly say, so far, I am very satisfied with the games I have played and over all my entire experience has been mostly positive.

The negatives.

Just a couple here. The first, the batteries in the controllers suck. I got one that used AA’s and bought a charging cable with spare batteries. Nothing seems to charge these things so I have to play with it plugged in. At least it’s USB and I have a USB wall charger sitting on my arm rest that I use to charge my PS3/PS4 controllers so it’s not a big deal, but it is kind of an issue having to deal with a cord in 2017. The other issue, the hard drives. Sure I can use my 1.5 Terabyte USB drive to store my games and the internal flash memory for game saves, but if I want to experience backwards compatibility with any of my original Xbox games, I have to shell out more money for an official Microsoft hard drive to get the partition with the emulators on it. Sure I could hook up the original Xbox but then that’s one more thing going against my power bill. Also, I don’t like having to have an avatar/profile. Sony doesn’t force you to do that crap, but Nintendo does and I always hated it. I was happy Switch didn’t force Mii’s on me, until I learned you have to have a stupid Mii to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Okay thanks Nintendo.

So there is my long, long overdue, semi-rant, impressions of the Xbox 360 console. No I haven’t lived under a rock and never played one before, come on I said I was a gamer, all my friends had them I played plenty of hours on Xbox 360 over the years. But I just never felt the need to actually OWN one before now. My distaste for the console was replaced with a slight appreciation when I decided that instead of knocking it for being just a PC you plug into your TV, I reversed my stance and appreciate it for being a very solid, and very stable gaming PC that plugs right into the TV and just works without much hassle. As a PC gamer who hates fiddling with settings and upgrading hardware to get that one game to work, I can appreciate it as a PC for the living room. In some ways more so than a Playstation, but still in other ways not as good.

All in all I am mostly satisfied with my purchase. I fully intend I will continue to get plenty of joy out of owning this gaming machine for years to come.

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