ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

On the Occasion of Using the Xbox 360 —

I’ve had an XBOX 360 for about 3-4 months now. Here’s some sketched thoughts on it.

  • It is very pretty, and its games can, if they try, be very pretty.
  • Sound-wise, it is like parking a Tie-Fighter in my living room.
  • Like a lot of other people, mine was built poorly. It died, not with a specific error message or code, but by getting stuck in some sort of insane booting loop, showing between 1-4 sections of the boot-up logo and then resetting. It did this basically from the moment I bought it, but sometimes it would break out of it and I simply wouldn’t turn the machine off for a week or two. Eventually, it just never would break out of the loop, and I sent it off to be repaired, which took a little over a month. And resulted in a brand new console. That removed a lot of my purchased games. So yeah, of the last 3-4 months, over 30 percent of that has been spent not owning the console, and a portion of the latter 30 percent discovering I really don’t own the games.
  • I played a lot of Test Drive Unlimited and enjoyed myself very, very much, especially the way the landscape never ended, there was almost no “pop-up” in the background and the lighting. I also enjoyed, after I’d gotten things together, tracking down other players and smashing into them for miles and miles and miles, later tracking them down again. This was probably not in the original design of the game.
  • A lot of people, and by that, I mean, everybody but a handful, seems to think it best to announce they smoke marijuana. Usernames are variations of “420bunny”, “weedmaster”, “ganjaXXXXX54” and so on.
  • I played a lot of Texas Hold’Em before I switched to using a headphone set, and then the game’s entertainment increased a hundred-fold. It’s one thing to beat someone in a hand and another to hear a horrified scream come over the headset as I win on the “river”, coming from behind for a straight.
  • That said, an awful lot of them take this time to discuss drugs, while playing the poker.
  • My TV turned out to be less Hi-Def than I’d hoped.
  • Sometime recently, I discovered the whole feature where you have multiple “channels” and you can be talking with someone over the headset while playing an entirely different game, then click back into the “game channel”, and so on. I thought that was very neat. Anything that causes more communication and less lonely game-hugging works for me.
  • Drunk people are even less fun on a audio channel during a game than in real life.
  • I was very impressed with Burnout Revenge. I realize I’m coming into this late, but I am really struck how cinema and videogames are now feeding off each other, with this game doing cinematic “crash time” that lets you fetishize your crash or crashing others before throwing you back into the mix. And the destruction game, in which you are essentially and totally a terrorist driving an exploding vehicle into crowded areas, is a tour-de-force of 3D and physics. I am so pleased to see this level of detail and achievement in a game.
  • Obviously, with all my current projects I have no time to really, really enjoy these games, but I know I have something waiting for me on the other end.
  • I’m glad I lived to see this level of quality, up from “Space Invaders” and “Donkey Kong”.

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  1. I’ve been playing Stuntman: Ignition on my PS3 and I think you would enjoy it (it’s also available for the 360). It’s a next-gen driving game where you portray a stuntman working on motion pictures. When the director yells, “ACTION!” it’s up to you to follow his direction. “Smash that sign!” “Jump over that car!” “Do a 180!” “Drive underneath that semi!” For people like myself who kind of like racing games but never win races, this is a fresh alternative.

    The 360 is probably the only notable modern or even semi-modern console I don’t own. After owning both a PS2 and an Xbox for several years and watching the same games get released for both systems 90% of the time, I decided I’d just pick one this time around. (I ended up with two; the PS3 and the Wii.) Sometimes I think I chose poorly. I picked the PS3 because its online gaming is free, as compared to the 360’s Live fees. Sometimes, you get what you pay for.