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[ Writer ] = BAD
[ 07/22/05 ] = We Have All Been (Misled)

So far, I'm not impressed with the XBox 360. My impression of the iPod-inspired design is that Microsoft and Apple merged specifically to make the XB360 a success. While that (thankfully) didn't happen, Microsoft has put a lot into setting the XB360 off on the road to console stardom. They've made the design smaller than that of the XBox, rallied up third-party support, and successfully generated enough hype to meet pre-order goals. So far, so good, right? Maybe, but I'm not impressed. I'm sick of the hype; nothing we've seen so far warrants such extreme hype for the hardware. After seeing the XB360 blown up and way out of proportion on MTV, the Internet, and in magazines, I have a few things to say.

I'll start with the "improved" design of the system. All I hear on this subject is, "at least it looks better than the XBox," or "at least it's smaller than the BroBoxOne, " or "at least it's not as big as the Xbox." But none of this means shit, considering the design and size of the original XBox were both pretty bad; it seems that most think that any design (even if it's not much smaller or better), is an improvement the first XBox. This general acceptance doesn't say much about the generic design of the XB360. Plainly put, it looks like the least-inspired of the three new systems; why does it need to look like an iPod? Because they know that subtle design association with the overpriced gadget will bring in as much profit as the iPod itself has. I'm still waiting for Microsoft to announce a belt-clip or necklace strap so that the XB360 can be worn around the waist or neck in public, too. However, I did think that the disc tray, while probably fragile, is a bit less scary than the self-loading drives on the Revolution and PlayStation 3.

And while we're on the subject of design, let's discuss the uninspired controller, as well. Like Sony with the PS2, Microsoft didn't want to take any chances with the XB360, so they barely changed the controller so as not to offend "gamers." It looks very similar to the awkward design of the original XB controller, which isn't a good thing. We are also expected to jump up and down in joy because they are wireless, but it's nothing to write home to mom about; Nintendo has already done it with the Wavebird controller on the GC, and Sony let Logitech make an officially-licensed one for the PS2. What the fuck is everyone so excited about? The fact that wireless controllers come stock with the hardware? Weak. Who cares? Wireless controllers are nothing new; they've been around since the 8-Bit era of the NES! The "portable hard-drive" was also laughable, but it may prove to be convenient if fucked hard-drives are as common with the XB360 as they are with the XB.

The "BroBox 360" also comes packed with a whole shitload of extra functions to dilute the gaming experience. Such useless functions include (but are not limited to) iPod compatibility, "custom soundtracks" (like XB), a changeable face plate, and limited backward-compatibility. These features are lame. The iPod is bullshit and should never be mixed with a game machine, CD-burning for custom soundtracks has been a gimmick since the first XB, and system customization should be left to third-party companies (like ASCII and Gamer Graffix). Backwards-compatibility sounds good until you notice that Microsoft has placed the word "limited" before it; this is bullshit. Absolute bullshit. There is no reason why Microsoft can't do something to make at least most of the XB games compatible with the XB360; they say that only the "hits" will be compatible. So that means only dogshit like Halo 2, Halo, Half-Life 2, and Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas will be compatible? Throw it all away, I don't want that shit. I can understand the fact that some XB games may not work with the XB360 just as the PS2 had trouble running certain PS games; but in this case it won't be just a few. It's going to be interesting to see the list of "hits" that will work on the XB360 (get ready for some shit).

As for third-party support, most of the titles look weak. Even Capcom's new zombie game Dead Rising looks disappointing; true, the screenshots depict hundreds of characters onscreen at once or whatever, but there's nothing going on! The game better turn out better than what Capcom has shown us, because as it stands now the game looks as anemic as the hardware's design. Sure, the visuals may look good (read not great) and the sound will probably be good, but none of that shit matters if the game runs at a steady crawl. What else? Perfect Dark Zero, which looks nothing close to perfection (as its title suggests). The game looks like shit, and there's no excuse. Shit, the N64 version looked better for its time than the XB360 version will probably look for its time. No joke, compare them yourself. All that supposed power under the hood, and Rare shows something as ugly as PDZ? Fucking weak. Why do most of the XB360 games look like they were developed for the first XB? Even Dead Or Alive 4 looks like it could have been developed just as well for the first XB. Then you have a list of throwaways like Elder Scrolls IV, Final Fantasy XI, and Splinter Cell 4. Who gives a fuck about these boring games? Elder Scrolls IV looks fucking stupid, FFXI is said to be unchanged from the PS2 original (showing just how lazy Square really is), and everyone knows Splinter Cell 4 will try to copy MGS again (and fail miserably).

Is there anything that game fans have to look forward to with the XB360? Gears of War? Well, I guess the game is supposed to look nicer than the other titles and may actually be playable. And even though Dead Or Alive 4 seems like it should look better for being on next-generation hardware, it looks a lot better than Perfect Dark Zero. Sure, it would be better to have a Capcom, SNK, Raizing, or Namco fighter, but at least we know that Team Ninja won't pull anything as underwhelming as what Rare has shown of PDZ. Quake IV also looks like it will be good, even though it seems more like it should have been beside Doom 3 on the XB. Ridge Racer 6 may also be a title to look forward to, but who knows? As far as games go, the XB360 has a long, long ways to go. True, Microsoft gained more developer support this time around, but none of the games are dropping jaws. When I first saw Power Stone for the DreamCast, I went ape-shit. When I first saw Street Fighter EX3 for the PlayStation 2, I was excited to play it. With the GameCube, I was stunned at how beautiful Resident Evil was. With the XB360, I look at the games and say, "Is that it?" For such powerful hardware with so much potential, we've yet to see anything that shows either. Developers better kick it in the ass, because hardly any of the showcased titles look "next-generation." Sadly, Gears Of War is probably the only title that looks like it was designed on next-generation hardware. You also have the new Madden, which is said to utilize the capabilities of the XB360, but nobody who plays real videogames gives two shits about it (or anything else EA shits out).

Will I buy an XB360? If things continue as we've seen, then no. If things progress and developers actually start to impress us, then I might. A lot of good Japanese developers are putting their eggs in Microsoft's XB360 basket, so there's the possibility that we'll see some good games. But until I see quality games from quality developers, I don't think I'll be waiting in line for the launch. I don't hate it, I'm just not impressed with anything we've seen on the system as a whole. I won't be getting an XB360 unless I see something like a new Street Fighter or Castlevania. There are rumors that it will sell for around $300.00, which is ridiculous; why the fuck is it going to be so expensive? Does the technology even warrant the cost? Rumors that games will cost around $60.00 - $70.00 have also surfaced, which is even more ridiculous. Before, people criticized the N64 hardware for the high cost of its cartridge format, touting the superiority of the CD-ROM format. Like CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs don't cost much to produce, so why will XB360 games cost so much if they are on the same cheap DVD-ROM format that the XB uses? Know-it-all magazine editors and loudmouth motherfuckers badmouthed the N64 because its cartridge format was "outdated" and "expensive," but what will they say if XB360 games on DVD-ROM media cost just as much? What can they say? Not a goddamn thing. Plainly put, $60.00 - $70.00 may be reasonable for games on new media like Blu-Ray discs, but it's too much for a game on standard DVD format. Until the good games start to come out, I don't want to drop over $60.00 for a game that could have just as well been put on the first XB. Even though people will buy the shit anyway, right now it doesn't seem like any of the launch titles will actually be worth the cost.

A good number of quality Japanese developers have jumped on the XB360, but how will support turn out? Will they really support the XB360, or will they continue to stay behind Sony (again)? It seems like they will actually support the XB360, and if it holds true, we might see some good games. That is, if developers aren't as lazy as Rare has been (as of late). The launch and future plans for the PlayStation 3, however, look a lot better; Devil May Cry 4, Metal Gear Solid 4, and KillZone 2 make the XB360's lineup look weak (even if they haven't been completely revealed). And even though third-party plans for the Revolution have only been discussed briefly, the Revolution's GC, N64, SNES, NES backward-compatibility sounds more appealing than anything even announced for the XB360. Right now, the XB360 doesn't live up to its hype; hopefully in the future game fans will have a reason to buy it...