The Xbox 360: A Boy's Console?
I am a girl gamer. This doesn't mean I take gaming lightly, or that I only pick up a controller at my boyfriend's house once a year. It just means that I have extremely feminine tastes in the games that I buy.
I don't like scary, creepy, gory, or ugly things. I don't like sports, wars, or racing cars. I have never gone to a horror movie in my life and never will.
When the Xbox came out, I hated it. It was Microsoft, a software company that is reminiscent of AOL in the way that there are tons of long-time users that can't stand it. It was the ugliest thing I've ever seen. An aesthetically unappealing, unshapely black box with a huge green logo. It boasted games like Halo and Call of Duty. It turned Call of Cthulhu, a brilliant short story by H.P. Lovecraft (mind you, macabre in writing can be elegant), into a first person shooter that was more about guns than Elder Gods.
I was extremely biased against the Xbox by the time the 360 came out. Honestly, I couldn't care less about its new look. To me, it was the same old Xbox in white with a few curves. Unlike the other next generation consoles, this one has been out and we already know what it's all about; there's no speculation. We know its features and its games, and none of it is that appealing to me. It doesn't give me what I'm looking for in a system; it has all these superfluous options that I would never use. But ultimately, it comes down to the numerous games that don't interest me at all.
Let's take a look at the genres of gamine the 360 has to offer (courtesy of Team Xbox). I've omitted the ones that had no games in their category, and combined a few that were similar. An immense list, probably similar to the old Xbox or PS2, in the categories it provides. But what matters is the games in those categories. Before that, I'm going to scratch out a few of the genres that I would never touch.
Card/Casino- I've been to Vegas so many times, it's not funny. I don't need a video game console for this; I own a deck of cards. World Championship Poker "All In."
Combat Racing/Driving- Fun for ten minutes, but I don't care about smooth rides, racing along tracks in circles, or shooting pimps out the window of my car. Burnout Revenge, Need for Speed, Tokyo Extreme Racer
Extreme Sports/Sports/Wrestling- I don't like sports, and I would never play them in real life or in a simulation. I can't think of anything more boring. And honestly, I can't believe wrestling has its own category. Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, WWE Smackdown vs. RAW 2007, College Hoops 2K6
Fighting- I'm not a huge fan of one-on-one fighting. It's fun in an arcade or at a gaming store, but when you're an only child without a ton of male gamer friends that come over regularly, multiplayer games like that aren't worth the buy. Dead or Alive 4, Def Jam 3, Senko no Ronde, Street Fighter II' Hyper Fighting
FPS- First person shooting isn't for me. I'm not a huge fan of multiplayer competition, and its for people who love esoteric gun types and mass shooting in war games, not people who love shooting an individual for personal reasons. Brothers In Arms Hell's Highway, CellFactor, Medal of Honor Airborne
Flying/Pilot- I can't believe there's a category for this. I don't care about pretending to pilot an aircraft on my television, no matter which world war you pick. Blazing Angels Squadrons of WWII, Over G Fighters
Music/Dance- I'm actually sort of sad that DDR and Guitar Hero switched to the 360. But there are so many games already for the PS2 that I already own, and my dance mat works fine on it. Not worth getting a new console for. Dance Dance Revolution Universe, Guitar Hero II
Party- I thought this would be like Mario Party, but it's some things I've never heard of that don't sound remotely similar. Everyparty, Fuzion Frenzy 2
Puzzle- There's only one in this category, and I already have something for the Gameboy that sounds exactly the same. Marble Blast Ultra
RTS- War games. That's enough to discourage me. Halo Wars
Simulation- The Sims is cool, but what is this crap that the 360 has in this section? One game is essentially a sports game, where you manage teams, and the other is about Pinatas, those Mexican birthday toys you hit that no one cares about. LMA Manager 2007, Viva Piñata.
Survival/Horror- Everything I can't stand about horror movies, but having to play through it. Just looking at stills from Resident Evil creeps me out. It's gross, gory, and blows up relatively harmless paranormal conspiracies to evil dimensions and grotesque creatures that keep me from sleeping at night. Alone in the Dark, Clive Barker's Jericho, Possession, Resident Evil 5
So that leaves Action, MMO, Platformers, and RPGs. Yes, I realize that all those genres that I dislike on found on other consoles, most notably on the PS2, but I don't refuse to buy a console because it has some types of games I don't like. I look at the quality of games that appeal to me out of my favorite genres. And I realize that a game cannot be disregarded by their genres. I can think of FPSs, racing, and fighting games that I love, but in general, this is how they are.
Action - Action is a huge, vague category that boasts a number of sub-categories. The Xbox offers Action with Adventure, Shooter, Stealth, Strategy and RPGs, only one of which appeals to me (psst, check the name of the site I work for). As I'm not a huge fan of the LoTR video games (just the novels), the only Action/RPG I would love to own is Phantasy Star Universe. Phantasy Star is a delightful series, since its DreamCast days. Then it moved onto the Gamecube and PC, without losing its online abilities, though that faltered at times. But, Phantasy Star Universe will be available on the PC and PS2, which I conveniently already own.
MMO, in my mind, is usually associated with RPGs, but here it's not the case. In fact, the 360 boasts MMOFPS and MMO driving games (All Points Bulletin, Huxley). God, it's really not giving me anything I want.
Platformers - I can't complain about these at all. It's hard to have bad things to say about platform games; they're entertaining. They're the games I started with. Not a whole lot for the 360, just Banjo-Kazooie, Sonic the Hedgehog, which it turns out isn't new, and can be found elsewhere. Platformers tend to be either for Nintendo consoles or on every console.
RPGs - I'm not going to say there aren't RPGs for the 360. In fact, there's a whole list of them here. Just because the RPG list is a bit on the meager side compared to the lengthy FPS list isn't a bad thing necessarily. It just means that there's less of a chance of finding an RPG there worth buying an Xbox 360 for. But first, let's knock off the PC/PS2/PS3-compatible ones: Final Fantasy XI, Elder Scrolls IV : Oblivion, Enchanted Arms, Two Worlds, Bioshock, Elveon. This leaves us with Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Mass Effect, Eternal Sonata. (Operation Darkness, Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom, and Far East of Eden Ziria I don't know enough to say that it won't be on the PC as well, but it's in Microsoft's best interest to make its games for both platforms) I'm sure they're great games, but I have absolutely no idea whether I'm going to like them or not. Of course, there are ways to predict how little or much I'll like a game.
Blue Dragon - Lots of Final Fantasy involvement, most notably Nobuo Uematsu. Chrono Trigger's on the list too. But the art is Akira Toriyama, who did Dragonball Z and Chrono Trigger. In CT, I wasn't a huge fan of the art and FMVs because it reminded me of DBZ. I could deal with the game because its graphics were vague enough to never remind me of that show, and its story easily won me over. But now, in this age, we don't discuss our graphics in two dimensions or 8-bits, and you can see in every second of the game that everyone looks like they're from DBZ, but with slightly different hair. Art can really break a game for me in the same way gore can. Books don't have that problem, and in movies or television, you can look away, but how can you play a video game without looking at the screen the whole time? Still, this has the potential to be really good, but I could be satiated just buying the soundtrack.
Lost Odyssey - Interesting fantasy game, but anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I'm on a sci-fi kick right now. The art is definitely appealing, and once again, Final Fantasy and Nobuo Uematsu. Can't complain about this game or its story; there just isn't a whole lot on it right now. Kaim being sentenced to live for 1000 could be a promising premise, but I don't trust Japanese literature too much.
Mass Effect - Yes, science fiction! I'm also very impressed by the conversation system. Love the aliens and robots, but for some reason, they put all these ugly humanoid Geths in there. If they kill off all the Geths, it could be a pretty good game after all. And the sci-fi genre has some room for some beautiful alien weaponry and worlds. It's exciting. Don't like the look of the main Geth character, though.
Eternal Sonata - I can't believe they would make a video game out of Frédéric Chopin. That's disgusting. The entire premise of the game is horribly, horribly wrong. It's about Chopin's delirium just before his death, and having him travel through a musical fantasyland with Polka and Allegretto. It's a huge insult to his memory, and the situation is worsened with how ridiculously cute the graphics are. In fact, they're so cute and so horrible, I think I like them. But still, the whole idea of this game is sickening. Might have a nice soundtrack, though.
Everyone knows that the Xbox 360 can do a lot. But is it doing what I want it to for the price I'm willing to pay?
The core Xbox 360 was not incredibly over priced. It was $299, the same as the PS2 and Xbox at launch, and a hundred dollars more than the GameCube. However, it was generally accepted that the core system was not worth buying, and the real 360 cost $399, way more than I was willing to pay. I have never had the urge to buy a console or a game the day it came out. I am happy waiting for years until the price is reasonable, and there's no base instinct to have everything novel and complete it before everyone else does. I waited for both the PS2 and GC to drop $100 before I bought them.
But I have to admit, a few hundred dollars is worth paying for something I plan to use all the time. My iPod cost a little less than the core 360, and I use it every second of every day and have never been happier. I just don't see myself playing the Xbox as often as my other consoles. It takes me a long time to stop playing older consoles; I still pick up my N64 and play Ocarina of Time when the mood strikes me. Despite that, I haven't picked up a controller since school started this year. I don't have time for a new console in my life, especially not one that has $60 annual charge for Xbox Live when I could go a couple years without touching it.
Accessories and prices (including what the core 360 lacks, as of this)
20GB HDD- $100
Memory Unit - $40
Wireless controller- $50
Play and Charge Kit - $20
Rechargeable battery pack - $12
Headset - $20
Universal Media Remote - $30
VGA HD AV cable - $40
$312 plus the $300 core price that I might have been willing to pay, add on the $60 for the first year of Live, and that's $672 too much. And that's without any games. A brand new 360 game can easily be $50-60.
I am a huge fan of MMORPGs, despite understanding that the vast majority of them suck. The only real appeal that has existed with MMORPGs is being able to play video games online with my friends, which doesn't happen too frequently with multiplayer games when all the friends that come over regularly are casual gamers.
Games are more fun with other people, in the same way chat rooms have their appeal; inside jokes and playing with people you get along with is always entertaining. But most of my closest friends won't be getting 360s, mostly because they can't afford it. Everyone already owns a computer, and the most successful MMORPG parties I've made, with the best attendance, have been ones that are free to download and play online for the PC. It's hard to convince all your existing friends to go out and buy a game, or worse, a console, especially when they aren't sure they'll have the time to meet to play it. And the people who get noticed in a MMOFPS game are the best players; everyone steers clear of n00bs like me. It just wouldn't be fun, as opposed to a PC game where people I already know don't mind picking up a free game to play occasionally.
Then again, I haven't played online with any of my consoles for the same reason: inaccessibility, except to more hardc0re gamers.
Plus, Microsoft knows that its PC needs video games too, and since they're compatible with the 360, it doesn't feel too differently to me if I just buy them for the laptop I already own.
Xbox Live Arcade
This just isn't a big deal to me. Arcade games tend to be pretty readily available over other mediums, especially as free flash games over the internet or on my cell phone. I would never spend money to play them. There maybe some new games, and probably more of them in the future, but to me, they're just the same old thing: menial timewasters for a few minutes of distraction. Its online capabilities do seem nice, though; I can never get anyone to play poker with me around here, but Texas Hold 'Em online could be fun (as most of the online poker sites are ad-ridden, or require monetary bets).
Just doesn't interest me. I'm not a competitive person when it comes to gaming. I'm actually really bad at video games, and I don't have infinite time to invest in getting my Gamerscore up, or infinite money to spend on every game that has ways of getting Gamerpoints. I tend to buy games sparsely, but play them for years. Ranking makes things significantly less fun, because then I just feel inferior to the millions ahead of me in ranking. Then again, this is something that doesn't draw me to the PS3 and Wii equivalents either.
The ability for the 360 to blog is more creepy than anything. I suppose it could be novel and interesting if you game frequently, but it's just further testament to the fact that blogs are so poorly written, they don't need real people to write them. I don't think I'd get very much use out of it myself, but it is sort of nice to see what the gamers that haven't surfaced in a few weeks have been doing with their time.
I can see the appeal of the Xbox 360. It's for someone competitive, who games for hours daily, loves online play, and enjoys a wider variety of genres. I can see someone who prefers FPS to RPGs buying a 360. I can see someone who likes horror and war games buying a 360. But that's not for me.