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In Defense of the Xbox 360

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I ran across a title to an article in the St. Louis Dispatch.

“The Xbox 360 is the worst video game console in the world”

I am a little surprised the author didn’t claim it’s the worst in the galaxy or the universe. I mean, if you are going for drama, why not go big or go home, right? Worst video game console in the world? He’s got to be kidding. So, yes, I read the article.

rrod-freakoutUnfortunately, the author, the Game Guy aka David Sheets, makes a good case…if he were talking hardware only. Yes, the actual console in terms of hardware can be a piece of sh*t.

How many times has your Xbox 360 died? The Game Guy has had four 360’s, and all of them have died. I almost want to ask him if he is performing “gamicide” on purpose to make his point, but when I think about the first four Xbox 360-owning friends that come to mind, three of them have also experienced the RROD. Add me into that equation and that’s an 80% failure rate. Seems a bit higher than Microsoft’s 3%.

Although the Game Guy has a point about hardware failure, his tone throughout his article is one of pure disdain for the system as a whole. He claims that he plays it not by choice, but “out of necessity” because of his horrible job as a game and gear reviewer.

To the St. Louis Dispatch: I will be more than happy to take the Game Guy’s position. I love all games, and I don’t hold any grudges against any system. I will never complain because you are forcing me to play the Xbox 360. Nor will I write such over-dramatic op-ed pieces.

Back to the Game Guy…In defense of the Xbox 360, Microsoft gladly, no-questions-asked fixed my 360. Sure, I had to wait 2 weeks between packing it up in the supplied box and receiving it back from an commiserating UPS guy, but that’s what I have a PC for. And you know, I could always go outside for a walk or read a book while on my gaming hiatus. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

halo_3_final_boxshotAlthough I understand the Game Guy’s frustration with the hardware problems with the Xbox 360, I cannot agree with his summation that the Xbox 360 is the worst console in the world. If you consider the ease of playing Live, and the awe-inspiring graphics, as well as the convenience of the Xbox marketplace, as well as the calibre of games designed solely for the Xbox 360, well, “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”

The Xbox plays hard and it breaks hard. I’ve had much more problems with my damn Dell, and at least when my Xbox did break, I didn’t have to spend five hours on the phone with India trying to explain to them that no, they didn’t fix my motherboard…again.

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BioShock First Impressions: Ayn Rand Under the Sea

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Not one of the reviews I read for Bioshock said anything at all about how the undersea world of Rapture is straight out of an unwritten Ayn Rand novel. Does this mean that gamers don’t read American lit?

What the Great Lighthouse may have looked like before earthquakes destroyed it...

What the Great Lighthouse may have looked like before earthquakes destroyed it...

It’s not like it’s a stretch to see the Rand influence. You notice the literary reference almost immediately, if you know your Rand. Unfortunately, I know Ms. Rand’s rants. As soon as I swam my way to a Great Lighthouse at Alexandria look-a-like after my Pan Am hit crashed into the sea, I came face to face with a large red banner that proclaims “Not Gods or Kings. Only Men.” and a plaque from someone named Ryan going on about how he could not live in a state that won’t allow him to be himself…an unapologetic capitalist.

Ryan…R-Y-A-N = Ayn R. Yeah, subtle.

First things first, BIOSHOCK is amazing to look at. The opening sequence is awe-inspiring. I kept telling my boyfriend to “look-it, look-it” as the bathysphere gave me an unguided tour of Rapture, a city-behind-the-waves (and international law). The city itself is an Art Deco dream. I happen to be a fan of Deco, so BioShock is a total treat for my aesthetic sensitivities. Even as you peer out of the glass windows, the graphics go all watery and change as you move your perspective. The designers and programmers spared no effort to make this game a detail-oriented gamers delight.

And then, as you, er, I mean, Jack enters the city proper, he is lead on missions by a underground resistance leader named Atlas.

atlasshruggedAtlas…Like Atlas Shrugged? To be honest, I couldn’t finish Atlas Shrugged. I read The Fountainhead, and got through the Ellsworth Toohey 30-page speech about altruism, and when I ran across the same diatribe in Atlas Shrugged, courtesy of John Galt; well, I just closed up the book and gave it away. Rand is not hard to read as in she discusses difficult issues and uses hard words; no, Rand is difficult to read because there is a lot of repetition and it gets really, really boring.

Besides, she is such a response to perceived socialist agendas during the 40’s, that it comes across as somewhat silly…until you place BioShock’s politics into the present fears of an American return to a quasi-socialistic Big Government. But that is probably more of a coincidence than the creators’ statement on capitalism and how money makes morals.

But I digress…

And now that I am in the third “level” of BioShock, I can say that the game takes its cues from Rand in more ways than one. BioShock can get a little repetitious, too. I can honestly say that I am sick of hacking security “bots”, vending machines, and safes. At first, it was kind of fun, but now I try to get as many auto-hack tools as I can find or build with rubber hoses and random screws.

bioshock_3All in all, I love the plot. I like killing the “splicers” (though I do wish for a little more diversity in these crazed foes) and random other bots and Big Daddy’s. I even like rescuing the little sisters — I haven’t “harvested” one yet. It’s just hard for me to kill a child, even if she carries a giant syringe that she likes to plunge into her victims’ heads.

I am actually playing BioShock on both easy and medium (whatever they call it in the game). So far, easy just means less bad guys and more first aid kits to find. But as your character never really dies in BioShock (you are immediately revived at a near-by “vita-chamber” and everything remains as it was when you “died” including a lack of first aid kits and angry enemies), I think the medium is a better choice for anyone other than a newbie to FPS games.

Much like Dead Space, you are given objectives and maps as to what you are supposed to be doing in Rapture. You also have an option of a “hint” to help you along the way, as an example telling you where certain slicers are located when you have to get some research photos (which reminds me of Dead Rising). I can say that the game is self-contained enough that I have not even bothered to look up a walkthrough or cheats for BioShock. Not that it is that easy (it kinda is, though), but rather that the game makes sense as to how to play it. Unlike say, Tomb Raider: Legend

And yes, I know that BioShock is a bit old now in terms of release date, but I had to get to it before BioShock 2 comes out later this year.

I love this trailer, because it tells me all evil comes from little girls! He he he.

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My New Xbox Experience: Day One

Friday, January 30th, 2009

So, I finally plugged in my internet connection to my Xbox. Not that I never have before, it’s just that my router is in the office and the HDTV is in the living room, and I don’t want a damn cord running through the entire house, and I haven’t got off my lazy butt to get a wireless adapter for my Xbox 360 because truthfully, I don’t go online that often with my Xbox.

Not often at all…

Which means that tonight was finally the night when I upgraded my dashboard on the ol’ 360 (among other things). I am sure that I haven’t spent enough time on it to see how awesomely awesome it is, but what is the big deal?

I think the whole Netflix thing is nice, and I imagine I will love it. As I mentioned before, I am not on Xbox Live all that much to make that a big draw for me, but then again, maybe it will be a good reason to log in more often. It does get tiring to have to hook up my laptop to the tv to watch something instantly on Netflix, but still, It’s not like it’s that hard. I’ll live.

myavatarOther than that, I am not big into keeping a bunch of pictures and music on yet another hard drive, so that option does nothing for me.

I do have a kickass avatar, but I don’t know when she’ll ever come into use. Don’t you just dig her warrior scar and black (I hope they are rubber) gloves? Unless I am missing something, I don’t think the avatars get to play in, say, Tomb Raider, so yeah, what’s the point. I like my little panda icon. Isn’t that enough?

I know I must sound like a troglodyte to some of you, but seriously, I like to play video games. I don’t care if someone else plays with me or not. So other than downloading stuff, I have little need for Xbox Live. And that’s too bad, because my dress is so cute.

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PS3 Ads Losing in the Console Wars

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Sometimes, I like to look at ads and commercials to see how they reflect on what it is the ad is selling. I believe in good ads, and I honor them; however, I do really love criticizing ad campaigns and today, I plan on doing just that.

Recent news has it that Xbox 360 sales are beating Playstation 3 sales. Of course, one could look at the price tags of each system and maybe that would be enough evidence as to why Xbox 360 is more popular than PS3, but I think that it would be remiss to overlook lame commercials that don’t do anything to sell the PS3.

Such as this one…

So, first, PS3 totally disses on girls in this ad. The boyfriend tries to explain technology to her like she is an idiot, and then she railroads him into watching 50 First Dates. Come on. Why must all girls only watch romantic comedies? Is it that men, vis a vis the boyfriend, are afraid that their girlfriends might be better at video games than they are, so they try to keep the women in their life from playing in the first place.

Or is it that Sony doesn’t seem to need women to buy Playstations?

Which brings me to the next huge problem with this ad…of everything this new awesome “movie downloading machine” can do, the proud new owners are stuck watching a movie from what four years ago? Why would this PS3 ad feature an old, not very good Drew Barrymore-Adam Sandler vehicle to try to resurrect the lightning-in-the-bottle of The Wedding Singer? I don’t understand the thinking behind that choice. If you are trying to sell a very expensive new toy, why would you try to sell it by showing how it can play regular old movies.

It’s too bad. I remember seeing an ad for Heavenly Sword, and that ad made me want the PS3. Maybe Sony should go back to that ad agency…or the drawing board.

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Tomb Raider: Legend Proves Lara Croft Needs a Makeover

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Yes, I know that the Tomb Raider chronicles have moved beyond Legend with the latest installment, Underworld, but I’ve mentioned before that I’d rather play older, used games sometimes over the latest games debuting. I may change that, but not today. Also, I haven’t really picked up a Tomb Raider game since the first movie came out.

So I finished Tomb Raider: Legend and frankly, I was disappointed in the ending. I also noticed that the Tomb Raider parent company has been disappointed by the latest game’s sales. Could there be a connection?

Careful. You may have a preciptious drop, Lara...

Careful. You may have a preciptious drop, Lara...

I bought Legend last year, and yes, it took me a year to finish it. Not because it is hard — it isn’t. I just never put it in my Xbox 360. It sat there, abandoned for months, looking sad and wondering what it did wrong. It just was rarely the game I wanted to play. The puzzle rooms were kind of fun at first, and then they seemed to be endless variations of each other.

I had tried exploring Croft Manor, but got bored quickly. Sure, maybe I missed something cool, but I really don’t care, because nothing else in that game was cool (except driving the motorcycles and the forklift through the wall, so why would something in Croft Manor finally be cool. The whole background of Lara and the Croft Family Saga never really did all that much for me.

It’s sad, too, because I remember staying up all night playing TR when I had my old Playstation. Did I have more of a video game constitution back then…no, quite the contrary, my proclivity to play video games all night has increased with age and quality. I didn’t have a hard time getting through Half-Life (at right) two months ago.

So, anyway, Tomb Raider: Legend was low on my list, until my friend, Nathan, told me he got it. And then after a weekend, he told me he finished it. A weekend? He had a lot of time on his hands, but still, it made me feel like a slacker. So I finished it just to say I finished it, but other than the fear of being called out as weak, I may never have finished the stupid game.

Rumor has it that Eidos is thinking about a major redevelopment for the series. I really hope this rumor is true.

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Friendly Reminder: WE WANT TO LEAVE, ALREADY!

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007


Hi, boys and girls. It’s just me, your friendly neighborhood JW, here to remind you all that we’re currently looking for people to replace us here at Xbox 360 Rally. All you have to do is go HERE, fill out the form, and wait to hear back. It’s really not that hard.

So, get to it already — so Paco and I can get to the NEW site!

Halo 3 Survival Guide

Monday, September 24th, 2007


Odds are you’re going to be heading out tonight for the highly-anticipated Halo 3 launch. Hell, it’s very possible that you’re already there, reading this on a laptop… in which case, I pity your soul. But, all the same you should know what to do to survive this Halo 3 onslaught, and get through the night.

So, after the break I’m going to give you a few survival tips to help you get through the long, difficult night ahead.


We want YOU! …to replace us!

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007


Ok, people, here’s the deal — Paco and I are on our way out. We’re taking over at 1PStart.com in an effort to restore it to it’s former glory. …that, and I just plain want to write about another game every once in a while, is that so wrong?!

Anyways, here is what we’re looking for: A competent, capable writer with a love for all things Xbox. Now, by competent writer, we mean someone who spells “you” correctly, and knows when to capitalize. If you can do that, you’re a shoe-in. So, CLICK THIS DAMN LINK, do the required stuff, then get paid to play video games and write about stuff.

…hell, Mike and I did the hard stuff already, and YES, the GTA4 Banner contest will continue, and I will still give you a copy of GTA IV… or something. So, hop to it.

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Problems with Bioshock, The ‘Game of the Year’ Flaws Start to Show

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

picture of the month
(Xbox360Rally’s Most Overused Picture of the Month)

Woo, got my copy I pre-order from GameStop (a day or two after it came out, but its okay), put my toy on my wall, then booted up. I went through the game on hard, beat it, felt great, missed saving a little sister somewhere on the way so I suck cause I didn’t get that achievement, whatever.

Now I am going through the game a second time on easy just to get all the photography achievements, its cool because now I am really appreciating the different characters and character types. Harvesting a little sister *quick spoiler ahead* is cool with the heart pulling out and all (or ADAM slug, whatever). I am having fun choosing different abilities and combos (for the most part I have just been using plasmid powers and having the camera out as my weapon at all times).

Here comes my qualms, after all that praise, when it is said and done, this game was pretty short. I don’t consider myself a tough ass player, so when I beat the game on hard within a week, I didn’t think much of it then, but usually I don’t beat games on hard. Now on the second play through, I can see this being “Crackdown” where I might not have many reasons to ever pick up the game again after you beat it once. I would pay good money to see a multiplayer. I know how the developers feelings on a multiplayer was, but think of a game like “The Darkness,” it seems almost like the multiplayer was tacked on, but it ends up being really fun (when you get a non-lag game, but hey, they are fixing that). Think of a FPS multiplayer with the plasmids flying around, and a playable Big Daddy (that of course is tuned to be a fair fight against a human/splicer)

This game needs some new downloadable content, maybe not just right away, but multiplayer would be at the top of my list of course, however i’d settle for some extra missions maybe, just not crappy extra different new weapons/plasmids thrown in the game as the DLC. No matter what I have said, if you haven’t bought this title yet, go rent it now.

(These thoughts inspired by the game itself of course, as well as The Digital Gamer really laying into Bioshock, or at least the critics that overpraised this game)

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Xbox Live better than Wii-mote, Fable 2 goes online, New title coming too! - Peter Molyneux

Friday, September 7th, 2007

damn, can't think of a funny captionIn an interview with website Canaljuegos, Peter Molyneux let some good info fly. On top of the pretty large statement he made about the Wii controller not being as impactful as Xbox Live is saying a lot. I can see both sides though, I mean, yeah, the Wii wiggles around for you to make movement, while Xbox Live is making connecting through online play the most simple thing a person can do. Though Nintendo and Sony offer their free online services, Xbox Live users just know “you get what you pay for” and with Xbox Live, it is the best.

Other things discussed in the article include praise to Lionhead (well deserved). They are working on another title right now, a casual type game, that may feature elements of an older game he was working on, “Project Dimitri.”

On Fable 2, a good amount is discussed about emotions playing a part in the game much like moral decisions. In a question about online play, he replies with “This not something I can talk about at the moment,” which we all know means online play is going to have some part in this game.

I am really starting to enjoy the crazy character that is Molyneux, he speaks his mind (”most RPG’s are shit“). I just hope Fable 2 lives up to the first title and then some.

[Full Interview]

J.W.’s Notes: GamePro gaffing articles?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007


GamePro is currently running a story about a supposed “Halo 3 tax” on it’s website. After looking over the evidence presented in the GamePro article, I have to say that I agree. You know, like I did the first time when XBLRadio originally broke this story.

I am not someone who will start fueds with websites without provocation. However, when another site runs with a story broken by another site, going so far as to use images from the original story, I take issue. If you want to report this, fine. No problem. But give proper credit when credit is due.

[XBLRadio Original Article]
[GamePro Article]

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GameFly vs Blockbuster - Who Do I Give My Money To?

Monday, August 13th, 2007


Video game rentals, we all have to do it. With titles that come out like Shadowrun, that may seem “kinda cool” in some ways, but you know in your heart you can’t justify plunking down $60 for a game you just aren’t sure about, we as gamers have to rely on game rental services. I started writing this a little over a month ago, noticing that Blockbuster had 6 copies of Transformers (all on the shelf), while their one copy of Overlord they ordered for the store had not even arrived yet. Quickly, I went home with a copy of F.E.A.R. and the desire to find something better. Let it be known, I have been using the Blockbuster GamePass service through my little brother for well over a year now, the most obvious problem with them however, is they are Blockbuster, or as I know them, ‘the devil.’ I have been using Netflix for many many moons now and with that I have a certain bitterness with Blockbuster as far as late fees plus crappy selection of movies, but hey, this is about the games.

Off to the Internets, I knew that Gamefly was the big contender here, but I wanted to find something else, I had already heard the stories of Gamefly discs being stolen by mailmen as well as their horrid turnaround shipping times. I remember the company Gameznflix.com, they have to be good, they were smart enough to jump into the extremely small market of online video game rentals early on, and at the same time compete with Netflix to be the Blockbuster of online (I am ignoring that ‘the devil’ has an online service of their own, damn my bias). So off to check online reviews of GameznFlix… oh man, not good. Coming from the CAG forums, in a sea of many quotes I could pull from, here is my favorite, “I’m done with Gameznflix. I had 20 games in my queue, half new, half old, and they failed to ship me a single game after 14 days.” Even the guys at XBL Radio have dropped support of the company. Want more current GameznFlix issues, look no further than NeoGAF.

Best Buy Charging a “Halo Tax”: $3 add-on to certain Xbox 360 Accessories

Sunday, August 12th, 2007


Take a look at that picture right there. As you can see, one of these things is not like the others. You aren’t seeing things, either — that middle price is $42.99, while the others are $39.99. The top is Microsoft, the Bottom is Circuit City. So who is in the middle?

Best Buy, of course.


Technical Difficulties

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

The servers are melting. Paco spilled his cola on the keyboard. JW’s out back trying to wrangle the horses. In short, we’re all kinds of FUBAR, so we may not be able to update as much as we’d like today.

Sorry, peeps. We’ll be back soon.

Official Retraction of SEGA TGS Rumor

Sunday, August 5th, 2007


There has been a lot of controversy regarding a recently posted rumor regarding SEGA’s possible Tokyo Game Show line-up. Now, I was originally very defensive of this piece because of who sent it in. He, a long-time go-to guy named Rob, has sent me exclusive tips for four years, and until this most recent one, they were ALL accurate.

Regardless, after the link had been posted by reader “Cedge”, I immediately contacted Rob via GoogleIM.


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