I’ve spent the last six months writing periodic reviews of the Xbox One detailing my opinions of it after a week, a month and half a year. But, whilst I still love playing it and am in no way disappointed with my purchase, I’ve still got one or two complaints about the console. I won’t be voicing them in this article, however; if you want to read my current opinions of the console, check out my six month “review” of the machine here. This article, on the other hand, is all about the greatest games console I’ve ever owned; the Xbox 360.
I can still remember the day that I got my 360 (obviously, it was only 9 years ago). My brother and I had spent hours trying to find a retailer that was still stocking it, GAME had sold out, HMV didn’t have any and neither did Argos. In a last ditched attempt, I agreed to be added to a waiting list at Woolworths. I wasn’t overly hopeful, but I still had that want and desire to get my hands on the 360 – so I was willing to try anything. Before we eventually got the 360, I was a PlayStation boy, having both the PS1 and the PS2, so the jump to the 360 was a big one, for me at least. Sadly, the call from the lovely lady at Woolworths never came, and by Christmas eve it looked like my brother and I would be without a 360 to play on Christmas day… that rhyme was unintentional, I promise that this won’t become a rhyming Christmas tale. So, as we have done on almost every Christmas eve since I can remember, my brother, my family and I all went to the cinema to watch a movie. When we got into town, my dad had to go and pick up a cake stand for my nan, so he met us there and we began the magical journey that was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. My mum had this weird Christmas tradition where we would have to watch the latest Harry Potter film, either in the Cinema or on DVD. Parents, hey. We got home, went to bed and awoke the next morning, ready to open our Christmas presents in an air of subtle disappointment at the apparent lack of an Xbox 360.
We had opened them all when, out of nowhere, my dad pulls two small, square boxes from behind the Christmas tree, “one for each of you”, he said. We tore the paper off of the boxes to reveal two white Xbox 360 controllers. “What can we do with these, dad?” my brother exclaimed, “we don’t have that console!”. “I think you do”, my dad said as he slid over the final present, perfectly hidden behind our humble tree. Once again we tore through the paper to reveal a brand new Xbox 360. We were overjoyed. It turned out that the lovely lady from Woolworths had actually called for me a few days before to say that they had reserved an Xbox 360 for me and that said 360 was now in stock. My mum had answered the phone and, instead of telling me, they decided to keep it a secret, like any normal parent, to build the surprise for Christmas day. And so began the best nine years of my gaming life. As you might have imagined, the supposed ‘cake stand’ was actually an Xbox 360. I’m still not sure to this day how my dad managed to make a relatively heavy 360 console bundle seem as light as a plastic cake stand – the things fathers do, hey.
With the console came Call of Duty 2, and as soon as I had plugged it in and played the game I was blown away by the graphics and the power of the machine. Everything was smooth, everything was brighter and, most importantly, everything was faster. I was hooked. After that came games like Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Fight Night Round 3, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Fallout 3, Gears of War and many, many more over the course of a couple of years. These were more than just great games, these were my childhood. I would race against my friends on Most Wanted and hold off against the Nazi onslaught on Call of Duty 2, it being the first game that I properly played online, quite religiously at times. I was spellbound by the size, depth and scope of Cyrodiil whilst playing through Oblivion with my brother – we would take it in turns to play through our save files and help each other along the way. When I was a kid, I had very few pastimes. On a Tuesday night (and sometimes a couple of other nights a week) I would go to Jujitsu classes, pretty much every night after school in the summer, and every weekend all year round, I would go to the park and play football and, in every bit of free time around those two activities I would play video-games. I wasn’t that addicted in the PlayStation 1 and 2 era, gaming was more of a treat than it was a pastime back then. With the 360, however, it was a completely different kettle of fish. I’ve had hundreds of games on that console and I’ve logged thousands of hours playing it. I’ve had an Xbox Live Gold account since they began, so that’s about 8/9 years, and I’ve had the same 360 throughout. Though I don’t use my old white one anymore, I gave it to my brother and upgraded to a slick new slim console about two years ago. The old one still works, though, and it’s over 9 years old. I’ve had the Xbox One for just about 9 months and the controllers are starting to feel a little flimsy and the headset isn’t working. They don’t make things like they used to!
Over the years the console has changed quite dramatically. From its conception as a simple gaming device, it has evolved into a near current-gen console, almost a downgraded Xbox One. At first, Xbox Live was somewhat unsubstantial, more of a back-feature than the hub of online gaming and entertainment that it is now. The dash was overly simplified, it was actually quite ugly in all honesty. Now, the machine is a completely different beast. The dash is bustling with content, yet still simple to traverse. There are few games, if any, that don’t use Xbox Live in some capacity, with one or two games being solely reliant on it. The console itself runs smoother and looks neater, overall it’s followed the evolution of both the gaming industry and the gamers themselves. I like the new Xbox 360, in fact, I prefer it. I think the precedence that Microsoft set with the 360 bodes well for the Xbox One, and its fans. Microsoft have already started changing the One due to customer demands, complaints and criticisms, so who knows what the Xbox One will look, act and run like in one, two or three years.
So, what’s the point to all of this? You might ask. Well, what I want to get across to you is the brilliance of the 360, for me at least, and the potential of the Xbox One. I still play on my 360, and I’d happily pick up Oblivion or Most Wanted this second and give them a fifth or sixth play through, but I never could have imagined how the Xbox 360 would have ended up in 9 years. I still have the original white controllers, and I still have my first copy of The Godfather game, but I don’t have my original 360… in the conventional sense. For me, the 360 is more than just a games console. Encapsulated within it are some of my fondest childhood / teenhood / adulthood memories. It was the 360 that shaped me as a gamer, it moulded how I like to play my video-games and dictated to me what games I would like to play. But, in the same way, I too moulded the 360. The way I play games and the games that I played helped shape the console for the future, and that’s something that I’m quite proud of (even if I was quite literally one in millions). But, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel the same way about my Xbox One. It isn’t because it’s a bad games console, far from it. I just don’t have the same levels of excitement for it, that drive to play it. I don’t know if I’ll be building new fond memories on the One, or whether that time has passed and, instead, it will just be a games console for me. I think that, for me at least, the 360 was something very special, magical even. I’m sure that everyone has one console that they remember above all of the others, the platform that really introduced them to gaming. So I say to you, good friend, don’t give up on that console. Break out your Xbox 360, Xbox Original, or your PS3, PS2, Ps1, or your Nintendo Wii, Gameboy, GameCube, or Dreamcast. There is still life in them yet. I recently started playing my Gameboy Colour the other day, and it bought wonderful memories flooding back. Not only that, but it’s a pretty decent handheld console, as you all probably remember.
I really hope that Microsoft pay as much attention to the development of the Xbox One as they did the 360. The changes to that console were great, but never noticeable at the time. It was a gradual evolution, rather than a revolution. That’s the way I like it, small changes that build to a grander picture. So, here’s to the future of gaming in the Xbox One and PS4 and here’s to the generation just past.