Dear Microsoft, I'm Sorry: My 180 on The 360
Peter Tatara - November 13, 2006
I'm sorry. When you first launched the Xbox, I laughed. Sure, Halo was fun, but as an Apple and Sony-loving college kid, one game wasn't enough for me to not display a level of hatred so vehement it's normally reserved for regimes responsible for genocide. I didn't like the Xbox. Some years passed. You announced the Xbox 360. I laughed again. As an Apple and Sony-loving kid just out of college, I again felt it was my duty to tell the internet just how much your new system was going to galacticly suck.
Amazingly, though, in my blog and forum rants, I wasn't praising the PlayStation 3. No, Sony shot itself in the foot with its $700 behemoth. Instead, in the same breath I bashed the Xbox 360, I sucked up to the Wii. The Wii, Nintendo's entry into the 2006 console race, came off as a slim and sexy minx. She was new. She was different. She promised to save the whales, usher in a new era of world peace, and put out on the first date.
I really believed Nintendo's "Blue Ocean" philosophy. While Sony and Microsoft slugged it out over who delivered bigger, better graphics, Nintendo was going to give us bigger, better gameplay. The Wii, with its motion-sensitive controller, was a revolutionary new way of thinking. The problem, after playing with the Wii, was that while the idea was revolutionary, my every gameplay experience has been rather pedestrian. This coupled with the Wii's lack of DVD playback functionality and region-locking -- after promises of it being region-free -- turned the Wii into a cocktease.
At about the same time I was telling the Wii we had to see other people, I started to make house calls to a friend's 360. I logged some pretty hefty hours. And, as much as I didn't want to care about graphics, after playing Dead or Alive 4, Dead Rising, Ninety Nine Nights, and Gears of War, I was in love. I couldn't believe how rich, detailed, and unquestionably gorgeous the games looked. A little voice in the back of my head spat, asking if the gameplay matched the visuals, or if it the 360 had the same cookie-cutter games I've played since I was a child, only now with some new high-definition lipstick. I looked at the little voice in my head, told it to look at Dead or Alive 4, Dead Rising, Ninety Nine Nights, and Gears of War -- not just look at the graphics but actually look at the games -- but then asked, even though there's a lot of innovation on the 360, if something's not broken, why fix it? The voice shut up.
So, here I am. I can't get enough Dead or Alive 4, Dead Rising, Ninety Nine Nights, and Gears of War. I can't wait for Call of Duty 3, Bullet Witch, and Onechanbara X. I'm confused. Do I like the Xbox 360?
I think I do. I'm sorry, Microsoft, for doubting you. Sony's gone off in one extreme, and Nintendo's veered off into the other, but you just built a rock solid successor to the Xbox that's just right. Huzzah and kudos.
Is this where I say I've just bought a 360 for myself? No, it's not. Frankly, as great as I now think the 360 is, my girlfriend wouldn't put up with it. (Why it's okay for me to buy her a Nintendo DS -- but out of bounds for me to buy myself a 360 -- is beyond me, but she makes the rules.) However, a neighbor, smelling the geek stink seeping out from under my apartment door, this weekend told me he was interested in buying a console and asked which I thought he should pick up. In his youth, he was a Nintendo fan, and he really wanted to play the new Zelda. He was pondering getting a Wii and asked what I thought. And I told him.
After work today, he and I are heading over to the Herald Square GameStop to buy a 360, Dead Rising, and Gears of War. Are you happy, Microsoft? I hope you're happy, Microsoft. Deep inside my heart, it hurts. But, after smashing zombie skulls until 3 AM tomorrow morning, I'll get over it. Thank you, Microsoft, for the Xbox 360.
Your hunny bunny,
PS: The Zune still sucks.