Xbox 360

2010-08-04 17:55:06

Xbox 360 Failures and Mistakes(Bloopers)

Hidden nerd is taking a breather from our reviews so I can have a one to one chat with each of you about the flaws and failures of various Systems. My first standalone piece is covering my currently owned product, the Xbox 360. I know a lot of Fanboys refuse to talk about the weaknesses of their chosen console because they like to try to forget the same way a homeless man drinks whiskey to forget his plight. I chose the 360 on the principle that in the past generation, Xbox came out on top in regards of the games for adults genre's. They built a solid platform of games focused primarily on the College Frat Boy demographic, and while the geek is not a Frat boy, and many years older than one, I still share that demographics primary enthusiasms, except in sports games. Past generation pitted the shameful Gamecube with it's shitty controller, with Dreamcast which died before it had a chance, PS2 with it's enormous offerings to the table for all audiences, and Xbox with it's rock solid online support out of the box(integrated NIC and cheap headsets) and a very adult minded line up. I owned both a PS2 and a XBOX in that generation because Playstation still had amazing RPG offerings and took a lot of risks in terms of innovative product.

Xbox 360 has unfortunately not grabbed as solid a toe hold as XBox did in reigning in all the adult titles and leaving the other systems to be nancy boys on the playground. PS3 has bulked up and proven it can handle all the adult minded games just like Xbox can, and even the Wii is offering some of the violent games that Frat Boys know and love.

Xbox Live is still considered the premier online experience, but other than that most of Xbox's strengths have been diluted by the rest of the market and the death of the exclusive title agreements of the past. Producers have now begun to realize the amounts of profits expand the more systems you sell for, rather than taking a big payoff to stick with development on 1 console of choice. This is an amazing time for gamers, in that now you no longer have to worry about owning all the consoles to own some of the greatest games out there, unless they are developed by the console manufacturer themselves of course.But enough history, let's dig into the bones of where Xbox 360 has been fucking up.

Let's start with multiplayer, Xbox's huge claim to fame. Xbox dominated the party environment by not only having the best online experience, but the original Xbox featured 4 front mounted ports, and the ability in almost all of it's titles to be 4 player split screen. Keep in mind this was also during the time of the SDTV and it makes that even more remarkable, as screen landscape was small, but people still played 4 players to a box. The only other console that did it that generation was Gamecube, where as PS2 was sticking by it's 2 port only design, with aftermarket devices that could take you past that eventually.

But where is this greatness on the next gen console? Next Gen is expected to be in almost all avenues better than the previous generation product, however we're seeing over and over and over again in almost all shapes and forms that Xbox developers are sticking by a 2 player split only. With only a handful of 4 player multiplayer retail products. Notice I say retail products, because it is apparent that the developers of the Arcade titles get it and consistently release 4 player support. But Live Arcade is more party games and less serious hardcore gaming products. Retail is where the intense stuff resides, and almost none of it is 4 player. Why no 4 player Rainbow Six? Why can't I play Left 4 Dead with 4 players in my house, there's 4 survivors, and my console accepts 4 controllers at once, so why do we get shit on? The only reason I can imagine they would have is Graphics. 4 player split requires a lot of graphics horsepower and the devs probably don't want to spend the time creating downgraded graphics models for 4 player environments like they used to. The only reason though that I would object to that is that Halo 3 you can play 4 player split screen and it looks just as good, though for some reason they too limited the local co-op splitscreen to 2 player. So I call upon those developers of games for the 360 to include a 4 player split!

Next is the guest system. Xbox Live is a great online service, that I pay to play on, and for some games I can even bring guests on, the guests share my gamertag with a numeric after it indicating they are a guest, but that means everyone on my couch can join me with friends online. It sounds like a utopian concept, friends far and close getting together and tearing heads all at once. Great fun right? Except many games do not allow for it AT all. I don't know if MS requires special payments be made to them for allowing guests, but I really think it's mostly a choice to not implement this feature into their games as the coding may be very complex. Valve and MS Studios are the only 2 I have seen make use of guests playing. Even if Left 4 Dead only allows 2 players on 1 box. What I would love to see if more splitscreen online opportunities, and more guest account usage. I would also love to see some kind of transparency so that while a character is logged into xbox live as a guest of mine, their local gamertag they use on my xbox gets updated with their achievements, so my wife who has silver can earn achievements and join me in battle more often.

Next failure is the Hard Drive setup. PS3 really kicked Xbox's ass on this item. For the uninformed the PS3 while coming with a HDD also gives it's users the opportunity to install ANY HDD into the machine to expand on it's save storage capacity. This when compared to Xbox's proprietary model makes PS3 look like the Technology leader. Xbox of course then can only offer hdd's with a worse cost per gigabyte than PS3 since PS3 owners can just grab any HDD and slot it. Compare the price of a 1 Tb HDD for 150 dollars, vs a 120 gig HDD from Microsoft for 120 dollars. $1.00 a gig is highway robbery in the Hard Drive industry. MS defends this position by indicating that it's a self-powered HDD and that you'll be hard pressed to find a cheaper priced self powered HDD enclosure on the market. Problem is MS! we cannot find a cheaper HDD enclosure because you assholes use a closed architecture so we can't use a cheaper enclosure even if we could find one. Here's the right answer Microsoft if you're taking notes. Build an aftermarket HDD enclosure, patch the dashboard to not check HDD serial numbers and allow it to format and utilize any HDD it encounters. then sell this empty HDD enclosure on the market. You then make a decent profit on selling these enclosures for 40 bucks or so as they are nothing more than a glorified SATA connector, and the users get to buy any aftermarket HDD they feel like. Hell sell some xbox rebranded Western Digitals if you want uppriced and recommended as they are guarenteed to work with the 360. This way you still retain Hardware rights to the machine, and people will still buy the HDD's from you as there is that guarentee that you have tested them to work with the 360 with 0 defects. But this also grants the rest of us the freedom to buy our own 1tb drive for cheaper than buying your shitty proprietary HDD.

Last Failure I am going to point out today. Is the lack of any kind of web browser. From my understanding both the Wii and the PS3 both have web browsing technology included in the dashboards of each respective system, why does the PC industry Software Giant not have one? Only thing I can think is that Microsoft is very very scared to release a proprietary browser again after all the fallout that occured with the pre-bundling of Internet Explorer back in the day on all PC's running windows 95. I really don't think anyone is going to bitch about you putting your own browser on your proprietary device, you don't see people suing Motorola for only including their own proprietary cell phone browser on their phones do you? If you are so worried about this then outsource the manufacturing of the browser, that way no fingers can point your way. Just give me my browser on my TV like everyone else has been doing, and I'll be happy with that.

So there you have it, 3 key places where Xbox has fucked it up and refuses to innovate their product instead choosing to change the dashboard into a mix between itunes media browsing and Nintendo Mii's. Thanks Microsoft, if you can't beat them, join them right?