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To buy or not to buy?

posted on May 2nd, 2006 by fil

The Xbox 360 is now abundantly available at whatever retailer you choose to support.

What I’m saying is, right now, you can walk into your local wherever and purchase a brand new Xbox 360. No eBay, no scalpers, no friend of a friend. Just plain old retail. The question right now, is of course, should you buy an Xbox 360? Is availability enough? Do you climb Mount Everest just because it’s there?

That’s a question you’ll have to answer.

Also, there are a few things you need to consider before you buy your 360.

Look at the games, first of all. Is there anything there that you have to play? Anything there that isn’t already multiplatform. Will you no longer possess the will to live if you cannot play RockStar Games presents Table Tennis? With other platforms, this is a no brainer. I bought a GameCube for Wind Waker, and a PS2 for all the music games that keep managing to make it to this shore. The 360 has a shortage of flagship or exclusive titles, and as a result, the library seems weak at this point and time. Once the developers start flexing the 360 hardware, the library will be an entirely different animal altogether. Graphics will start to look like they are truly “next generation,” the live integration will be tighter, and developers will start to take risks, which means different kinds of games.

Math is even more fun if it’s on drugs.

Is there a financial issue you need to consider? I mean, you are about to drop four hundred dollars, and that is before you purchase games. Of course, you can always buy a bundle and “save” some money. Oh, and by the way, games cost ten dollars more for this generation. That’s sixty dollars a game. Just as a comparison, Tomb Raider Legend was forty dollars on the PC. Twenty dollars cheaper. Sure, I won’t be able to play it on my HDTV, but it’s the same game. Which of course, leads me to the next thing you should consider.

Do you have a High Definition Television? All 360 games support HD output. I’m not saying you need to buy an HDTV in order to play games with a 360, but once you’ve seen them in on a thirty two inch widescreen format HDTV, it’s hard to go back to composite cables on a nineteen inch tube. And don’t get me started on 5.1 surround sound. A decent television and home theater setup is going to cost you quite a bit of money. While HDTV and 5.1 Surround Sound aren’t necessary to play games on the 360, they are how the games were envisioned.

Another thing to consider is, are you ready to be an early adopter? This is the first revision of the hardware. There will be others. As they work out tiny little kinks like overheating, the next model number of the Xbox 360 should be sturdier, cooler, more stable and less likely to consume you in green fire. As a comparison, the PlayStation 2 is on its fourteenth hardware version. No, really. They just don’t announce that they’re fixing problems with the hardware. That would be admitting that problems existed in the first place. Possible upcoming upgrades for the 360 are a larger hard drive and HD-DVD playback.

Are you connected to the internet? I mean, obviously, you are, considering you are reading this. Are you ready to run an ethernet cable behind your entertainment center and integrate the 360 into your home network? If you do not, you will be crippling a critical component of your 360, which is the Xbox Live Marketplace. In the Marketplace, game demos, trailers, music videos, and complete games are available for download. That means you don’t have to leave the couch. Games delivered right to your hard drive. Welcome to the 21st century. One of the best games for the system, Geometry Wars, isn’t available in stores. You can only buy it on the Marketplace. And seriously, if you’re not in on this “internet thing” you might want to get on it, post haste. I hear it’s going to be huge. Besides, it’s required for Xbox Live, which is a main component of the next question, possibly the most important one.

Do you enjoy competition? Do you like to compete with your friends, maybe strangers? The integration into Xbox Live is a significant factor. Every 360 has Live. Period. Provided you have broadband, you can do with following with basic Live membership:

– Create your gamer profile
– Create and maintain a friends list
– Access Xbox Live Marketplace including Xbox Live Arcade, demos, and trailers
– Send and receive text and voice messages

A look at the wide variety of original and exciting titles will make you run to the store to buy the 360. Why, there’s that racing game you already have, and the basketball game with new rosters, and the sequel to that racing game you already have…

That’s a lot of stuff. The gamerprofile is the main reason I want a 360. Your gamerprofile contains your gamerscore, which awards points based on achievements “in game.” Every game has achievements. Playing Bejeweled on your 360 can earn you points, just as playing Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter can earn you points. Everytime I look at my profile, I compare my gamerscore with the people on my buddy list. If I’m behind on points, I think of ways that I can get ahead. Maybe I can get just a little bit further than in Need for Speed Most Wanted, or get a higher score in Geometry Wars, or get further in Survival mode in Dead or Alive 4. I was raised in the Street Fighter II combat pits in the arcades of the eighties, so competition is an essential part of gaming for me. It has somewhat died down with the rise of home consoles, but I can see it being part of my future once again with Xbox Live and the 360.

It’s a brilliant strategy.

So, after answering those questions truthfully, do I have a 360 in my household? At the moment no. In the future? In the words of the magic eight ball, “It is certain.”

Which doesn’t mean that I’m not gaming on a 360. I bought a memory card to hold my 360 profile and save games. Whenever I go to a friend’s house, I log in to my profile and save my achievements, scores, and save games. When the time comes, I will purchase a 360, and all of my stats and progress will come with me. This strategy, of course, is dependent on whether or not any of your friends are ignoring the advice given in this article.

I would recommend not pointing it out to them, but I am sort of a bastard.

Bottom line, I’d say it’s a fine time to know a friend that’s got a 360, but I would hold out for a few more months before I would become an owner.

Besides, you can save up for an HDTV and a home theater in that time, right?

5 Comments

  1. J.Mintuck said on May 2, 2006:

    I may be buying an xbox 360 in the future as soon as price does drop.

    I have a blog of articles and stuff for all you 360 ers to come look over
    http://xbox360mad.blogspot.com/

  2. Dan said on May 2, 2006:

    I personally am an X-box sympathizer. I know they do not have many flagship games, but damn, I have to say they have got one hell of a game in Halo, even if it is a frat-house favorite. That fact, and the others that fil brings up in his article, is why I will (“maybe someday in dreamland” is the better thing to say here after a quick check of my bank account) buy a 360. The main point I want to say that if one is going to buy the system, buy the insurance for it. It has saved my friends with 360s quite a bit of money. Sure, it might explode after a while, but that does not really matter if Microsoft will send you a new one for just a little more money upfront.

  3. Fil said on May 2, 2006:

    Right after I submitted this to Jay, of course they announce processor upgrades for the 360 in 2007. http://www.engadget.com/2006/04/21/new-xbox-360-cpu-should-run-cooler/

    On the games front: If/When Halo 3 is released, I’ll start to feel the pressure. Until then, there are plenty of games to play now on the other systems.

  4. Stefan said on May 2, 2006:

    I hate to say it Dan, but that comment didn’t really make me want a 360.

    Halo is a great FPS, but so are a lot of others I already own…and having to insure my consoles against spontaneous firey self-murder just leaves me a bit nervous.

  5. Golden Jew said on May 2, 2006:

    Early adoption sucks, unless you have unlimited money. What sucks more is we’re going to have to wait at least 2 more years before ANY of the next gen systems are worth buying. Hooray.

    This is why I’m a PC gamer first.

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