Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Xbox 360: Week Three

First, a recap: I got an Xbox 360 three weeks ago, but didn't have a way to connect it to the internet, so I came up with three potential solutions: really long wire, another hole in the wall courtesy Time Warner, or wireless internet. Eventually, I decided on the most practical solution with the most benefits: wireless internet. This was also the solution with the highest cost, of course, when you include the price of the wireless adapter that you need to hook up to the Xbox 360. I got a used adapter online for about $60 (retail is $99). Add to that the cost of the wireless router ($35), a 12-month Xbox 360 Live membership so that I can play against friends online ($40 - gamertag is "caiman48", in case any of you actually care), a USB flash drive upon which to store Xbox 360 downloaded content ($15 - this wasn't absolutely necessary, but was if I wanted to download any demos or games), and of course, the games ($65 spent on games so far, my latest purchase being a multiplayer arcade game called Castle Crashers that is popular among some of my friends), and you can start to see why I dragged my feet on this for so long. I knew the cost of the Xbox 360 console itself would only be the beginning.

But now that I've spent the money, it's time to get the most out of my Xbox 360, darn it. That means doing more than just playing hockey, football, and/or Rock Band (which I don't have yet...I'm saving that for the summer) on my own. If that's all I wanted to do with the 360, I wouldn't have bothered with the wireless internet, and I certainly wouldn't have gotten that darn "Xbox Live" membership. Part of the reason I got this thing was an attempt to "relive my college years" by playing games online against my friends from high school and/or college. (Yes, Erik had a slight hand in convincing me to get one of these things.) Haven't really had a whole lot of time to do that so far, but once curling and kickball wind down (curling ends for the most part next week, kickball the week after that), I'll have more time for fun and games. I promise.

Here's my take on online gaming. I'm not all that big on playing against complete strangers. In general, complete strangers are either jerks, about ten times better at said game than I am, or both. I used to do a lot of online racing (NASCAR, etc.) against complete strangers, and I was fairly decent at that. But for various reasons, I stopped and focused on "offline" racing. The three primary things that steered me away (no pun intended) from online racing: earlier bed times (online participation doesn't peak until well after 9 PM Eastern), impatience (most of the time, you log onto a race server, then wait around for 15 to 30 minutes for the race to start - boooring), and of course, people who are completely full of themselves. So, basically, I prefer my video gaming to be in a controlled environment - either going solo, or with at least one person I actually know outside the video game world.

One thing you can do with the Xbox 360 is get a headset/microphone sort of deal - oh, right, that was another $10 - and talk to your friends while they beat you at whatever video game you happen to be playing. We gave this a go last week. Cool? Yes. But given that my on-the-phone conversation skills aren't all that great, and that's basically what this amounts to...still a little awkward. Should I say something? Is someone else about to speak? Does everyone else think I'm talking too much? Am I saying too many dumb things? And Amber has fun distracting me sometimes. And if I say something to her, everyone hears it! I guess what I'm saying is that the whole headset thing is going to take some getting used to. I might also have to adjust my timing a little. Most of the video gaming I do now takes place before 7 PM (it's usually an after work, before dinner activity), but just like with the racing games, most online gaming takes place after 9 PM.

This Xbox 360 story is far from over, but for'll have to wait. Kickball Wednesday, curling Thursday, out of town Friday and Saturday, curling again Sunday.


James Allen said...

What other games have you played or are thinking about playing/getting? I could suggest some if they also appeared on the PC (which, in many cases, they have since the two share similar properties), if you provide genres you'd be interested in playing (first person shooter, action, racing, strategy, RPG, adventure, what have you)

Chris Allen said...

Hmm...beyond the occasional sports game, Rock Band 2 or similar (complete with drumset), and various cheap multiplayer games, haven't really thought about it. I think I can rule out FPSs and RPGs, though.

For racing games - particularly, sim racing games - I'll probably stick with the PC. I will probably get F1 2010 for the PC soon after it's released, whenever that is (pending your inevitable review).

James Allen said...

I think they make wheels for the Xbox 360, although true racing simulations are rare. F1 2010 might be as close as you can get on there (September release date, by the way). Forza is apparently good (for a console racing game). And I like DiRT 2.

PC has rFactor, Live for Speed, the GTR/RACE series, ARCA SimRacing, iRacing, etc etc etc.

I hate playing FPSs using a gamepad.

Despite the evilness of Metacritic, they do have a good list of recent games (sort the recent releases by score on the left side):
Anything >=80 would be good there.

Most games probably have a demo on the Xbox marketplace to check them out first.