You may have noticed that I never talk about Xbox-exclusive games. It’s not that I don’t (didn’t, rather) enjoy the game’s exclusive titles. I used to be a big fan of Halo and Gears of War, and if you really plumb my archives (please don’t), you can even find a horrible post about the Halo 3 beta circa 2007.
I would love to play Xbox games—the problem is that the Xbox 360 is the worst console ever made, bar none. This is my story.
My family got our first Xbox 360 in early 2006, not long after its launch. We bought it mostly anticipating the release of Phantasy Star Universe, which would be and still is my brother Victor’s favorite game of all time. But right in the beginning, our first game, IIRC, was Dead Rising possibly followed by Enchanted Arms.
Foolishly, the first time we bought an Xbox 360, we didn’t buy a warranty to go with it. The Red Ring of Death was not a known thing yet, nor was anything else that could go wrong with the console. Ours started having errors and eating games in the span of about 2 FUCKING WEEKS. Since my dad hadn’t bought a warranty, and none of us were smart enough to contact Microsoft, he traded the console in and had to pay another hundred bucks to buy a new console, with the warranty.
But our problems were far from over. Some time later, our second Xbox 360 started eating games. What do I mean by this? A game would freeze, and then a strange sound would come out of the system, as if the disk had been displaced inside the console. It would take a few tries to get the disk drive open, and when it did open, the game would have rings of deep scratches on it. This left the games almost unplayable; if we could get the game running, it would still freeze eventually, and always at the same point. I believe our first copies of Gears of War and Phantasy Star Universe were both ruined this way. I know for sure that Victor had to buy a new copy of PSU at some point.
This time we had a warranty, so we were able to get a new console, no problem. Our third Xbox 360 lasted about a year before it got the dreaded Red Ring of Death.
At this point, we were well aware of the red ring, and the policy that you could send the console to Microsoft in exchange for a brand new one. So, after a forty-minute phone call to someone in India and nearly two months of waiting, our fourth and final Xbox 360 (to date) arrived. Don’t let “final” imply that this story has a happy ending.
The final Xbox 360 lasted a couple of years before it caved. It was late 2010, and a friend and I were playing through Halo: Reach on co-op, Legendary difficulty. We were having a blast, and it was starting to make up for how shitty the game had felt on single-player—until the console red ringed and I wasn’t even surprised.
For the next year and a half, we just stopped playing the 360. We never found the energy to go through the process of sending it in again—and besides, we’d barely been buying any games for it at the time. Most of the good shit was cross-platform, and it seemed obvious that the PS3 was the way to go, being as it doesn’t run the risk of eating games and dying.
But in 2012, out of a mix of nostalgia and watching random youtube videos, we found out about a supposed temporary solution to the red ring problem. Apparently, by turning the system on and then wrapping it in towels, causing it to generate a fuckload of heat, it could somehow reverse the curse. We saw no reason not to give it a shot.
And it worked! At least, it seemed to. I played some Reach on co-op (shitty) again for about an hour, and it went off without a hitch. But later, I tried to play Gears of War, and the game kept freezing on me early into the first level. It didn’t seem to be a problem with the console, since it happened repeatedly at the same moment, and there were no red rings going around. In any case, I continued to distrust the console.
Tonight, I decided I wanted to play some good ol’ Halo 1, and get all nostalgic about some shit I’ve largely forgotten about for six years. I stole my TV back from Victor and hooked everything up, but the cords didn’t want to cooperate with the TV. The AV cords wouldn’t work at all. The component cords worked, but there was no sound. (And before you ask, yes, I made sure they weren’t in the wrong places.)
Having no sound in a shooter is shitty, but I figured I could make up for it by getting ultra-nostalgic and putting on System of a Down, which we used to always listen to while playing versus mode. It took me a minute to get the wireless controller and console to recognize one-another (I forgot about the signal button on the console, since on the PS3 you only need the controller button), and once they did, I realized with horror that there was a half-second lag due to playing on an HD TV.
Nevertheless, I started the game up on Heroic, skipped all the cutscenes, and started running around the ship. As expected, the lag and lack of sound were sucky, but for some reason I just wanted to play on through it. I might have played the whole first level like that even, were it not for the game freezing on me right as I got into the first gunfight room.
Victor keeps the PS3 on top of his computer, which sits on the floor in his room. The other day, our brother Shade was playing Dark Souls, and I accidentally knocked the PS3 from its upright position into a sitting position. The game kept right on playing like nothing happened. I stood it back up while he was playing, incredulous all along. You can knock a PS3 or Wii on its side and it doesn’t even matter, but an Xbox 360 will just break down and start eating games for no fucking reason.
Look, the PS2 was a stupid console. I’ve had two original PS2s give out on me when their lasers stopped working correctly. For the past six years I’ve had a PS2 slim (still use it because our PS3 isn’t backwards-compatible), and it sometimes gets finicky—but as it turns out, the thing actually runs better when you turn it upside down. The disk is so fucking secure inside the console that turning it upside down is a viable solution to issues, whereas the 360 can’t hold a game right even standing correctly.
I have a friend’s Super Nintendo in my house which has been operating since the early 90s. I’ve got a Pikachu N64 which still works after thirteen years. My Gamecube is literally caked with filth in every single crevice, and even under the lid (our Gamecube saw a lot of abuse), and it STILL FUCKING WORKS. The thing had orange soda spilled on it when my brother was six years old, and he didn’t even wipe it off. It’s seen hell.
I wouldn’t mind owning a working Xbox 360, but I can’t bring myself to consider investing in a console that I know has a fucking ridiculous failure rate. One of my friends has a slim which has been working for four years or so, but the idea of paying for a new system just so I can play my old games, several of which are questionably playable thanks to the efforts of past consoles, is sickening. Plus, I’ve got enough PS3 and PC games to keep me occupied for a long time.
So, that’s the reason you won’t ever see me talking about Xbox games here unless someone gives one to me.