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XBox (Games)

Impressions From A Second Shipment 360 Owner 427

Posted by Zonk
from the meant-to-imply-an-in-drawn-breath dept.
I try to look for the best in every situation. In the grand scheme of things, getting bumped from the first shipment of pre-ordered Xbox 360s to the second wasn't the end of the world. Indeed, it allowed me to focus on launch news and information, posting stories for the games page and absorbing the mood of early adopters. The reports that came back were mixed, with occasional technical difficulties and tepid gameplay marring the first next-gen launch. Overall though, gamers seemed to be pleased with their purchases. When my local game store called to let me know my console was in, I bit the bullet and swiped the plastic. Today I have for you a rundown on what it's like to go where others have gone before. Read on for my impressions of the Xbox 360 experience after a month of retail sales and a week of gameplay.
While I don't feel the need to bore you with pictures of the packaging, the out-of-the-box experience is attractive and intuitive. It only took a few moments to set things up before I was working with the setup wizard. As per the copious recommendations across the internet, I made sure that the console's power brick was not on the carpet once the system was in place. The bottom of my entertainment center has wire shelving, and the free flow of air around the brick has so far allowed my 360 to be glitch-free. It is, unfortunately, as large as everyone says it is. Pulling the massive thing out of the box, I had a flash of a bad bumper-sticker: "My second console is my 360 power brick." The cables are all surprisingly lengthy, with a nice long piece of cat5 cable making the trip to my router with more slack than the one I was using for my Xbox. One important consideration: If you're fortunate enough to be using your console with an HDTV, make sure and flip the switch on the component cable before you start up the console. It's set by default to 'TV', and if you want to experience the HD signal right away you're going to want that switch flipped. With everything plugged in and set properly I hit the large central button on the controller, and the console whirred to life.

The setup wizard asked for little more than the time zone and my Passport account. The Live account I had with the Xbox was still in good standing, putting me into the 'gold' version of the Live system. This apparently allows me the opportunity to get to some additional content, and make use of the Trueskill ranking system we reported on a while back. The only annoying part of the setup was the grueling process of entering my email address and password. Selecting letters from an on-screen keyboard seems like a good idea until you start entering your 32-character-long email address. As a final touch I was asked my preferences for controls in FPS and Driving titles. I don't know why, but I like inverted look on console games. It just works better for me. By entering the setting on my Live account, every FPS I play on the 360 will use that setting by default.

Setup completed, I had my first look at the 360 'blade' system. The interface for the console is a series of screens arranged in an interlocking pattern of tabs, or blades. Flipping between the different screens is as easy as moving the thumbstick. It's a remarkably intuitive and clean interface, and really hits home the 'next-gen' feel of the console. First thing, I hopped into the Live Marketplace and purchased some Microsoft Points. As much as I was looking forward to playing Call of Duty 2 and King Kong, I'd heard such good things about the downloadable game experience that I wanted to check them out right away. I also wanted to snag the Penny Arcade Skins and gamer portraits. These games and downloadables were purchased with the Points, which are Microsoft's way of putting an additional step between users and their credit cards. Parents who don't want their kids racking up bills via Live can purchase pre-paid Point cards in stores, ala the time cards for a MMOG. You can also buy them directly through Live if you have a credit card on file. They sound like more of a deal than they are, unfortunately. Game downloads range from about 400 to about 800 Points, and right now Live is offering 1000 Points for $12.50 (or $.05 for four points). You can buy about three games then, give or take, for $25.00. A steal compared to most console titles, but not as inexpensive as you might like. Theme packs that re-skin your blades run about 150 Points, and packs of icons for your GamerTag are about 50 Points. There are exceptions, of course. The Penny Arcade icon packs each have several icons to choose from, and cost 200 Points. Expensive, but Mr. Period was worth the $2.50.

The downloadable games are wide-ranging in playstyle, and offer something for just about everyone. Classic titles like SmashTV, and Joust sit beside modern hits like Zuma and Bejeweled. There are also brand new and indie titles, like Geometry Wars Retro Evolved and Wik: Fable of Souls. The console also comes with a shiny puzzle game already unlocked for you, called Hexic. Hexic has you rotating groups of three colored blocks, seeking to make groups of same-colored shapes. It's not the most brilliant puzzler ever, but it is good looking and is something to kill time with if you're not interested in downloading anything. Which would be a shame, because all of the games in the Live Marketplace offer up free trials. The cost is the time to download, and the reward is the chance to recall just how badly you played the original Gauntlet. The Live title I've gotten the most enjoyment out of is Geometry Wars Retro Evolved. Originally a simplistic little extra on Project Gotham Racing 2, Geometry Wars has been reinvisioned for the Live Marketplace. It's a beautiful old-school shooter in the style of Asteroids, with a lot of attitude. There are over a dozen enemy types, several blaster styles, and loads of extremely challenging gameplay. I've accomplished the 'get 100,000 points' Achievement, but only just. Even then, as of this writing I'm number 16,618 on the Geometry Wars leaderboard. Judging by the leaders on the leaderboard, the game is not only challenging but addictive as well.

That Geometry Wars Achievement is one of the easier ones to obtain for that title, most of them centering on surviving for prolonged periods of time. They're somewhat simplistic, given the nature of the game, but every game has their own style of Achievement. Xbox Live Achievements are 'Kilroy was here' moments in games made for the Xbox 360. Every title is required to have some, and it varies from game to game how many there are and how hard it is to obtain them. Call of Duty 2, for example, hands you one for completing Basic Training but then denies you additional kudos until you've beaten large parts of the game. Kameo, on the other hand, gives you an Achievement every time you obtain another Elemental Warrior (which happens relatively frequently). They're viewable through your GamerTag, and are an interesting way to check in and see how far your friend has made it through a given title.

One of the benefits of waiting a month before purchasing my 360 was knowing what games to get and what titles I could safely avoid. With PDZ mostly snagging 8/10s, I decided to pick up Call of Duty 2 instead as my launch-title FPS. Jack Black and Peter Jackson was just too appealing to me to pass up (not to mention the big monkey), so I grabbed King Kong as well. Kameo's colorful visuals and morphing gameplay also seemed very appealing, and I chose that as my third launch title.

Call of Duty 2 (CoD 2) has earned its reputation as the cream of the 360 launch title crop. The game powerfully recaptures the thrill of the original title, placing you in the shoes of a grunt on the Russian, British, or American fronts of World War II. Gameplay is fast-paced and finely honed, with a control scheme that for the first time feels effortless to this PC gamer. The 360 controller, overall, has a wonderful feel to it. It's not even as large as the S-type Xbox controller, and the thumbsticks are incredibly responsive. I've always had some 'user-related issues' playing FPS titles on the console, but the 360 controller feels extremely natural in my hands. Call of Duty 2 makes use of every button on the controller, and the schema feels very intuitive once you've gone through basic training. The game not only plays well, but looks terrific too. I wasn't sure what exactly to expect when I first began playing a 360 title (as still images just don't do next-gen games justice), but I have been extremely impressed. CoD 2 lives, breathes, and clips along at 60 frames per second without blinking. The snowy enivrons of Russia, the ice crusted to the fringe of my commander's longcoat, and the billowing emissions of a smoke grenade all come together to form an immersive experience. If I had to choose a 'best of' element for Call of Duty 2, it would be the AI. German soldiers dive for cover, snipe from afar, and use suppression fire to support their troop movements. Your Russian squad-mates call out enemy positions in simple and understandable terms. They have your back if you run out of ammo, and keep the baddies under cover as you sprint towards your next objective. Call of Duty 2 is easily the finest launch title the 360 has to offer.

The 360 version of King Kong has been in the news recently because of some darkness issues. While it is indeed very dark, on an HD screen the light is more than sufficient to make out the creepy-crawlies coming in your direction. King Kong plays mostly like an action-adventure FPS, with you in the role of writer Jack Driscoll. Driscoll and a motley crew of movie-makers make their way through the creepy enivrons of Skull Island. Originally on the island just for the scenery, the game quickly becomes a race after the giant ape Kong who has stolen leading lady Ann. The primitive environment plays a role in the game's story and gameplay. While ammo is plentiful in some FPS titles, Kong has you relying on periodic supply drops from a low flying plane. Once you're out of ammo, you're reduced to using spears as weapons against the giant centipedes, dinosaurs, and flying harpy-things that plague your every step. Kong has a lot of atmosphere, and even on normal mode is fairly challenging. My biggest complaint with the title is the occasional puzzle element. Doors must be opened via a pair of rotating gate mechanisms, and at various points in the game you're required to find the handle for one or both of these mechanisms. Looking for a small handle in a large outdoor space with variable lighting is, regrettably, not very fun and serves mostly as a way to add time to the game. The 'best of' element is definitely the infrequent sequences where you get to play as Kong. The sheer power he displays, compared to the squishiness of Jack Driscoll, makes for a refreshing change of pace as you progress through the game. Kong is only so-so as FPS titles go, but when at its best it offers some beautiful vistas , scary moments, and "omgdinosaurz" gameplay.

Kameo has gotten a lot of mixed reviews since the 360 launched, and with good reason. On one hand, it has beautiful cartoony graphics. The world evokes a sense of wonder, and the characters that inhabit the various realms are all kind of goofy-looking. On the other hand, it's a violent game with a decent amount of gore. Splattering bugs and plant-monsters tosses a green goo at the screen, which slides down the inside of your television screen. One elemental warrior has a move that impales enemies on his back, and then uses them as thrown weapons. A forgettable plot doesn't help things, either. Kameo was living a fulfilling life as a princess when her sister went black hat and released the evil Troll King. They capture your family and strip you of your powers, and you're off on a crusade to get everything back. There are some amusing story elements that complicate things a bit, like a conniving seer with aspirations of power, but for the most part the game plays out exactly as you'd imagine. You move from place to place in the game world, collecting warriors and freeing your family members. Each Elemental Warrior offers up specific abilities that can be used to circumvent obstacles. The plant-boxer can dive into the ground to move under gates, the dragon-form can light torches with his breath weapon, and the rolling armadillo-guy Major Ruin can use his rush attack to leap chasms. Despite the predictable plot, there is fun to be had, here. Once you have a few warriors under your belt gameplay gets switched up relatively often, requiring you to recognize what form will work best fairly frequently. Combat itself is quick and mostly satisfying, and each warrior has a bevy of upgradable powers to play with. The problem really boils down to who exactly this game is for, though. The graphics say young player, the violence says teenager, and the spine-gratingly annoying 'helper' says functional imbecile. Even halfway through the game your hand is still being held with regard to power use and puzzle-solving, and it gets more than a little annoying sometimes. Kameo is interesting from a uniqueness point of view, but probably isn't worth it unless the art style and morphing premise really appeal to you. Regrettably, they are about all the game has to offer.

My experiences with the 360, even disappointing moments with Kameo, have been overwhelmingly positive. Even while falling to my death because of a wonky camera in Kameo or getting eaten for the fifth time by a giant centipede in King Kong, there's a level of polish to these launch titles that surprised me. I'm not sure I'd agree with J. Allard when he claimed the 360 has the 'best launch lineup ever', but at least the titles that I chose to purchase all have elements worth exploring. The console itself has also surprised me. A slick interface and effortless simple online components make this the first box I've really enjoyed just futzing with. The Marketplace is a powerful selling point, and the games up for offer are well worth looking into. They're constantly adding content as well, ensuring that stopping in at the Live component is almost always a worthwhile sidetrip from whatever game you're playing. Just since the console's launch they've added a Mission Impossible 3 trailer, a Billiards game, and a great PSA from Red vs. Blue. I have been pleasantly surprised by the entire 360 experience, and I might even go so far as to say that I got my money's worth when I purchased the system last week. In these frustrating times of hype and shady customer service, it's hard for me to offer up higher praise than that.

As a final note, you may be interested to know that my Xbox Live GamerTag is 'whoisdialogue'. If you're looking for someone to kick around in CoD multiplayer, I will probably be able to oblige any deep-seated fantasies you may have of shooting a Slashdot editor in the brainpan. See you online.

Update: 12/21 19:55 GMT by Z : Fixed per-point price, because math is hard. Thanks AC.

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Impressions From A Second Shipment 360 Owner

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  • But.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Landak (798221) <Landak@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:36PM (#14311307) Homepage
    The question we all REALLY want to know the answer to is this: How does the xbox 360 power supply brick compare to your electric space heater?
    • Re:But.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:11PM (#14312132)
      I own a 360. This rumour that they are all hot is bullshit. Mine is actually quite cool, compared to any of the PSUs for my laptops. This is stupid Slashdot scaremongering. So a few people got consoles with dodgy RAM and they crash. Big deal, it happens. You ship a few million computers see what happens.
  • by fury88 (905473)
    Same thing happened to me. I put a deposit down back in may with EB when it was $20. I STILL missed the first cutoff by like 2 or 3. I finally got it last week and I am glad I did. My guess is the second shipment was better. My brother-in-law got his during first release and he had to send it back before I even got mine!!
  • $0.80 a point? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:39PM (#14311326)

    Live is offering 1000 Points for $12.50 (or $.80 a point)

    Shouldn't that be $0.0125 a point, or 4 points for a nickel?

  • crashes? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mikkom (714956)
    Does it still crash often? That is my worst fear if I would get the 360.
    • Mine hasn't crashed nor have any of my friends.

      Well, actually i did freeze in PGR 3 once but it was because my daughter was doing something she shouldn't have.

      • Re:crashes? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by terrymr (316118)
        Well, actually i did freeze in PGR 3 once but it was because my daughter was doing something she shouldn't have.

        Sticking paperclips in the ports ? ... otherwise it shouldn't freeze
        • Re:crashes? (Score:3, Funny)

          by cybrthng (22291)
          no.. just beating the crap out of it.. it was on the side and it caused the disk to slip and freeze.

          2 year olds are not good with consoles no matter what brand.
    • Seriously it's going to take longer than a month for hardware fixes to get in place, UNLESS they knew about the problems before they shipped! I doubt they could even get firmware patches in place in a month, it's not like patching a PC. Problems have to be found, ECOs issued, new hardware built & tested (if HW is faulty) and new flash devices created. That doesn't usually happen within a month, especially given that anything arriving this week was probably built 2-3 weeks ago.

      If you want to be sure you
  • by Sofalover (920271) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:41PM (#14311343)
    XBMC > XPMCE Streaming
    • by jcnnghm (538570) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:50PM (#14312430)
      I'd like to expand on this a bit. XBMC is truly a wonderful application, it plays everything I have ever thrown at it, and in the past two years or so has been the number one application I have ran on my XBOX.

      The xbox 360 media playback is somewhere between pathetic and piss-poor. About the only thing they got right is allowing you to stream MP3's over the network to listen to them in game. I haven't been able to find a linux streaming server that will replicate the functionality of Media Connect so I can stream directly from my file server. Media Center coupled with the Xbox 360 will not playback MP3's in a samba share mounted as a drive. I had to copy my MP3 collection to my workstation and stream from that. Because of that, I haven't gotten the ambition to mirror my digital camera collection to my workstation for streaming.

      There is NO video playback without XP Media Center, and I've heard it doesn't support that many formats anyway. I thought Microsoft would have taken a look at XBMC and stolen some of the best features. XBMC can playback media through a number of different formats (I believe nfs, samba, and stream servers) and copes with pretty much everything you throw at it at this point. XBMC can play an ISO of a DVD, fantastic.

      Until the 360 can do at least what XBMC can do, it is both a joke and a failure. I really want to disconnect my original xbox, Microsoft needs to come through with a serious media player.
      • [quote]Until the 360 can do at least what XBMC can do, it is both a joke and a failure. I really want to disconnect my original xbox, Microsoft needs to come through with a serious media player.[/quote]

        By what measure, exactly? Tons of press, fairly good reviews on a relatively large launch library, sold out (well, we can blame that on limited hardware yields), it can play most formats people care about (MP3, unprotected AAC, MPEG2 and most graphic formats), overall well designed hardware and an intuitive
  • Amen (Score:3, Informative)

    by cybrthng (22291) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:41PM (#14311347) Journal
    I couldn't agree more. Gotta love my 360, Xboxlive and the total service package.

    I'm used to large power supplies, my LCD tv has one thats the same size if not bigger, so welcome to the world of big bricks :)

  • Is it only me or are those T-Rex arms out of proportion (too small/thin)? Here are some images for comparison: Google Images [google.com]

    I know, Google Images shouldn't be a reference, but anyway...
  • by nizo (81281) * on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:44PM (#14311368) Homepage Journal
    If you're looking for someone to kick around in CoD multiplayer, I will probably be able to oblige any deep-seated fantasies you may have of shooting a Slashdot editor in the brainpan.

    I still think sniping you through the office window would be easier than getting an Xbox 360 right now however.

  • Keyboard Input (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shaheen (313) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:45PM (#14311370) Homepage
    Zonk said he hated entering in his email address and password with the Xbox 360 virtual keyboard. We understood this problem from Xbox and support USB keyboard input for the Xbox 360 virtual keyboard. Just plug in a USB keyboard at any time and use it while the virtual keyboard is displayed.

    Disclaimer: Microsoft is my employer. This post is provided as-is with no warranty and confers no rights.
    • Re:Keyboard Input (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WankersRevenge (452399) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:04PM (#14311567)
      That sounds very user-friendly ... but of course, such usability is rendered moot when the interface doesn't inform the user about it.
      • Yes. It is hard to remember to read the manual.

        Must the user be hand-held every step of the way now? :-/
    • Re:Keyboard Input (Score:3, Informative)

      by generic-man (33649) *
      I was really impressed with that when I set up the Xbox that the OGS folks bought on day 1 and lent to me for the winter break. I plugged in my wireless keyboard/mouse receiver to the front USB port and was able to type in all the details needed to register for Live. Very slick. Sometimes the arrow keys and ENTER button work as the D-Pad and A button, but sometimes they don't; that was my only beef with the keyboard support. In any case, kudos for supporting existing input devices out of the box.
  • by acvh (120205) <geek.mscigars@com> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:47PM (#14311384) Homepage
    As a confirmed video game junkie I have mixed feelings toward the "next generation" consoles. I don't think that we've really maxed out the current generation yet, especially the xbox, but now we're moving on. The 360 is at a price point that makes it easier for me to Just Say No, at least for now.

    I told my son that we're not getting a new console until at least one of us finishes all the games we own. That should keep us busy until the PS4 or xbox 720 hit.

    • Is your real name Sisyphus [wikipedia.org] perhaps?
    • Re:Good Writeup (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rknop (240417)

      As a confirmed video game junkie I have mixed feelings toward the "next generation" consoles. I don't think that we've really maxed out the current generation yet, especially the xbox, but now we're moving on. The 360 is at a price point that makes it easier for me to Just Say No, at least for now.

      Heh. Yeah, I only got an Xbox after they were $150 and I spent a lot of time rationalizing that it was OK to buy a Microsoft thing. I eventually came up with the dissembling cognitive dissonance-resolver tha

      • Since I'm feeling pedantic, I'll bite. It is not the next Morrowind, and it never has been. Morrowind (TES III) was not the first, (and not the best either from what I've heard) but the third in a series that will be continued by Oblivion, TES IV.
  • Sounds ok... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rwven (663186) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:52PM (#14311439)
    Sounds like it's halfway decent compared to what i initially expected. It's still too expensive for me though. I'll buy it in a couple years when you can get them for 200 bucks... I'm not that into console gaming. I'd rather take a ride down to the range and shoot for REAL. (or boot up my PC and get better controls and better graphics that i don't have to sit on the couch to see) :) The most i've ever spent on a console was 50 bucks for a refurb gamecube at eb games... Other than that, i bought a refurb dreamcast for 30 bucks from eb and my parents bought me a gamegear a long time ago... I'm sure the console will get better with age as more and more stuff becomes multithreaded. Supposedly not one of the games that's out for it now is multithreaded... I'd like to see what happens when games start coming out that ARE.
  • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:55PM (#14311473) Homepage
    Have the heat-related problems been resolved for the second shipment and if not, what is the timeframe for these problems to be fixed?
    • by Zonk (12082) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:59PM (#14311514) Homepage Journal
      I honestly can't tell you. The "random crashing" that I've heard some people report, and the outright failures, haven't happened for me. Whether that's because I have a second shipment unit, or just luck, I can't say.

      I will say, the power brick gets pretty hot. If it was just lying on the carpet, I may have the same heating problems others have reported. By putting it on the open wire mesh of my entertainment unit, I have a lot of air moving over it. So far I haven't had so much as a stutter or slowdown.
      • I was hearing that only 3 - 5% of people were having problems, so you should be able to find tons of people who report having no problems (eg. I'm one of them, mine is on a solid non-carpeted surface, having no problems).
    • Roughly negative ten years. The real problem is the chips that take 100w each, and from now on that's only going to get worse. Hopefully the gadgets will be made more tolerant of high temperatures, but for this gadget and every gadget you buy in the future, you will need to plan carefully for heat disposal.
  • Gamertag (Score:3, Funny)

    by diminico (762785) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:56PM (#14311477)
    I guess he'll find out how well the "Friends" blade area is designed after he gets a few thousand Friend Requests.
  • Whither Marketplace? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:56PM (#14311480)
    One thing I notice in a lot of the X360 reviews is a big exuberance for the Marketplace idea. Having tried it myself, I came away with two impressions: 1. it is very slick and well-designed, probably the nicest UI design MS has ever done; and 2. I wouldn't put my money in that thing in a million years. It sort of frightens me - Passport has always frightened me. And it is uninteresting on the whole, as far as content goes. Retro gaming is cool and all but I'd rather do that on a handheld. The little downloadable games are cute but familiar and overpriced, and paying for stuff like UI skins is quite daft, IMHO. Yeah I like Penny Arcade too but jeezus why does their content cost 4X as much? I do like the bits about player IDs and whatnot but - maybe its just me, but I like to hide behind my online personas when I go to game. I don't necessarily want to be monitored by my friends and whatnot. (Maybe there is a Hide option?)

    So the question is, how much of a value is the X360 if I really couldn't care less about the Live Marketplace? Is it intrinsic to the value of the box or is it a nice add-on? I'm waiting to see what the PS3 can do either way, but if Marketplace is Xbox's 'edge' then its kind of boring. (I have no doubt I will be able to voice-chat and do multiplayer/internet on the Revolution and PS3.)

    • Yes, marketplace is evil in that it can nickel-and-dime you to death, and to some extent is following the ring-tone model that is obviously evil.

      But in other ways, the Xbox 360 arcade part of it is a very, very good thing. If you like arcade games, it might be nice to have things be revamped in high-def with a wireless controller. But more importantly, for the first time, it provides smaller companies an outlet to console gaming. Previously, only well-funded companies that could afford to spend the tim

  • by ShyGuy91284 (701108) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @02:58PM (#14311498)
    I'm not a MS fanboy. I'm more of a linux/Mac fanboy, I should hate Microsoft. I don't like how they buy the best (rare, bungie) from the competition, and how they throw much money at getting their consoles popular (celebrities on the XB 360 revealing special on MTV). But from what I've read/heard, I like the XBox 360.... It seems to be much more then a console, and a big step in the direction of a true "set-top box" that I have always dreamed about. Games, PVR (Idk if you can schedule recordings on your WMC PC though), decent downloadable content, pretty good games.... In terms of what would make a new system good (I don't care if PS3 can do this that XBox 360 can't or vice-versa, they are the same generation, and fundamentally the same graphically), I think the XBox 360 did everything pretty good (other then the power brick overheating). In a similar way some of Nintendo's products or the Dreamcast brought on some pretty shocking default features, XBox seems to have a similar unique and good feature set. I don't have one yet, but I hope to get one soon enough.
  • In all fairness (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argoff (142580) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:02PM (#14311545)
    This is entertainment, the people who were busted in LA for modding and copying XBOX stuff and are facing hard time, that is real life. IMHO, no amount of copying and moding over a game deserves hard time, there is a serious priority problem here, especially considering that it can be argued that they didn't do anything wrong at all. It's sorta hard to get in the spirit of new product launches with things like this going on.
    • Re:In all fairness (Score:2, Informative)

      by wasexton (907707)
      You are somewhat correct...and I would agree with you in saying that the modding of the boxes should not be illegal. However, they also put gigs of pirated games on the drive after modding and that makes it difficult for me to support their position.
    • Re:In all fairness (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2nd Post! (213333)
      They arguably did do something wrong; whether the punishment was just is a different argument.

      They copied 77 games onto harddrives; just because they didn't actually go into Target and take 77 cases from the shelves doesn't stop it from being some sort of theft.
      • Re:In all fairness (Score:4, Informative)

        by argoff (142580) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:46PM (#14311919)

        They copied 77 games onto harddrives; just because they didn't actually go into Target and take 77 cases from the shelves doesn't stop it from being some sort of theft.

        But it does, because theft is about what one looses, not by what one gains. The loss of a sale ... sure ... but that's not a theft in the slightest.

        • Hmmm, so the loss of a sale isn't theft? Therefore the loss of the profit of the sale isn't theft either. Therefore if I take money from you it isn't stealling????

          Or is it that the taking of money from microsoft isn't stealing because they are a large corperation that nobody likes anyway?

          This whole line of argument is useless. Wether it is games, or music or what ever. You cannot say that you aren't stealing, because you are. You are depriving the right holders money, and that is the same as stealing m
          • Re:In all fairness (Score:3, Informative)

            by mgoff (40215) *
            Hmmm, so the loss of a sale isn't theft?

            Exactly. For example, if my boss makes me work late, and a restaurant at which I had planned to eat dinner is closed, it's not theft. "Theft [m-w.com]" and "steal [m-w.com]" have very precise definitions that involve the taking propery that also deprives someone of that property.

            You cannot say that you aren't stealing, because you are. You are depriving the right holders money, and that is the same as stealing money from them.

            Intellectual property crimes are illegal, and they may or m
        • Because theft is about what one loses, the loss of a sale is therefore theft to the seller.

          If you want to argue that copying isn't theft, you also have to agree that any idea you have should be shared for everyone because it isn't theft even if the act of sharing it strips you of the ability to profit from that idea, no matter how brilliant or cool.

          According to the prevalent beliefs of the society at large, these men did something wrong. You may disagree, but that is your right. Just like if I took your cre
    • IMHO, no amount of copying and moding over a game deserves hard time, there is a serious priority problem here, especially considering that it can be argued that they didn't do anything wrong at all.

      Couldn't you make a similar argument about plain old fraud though? To me copying and selling a console or its software is effectively fraud.

      Having said that I do not like the idea of jail for any non-violent crime whatsoever. Unfortunately, I would have trouble backing that up with a solid argument.
  • by donnz (135658) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:06PM (#14311591) Homepage Journal
    The setup wizard asked for little more than the time zone and my Passport account

    I stopped reading (and purchasing) at this point...
    • by interiot (50685)
      You can set up a completely separate passport account for your XBox if you want. Also, AFAIK, you had to do this with your original XBox as well. Also, it has other side benefits, like allowing you to post on online forums with your gametag, and being able to show off your gamercard [xbox.com] to others. This really isn't any different than how it is in the WoW forums [worldofwarcraft.com], where you post with your in-game handle and stats.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:07PM (#14311599)
    Kameo has gotten a lot of mixed reviews since the 360 launched, and with good reason. On one hand, it has beautiful cartoony graphics. The world evokes a sense of wonder, and the characters that inhabit the various realms are all kind of goofy-looking. On the other hand, it's a violent game with a decent amount of gore.

    So where's the negative?

  • How is the music visualizer [llamasoft.co.uk]?
  • (Or where did you steal them from?)
  • by payndz (589033) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @03:46PM (#14311922)
    I'm genuinely curious about this. I have an Xbox (original flavour). Right now, I have no interest in getting a 360 because the software lineup does nothing for me, but that's beside the point.

    What I'm interested in is: if you don't want (or can't access) Live, then is it even worth getting a 360 at all? From TFA, the whole 360 experience seems to be focused on Live from the first time you power up, right down to needing a Passport account. Frankly, I have zero interest in playing against other people online, or buying skins, or getting Gamer Tags or custom icons, or any of that. But since the games appear to revolve around exactly that kind of thing on Live, would it basically mean throwing money away on a game that I'd never see half of?

    • I don't have a 360, but I'm looking to get one at some point when the insanity dies down.

      While it may seem like the focus is on Live, it's not a REQUIREMENT. Live (Gold membership) will track your achievements and show associated bling no your gamercard. You also need Gold to play online against other players. Beyond that, it's not going to get you anything for games that you will only be playing the single player content.

      In short, they've made it a centerpiece for the console experience as a whole, but
  • by Electric Eye (5518) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:18PM (#14312176)
    I don't remember the last time I even fired up my PS2 to play GT4. My Doom 3 CD is still unopened and I bought it nearly a year ago.

    Don't get married.
  • In all fairness (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dhar (19056)
    This is entertainment, the people who were busted in LA for modding and copying XBOX stuff and are facing hard time, that is real life. IMHO, no amount of copying and moding over a game deserves hard time, there is a serious priority problem here, especially considering that it can be argued that they didn't do anything wrong at all. It's sorta hard to get in the spirit of new product launches with things like this going on. ;-)
    -g.
  • by ssstraub (581289) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @06:09PM (#14313036)
    I can't figure out why Microsoft charges for Xbox Live AND why people don't seem to have a problem paying for it?

    • I don't have to pay a monthly for playing my Nintendo DS online.
    • I don't have to pay to play Quake 4 online (or any Quake before it)
    • I don't have to pay to visit Microsoft.com, and download numerous massive files. (Something that I'm convinced takes many more servers and is generally a much higher expense to the company than some game servers.)
    • I am already paying $45/mo for the connection.

    So why is it that people don't even bring up the fact that it costs $20/mo additional to any media costs, hardware costs, and even connection costs just to use Xbox Live?
    • by Shaheen (313) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @09:29PM (#14314294) Homepage
      An Xbox LIVE Gold Subscription costs $50 per year (http://www.xbox.com/en-US/live/memberships/xbox36 0subscriptionplan.htm [xbox.com]). My math is rusty but I believe that is a grand total of ~$5 per month.

      You can pay for Xbox LIVE subscriptions in various ways, but the gold subscription is the most economical.

      Disclaimer: Microsoft is my employer. This post is provided as-is with no warranties and confers no rights.
      • wrong terminology... (Score:4, Informative)

        by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Thursday December 22, 2005 @02:28AM (#14315522)
        Gold is the name of the version of Live which allows you to play against other people online on 360. On Xbox, It was just called "Live". When J Allard said "Live" would be free on 360, he meant Live Silver, which just basically allows you to download updates to buggy games and buy stuff with micropayments.

        Live Gold is not free, just making J Allard's comments technically correct but completely misleading. Anyone hearing the comments would assume that the thing that came free would do what Live allowed you to do, which is play against others online.

        A $50 12 month (actually 13) Gold subscription card is the cheapest way to get Live Gold on 360. There are also 3 month Live Gold subscription cards too, I think they are $20, making it $80/year. You can also get Live Gold month to month, but I think it is $10/mo or some other nonsensical cost.
  • by tillerman35 (763054) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @07:52PM (#14313758)
    Is a network connection mandatory? Because I'm not going to drill a flipping hole in the floor, snake a effin cable up the heating vents, cut a slot in the wall for a workbox, get a face plate with RJ-11 connector, go back to Home Depot, get a face plate with RJ-45 connector, go back to Home Depot, get a crimping tool, go back to Home Depot, get some cat5e cable that's bloody PLENUM rated, crimp fifteen or sixteen jacks on the bloody PLENUM-rated cat5e cable, go back to Home Depot, buy a contractor-pack of 50 friggin RJ-45 connectors and a copy of "Wire Your Home for Teh IntarNets!" snake the first cable out of the wall, break a hole in the wall with a sledge-hammer, find where the first cable is stuck on a 110VAC line, go down to the basement, reset the breaker for the circuit for the room with the 110VAC line, re-run the network with bloody PLENUM-rated cat5e cable, go back to Home Depot, buy a 8'x4' piece of drywall to repair a 1'x1' hole, go back to Home Depot this time with a god-damn friggin bloody flippin list, buy some drywall tape, clips, spackle, sandpaper, a drywall knife, a spatula and a copy of "Home Repairs with Norm Abrams," patch, tape, spackle, and sand the wall, drive halfway back to DAG-NABBIT fripping Home Depot, go back home and get a piece of the old drywall, drive BACK to Home Depot (get the FARK out of my way you bleeping idiot!!! Where'd you get your beeping driver's license, moron?!!), buy a gallon of paint matched to the same color to fix the 1'x1' bare spot, drive home, look for a paint brush, say screw it and use an old sponge and call it "spot faux finishing," try eight different ways to hook up the new X360 to the intarnets, my TV, my cardiac monitor, the on-star system in my car (drive back to Home Depot yourself, you bloody farking machine!), then call my kids downstairs to play a game of Monopoly.

    /just not gonna do it.

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