If any of the weekly updates get delayed, here’s the reason:
Not pictured: My new copy of Bioshock. Big thanks to my sister, my brother-in-law, my mom, my in-laws, Geralyn, and Google for giving the money to buy this as a birthday present.
Having had some time to play around with the Xbox 360, I’m pretty impressed and forced to admit that I probably should have saved up some more money and bought one instead of buying a Nintendo Wii last year. The 360 looks really good on my big HDTV, with true HD graphics instead of just widescreen. Bioshock in particular looks fricking fantastic. It sounds great, too, with things blaring through my 5.1 surround sound system.
What gave me the biggest, pleasant surprise, though was the content and features that one gets after connecting the 360 to a local area network and going online. In addition to online matchmaking from Xbox Live (which I haven’t even had occasion to try out), Xbox Marketplace offers a ton of stuff like movies (as in, entire movies you can buy and download), trailers, game demos, and more. There’s enough free stuff there to keep me occupied for quite a while, and tons more if you want to pay for the good stuff.
Of course, I can hear you saying “Yeah, I already have a machine that can download trailers, demos, and movies from the Internet. It’s called a computer.” And you’d have a point, even if you were being a bit condescending about it. But I didn’t buy the 360 to download stuff, even putting aside the fact that you can’t download Xbox 360 demos or games on a PC. I bought it for the games, and for the guarantee that when I pop a disk into the Xbox’s tray and press “Start” I KNOW the damn thing is going to work and that it’s going to work as advertised. I got sick of not having that guarantee with my PC.
This is actually the terminus of a long slide from PC gaming to console gaming that started in 2001. I bought a PC game called “Tribes 2” after seeing impressive movies and screenshots. I even saw it run on some people’s machines at work. When I got home and loaded it on my middle of the road machine, though, it choked and chugged when any of the graphics settings were raised above rock bottom. It also had bugs and performance issues even then. So I went out and bought a Sega Dreamcast, my first console I’d owned since my old Atari 2600.
Now this was a big deal for me, since i had ALWAYS been a PC gamer. I’ll spare you the usual attempts at geek cred, but suffice to say I grew up playing Wizardry and Ultima games on my Apple ][ Plus, and it was my experiences with and writing about games like Quake and Unreal Tournament that landed me a brief career inside the gaming industry with GameSpy. I could rattle off tons of games for which I have great nostalgia and great affection and they’d most be PC games –Grim Fandango, Battlefield 1942, NOLF, Warcraft II, Counter-Strike, Baldur’s Gate 2, Planescape, Starcraft, Doom, Age of Empires, World of Warcraft, Quake, Half-Life, SimCity, System Shock 2, Team Fortress Classic, The Sims, etc. You get the idea.
But enough was enough. Scenarios like the one above with Tribes 2 kept happening, and I kept playing more console games. I just got sick of not knowing if a game was going to run on my machine, or how well it was going to run. Or if it would crash. And upgrading a computer can be really expensive, even if you know enough to just do it piecemeal and assemble it yourself.
The final straw was when the demo for the PC version of Bioshock, a game by one of my favorite development teams, wouldn’t even run on my computer because I didn’t have some fancy pants video card. I decided to cut the PC upgrade cycle off at the knees and put the money towards an Xbox 360 instead. I did so, bought the Xbox version of Bioshock, and it runs great. Especially with the online and high definition capabilities of the current generation of consoles, there just wasn’t enough good reasons to put up with PC gaming’s flaws any longer.
I won’t say anything stupid like “PC Gaming is doomed!” World of Warcraft alone has guaranteed that there’s going to be some market for PCs, and there are some genres, like real-time strategy games, that just won’t work well on consoles. And I won’t say that I’ll never buy another PC game –I’m actually enjoying the hell out of Team Fortress 2 on my PC right now, in fact. But I can say that it’ll be a long time before I upgrade my PC again, and when I do it probably won’t be to play games.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll even buy a Mac. 🙂
Oh, and by the way, my Xbox Live gamertag is “hjmadigan.”