I (correctly) didn’t think that I’d have enough video games on consoles I already own to get me through the holiday break, so I got an Xbox 360 a couple of weeks ago. Some notes:

  • I messed up a couple of cables when installing; probably because I’m conditioned to think that they’re all broken, it took me a little while to find my mistakes. (A misleading bit in the manual didn’t help.) Works fine, though.
  • The initial games that I bought for it: Beautiful Katamari, Mass Effect, and Portal. I imagine I’ll try the other four games that are packed in with the latter, too; other games that I expect to try soon are Bioshock and Eternal Sonata.
  • I spent too much time typing on virtual keyboards when setting it up, but at least that’s a one-time thing.
  • I paid the money for a gold Xbox Live account; not sure how much I’ll use it, but since online features seems to be one of the defining things that the console does better than the others, I figured I might as well give it a try. My username (sorry, “gamertag”) is “malvasia bianca”; if any of my blog readers also have accounts, please let me know.
  • You can see my vast number of achievements on my gamercard. As far as I can tell, there’s no way for you to see my actual achievements without having an account of your own; I’m under the impression that this is my public page, for a narrow definition of “public”.
  • As far as I can tell, the support for multiple users on the same console is pretty bad. I guess the right way to handle that is to create multiple Xbox Live accounts? And if we all want to do online multiplayer with separately tracked stats, we have to fork over fifty bucks a person a year? Seems a bit much. I like the Wii’s idea of just giving everybody a Mii; I only wish more games used them. (Of course, using them as your character in the game is rarely appropriate, but just using them to identify your save file, as Super Mario Galaxy does, is a great idea.)
  • The interface is rather busy, and has ads; I much prefer the Wii’s simplicity. (At least at the top level of the interface.) Though the two interfaces are trying to do different things; I haven’t really thought about what that means.
  • It came with a bunch of preloaded content on the hard drive, mostly demos but also some videos and one (bad) full game.
  • I can easily imagine myself getting hooked on trying out demos (I went to the store and downloaded several more), and switching over to having that be a big way in which I evaluate games for purchase; I can also imagine playing them just so I have a better idea of what people are talking about, even if I have no intention of buying the game. The existence of downloadable demos seems all to the good to me.
  • The download service has issues, though. On several occasions, it had problems downloading a demo, but it didn’t automatically retry, and marked it in the store as being downloaded. So I had to go out of the store, double check that I didn’t have a copy saved, go back into the store, tell it to download it again, and reassure it that, yes, it’s fine for it to erase the non-existent copy that I’d previously attempted to download.
  • When I add up space for the downloaded content and the free space on my hard drive, it still doesn’t add up to 20GB. Where’s the rest of the space? I’m used to drive numbers not adding up, for various reasons, but this seems excessive. Does it maintain a few gigabytes of free space that games can use as a cache? That would make sense, I guess.
  • I wish it came with a larger hard drive, but I refuse to pay a hundred bucks for an extra 100 gigs of disk space.

I’m happy so far, and I’ll have to be disciplined for the next few weeks to stop playing Mass Effect at a reasonable time of night lest I turn into a zombie at work. Team members, if you see me yawning in the daily standup, feel free to chastize me…

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