Xbox 360

By Shamus Posted Monday Jan 5, 2009

Filed under: Video Games 76 comments

It’s kind of odd to like electronic and techno music at my age. It makes me feel like a bit of a poser to be into the stuff the kids are into. I know I’m supposed to be listening to New Order or Bon Jovi as I ride the time’s inexorable tram to the old folk’s home, but I’d rather listen to the Crystal Method than grope for the Glory Days of moody euro pop and guys in makeup. Okay, I’m not about to go to a rave or anything, but I like the new stuff better.

In the same way, I really like the Xbox. I know it’s supposedly a console for foul-mouthed, beer-soaked fratboys, and I’m not about to jump into Halo online and run around pwning things and screaming nonsense at strangers though the headset. But taken out of its purported cultural habitat, it’s a fine machine.

The controller is interesting. I held an original Xbox controller once, and thought it was the most absurd input device since Atari stopped making consoles. It wasn’t just the size of the thing that was wrong, but the overall shape. It felt like an alien device, something for a race of beings with larger palms but shorter fingers. I was afraid of the same thing here, but I found the 360 controller dropped neatly and naturally into my hand. It wasn’t yet familiar, but it fit, and that’s what counts.

Then again, the controller is very close to the Playstation controller. In a lot of ways it is the Playstation controller. Two thumbsticks. Four trigger buttons. Four action buttons. A directional pad. Three housekeeping buttons in the middle, with the center-most button being the great big brand button.


The one thing I don’t understand is the way the thumbsticks are not symmetrical. On the left side, the stick is forward, so when you’re using both sticks the right thumb is in its natural position and the left one is reaching. I’m not saying it’s bad or wrong, but it is odd and I wonder if this decision was made for a reason related to functionality that I haven’t yet uncovered, or if they just did it to be different.

(Different is important. Sony and Microsoft are both calculating, devious creatures. They fight dirty, using trademarks and patents and lawsuits and exclusives to harass and thwart one another every chance they get. They spend a lot of money not improving their product, but in trying to make the other guy’s stuff worse. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Sony held a patent on “symmetric thumbstick technology” or something equally absurd and outrageous.)

Another interesting issue is the orientation of the machine. Both Sony and Microsoft depict their hardware standing upright in all of their promotional materials, but from surfing around I see lots of people who swear that You Should Not Do This. “A good friend” who works at Microsoft told them. Or someone in support. Or they saw “a study, someplace, that one time”. Or they once had their machine vertical, and then it caught fire and bathed their neighborhood in deadly neutron radiation and now they have forsworn the practice and live only to warn others about the Terrible Danger of Vertical Consoles. The vert / horz debate – like every single other aspect of console use – is awash in anger and controversy.

Keeping this many machines cool, powered, tied to a suitable display, and properly ventilated is hard enough with them standing upright. Laying them down compounds this problem, and eats up many acres of desk space. Fearful that there may be some truth to the madness, I have stacked my consoles in the horizontal position, with the PS2 on the bottom, followed by the 360 and then the PS3. The oddball Gamecube would go on top if the Sith working for Sony hadn’t decided to make the top of the unit annoyingly convex. With the white Xbox stuffed between Sony’s black boxes, it looks like a big electronic Oreo. There is enough space between the units for airflow, although I do worry it might be tough to keep them cool like this in the summer. We’ll see.

Naturally there is the ever-present fear of the Red Rings of Death. Once again the internet is an oracle of ambiguity and confusion, with various people telling you a machine will brick itself in the space of six to nine months, and others telling you that the hardware problems are all better now and there’s nothing to worry about. Once again we will have to wait for events to play themselves out before we can know the truth of this.

It’s an interesting machine. Thanks mom. (Yes, I’m 37 years old and my mother got me an Xbox for Christmas. Just great. Now I’ll have to go out and buy new socks and underwear myself.)

Oh, and I guess you’re supposed to share these? Here’s mine, for what it’s worth.

EDIT: A humble request: If you want to friend me in XBL, please introduce yourself in a message. This flood of friend requests from anonymous strangers is starting to feel sort of MySpace-y. It doesn’t need to be l a long note. Just mention the website or the name under which you comment or something simple so I know how you found me.


From The Archives:

76 thoughts on “Xbox 360

  1. Kyle says:

    Congratulations on joining the 360 crowd, Shamus.
    Now all you have to do is get your gamerscore about 10 times that, and you can begin to join the ranks of the ‘real’ gamers.

    Honestly though, some people take things like Gamerscore and Achievements so seriously. I suppose this relates to your last post, in which you lament the lack of cheats for console games.

    We can’t have people cheating to get ahead of others, however, most companies are doing it wrong. All* the Half-Life games have console cheats, but activating them simply disables achievements for you on that save file.

    Of course, this leads to people who take such things far to seriously buying games for the 1000 or so Gamerscore contained within. There are far too many guides out there telling people which games to buy to improve your Gamerscore the quickest.

    Edit: Wow, first!

  2. Gargathor says:

    I bought my 360 in August of 2006. I logged over 500 hours on Oblivion, 100 on Bioshock, and am pushing 200 on Fallout 3. I’ve had no red rings or other problems. I place mine horizontally.

  3. If you go into the Community Games section and buy a game called Being, it’ll make your 360 run faster. (Or it’ll make me $1.75. I can never remember which one of those is the truth.)

  4. mark says:

    I know exactly what happens if your xbox 360 is knocked over onto its side (or even moved onto its side in a motion that is faster than you would move the handle of one of those ‘move-the-metal-loop-on-a-stick-from-one-end-of-the-curvy-wire-puzzle-to-the-other-but-if-it-touches-it-goes-buzz-and-you-have-to-start-again’ game things. (Theres probably a shorter word for that.)

    It scrapes a circular gouge out of your disc.

    First xbox 360 game I owned: halo 3. I was playing it upright, and a housemate comes in and says “woah, dont keep it upright! you’ll only knock it over and ruin your lovely new halo 3 disc!”

    So I grabbed it and laid it flat. *GRRRR-CHK-CHK-CHK!* Halo 3 only works in multiplayer now. (no big loss, I only ever played with freinds, on splitscreen or xbox live, and its probably fixable, see below)

    Second disc to die in such a way was GTA4. And it DIED. The xbox was upright to save space on the floor around the TV. Got kicked over. Huge ring shaped scratch about halfway between the centre and outside edge of the disc.

    After that, it didn’t even load the loading screen before failing back to the dashboard. This saddened me greatly. So I took it to Gamestation.

    I don’t know if you have Gamestation where you are (I live in the UK), but there, they have a mysterious device that costs £2 to have your game disc placed within. A few minutes later, GTA4 emerged, not buffed, not scuffed, not scratched. AS GOOD AS GODDAMN BRAND NEW. No sign of any damage AT ALL.

    Got it home, plays fine. lucky escape.

    So its not irreparable damage to the discs, but it is damage. And its not instant death to the machine, only the discs. But you do have to wonder what vital piece of disc reading machinery created those scratches. Does my 360 load slower sometimes? I’m not sure. Sometimes it seems that way, and sometimes i think its louder, too. Still works though.

    I’m lucky enough to have one of the newer ones with the smaller fabrication process, and latest in a line of DVD drives, granting it immunity from the RROD Plague, and a lower overall temperature, but not the RROD itself.

    We use the 360 for streaming downloaded TV programs, for gaming, and for playing DVDs (we’re too poor for ps3 or blu-ray).

    Its on all the time.

    I fear for its life.


  5. Robyrt says:

    I have a good Xbox testing environment: I have an original model 360, stored horizontally with a cooling fan, while my roommate has a 2nd model 360, stored vertically. Neither of them has suffered RROD yet, but the “newer” one gets a lot of disc read errors that hang the system.

    We’ve scratched discs, but NOT in daily operation – only when they are forcibly knocked over or tilted 90 degrees. (Right now, the vertical one is between the PS2 and the DVD player, so you can’t really knock it over.)

    Pro Tip: To authenticate DRM, you’ll need to be connected to Xbox Live. (You can, however, bring your hard drive to someone else’s Xbox and it’ll work fine.)

    Another warning: DOA 4 is NOT a sterling example of the fighting game genre. Theoretically, it has merit, but the AI cheats like mad, and people are playing Street Fighter HD Remix instead right now so you’re unlikely to get serious competition.

  6. Fenix says:

    Just to let you all know, looking into what causes the rrod, all the new versions of the console have never addressed that specific problem (vid card/motherboard warping/cracking because of heat). A way to deter this from happening is to buy one of those newfangled vent booster thingies (name escapes me right now.) which will increase ventilation and whatnot. Anyway shouldn’t be too hard to find seeing as like 30 companies have made them.

    Edit: Dang it, the cooling fan Robyrt mentions, thats it. Beat me to it (sorta).

  7. Takkelmaggot says:

    I’ll back what Mark says- a night of Rock Band was delayed for an hour because the 360 owner moved it while the disc was in and, wow, you should see the awesome gouge it left.

  8. Spluckor says:

    So when I read this I was completely distracted when you said you were 37 cause all I can think of is Clerks now.

    I personally believe the 360 is a lot better than the PS3. Though sadly I don’t buy into consoles anymore since I have a perfectly good computer and at least a few games left keeping me entertained.

  9. Shamus says:

    Robyrt: I’m rubbish at fighting games, and so the LAST thing I’d want is competitive multiplayer. I picked up DOA4 hoping for for cheap laughs and maybe a good hook for my comic.

    You are right that the CPU is an awful, evil, spoilsport, no-fun cheater.

    Maybe I’ll check out MK vs. DC at some point. (Once it goes down in price.)

  10. Hotsauce says:

    If it makes you feel better, Crystal Method’s first album is over ten years old. Which, if you’ll recall from High School, makes them, like, ancient, or something.

  11. Factoid says:

    I don’t think kids listen to Techno anymore. It’s all about the Fall Out Boy version of Emo these days. It’s still around, but I think few people listen to it outside of the clubs anymore.

    The 360 controller is bar none the best console controller ever made. I’ve pretty well used them all. Playstation controllers are serviceable, but after several hours of a game that heavily uses all the buttons (like Tony Hawk) your hands will be twisted into unrecognizable claws.

    The a-symmetry I think is because of the need to use your right hand for both aiming and button mashing, whereas few games use the d-pad heavily, so the thumbstick is placed in a more neutral position and you have to stretch just a bit for the d-pad inputs.

  12. Joe says:

    @11: Factoid

    I’m listening to techno right now =)

  13. Mari says:

    So I’m apparently the only person in North America that loved the original Xbox controller. Maybe I have huge palms and short fingers, although I don’t think that’s the case as I’ve been told frequently enough that I have “pianist hands” because of my long fingers (I tend to think of them as “typist hands” though). I think the draw for me was that for the first time I was able to hold a controller where I didn’t accidentally hit half the buttons simultaneously because of my huge, hideous American hands.

    We haven’t picked up a 360 yet for our household partly because everybody I know who has one loves it and tells us weekly how badly we need one and how all the problems like RROD are all better now, only to fess up months later that they’re on their third 360 because of RROD and darned if this one didn’t break down yesterday. I’m hoping that very soon I’ll hear from enough people that their 360s have run with no issues for the past 18 months and can finally clear that last mental hurdle to owning one. In the meantime I’m just replaying Sudeki on our original Xbox to watch Buki climb walls from below and behind. Everybody needs a hobby, right?

  14. Nixorbo says:

    I prefer the asymmetrical thumbsticks. It’s hard to explain why in text form, though. It’s right under where your thumb lies when it’s relaxed.

  15. Deoxy says:

    Your mom is cool. I do sympathize with having to buy your own socks and underwear, though.

    We got a Wii for Christmas – only console in our house now (last console I had was a PS2 – just never had time to play anymore). We got it for the motion game for our kids (something active to do inside in the winter that doesn’t involve running around at fractions of c).

    I’m liking it so far.

    I did play a little Call of Duty 4 on the 360 the other day… ok, I’m not really all that good at FPSs, but wow, not having a mouse really sucked.

  16. scope.creep says:

    Typo alert!
    like every singe other aspect of console use

    The Masked Grammarian

  17. Count Stex says:

    I recently joined the ranks of 360 owners myself, took ownership of my cousins RROD laiden console, and sent it off to MS for repairs. Two weeks later and I have a nice working model. I resisted an XBOX for a long time for the same perceived ideas about the ‘frat’ ownership and stuck by my PC for all my gaming. But now I find this console can easily outperform my 3 year old PC without costing me what a whole new rig would cost me, of course it helps when get it for free ;)
    I had planned to concentrate on online gaming, but I’ve found most of my time being sunk into single player campaigns to levels I really had not planned on. Still it’s all good, and I can only really say I’ve never had it better!

  18. General Karthos says:

    I love my XBox 360. I despise Microsoft, but god damn, they do make a good product. I also love the controller, and liked the original controller all right. I was a pianist for a lot of years there, and so I have these big hands too.

    I don’t have many games for it, because the games are expensive, and as a college student, I’m too cheap to buy my games, and I get one or two per year on my birthday and on Christmas. So I only go for the top flight releases. Been enjoying Fallout 3 a lot, but I overloaded immediately following Christmas, so I’m taking a break from that.

    Still, I really enjoyed Oblivion, loved Mass Effect, and am really enjoying Fallout 3. And I still enjoy Madden and NCAA football once in a while. (I only have one copy of each game, since, as was so astutely pointed out by Stolen Pixels, Madden 2009 isn’t too different from Madden 2007. NCAA 2009 isn’t too different from NCAA 2008.)

    And yes, that’s a COMPLETE list of the games I have. Hope to increase that when I turn 21 at the end of this month, though what game I should get is still beyond me. I’ve never enjoyed Halo, Halo 2, or Halo 3, and I’ve played Bioshock, and am perhaps the only person ON EARTH who was truly unimpressed. I like the graphics, the environments, the THEORY of the game, but I found the gameplay to be rather… I dunno… boring?

    Anyway, I digress. I store my console upright, because if I didn’t, it would probably explode. I don’t have the cooling fan accessory, I own the first-generation 360, and I am the only person I know who has not had the RROD problem. After nearly two years of owning the system now, I sincerely hope that’s gone. (Everyone else who got the RROD got it within nine months of getting their system. Maybe I just take better care of my system, or maybe it’s the fact that my dorm room is kept ten degrees cooler than everyone else’s for a reason I can’t divine (360 makes a wonderful space heater), except in the summer when it’s about 400 degrees in the room, and without air conditioning I want to be ANYWHERE BUT THERE.

    Again, I digress, because that’s what I do. Anyway, yay for 360, and I really look forward to your review of Mass Effect, which again, I loved.

  19. LintMan says:

    I’m older than you, Shamus, but I like techno, too. (Though I don’t keep up with the latest and greatest). I have a number of bt and Paul Oakenfold CD’s. The techno music in Star Control 2 is one of the many reasons that’s still my favorite game ever – I even have a bunch of it burned on a CD.

    @Kyle: I was thinking exactly the same thing – the achievements/score mindset is leading to the disappearance of cheats from games even though it doesn’t need to.

    @mark: The “gouge your CD if you tip the 360” issue is a known problem with the 360. Apparently, they even knew about the issue before the 360 was released, and they had worked up several alternative solutions for it. And the “solution” they chose was the cheapest: to include a warning in the manual not to move the 360 while there was a disk in the drive.

    @Robyrt or anyone else with a 360: do you really need to have your console online so you can activate the DRM in the games you buy? What happens if you don’t activate the game? I didn’t think the consoles did that online activation crap.

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You sellout!Whats next?Youll tell us you like windows and have switched to IE?!Damn that microsoft and their people buying moneys!!

  21. Telas says:

    RE: Gouging. I thought it was pretty common knowledge not to move any kind of disk drive while it was spinning.

    Mari@13: I too loved the original Xbox controller. So much that I spent beaucoup green to replace the “third party” controllers that I bought with the Xbox with original controllers. And then realized that not everybody likes them.

    “Pianist Hands”. Damn, all this time I thought they were saying something else… At least now I don’t feel so embarrassed.

  22. General Karthos says:

    Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. My roommate, who is 20 writes techno music. It’s not dead, it’s just… not as popular as it used to be.

    Lord knows I hear it.

    The same ones….


    And over….

    And over….

    Though I honestly don’t mind it. It’s usually somewhat relaxing.

  23. Jeff says:

    My knowledge of PC configurations tell me CD/DVDs should be flat/horizontal to reduce read errors and promote longer disk drive life. It looks like (from what I hear) the only reason you’d stick the console vertical is because they sucked at engineering cooling.

  24. JT says:

    @Robyrt or anyone else with a 360: do you really need to have your console online so you can activate the DRM in the games you buy? What happens if you don't activate the game? I didn't think the consoles did that online activation crap.

    I think that may have been a mention regarding the downloadable games bought from XBox Live Arcade, not the disc-based games you get from Craigslist, err… eBay, umm… Amazon.

    Re: the cooling fan – I’ve read reports that the “attachable” cooling fan that uses the back-panel’s USB ports for power is of negligible benefit; for reasons ranging from the fact that it blows air the wrong direction vis-a-vis the natural designed exhaust airflow, to the fact that it draws more power from the box’s power supply itself, which increases heat in the box (as dissipated wattage). I had a spare computer case fan laying around and bought a cheapo wall-plug-to-molex adapter and have that fan sending the hot air exhausted from the back of the box out towards the middle of the room. Bought the 360 in November 2007, no issues yet (only one freeze-hang-crash, just happened last month with Fallout 3).

  25. mixmastermind says:

    I had my 360 standing up once. Then somebody knocked it over while I was playing Rock Band.

    I had to buy a new copy. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

  26. Snook says:

    Thank you for not having an overly complicated gamer tag!

  27. Sebastian says:

    The X360 controller descends from the (smaller) Xbox Type S — but among other influences, I think the original Xbox controller (the “Duke”) is patterned on the Dreamcast controller. It has the same left-side layout (analog up, dpad down), and it’s big and square-ish rather than narrow and horizontal like the Playstation controllers (and the SNES/NES controllers before them).

    And of course the Dreamcast controller comes from the Sega Saturn Analog controller, which has the same analog-up-dpad-down layout. So really, you can blame the Saturn for the X360 layout.

  28. Viktor says:

    I loved both the Xbox and 360’s controllers, but I have really long fingers, so YMMV. I cannot use the PS controllers, 1, 2, or 3, for any length of time without my hands rebelling. They’re too small, by far.

    I find it interesting that 2 seperate controllers have progressed to the same conclusion in terms of inputs(though not shape), with the PS controller and the Saturn(inspration for the original Xbox controller) now so similar.

  29. Doug Sundseth says:

    “It's kind of odd to like electronic and techno music at my age.”

    Yeah, you kids always* seem to want to listen to the music of your elders.

    (I’ve been listening to electronic music since Wendy Carlos was Walter Carlos.)

    * “Never” seems inaccurate in the instant case.

  30. Hotsauce says:

    @Factoid: “The 360 controller is bar none the best console controller ever made.”
    Ergonomically speaking, I discovered that the wiimote/nunchuk combo has something that really helps save my wrists: independence of right and left hands. Twilight Princess barely makes use of the motion controls, but I often found myself grateful for the fact that my hands could rest in a comfortable position at all times, simply because they weren’t attached to each other on a single controller.

  31. Ben says:

    You mention that the asymmetrical thumbsticks make the left hand reach while the right hand sits in a more neutral position. Perhaps it’s because I got an Xbox before a Playstation, and my hands are not therefore mutated into horrible claws, but I think the left thumbstick is in a much more comfortable position. I also think I have more precise control because the manner in which I must flex my thumb for each direction makes more sense to me.

    Honestly, I’m pretty sure the Xbox Controller S and Xbox 360 controller are among the most comfortable input devices available. However, I also agree with Hotsauce; independence between hands makes the Wiimote supremely comfortable. Now if only the connecting wire were about two feet longer, I could sprawl on the couch with my arms spread out, and play in ultimate comfort.

  32. Apathy Curve says:

    I too enjoy indy/techno music, and I’m an undisclosed age past 40. Consoles, however, remain strictly the province of children and the aforementioned frat-boys in my worldview. Full disclosure: We entertain quite often, so my wife bought a Wii for the sports party games and a PS3 for Rock Band, but outside of the drunken parties, I consider both pursuits faintly ridiculous. (N.B. – It’s even more ridiculous when I’m drunk, I just don’t care as much). The Evil Console Conspirators can have my custom-built gaming PC when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

    In any case, enjoy the sock-n-undies substitute. BTW, I got clothes; my brother, also 40+, got a PS3. I got some serious ridiculing mileage out of that.

  33. Hal says:

    Games Shamus is playing . . . Hmm . . .

    So, how is Kung Fu Panda?

  34. nilus says:

    Glad to see you are liking the 360. There are actually whole communities out there catered to adults who game. I joined a few months ago and I have had a blast playing with them online. Much better then the general X-box live public.

  35. Sam says:

    One of my friends also got a 360 for Christmas, and when I went over to his house the other day, he was playing Mass Effect. Coincidence? Yes, of course.

    On another note, I feel like I’m in the minority about the original Xbox controller. I didn’t find it huge and unwieldy at all. And no, I don’t have giant hands. It felt just fine to me. I never understood why people were complaining so much about the controller. Then, when the smaller one came out, I hated it with a passion. Everything was TOO close together, and the start and select buttons (or whatever Microsoft called them) were in quite possibly the worst position for a button I’ve ever seen. That’s why whenever I played any Xbox games with my friends I’d always be the last one to pick up a controller, because inevitably it was a larger one. Also, I sucked at most of the games they wanted to play, so I was not so eager to play 50 more rounds of Halo or Star Wars: Battlefront. Blech.

  36. Katy says:

    Another such community is They have a weekly podcast as well.

  37. Gamercow says:

    I’ve got a launch 360, and *knock wood* its had no RROD and VERY few disc read errors.

    Re: the controller – I like the 360 better than the PS3 controller precisely because of the analog setup. The left hand is naturally positioned to use both shoulder buttons and the analog stick, and you have to make a little effort to get to the D pad, while on the PS3, its the opposite, I find my left hand cramps after a while due to the odd(for me) layout. On the 360, they configure it assuming you will be analoging with your left, and buttonmashing with your right most of the time.

    Re: gamer scores – If you look at my gamertag(same as my posting name) you’ll find I have a relatively high score(around 26,000). This isn’t from me renting crappy games to get it up there, its from me wanting to finish every little iota of the games. The achievements entice me to play a game a little(or a lot) longer than I would normally, just to get those extra few achievements. best example of this is Assassin’s Creed, where I poked around Jerusalem for those damn flags for hours. Its an OCD thing.

  38. MadTinkerer says:

    “It's kind of odd to like electronic and techno music at my age.”

    Shamus, unless you’re 50 , electronic and techno music is the music of your generation. TRON came out in 1982.

    Also, check out, the source for music of all styles remixed from videogame soundtracks.

  39. DaveH says:

    I have a launch 360, or nearly so. It’s a UK model (PAL, 220v). I keep it vertically at home, and then every few months, when my job sends me to a warm sandy place, I take it with me (in my backpack!) and I keep it horizontally. Then I pack it back home and verticalize it again. No problems, no RROD (knock wood!).

    It’s the first console I’ve ever owned. Oh, no, wait, I had an N64 for a few months. See, I’m 43 with a family, and my wife is very much of the “if you’re playing video games, you’re not spending time with us” variety. Surprisingly, she’s the one who suggested the 360, for me to take with me on my trips abroad. But I still get to play it at home…

  40. nilus says:

    I’ve had my 360 for almost two years and its no RROD for me. I think as long as you make sure it stays well ventilated and you take breaks in playing it will last you a while.

    As far as vertical vs horizontal goes. Neither is any better or worse for the system. Most of the internet rumors about one being worse then the other come from a misunderstanding. You can keep your machine vertical or horizontal. But never change that position when the machine is on and a CD is in the drive. Apparently a lot of dumb people had CDs eaten by doing that. Seems like common sense to me but who knows.

  41. LadyDarkWolf says:

    My first 360 died, or rather the DVD drive did. I bought a second while the first was being fixed (GTA IV had just come out and I have been playing GTA:SA almost continuously for over three years – yes, I’m a fangirl). Neither has since broken. Oh, Murphy enjoyed himself as since I bought a new one, my original was out of my hands for less than a week! (6 days from shipping the broken one, to receiving the fixed one back)

    The only issue I had otherwise was that while the console was vertical (not being moved, just left vertical) my Orange Box disk ended up with a pretty circular gouge out of it. It’s never happened again. Make of that what you will.

    Either way, I’m happy with my 360 as a gaming machine (my PC long since slipping behind even the ‘healing edge’).

    I often have the machine on for hours (sometimes all day on weekends) as I pause my game and wander around doing housework things before returning to play. This is even in over 35C degree heat in Summer. I figure if it can survive that, it can survive anything!

    The one thing I really love now is that the new firmware allows you to copy your games to the HD. Given that most of the ‘jet engine’ noise from my machine was the DVD drive and not the fans, this has led to complaints from my housemate dropping by 100%!

  42. @Lintman:

    @Robyrt or anyone else with a 360: do you really need to have your console online so you can activate the DRM in the games you buy? What happens if you don't activate the game? I didn't think the consoles did that online activation crap.

    It’s generally not a problem (unless we’re talking about Rock Band…that game is very finicky when it comes to not being online). DRM issues generally come up when you drop your hard drive into another system.

    I had a pretty awful experience when I tried to use my hard drive on my friend’s console once. We didn’t have Internet access on his box at the time, so nothing that I bought worked. I think I might have linked to this on here before, but since it’s kind of relevant, here you go:

    It just seems bizarre to me that I should need to bring my whole system rather than just the hard drive.

  43. Wilcroft says:

    While I can’t speak for the 360, I can say that a vertical placement has had 0 impact on either the PS2 or PS3 I own. With the PS2, you had (or at least it was helpful) to have a vertical stand, which was basically two connected triangles with space to fit the PS2 in between. Mind you, I keep mine close enough to the TV that no one can knock them over, and they are sturdy enough that they won’t fall unless you push them.

  44. Jon says:

    Knowledge or hearsay from 10+ years ago, but my understanding regarding computer CPUs and horizontal/vertical orientation had to do with the hard drive formatting. The idea being that if you want to switch your CPU to a Horiz. or Vert. orientation you should reformat the HDD in the orientation of use.

    Who knows how true this is.

    What seems to be discussed in this thread is obviously a matter of knocking over the console while a disc is in the drive thus causing the drive heads to gouge the media.


  45. TSED says:

    I’m only 20 and I loves me my metal. All the teenagers around here seem to be into terrible rap / country though. (Still working the job I had at highschool while I go to college, and it will always have lots of highschoolers).

    As for the 360, I’m still waiting for me to WANT one. I got myself a PS3 for several exclusives I wanted to play, and since then everything either comes out on the PS3 or PC as well or I don’t want to play it. So, whatever. Microsoft’s not into my market, that’s fine. Enjoy your machine, though, and is the elevator loading times really that bad? Mind timing it exactly for us non-360-owners?

  46. Duffy says:

    I’ve yet to pick up a 360 (it’s on my list as soon as I run out of PS3 games I want to play), but my only complaint is that I find the directional pad to be sub-par most of the time.

    I noticed this to be particularly true while playing fighting games where I prefer the directional pad opposed to the stick. It’s entirely possible that it could be my friend’s controllers, but it’s my only real complaint. It’s also entirely possible I might be able to get a 3rd party controller with a better directional, haven’t looked into it yet.

  47. freykin says:

    I’m going to save you some time and money. Don’t get Too Human. No matter how much you might have liked previous Silicon Knights products, Too Human is an evil evil scourge upon the earth. Unless, of course, you like dieing a hojillion times a level (of which there are FOUR).

  48. Chris Arndt says:

    First, the Xbox Controller was invented by an anonymous man on my “must-die after slow torture” list.

    Second, the Xbox Controller S is such a rescue from the first gadget that at our Halo parties there would be a race as to who got the S Controllers.

    Third, the Xbox 360 Controller is a Dual Shock 2 with some stuff nudged. Heck…. it’s a Dual Impact 2 controller if I were to reference my favorite and standby generic brand PS2 controller by name!

  49. KnottyMan says:

    See, I *love* the Duke. I use a Logitech Precision wireless with XBMC activities, but gimme the Duke for games. My wife is the same way. She has small hands, or at least not pianist kind.

    It’s just personal preference.

  50. Hawk says:

    360 owner … and I love the 360 controller. I like FPS games, and I’d never go back to keyboard/mouse after using the 360 controller (though I’ll admit to ditching keyboard/mouse a long time ago for a flight stick w/ hat switch). But maybe that’s from 20 years of flying R/C — twin sticks just feels very natural to me.

  51. Tom says:

    @40 – With all due respect, you can’t chalk it up to “dumb” users. The disc isn’t secured in place, this is due to Microsoft cutting corners in production. I can burn a CD in my laptop while walking around or flipping it upside down, doesn’t scratch any rings in my disc.

    I got one and I love it, but Xbox 360 is a consumer device, a kids toy. MS should have known it would be put on the floor and knocked over occasionally.

  52. Dix says:

    The PS3 – mine anyway, and all others that I have seen up close and personal – vents mostly out the right side (your right side if you’re facing the unit… its left side if it’s facing you and being personified by someone with a tendency to view the world as an actor/audience arrangement). Yeah, there’s vents in other places, but the real heat comes from that one side. So it’s probably not pushing much heat on the object below it. (And obviously cannot put heat on any object above it, unless someone comes out with a console stand shaped like the curve of the PS3 top. Hey, there’s an idea…)

  53. Lebkin says:

    In regards to asymmetrical sticks:
    I think you find the right stick natural is due to years playing with a Sony Dual-shock controller. I know I did when I first got my Xbox 360. But now, I find the left stick to be more comfortable than the right stick. My thumbs tend to move to the left stick and the four face buttons more naturally.

    And there is a huge advantage to this asymmetrical design. With the D-pad lower, it can be reached by the right thumb. This allows you to always keep your thumb on the left stick, which is almost exclusively the movement stick. The D-pad is often used for switching weapons. You can easily switch to something else while moving easily with this setup. In a traditional Dual-shock setup, you would have to stop moving to use the D-pad.

  54. Rival Wombat says:

    Personally I find the xbox 360’s controller better then the dual shock in a few ways..

    First, the grip area is larger. Rather then the shorter grips on a dual shock.

    Second, the triggers are more firmly placed. The R2 and L2 buttons on a dual shock sort of hang off the controller and aren’t well placed to serve as triggers. The analog triggers also have more travel in the 360, useful mostly just in driving games.

    Last, pretty much what Lebkin said. The left thumb stick’s elevated position also serves to make it distinct from the right, rather then the controller being mirrored.

  55. Brian says:

    You’ll find that the XBox gamer stereotype (jerkwad 14-18 year old males overusing the f-word) really only applies to the huge shooters like Gears of War and Halo. Team Fortress 2 pickup games are usually quite civil and fun, for example. Rock Band has its share of jerks, but it’s not that bad.

    One game I want to see your review of is Tom Clancy’s EndWar, which was one of 2008’s most ambitious new mechanics and also a great disappointment in its execution. On the other hand, part of the disappointment is the near complete lack of story, so that may keep you from wanting to review it :)

  56. MRL says:

    Hey…what’s so wrong with Halo?
    It’s got a freaking Ringworld in it!

  57. Justin says:

    The RRoD thing is troublesome, but MS has extended a warranty on that particular failure to 3 years from the date of manufacture as printed on the back of your Xbox. This means an extension if they have to replace yours at any point. As for the whole standing up versus lying down debate, I lay mine down because a buddy of mine knocked his over while playing (I don’t know how) and carved a trench into his game that no amount of resurfacing could fix. I keep my box cool by only putting it on hard surfaces that are open to the air and relatively dust free. Anyway, I’m glad you like your new toy, and if you’re in need of people to play with I (and likely everyone else here) would be more than happy to oblige.

    *EDIT* Re: online activation of Xbox DLC

    When you download content for your Xbox, a licence is assigned based on the console’s ID number or what have you. If you then move that storage device to a new console, it will try to match the licence to the hardware. When that fails, the Xbox then asks the server whether it’s ok for you to play more than just the demo. If it can’t connect to verify, then you’re out of luck. This is likely to be so that XBLA games can’t be stolen, because the demo you downloaded is the whole game and the points you spent bought you the license to access the rest of it. The fix: downloads you have paid for can be downloaded again for free. This overwrites the license, and you can play offline again. It’s kind of like Steam, from what I gather.

  58. CrushU says:

    @37 Gamercow: The achievements entice me to play a game a little(or a lot) longer than I would normally, just to get those extra few achievements. best example of this is Assassin's Creed, where I poked around Jerusalem for those damn flags for hours. Its an OCD thing.

    You sir, are insane. Those flags are ridiculous. I ignored them totally, after I got the first one that said ‘You found 1 of 100!’ … Screw that. It’s like the orbs in Crackdown. Theoretically you could find them, but damned if I’m gonna.

  59. Alexis says:

    Kids still listen to techno. In goode olde Britaine at least.
    Although it’s called breakbeat, drum n bass, breakcore, psytrance, dubstep etc etc etc.

    Crystal Method are still cool, even if they are being used for adverts now.

    The PS controllers are hideous to hold for any extended period. It’s difficult to actually grip them without pushing buttons. The idea appears to be that they rest gracefully between your hands as if on air; in point of fact they unnecessarily strain odd parts of your fingers.

    With the new xbox experience (NXE) you can load a game onto the HD. Load Mass Effect, should make it quieter.

  60. Chargone says:

    on the subject of the 360 controller, i’m going to have to say this:

    it’s really really good…

    except that whoever designed the D-pad should be SHOT.
    when the Thumbstick is more reliable than the d-pad for Actually Going the way you are telling it to… something’s wrong.

    of course, it’s partially whoever’s in charge of menu design in the various games, too.

    often, there’ll be several menus, or list of items in a shop, or whatever, in a game. scroll up and down to find the thing you want, move left and right to switch menu/list.

    when you switch lists, it resets to the top.

    press and hold the down arrow on the d-pad. watch as, if you’re LUCKY, it gets half way down the Currently Visable portion of the list… then flicks to the next list to the right.

    watch as it does the same thing to a lesser extent with inverted directions, and as various games interpret ‘left’ as ‘up’ and ‘right’ as ‘down’

    the stick, oddly, will scroll down those menus quite happily.

    that an’t right.

    the 360 should not be stood on end for the same reason the ps2 and, really, any other console should not. several people above mentioned what happens if you tip it while it’s running. let it be known that tipping it is not required, at least with some units. sometimes just not putting the thing in exactly the right place in the grip, or nudging it very slightly [with both consoles] to the right, while they’re vertical, is enough to drop the disk out of the tray and into the mechanism. good bye game….
    [though the specific story of that happening I’ve heard is for the ps2, and i think the design of the holder in the 360 is slightly better in this reguard.]

    i have to say, on the 360 controller, my thumbs Rest naturally on the left stick and right buttons, while on the ps2 they rest on the d-pad and buttons. this makes the 360 a bit nicer for games which want the left stick by default.

    in both cases, the grips could stand to be longer [for the 360, just a bit. for the ps2, a Lot].

    oh, if you ever plan on picking up Bladestorm [if you havne’t already :D] be advised, the 360 sometimes struggles a bit. had the game lock up on me several times in one play through. i’m reasonably sure half the problem was that it was putting a lot of load on the thing, which was thus generating a fair amount of heat, and this was in summer so the air around it was pretty hot.

    that said, that was an older model, which has since been replaced for it’s lack of HDMI port and the fact that my TV doesn’t understand any other form of HD input. [Endwar is almost completely unplayable, and IS completely illegible without HD]

    oh yes: whoever designed the new 360 interface thing should be shot. in the face. then resurrected, and shot again. then resurrected, tortured, killed horribly, and have their corpse desecrated.


    it buries everything useful several layers down, sometimes in illogical places, puts advertising as the main feature of most screens [it used to be less intrusive], and is just generally more ugly and makes less sense :S

    it wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t replacing a much nicer arrangement, mind you. though i bet anyone who payed for themes is totally pissed off by it. [the new arrangement doesn’t understand them. or at least, not the ones that came on my mass effect bonus disk.]

    the Christmas snow globe was a nice touch though.

    edit: ok, wow. i didn’t realize this got so big. sorry for the wall of text :S roll for rant damage?

  61. Alexis says:

    Chargone: if you press the xbox button (controller centre) it brings up a very nice condensed menu.

    The Mass Effect inventory system is particularly bad, I haven’t seen such flagrant abuse of the human psyche in other games. Dead Space has rather awesometacular hologrammatic menus – which don’t pause the game, making healthkits rather more exciting to use while running from some big creep.

  62. Lebkin says:

    @Alexis: There is a quick button to use the health kits in Dead Space. I don’t recall what face button it is at the moment, but there is one. You don’t need to dive into the menus to use it.

  63. Alex says:

    I too can’t quite get my head around the asymmetrical thumbsticks. Must be the years of PS1/PS2 game muscle memory. I can get over it, but whenever I’m mooching a 360 over at my richer friend’s houses, I’m thinking “why is the d-pad there??? WHY WHY WHY

    Also, in case this hasn’t been mentioned yet:

    “The oddball Gamecube would go on top if the Sith working for Sony hadn't decided to make the top of the unit annoyingly convex.”

    …Sony Gamecube? i r confused =(

  64. Shamus says:

    Alex: I’m trying to stack the Nintendo Gamecube on top of the Sony Playstation, but the top of the Playstation is convex and the Gamecube would slide right off. No matter what I own, the PS3 has to be on top.

  65. Craig says:

    Oh man, I got an xbox 360 for myself this holiday season, as my parents refused to get me anything video-game related, and could only afford one game. So I got fallout… and am already essentially done the game, withholding playing again as an evil character, which I will do.
    Also, as a musician and college radio DJ: I gotta say that the “what the kids listen to these days” is gonna be annoying no matter what generation you pick, but you will find cool music if you do a little digging. (my albums are free to download…)

  66. Al Shiney says:

    I’ve owned an XBox 360 for three years now. My first one, which I used only sparingly and mostly offline until May ’07, went RRoD and was in its coffin on the way to Texas when MS announced the 3 year extended RRoD warranty. Dodged a $130 bullet there, phew!

    The refurbed console I got back worked great for many hours of gameplay until this summer, when the drive bricked. It was in the horizontal position, as was its predecessor. I bought a new arcade model after the price dropped and swapped out the HD and all has been well since. I’m trying this one in the vertical position and so far, no issues.

    On the subject of over 30 gamers, I have found an online community the likes of which has changed my life, or at least the gaming part of it. Without, I wouldn’t have even gotten into online gaming and never would have made the dozens of friends I game with on a nightly basis. There are many great adult gaming communities if you’re interested Shamus. If you are, feel free to email me and I’ll introduce you to the Geezers. :-)

  67. Julian says:

    My experience is that I find little difference in games between the XBox and PS2/3 analog stick layout, except when playing Katamari.

    But that’s OK, since the Xbox Katamari is aggressively mediocre.

  68. Eric says:

    I got my 360 back in January 2007. The rings have gone red only once, and that was fixed by checking to make sure the power cable was securely fastened. Other than that, I haven’t had any trouble with it.

    I have mine vertical. There’s no room in my cabinet for it otherwise. There isn’t much danger of it falling over unless an earthquake hits. And judging from how well it’s held up so far, I’d say it’s got plenty of air flow.

  69. RPharazon says:

    I’ve had my Xbox for a year and a half now, and it’s an August 2006 model (Yes, I got it one year after the unit was manufactured. A big ‘lolwut’ for me since now the warranty will only last another six months) and I have no problems with it.

    Well, once it gave me a four red lights problem, but that was because I was being an idiot and accidentally disconnected a cable in the process of connecting my PS2.

    Anyways, you should give your Xbox 360 a WIDE berth in space and ventilation. Your little “stacking” combination will not work unless you put the Xbox on top. The Xbox does NOT have enough ventilation to properly aerate our through the sides, and it mostly relies on the simple fact that heat rises.


    I am debating whether to bother you on the Xbox Live thing since your Friends max is 100 and you’ll most likely never play with me. Oh well.

  70. Relayer71 says:

    “It's kind of odd to like electronic and techno music at my age. It makes me feel like a bit of a poser”

    That’s just plain ridiculous. Music has nothing to do with age – whatever moves you, moves you. Plain and simple.

    Same as with games.

    That’s just what the lame, ignorant and dull of society wants you to believe.

  71. kelvingreen says:

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if Sony held a patent on “symmetric thumbstick technology” or something equally absurd and outrageous.

    I thought exactly the same thing, as the Gamecube has a similar asymmetric layout. But then the Wii Classic Controller puts the two analogue sticks together at the bottom, so maybe not. I much prefer having the two sticks together, but I’ve never seen anyone agree until now!

    I had my PS2 vertical, but then it started to scratch CDs to pieces, so I laid it back down, and everything seems to be fine now. Very odd. I keep expecting that thing to explode.

  72. ryanlb says:

    Lucky you, Shamus. I had to buy my own XBox 360 for Christmas. FWIW, I have mine vertically, because there’s space next to the TV there. When I get a media remote for it I’ll dump our crappy 8 year old DVD player and put the XBox horizontally in its spot.

    Anyway, my point was, how can you possibly have a gamerscore of 1500 already? I’ve played mine around 4 hours a night for the last two weeks and I don’t even have 500 yet. I must be playing the wrong games, but I can’t yet afford the fancy new games like Prince of Persia, since I spent all my money on the console. :D

  73. Hirvox says:

    I was a Sony fanboy for a long time and bought the Wii just for Metroid Prime 3, but nowadays the XBox 360 is only behind the PC in the overall hierarchy, especially after I got TVersity to seamlessly transcode almost everything from my PC and from YouTube.

    To me, the best part of the XBox 360 controller is it’s blandness. MS steals from the PS2, GameCube and old Gamepads, but manages to amalagamate all together in a combination, that for a lack of a better word, just works. Every button is at a natural spot, and there are no sharp edges, screw holes, raised/lowered markings or anything else that would cause discomfort during an extended playing session.

    And yes, playing Katamari on XBox 360 feels odd, but most of the time you use the right analog stick a lot less than the left one, so making them distinct makes sense.

    As for horizontal/vertical.. I’ve had no problems with vertical orientations for the Wii, the PS2 or the XBox 360, but using a horizontal drive tray just feels more natural. And many TV stands tend to have little space for vertical consoles anyway. In the past, I guess that vertical would have been more prone to damage due to people tripping on controller cables, but that’s not an issue nowadays when all of the major contenders use wireless almost exclusively.

  74. BrandonH says:

    I HAVE large hands, and I hated the original xbox bulky controller. Everytime I picked it up it made me feel like I was at the gym lifting weights. I definetly love the 360 controller including its asymmetrical analog sticks. I’m just waiting for them to release a controller made with buttons on the bottom like alot of people are making these days, it sure would make things easier on my right thumb.

    side note on the analog sticks….. if you are like me and have a playstation 2 that you no longer use, or really the playstation 2 controller, you can remove the sticks and install them into your 360 controller. Its a bit of a tight squeez to get the sticks through the hole, but once there in they work very nicely. I find the convex surface to be much easier to use for aiming seeing as it uses the center of your thumb where as the original 360 sticks are concave and lead to wild movement whilst using the edges of your thumb for control. Of course none of this is going to matter as soon as project Nital comes out ( you are the controller ) no more batteries, YAY!

  75. Xboxgama says:

    I dont get it. Halo is the best :-) – Xbox is my absolute favorite. I got a ps4 abd xbox one but…. Microsoft dig it up!

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