My history with the Xbox 360 has spanned through eight great years together; despite burning through a few consoles before the newer Xbox 360 S (slim) launched which seems to have more stable hardware! I have forked out a few repair bills in the consoles earlier days. Despite my gripes with the infamous Red Ring of Death – I kind of accepted it as part of the console and kept on paying and playing!
In the winter of 2005 when I had completed three and a half years of accountancy studies I felt bored of my PlayStation 2, because I hardly gave it any time it deserved due to studying hard, and same with the (then) PlayStation Portable which I had imported from Japan in 2004. Console wise I’ve had many, and I will be totally honest with you that I was dying for a PlayStation 3 because I was just so used to having a PlayStation and that I didn’t own the original Xbox. With the PS3 looking a bit distant in 2005 and that my PS2 was just ancient to me, I was won over by the advertising for Xbox 360 and that very year with some family help I was able to spend £500.00 on the first Xbox 360. This was a lot of money considering it was the basic ‘CORE’ console without the HDD, but it was bundled with five games, a small 64mb Memory Card, extra controller and a headset. I had never ever played an online multiplayer game before, nor experienced anything in HD – I didn’t even own an HDTV in 2005!
The first game I played as soon as I got my Xbox 360 unboxed and hooked up to the 40inch widescreen backlit projector screen TV as they were back then in SD; I played TigerWoods PGA Tour 06 and was just blown away by the graphics in comparison to TigerWoods 05 which I had loved on the PS2 for so long. I was in awe, then Condemned, the original Need for Speed Most Wanted, King Kong and some other game I can’t even remember was literally played to death all night long. My love of Xbox 360 at that point in time was only just the beginning – something magical happened between my console and me, that first connection to Xbox LIVE was a spark between us. I decided that I must experience multiplayer gaming albeit that I was a little nervous about meeting random people over the internet on a gaming console. The idea of it seemed great, but I wasn’t all that sociable enough to be able to spark up conversation with people I wasn’t stood in front of! Although I don’t remember the exact details, I do remember thinking how remarkable it was to be able to just switch on my console and be hooked up to other people when entering a multiplayer lobby. I had many a happy few games of Tiger Woods 06 that Christmas, and then had a two week ban for swearing even though I was already on my second repair by that time!
In the new year of 2006 I was won over by Xbox 360 and just had to know everything and anything about the little machine. What games were coming out, what accessories I could purchase, and I googled “Xbox 360 News” that would eventually lead me to Xboxic.com a smartly designed news site that I kept returning to use. Following repeated returns and a few months of commenting on the news posts (I even remember my first comment, it was a reply to a user named STUDLEY UK) I joined their forums. I am known for being quite opinionated and in person quite dominant with my opinion and I contributed a lot to the forums and met some great online friends who were the first people I added to my Xbox LIVE Friends list. Even now, eight years on some are still active and I have met them in person. Xboxic was the very first community website I joined, the very first forums I participated in as well as the very first Xbox news site I read. I was encouraged by a friend I met on the forums to contribute to news and I then went on to become a really active news and reviews writer for the site for a few years before leaving in 2010 to start up ThisisXbox.com
2006 was also another great year for me for two reasons – Call of Duty 3 and HDTV. Everyone that knows me, knows how much I am a Call of Duty fan, but at the time of its launch in 2006 I wasn’t familiar with it and couldn’t afford it as I had spent my last remaining cash on Gears of War, so my sister bought Call of Duty 3 as an early Christmas gift. Going back to Gears of War I guess I was drawn into the marketing campaign and it was my most wanted game that year, it was also the first game I ever played in HD. Playing a game in HD felt like playing the 360 for the first time all over again, I had to go through my games collection to see the noticable difference in quality from SD to HD gaming. I was once again amazed and in love with my game collection! Now, with Call of Duty 3 – when I got round to starting it I really loved the campaign, but with multiplayer gaming I had never played anything so addictive. It was the most enjoyable game over Xbox LIVE and I devoted hours and hours into it. There were nights I didn’t even sleep and I just couldn’t stop.
The Call of Duty community in 2006 was not what it is now, the game was not as huge pre Modern Warfare era and almost everyone online was over the age of 18. There wasn’t a kid to be heard anywhere and the lobbies were sociable and very respectful in 2006. Players made an effort to communicate and the best parts of my life with an Xbox 360 have been on Call of Duty 3 during 2006 – 2007. No other game at that time mattered – I was 26 and was well and truly sucked into the Call of Duty world of gaming. I couldn’t throw enough money at it to buy every map pack and then the same with Call of Duty 2 because that too was still going strong with players. Although I still love Call of Duty and can not wait for Ghosts on Xbox One, I feel Microsoft has killed off some of the social aspects of the console by introducing Party Chat modes. Gamers don’t integrate anymore and friends tend to stick with friends in their own parties online. Come 2007 when Modern Warfare launched I am surprised I didn’t burst with excitement. It was ten times the game Call of Duty 3 wasn’t and taking it out of the WWII era was the best move Infinity Ward had ever made for their franchise.
Whilst I was still much an active member of Xboxic also in 2007, this was the year I started writing news posts and learnt quickly the importance of gaming PR, keeping up to date with everything on Xbox360 even if it’s not all able to become news, but I really got involved and stuck in with keeping Xboxic active news wise. Reviews didn’t come until later down the line, but I soon became an established writer on Xboxic and this lead to PR friends and getting known to the Xbox Community Network XCN (an opportunity headed by Graeme Boyd aka AceyBongo’s) which I have been part of since late 2008 or early 2009-ish. When I left Xboxic in 2010 and started ThisisXbox on September 6th, the XCN supported me in the change-over and have helped ThisisXbox become what it is now alongside the assistance from gaming PR reps who I had known through Xboxic.
Needless to say that also by 2007 when the PlayStation 3 was released, I did buy it on launch day but I was so established on Xbox 360 with a great list of friends that every time a multiplatform game was released I favoured the Xbox 360. My PS3 soon became just a Blu-Ray player for HD movies. It gathered dust and was left for dead on a shelf in another room.
Leaving Xboxic in 2010 was a hard decision to make. It was the first community I ever joined and the first site that allowed me to have such great opportunities with everything associated with the Xbox 360 from a gaming writers perspective. I didn’t like the site design, it was fast becoming aged, it appeared to get ad-filled – so I took all the ideas I had an created this very site. I have no regrets on that front, but I feel without Xboxic, the community of friends that I met on that site would not have made this site even possible. Everything I do now has stemmed from everything I learnt whilst with Xboxic. The consideration to join other sites was there having written for Technorati, GameStooge and others in the past, but I needed my own control and my own spin on a gaming news site.
I have reviewed hundreds of Xbox 360 games over the years and to ensure I can afford the Xbox One on launch day I made the decision to sell my Xbox 360 to help pay for it. I felt it was worth more now before the Xbox One launch because I could just imagine a ton of Xbox 360′s popping up on ebay when gamers realise they will not need their 360′s because they will soon be gathering dust. I am at this time of writing without a console, I have had to forward my review games onto other ThisisXbox reviewers and wrapping up Call of Duty Ghosts nearly had me in a flood of tears, but with just under two weeks now until Xbox One is in the shops… my time on Call of Duty on a brand new console will come soon enough and I really just can not wait!
I know that from the moment my Xbox One arrives I wouldn’t have been interested in anything Xbox 360 anyway. The 360 now was no loss to me, it was just a tool to review the 360 games which now are better off being sent to reviewers who are not yet taking the plunge to next-gen. I have seen and played Xbox One titles already through attending Eurogamer this year with my press pass, so I know what joy will behold come November 22nd. As the Xbox 360 was responsible for me getting involved in a community, eventual writing, site ownership, reivewing… I wonder what the next few years of Xbox One will bring for us all and if the wait for next gen will be another agonising eight years!
For me – personally, Titanfall looks set to revolutionise multiplayer in ways you never thought possible. Having experienced the game first hand, I am excited to see how this grows and evolves into a franchise of its own.
If you want to take a trip down memory lane, share your early memories of Xbox 360 in the comments box below…if you’re really bored!