The lights are on
With Microsoft revealing
its next system on Tuesday, the time is ripe to explore what Microsoft did
right with the Xbox 360 and where it could have improved. Whether or not the new console carries on the legacies of its predecessor, it's fun to reminisce
about these hits and misses as Microsoft prepares to pass on the torch.
Microsoft impressed many
with its 360 controller; the trigger buttons were ideal for first-person
shooters. The controller was not only much more comfortable than the original
Xbox's S, it also sported superior button placement. Unfortunately, the d-pad
was its weak point, but fixes are available, and Microsoft even released a 2010 silver
controller with a twist-up d-pad to help the issue. While the issue was never
completely dissipated, at least attempts were made to fix the shortcoming.
Gamers have always been
skeptical about paying for an online service, but once they experienced Xbox
Live's superior quality, it convinced many it was worth it; currently, it has over
46 million subscribers. Connecting to matches is quick, drop rates are
low, and chatting with friends is smooth for the most part. It could be said
that the service brought gamers together in a new way with its accessible
features. Microsoft figured out the recipe to creating a solid online community
well before Sony by including a headset with consoles, encouraging
When Microsoft released
the first Xbox, it became a destination for first-person shooters, especially
with its Halo franchise riding strong. But Sony remained on top with a stronger
variety in its library. For the Xbox 360's beginnings, Microsoft targeted the
RPG genre, something Sony's PlayStation 2 catered to more, especially in
regards to JRPGs. Microsoft secured games like Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Tales
of Vesperia, and Eternal Sonata. Microsoft even shocked people by getting
blockbuster Final Fantasy XIII, a series previously exclusive to Sony. While it
didn't by any means win the RPG war, it still measured up, and Microsoft's
library is much more diverse than it was in the previous generation.
You could say an app
exists for almost everything on the Xbox 360; tailoring your console to your
interests is easy. In 2008, Microsoft brought in Netflix fans with a year
exclusivity deal and then continued to grow from there with Hulu, HBO Go, and a
wealth of other apps. It made the 360 more than just a gaming device, but also
an entertainment hub, where with a touch of a button people could access tons
of TV, movies, and music.
Let's face it; we all
love that little blip sound as we gaze at,"Achivement Unlocked." Having a
gamerscore to show off the fruits of our labor not only gave bragging rights,
but also provided new reasons to experience games. Whether it was collecting
hidden items or winning battles without taking damage, we worked to obtain that
perfect 1,000 gamerscore. While developers struggled initially at what to give
achievements for, as time went on, they got smart and made gamers do more
creative tasks all for the thrill of watching their gamerscore grow.
Updating a system can be
a pain, locking the player out for some time. But Microsoft made these updates
go much faster, smoother, and less frequent than Sony ever did with the
PlayStation 3. Not having to dread an update is a godsend to gamers; after all,
who wants to wait any longer than they to to dive into the next big release?
Adapting Its UI
Resisting change can be
a company's biggest downfall, but Microsoft wasn't afraid to update its
interface to fit with the times. Keeping navigation and its app-friendly
structure in mind, the 360 has seen a number of dashboard redesigns, and each
time, it attempts to keep its growing sections, such as movies, music, sports,
and downloadable games, easily accessible. Its biggest achievement? Not
bombarding the player with too much when loading up the console.
Up next: See where Microsoft missed the mark...
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.