Thursday, August 03, 2006

Review Update: Microsoft Xbox 360, now a typical MS product

Back on June 21, 2006, I wrote that the Xbox 360 was Microsoft's Best Product Ever. Well I have had the 360 for nearly 4 months now, and I have run into a few issues that have taken the shine off my previous glowing review.
  • The Universal Media Remote died. I bought this seperately, but its part of the MS accesories story, and in < 3 months, it just wouldn't work anymore. I don't remember doing anything to harm it, but it died. To MSes credit though, they did ship me a new one very quickly, but I am concerned about the longevity of this system because...
  • The 360 crashed on boot with a System Error. This would appear to be the 360's BSOD (in this case a Black Screen of Death). It happened on a cold boot after being off all night long, so I an concerned this points to a coming hardware failure
  • Games sometimes just lockup.I have seen this in both Project Gotham Racing 3 (PGR3) and Ghost Recon: Advance Warfighter (GRAW). Game is playing fine, then all of a sudden the screen freezes and the 360 is unresponsive, but music keeps playing. Very Odd
  • The 360 runs VERY hot. I am not talking about the fan noise, that is immediately obvious, I mean the temperature of my 15x10 room changes from acceptable, as is the rest of my house, to unacceptable if I play the Xbox 360 for more than an hour. I have had to bring a fan into the room just so there is enough airflow. And no, the game lockups happen at all times, so its not purely a hear issue.
  • Achievements aren't well documented in many games. I am growing increasingly frustrated by the need to google forums and other sites for an actual explanation on how to obtain some achievements. There are a lot of achievements, particularly in PGR3 and GRAW, that require getting compound objectives. If you can't get it done in one sitting, you have no way of knowing most of the time what criteria you have satisfied vs. what you don't. Also, the wording on achievements is sometimes intentionally cryptic, that's my observation, to make it harder to achieve. That's not cool, I don't want a mini-game built-in to the achievement system, I just want to clearly know what in a game I can get points for, and what my status is in getting those points
  • Downloadable Content Pricing. The GRAW - Chapter 2 was very expensive for a game I already paid $60 for. I bought it to get another set of Co-op missions since me and a friend have really enjoyed the Co-op missions. Have I got my money's worth? Tough to say, but what's infuriating is that there were no more achievements for the additional Co-op missions for my I think $12.
  • Unable to download content error message. I am a demo and trailer downloaded whore from Xbox Live Marketplace, until 2 days ago that is. I tried to download the Madden 2007 trailer and some other stuff and I kept getting told unable to download content. Reason why, I was out of Hard Drive space!!! Common MS, this should be an easy thing to tell the user, Unable to download content because the hard drive is full, I shouldn't have to troubleshoot the downloading of content. You have got to be kidding me.
I wonder how many other people were really excited about the X360 but are not starting to run into problems that cause their experience to be less than stellar?