Xbox 720 is getting unveiled tonight and the internet is in full hype-gasm mode as you read this. VG247’s Dave Cook recalls his fond memories of Microsoft’s rig, and why it turned him into a filthy traitor.
Well shit. It’s finally here isn’t it?
Tonight, Microsoft’s Don Mattrick will take to a pop-up stage on the company’s Redmond campus and unveil the new Xbox to the world. He’ll most likely clap a lot too, I hear he likes to do that.
I really hope those hands are insured Microsoft. Best get that looked at.
Anyway yes, the new Xbox is upon us and call it generation fatigue or whatever, but I’m not as sad to see the current assortment of consoles go as I was when PS2 gave way to its successor. I was reluctant to part ways with that console as I freaking loved it, and as a matter of fact it’s still sitting next to me now as I type this.
Well hello there. Also, that rug needs to die in a fire.
Truth be told I was a Sony fanboy back in the day, and when Microsoft first released the original Xbox I was working at UK retail chain GAME. We got our shipment of the console in, along with Halo, this rude, young upstart of a shooter that thought it could usurp PlayStation’s reign on the throne of gaming history.
I was a stupid bastard back then, honestly. I really found Microsoft’s console to be an affront to everything I stood for as a gamer. To this day I still can’t really place why I felt threatened by Xbox, and it’s funny to me because usually I’m as open-minded as they come.
Looking back at how I was then, there’s no denying that I was an immature prick. I never owned an original Xbox, and I only just played one for the first time about two years ago. Before you call for my head on a spike, calm down – I’ve played many original Xbox games on my 360, so I’m all caught up I swear.
But there I was looking at Xbox with my Sony-tinted glasses scoffing, and then the company announced PS3. Good lord it was magnificent. All this hype-speak about CELL processing Blu-Ray technology and that demo with all the rubber ducks blew me away. It looked like the future.
I assured myself that PS3 games would make real life look like shit by comparison, and confirmation that the latest instalment in my favourite series – Final Fantasy 13 – was an exclusive just sealed the deal for me. Damn anything that Microsoft had planned, and screw Nintendo. Sony was back in business as the returning champ.
Ah whatever, I still enjoyed it. Except Hope, naturally.
But there was a problem. As a poor uni student I couldn’t afford a next-gen console. There was no way I’d be able to get either a PS3 or the newly-announced Xbox 360 at the time. I bought a PSP instead, and man did that get old really fast. Except for Lumines, which is still brilliant.
I stuck by my PS2 for ages contently, and as I wasn’t a game writer then I didn’t feel pressured to buy the latest tech as soon as it was available. But then Microsoft announced that it has scooped a major exclusive on Xbox 360 – a shooter called BioShock. It released in 2007 and as I was working at now-defunct game store Gamestation at the time, my staff discount allowed me to buy the game and a console on day one.
There’s no escaping the fact that I fell in love with Xbox 360 from the second Jack’s plane erupted into a blazing fireball above the Atlantic Ocean. The mystery and intrigue that came with sneaking into that lighthouse, the atmospheric nature of Rapture and achievements – yep, I was a cheevo-whore – just had me hooked.
Suddenly I realised how stupid I was being in fearing other formats, and since then I’ve never looked back. Sure my PS3 currently gets hardly any play-time, but that’s because the bulk of my friends all play on Xbox 360. They’re both brilliant machines, and I mean that sincerely.
Together they both offer a spread of great exclusives and features, but I think Xbox 360 warmed me to many facets of modern gaming that have stayed with me to this day. I had never played online games until I got my hands on Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – simply because I was intimidated by the skill of other players – but I became addicted to it at launch.
Basically this, after work, every week night for about five months. Seriously.
XBLA may not be the most visible platform for indies, but the release of Braid blew me away. Here was Jonathan Blow, one man who had created a monster hit with a minimal budget and a ton of neat ideas all wrapped around a simple time-shifting mechanic. It changed the way I viewed indie production, and helped me view the world beyond the triple-a pack with fresh eyes.
I can take or leave Halo and Forza to be honest, so exclusives weren’t the reason I stuck with my Xbox 360, but it’s been a constant feature of my living room since I first bought one. When I moved to England penniless and shit-scared, to start my career as a games writer, it was an alternative way of keeping in touch with my friends back in Scotland – while shooting each other in the face over Call of Duty or Bad Company 2.
It’s always been there, right next to my television, just like my PS3 is now, and together they represent the years we all embraced online gaming, DLC, multimedia functions and more, like a little slice of gaming history that many of us are about to put behind us for good later this year.
So why am I saying farewell to Xbox 360 in the title of this piece when it still has several months ahead of it? Well, we’re all looking forward to tonight’s Xbox 720 reveal and the launch of PS4, but glancing back at how far we’ve come, it’s incredible to see how the industry has progressed in that time.
But after tonight is through, the cycle will begin properly once more, as both Sony and Microsoft weight up their formats and do their best to convince us their side is best. Many of us will start to drift from the Xbox 360 and PS3, as anticipation for next-gen formats reaches critical mass.
I’m long past the days of being a fanboy and I’ll definitely be giving both Sony and Microsoft my full attention after tonight’s reveal and moving onward as there’s no right or wrong choice, just another decade of innovation and fun to look forward to. We’re all winners in the end.
You can watch Microsoft’s Xbox 720 reveal live, right here on VG247. Just hit the link and bookmark the page ahead of the main event 6pm GMT / 7pm CET / 10am Pacific.
Cheers for the memories pal, it’s been a blast. Also, sorry for not dusting you.