XBox360….still a piece of shit…

So after 4 phone calls and 3 months I FINALLY sent my Xbox off to some place in Texas to get the DVD-Rom fixed. As I figured, XBox customer service would not give me any sort of free time on XBox Live or an upgrade for screwing up on their end 3 times. Of course I did not expect anything, maybe I should have got my wife to call, she would have ripped them a new one. Maybe I am too nice of a guy…LOL.

Today I see this little gem on Drudge, “Xbox 360 Repairs Will Cost Microsoft $1B” that is just music to my ears! The warranty on the console has been extended to 3 years (LOL) due to, “”general hardware failure,” but the company provided few other details about the extent of the problems. I’ll guess parts made in China.

Here is one of those wunderlick comments, “We don’t think we’ve been getting the job done,” said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division. No Robbie you haven’t. I would also check out your lack of support for your consoles as well.

I guess that is the way things are going these days. Craftsmanship and quality of the work is low and the console is not good to begin with. Just how bad is it, “Microsoft estimates that Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division has lost more than $6 billion since 2002.”

WTG M$!

Fed Up with Xbox360!

I have just about had it with MS and this piece of shit product known as the Xbox 360. First, the game does not live up to the hype. Never has, never will. Pretty graphics does nothing for piss poor game play. But enough about why I can’t stand this overpriced console. I have complained before about the lack of “quality” on the retail end from these people.

A regularly occurring issue has been that of the DVD-Rom failing and not being able to read the DVD or CD being played. Now with the poor luck I had in the past, taking 4 consoles FINALLY to get one that worked, this a year AFTER the release of the so-called nex-gen console.

The DVD-Rom finally quit and I called MS on 24 April and told them my problem and they provided me a reference number and said I would be receiving a box in 4-5 days, paid postage via UPS to replace the console unit. Cool, good customer service, quick response. So I thought, but oh how wrong I was. A week went by, then two then three and I finally got time to call them again.

This time I get some jackass who can hardly speak English (guess MS online support is in India too…), I am still cool about it, not being a dick on the phone this this support clerk, telling them I was given a reference number on 4-24 and was still waiting for my UPS box to arrive.

He assured me I would have one in, yeah, you guessed it, 4-5 days. This was on May 19, nearly a month later! Well today is June 6 and I still do not have a box from MS. I am getting a bit pissed off with their lack of support. This is completely uncalled for and I am very pissed off with their assistance.

Recourse? I doubt I have any, being the big, bad cash cow MS is. I think I will unleash the fury of my wife on them and see if she can get any freebie out of it. Is that the wrong course of action? Not really, the customer is always right, right? So I should see something out of this. Lord knows I spent the month for Xbox Live and have not used it since it went down, so maybe some free Live for a few months.

But if nothing happens I box this POS up and ship it off COD to MS and ask for my money back. I am done with them. No more bad consoles. Guess that means I won’t own any more console. No real loss in my eyes.

XBusted 360: Part Deux

I must say I have very unimpressed with Microsoft’s new console offering in the Xbox 360. Just this week, we FINALLY were able to exchange our second broken XBox360 for a new one. It only took an additional 3 weeks for Toys ‘R Us to finally get some in. But that is not the issue.

The issue’s with the lack of quality games that are out there. I have played about 10 different games so far, some of which I have purchased, including FIFA World Cup 2006, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warrior and PGR 3. But none of these have the same…appeal, I guess you could call it that the original XBox had. I still spend more time playing my older XBox than the newer 360. I did read elsewhere that many of the games on the old XBox were better in terms of playability than those on the 360. Of course the graphics on the more powerful 360 are impressive, but since when do graphics make a game?

While I am not ready to give up on the XBox 360 after spending nearly $700 on the system, XBox Live, the aforementioned games and a battery pack for the wireless controller, I am already in more than I ever spent on my XBox! Is it worth it?

At this point in time, no the money invested is not worth it. While I won’t get rid of the console, I surely will not be purchasing any other console from Playstation or Nintendo. I guess we need to give game developers another 6-8 months in order to develop and release more games that excite those players.FIFA World Cup 2006 looks good, but does not play as well or as smooth as FIFA 2005. The developer 2K Sports amazes me. Their baseball offering is horrible! From the graphics to the player animations and cumbersome controls. I will give them props on the back end, such as stats, game modes and personalities used, but beyond that it is a shit game!

I guess this means I go back to playing PC games until there are more improved offerings. GWAR is not bad, plays well, looks good, but coming from the keyboard/mouse world as a gamer, it is difficult to use the dual joystick controller to play effectively. As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect” and I continue to learn as I play.

So in conclusion, if you are considering an XBox 360 I suggest you hold off. While the pretty graphics are awe inspiring at times, the selection of software is just not there [yet] to justify the high price tag [$399 for premium or $299 for core system]. Maybe a delay for PS3 is a “blessing in disguise” for them to have more of an impact on the console world and gaming in general. I guess time will tell. But XBox seems to have lost some of its previous luster.

XBusted 360

Why I continue to buy and support Microsoft and it’s hardware and software products is beyond me. So I received my state and federal tax returns and at the convincing [which didn’t take much] of my wife, I decided to purchase an Xbox360, in order to replace the original Xbox. One note on that, YES MICROSOFT I DID MOD THAT XBOX AND COPY GAMES AND IT FELT GOOD! Last Friday, we stopped by Toys ‘R Us and I picked up a premium system [includes the wireless controller, headset, Ethernet cable and HDD) for $399. I also picked up Ghost Recon Advanced Warrior and FIFA 2006. The total bill was about $650. Not cheap by any means.

So I get it home, unpack it and connect it up to the Internet, build myself a profile and Gamertag [itgOSWALD] if anyone cares] so I can play online. I spend a few hours playing FIFA 2006 and run through a few practice sessions on Ghost Recon. The following day I go to play FIFA 2006 and the Xbox 360 locked up…just freezes, sort of like other Microsoft operating systems. So I reset the system and go to load my game up. I then get an error message saying the disk is not readable. WTF? I was just playing it 10 minutes ago.

Upon further inspection, I pull the disk from the drive and there is a circular ring, like it had been scratched on the disk. This scratch was not on the disk when I purchased the game. I did not physically put it there, so the only logical conclusion is somehow it got scratched while in the system. No big deal really, my wife returned it and got a new FIFA 2006 and I was off for a few games of footie.

Unfortunately it did not last long before the 360 locked up again [no, not a heat issue either], so I decided to pack it all back up and return the piece of shit and try my luck again. Wouldn’t you know it, I return it where I bought it at and they are out and can’t tell me when they will get more in. So I drive 30 miles southeast to Pleasant Hill and go in for an exchange. Same story, they don’t have any and can’t tell me when they will get any in.

Yesterday, I decided to drive some 55 miles east to Stockton. Thankfully I had a few other errands to run in that direction, so I stopped by Toys ‘R Us. Guess what? Yup, they don’t have any. Beginning to get more and more frustrated, I decided to call it a day and just wait it out until next week. That’s when my wife decides she wants to go to Babies ‘R Us down in Dublin, about 60 miles south of where we live.

Before lugging that box with me again, I called and they confirmed they had the premium systems in stock, so I was halfway to my return. The exchange when smooth, the salesperson was a pleasure to work with, unlike the usual gang of pimply teens or white trash women working at Toys ‘R Us. Foreseeing future problems, I also purchased a 1 year warranty for the Xbox 360, which covers damn near everything after Microsoft’s runs out. $40 bucks, thought it would come in handy seeing as I had trouble from the get go.

Fast forward to 3:30am this morning, I can’t sleep so I get up, come downstairs and fire up the system for a bit of footie. I play for about an hour, win a few games and I decide to go back to bed. I shut the system down and think nothing of possible problems, as all had gone well up to this point.After feeding our son Zachary I start up the 360 for some gaming. That is when the problems started, the 360 can not find my profile to log me in to Xbox LIVE. Further examination and an error message pops up saying, you need a hard drive to store profiles and games in progress on. WTF? More issues, so going against my better judgment I go online for “support” and here is how the conversation went down:

Me: I have already returned one Xbox 360 due to the console locking up during game play. I now have the new Xbox 360 hooked up, I recovered my Gamertag and was playing a few hours ago. Just recently I go to play and the console tells me that I do not have a HDD, which I do since I did get the premium system. Am I out of luck and do I go return a second system or is there something I can try to resolve this issue?

Jonathan: I’m sorry for the inconvenience Stephen.

Jonathan: I strongly suggest that you call our phone support for this issue so they can make arrangements for you.

Me: Arrangements for…

Jonathan: Repairs or exchange.

Me Ill take the POS back to where I bought it from, quicker…thanks*sigh* So it looks like I am back to step one…AGAIN! Stuck with a non-functioning Xbox 360. I know these consoles had issues, but what the hell are the chances that two of them are bad? Well, it is Microsoft. Guess I will give it one more chances, that is, when I find a store that actually had them in stock that does not take me 60+ miles away from home.

Where’s the Creativity?

For those that know me, you know I am not too excited about the PC games that have been released during the 2005. That is not to say there were not some good titles depending on what gaming web site you read. For example, GameSpy’s 2005 Top Ten has some rather obscure titles on there, but also includes title you would expect to see.

In a Variety piece by Peter Bart titled, Creative engines turn creaky in ’05 states the media has been “upbeat for the media world” but end of the year statistics tell a different story.

Now I have been saying this for at least a year that the creativity in the electronic entertainment industry has been lost. I sit here and ponder what the last truly unique and creative game I played. Nothing comes to mind. Sure, there have been some great and enjoyable games I have played recently. I can cite Dice’s Battlefield 1942 as one of the games. I do think it leans toward being “revolutionary” in terms of being a MMOFPS (Is that an acronym?). Going back to 1999-2000, I think Counter-Strike changed the way gamers played online games, that game was a phenomenal success in the mod community for Valve’s Half-Life.

I guess there many other examples, bits and pieces of “technologica” that were features in games, not necessarily top titles. But these days, where has that creativity gone? From Variety, “Video game sales are sagging badly despite the heralded introduction of the Xbox 360.” Stating it’s a Microsoft product says enough, doesn’t. Especially those Windows users who have not made the shift to Linux. I don’t think you can slough off PC sales on all gamers waiting for the heralded release of Xbox 360. That might weigh in to some degree.”…only three of the top 10 games were actually released during 2005 — the rest were holdovers.” Now, I don’t know who’s top ten list they are using but all the games listed in the GameSpy article were released in 2005, beginning in March. I have sent an e-mail to Mr. Bart to inquire about his facts (I’ll report on that soon). But it is safe to say that video game sales are down and the numbers are there to support it.

In 2004 retail sales of video games, which includes portable and console hardware, software and accessories, reached more than $9.9 billion – a decline of less than one percent when compared to $10 billion in the previous year. “Compared to the same time last year, this November showed an 18 percent dip in retail sales to $696 million. Hardware sales dipped even lower, falling 21 percent from last year’s figures to $456 million,” from the latest NPD Group data released (12/15/05).

It comes full circle with gamers wanting more out of their game when they plunk down $50 (and more) on a game these days. In my opinion the quality, along with creativity for their titles has been rather non-existent. These days it’s “all about the franchise.” You know those titles, Quake, Madden, Grand Theft Auto and The Sims, just to name a few. I rant and rave about the bottom line with developers and publishers being all about making money. I guess some don’t give a shit when it comes their final product.

Gamers will be gamers, or lemmings, buying what is hot and avoiding what it not, based off reviews and conversations with other gamers. Hopefully some of these developers, like a Splash Damage, can actually introduce something unique and revolutionary when it comes to their first retail title. Why? They come from humble beginnings in the mod community of Quake, so seeing them progress and work to achieve their position today is something rarely seen.

As for me, I will continue to be stingy with what discretionary income I have to spend on upcoming to so called “hot titles.” But for now, I don’t see anything that really needs to find a home on my hard drive.