On Xbox’s 10 Year Anniversary we take a look back into the past, the present and a glimpse into the future for Microsoft’s little black and white boxes that could.
I wish I could say that I have fond memories of the launch of the original Xbox. Fact is I largely dismissed it and joined in the countless others that made fun of the system’s size and the controller meant only for those among us with giant hands. In the beginning the software seemed sparse and uninteresting and I heartily laughed at those lowly day one adopters on top of my mountain of PS2 games. Yes in those days I was the most foul of gaming kind, a close minded and utterly arrogant fanboy. Pleased in the knowledge that my system reined supreme I ignored anything that said Xbox, Halo or any DVD style case that was wearing a coat of green.
One day I remember my best friend calling me saying he had bought an Xbox. As a enormous fanboy at the time, and him my fellow Xbox decrier, I was disappointed, shocked and utterly ashamed of him. Getting in the car I drove as fast as I could to his house to admonish him for his terrible purchase. Shortly after arriving he began to show off his console’s new bells and whistles as I largely ignored him, instead flicking through a Game Informer magazine. As he droned on I had a look on my face that my friend says can only be described as distaste until suddenly I stumbled upon a large spread about a game called Project Ego. Just looking at the different art that adorned the pages raptly captured my attention and I poured over every detail. By the time I reached the end of the article and flipped back to the start of it I was ready to again declare the PS2’s superiority. In shock I read on the cover page of the article, the one that always detailed the platform, it was an Xbox exclusive.
That game, now known as Fable, suddenly crumbled my from-on-high Playstation fanboy tower. Before the end of the night I agreed to try a game I’d hardly even read about called Halo, made by some unknown to me studio named Bungie. Before this I had never really played FPS games, at least not seriously, and the opening cinematic and story hooked me. The first time I blew a banshee out of the sky or loaded up on a warthog I was smiling from ear to ear. Four hours later I went home absolutely hooked. Two weeks later I had my very own giant black box, which was incidentally, the first video game console I had ever purchased for myself. I’d been playing games since I was five but this was the first console that was truly all mine.
I remember distinctly as I blabbed about Halo, Project Gotham Racing, Dead or Alive 3 and even Cel Damage to all my friends; my very PlayStation minded friends. As I once had been, they were true fanboys. They would hear nothing of the first true console made by a US company. They didn’t want to hear me talk about all the features I wish I had paid attention to before launch; things like a hard-drive, the ability to burn music and an awesome cord that disconnected if tripped over keeping Xbox’s everywhere from crashing to the floor and causing numerous quakes due to their size. The greatest feature of all was yet to come though in a broadband only gaming service.
On November 15th, 2002, I would be among the first to go online with Xbox Live. Then the game I had for it was another first for me called MechAssault 2. It was the first multiplayer game I’d every played besides Ultima Online and the ability to speak to other gamers through a headset was, for me, jaw dropping. Nowadays I really don’t play online as much as I used to, but then I was actually close to the top of the leaderboards. Other games would follow like Crimson Skies, a game I all but mastered and eating noobs for breakfast was my most nutritious meal of the day. For me though the day was soon arriving where I would completely forsake all my former beliefs.
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic was close to releasing. As a huge Star Wars geek I knew I had to have the game. Problem was I was pretty much poor at the time. Having to watch a lot of new releases pass me by was painful and as the day came closer to my mecha game to dropping I knew drastic measures would have to be taken. Scouring the room trying to think of a way to get the game my eyes fell on my PlayStation 2. It had sat there, mostly unused, for the better part of a year. Sure it had fantastic games on it but I was invested in another machine. With tears of fond farewell, I took my PlayStation 2 and my humongous library of games to Gamestop and traded it all in. I was able to pick up tons of games that I had missed out on before due to lack of funds and I’ve since played Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic nine times and it’s sequel six.
Many brag about the lineup of the PS2 but I was enraptured by a cascade of Xbox games I loved. Fable, Halo 2 and Forza Motorsport; all games that would transfer over to the newer generation. However I also loved a bevy of titles that, while not performing critically, won my heart. Titles like Brute Force, Phantom Dust, Sudeki, Oddworld Strangers Wrath, Kingdom Under Fire (both games), Otogi and it’s sequel and even the glitchy and ultimately doomed Advent Rising. And that’s just the short list in interest of time.
Some of my favorite memories as an adult revolve around my good old days of my Xbox. I never went back to the PlayStation 2 that generation and to this day I really don’t regret it. Things would be much different when the next console launched though. Rather then be a late adopter I would be there on the drop day, at midnight, with money in hand.
Join me tomorrow as we discuss the black box switching to white and the great flip-flop of console dominance.