Systems Have I Loved: Microsoft XBox

I have no idea what possesses me to buy these freaking things, but I bought this, I think, in the winter of ’02. I suspect there was a sale.

System: Microsoft’s first real entry into the console world was pretty good. The controller pictured was not the one I had. I had the smaller, more comfortable PS2-esque “controller S,” which they had to introduce in Japan because people couldn’t use the monstrosity they originally released. The console itself was enormous and heavy, yes, but it boasted some excellent games and I can’t deny I got many happy hours of play out of it before selling it prior to moving to NYC. I used the money to buy an iPod. Sorry Bill.

Favorite Games: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC. Holy shit this game is amazing. I couldn’t help but think – why wasn’t this a movie? My favorite Star Wars game of all time, narrowly stealing the crown from X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. A storyline worthy of its own film (although that’s perhaps faint praise these days), great characters, locations, etc. A great game from Bioware, who I have since followed faithfully.

Bioware also released Jade Empire, which I dug a lot, despite its flaws. I love RPGs. I love kung fu movies. BAM. Synergy. Also, John Cleese did one of the voices in the game. That’s a trifecta. It was a little on the short side, though.

Jet Set Radio Future came with my system, but I ended up taking a real shine to it. I liked the cel-shaded visuals and the music especially (lots of Beastie Boys side projects and Grand Royal records stuff), and the skating mechanic was mostly excellent. Good level design, nice “look,” and a nice balance between “skate anywhere” and “complete this mission to advance.”

Least Favorite: My XBox came with the Jet Set Radio Future/Sega GT 2002 double game pack. I don’t like racing games (outside of the kart variety), so I was unsurprisingly not in love with Sega GT 2002. Racing sims are boring, y’all.

Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords was good, but ultimately disappointing because the story tried to set up a twist on par with the first one (which is something I would call borderline impossible), and not only failed, but majorly failed. You saw the twist coming from more or less the first hour of the game, and while it was still fun, it wasn’t the first one, which was just about pitch perfect. It had a tough act to follow, and it did the same material but slightly worse. Paled in comparison.

Fable was fun, but waayyy overhyped. Apparently there weren’t a lot of games I didn’t like so much as didn’t like enough. Still, short enough to play through twice. The second time I play through any game with a morality system is always murder murder murder.

Personal Quirks: The XBox was, I believe, the first system to come standard with a hard drive. It let you rip your CDs to the hard drive as well, and certain games would play the mp3s you had ripped in the background instead of whatever music normally played. So, if you played Fusion Frenzy with me (a nice $20 four person party game title), you were subjected to They Might Be Giants. Nerdiest night ever!

Up next: the PlayStation 3.