From the first time I played Super Mario Bros. on the NES at a cousins place in the mid 80s, to the many consoles and gaming equipment I’ve had over the years, this has all lead to me almost exclusively playing all of my games on Xbox.
As young lad I had many systems and always favoured Nintendo. I had the Game Boy, NES, SNES and N64 (along with the Gamecube and Wii later) and had countless hours of fun playing these. As I grew older and became a teen, I also started playing alot on the PC. Classic adventure games such as Sam & Max, Under a Killing Moon, Day of the Tentacle through to DOOM, Duke Nukem, System Shock and Dark Forces. DOOM was also installed first as shareware from multiple floppy discs. A cruel way to demo a game compared to todays standards.
Some of these were played before 3D graphics cards even existed. I remember my Voodoo2 card which blew my mind with how it made graphics look. Later, I had a very powerful PC equipped with a top spec AMD Athlon chip which sounded like a jet engine everytime I turned it on. It made the Xbox 360 noise sound like a slight whisper! Building and upgrading PCs for fun was something I did often.
Then the original Xbox was announced. Preparing to just continue my support of Nintendo and buy the Gamecube, I didn’t have much interest in Microsoft’s new beast. I was a regular visitor of my local EB Games where the manger and I regularly spoke about all things gaming. He was excited for the Xbox and more I listened and read, the more I wanted it. From the power, controller, hard drive, ethernet port and amazing looking Halo game I needed to have this console.
At home I already had the PS2 which I was enjoying and the Gamecube would later be added to my collection but I was eagerly anticipating the Xbox. When it finally launched I bought Halo, Project Gotham Racing & Max Payne. Jet Set Radio also looked great but I had that on the Dreamcast already.
Local multiplayer games changed for me with the Xbox. Putting in many many hours with friends huddled around the same TV playing Goldeneye was fantastic but the Xbox took it to the next level. Sure, I had many hours of splitscreen Halo with friends which was great but it wasn’t until my friends and I hooked up four Xbox consoles and four TVs. This was unheard of on a console. Having done something similar with PCs, this was much easier to carry around and was plug and play. A bunch of guys playing Halo in a cold garage until the early hours of the morning. Xbox had hooked me.
Later I picked up Unreal Championship and had the first online multiplayer game on Xbox. Having a Dreamcast, I was already playing Phantasy Star Online and some NFL2K but the Xbox was an all around better experience. Broadband being a requirement gave everyone a much better connection even though broadband was still in its infancy in Australia. Easy to join games and no lag made the experience feel truly like I was playing a console that was ahead of the competition. The PS2 online experience was a joke in comparison and Nintendo still had their heads stuck in the sand when it came to online gaming (and still do to a point).
Although only on the market for around four years, the original Xbox brought advanced features to the console space that I believe we wouldn’t have seen for several more years had Microsoft not entered the market. A unified online service that was the basis for what we have today.
In Australia, 2006 marked the arrival to the successor to the original Xbox – the Xbox 360. This would also mark the arrival for what would be my favourite console of all time. The amount of amazing games that would arrive on this console (and this console generation) was simply unmatched in my view. Games were a significant step up graphically from the previous generation due in part to the move to HDTV. But whereas we had open world games such as GTAIII (and sequels) the previous generation, the Xbox 360 took these games to another level. The moment I exited the sewers in Oblivion for the first time was one of my greatest gaming memories. Console gaming had grown up and was offering even more of what makes the PC so great.
The seamless blend of the offline and online world with games is something the 360 did so well. Constantly connected to your friends no matter what they were doing. Exceptional quality party chat to make communication in games a breeze. The way your GamerTag was brought along with you made everything easy. While Sony was still trying to get their PSN at a competitive level and Nintendo had horrendous friends codes, Microsoft was showing us how online needed to work. A foundation which was set with the original Xbox at a time when always online, internet connected devices were not common and internet access was more expensive.
The 360 also brought with it a stunning controller which, at the time, perfect the already great design of the Controller S. I can’t stress enough how important the offset analogue sticks are to my enjoyment of so many games. It feels so natural especially in shooters compared to the placement of the Duel Shock sticks with the PlayStation. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony sticks with their design so as not be seen as following the Xbox controllers lead. Comfortable to use for hours, a battery life that really lasted all combined with a guide button to give gamers quick access to what they needed whilst gaming.
The Xbox One was next for me and it was more of an evolution than a revolution. After the amazing previous generation, I felt the latest generation of consoles in 2013 were slow out of the gate. It took some time before we had a steady stream of games (which is common) but the jump graphically was less pronounced than going from the Xbox to the Xbox 360. Great features were added though which added to an already great experience. I don’t think I could go back to having a console where I didn’t have multitasking. Pausing a game to visit the store then jump back into it. Or putting the console in standby mode so as to have an easy way to resume later.
With the generation getting off to a slow start the Xbox One now has a great catalogue of games and exclusives as each console usually does. But the Xbox One has shown me Microsoft’s commitment to constantly adding features and listening to gamers. Some would say it’s out of necessity due to the poor showing of the console in 2013 and the PS4 being much more popular. If that is the case then so be it otherwise we wouldn’t have these features now that we will also expect going forward.
When I look back at my teen years when I was also PC gaming, I see features from the PC world being apart of consoles more and more. Online gaming is huge on consoles these days but it was restricted to PC when I was growing up. Digital distribution and always online is no longer something foreign to the console world. It’s a part of it. More games, once restricted to PC due to the type of game or technological shortcomings, are now releasing on consoles. Halo Wars 2 for example of a number of MMO games. As an Xbox gamer, I want this choice, I want variety and I want to play some of the gems that PC has always had and will continue to have like Cities:Skylines.
With backwards compatibility, we can now take some of our games with us just as PC has always done. A huge library of games playable on new hardware that span across the slowly dying traditional console generations we’ve always had. Even more games are playable through early access. Paying for a game that isn’t finished is something strange in the console world and just not possible at present on PS4 or Switch. Only Xbox allows me to play and be apart of a community whilst the game is still in development.
These types of features and games will only become more common and accepted as the years move on but these weren’t so easily digested back in 2013.
I’m sure many will ask themselves, if MaxPower likes PC games and the features it has so much then why not just play on PC?
As a teen I had alot more time to tinker with my PC. When I want to game then that’s what I want to do. I just want to pick up the controller and play the game. I don’t want to update drivers or change settings to get the absolute optimal looking and performing game that I can. Having a finite amount of time, I just want to play the games.
I feel Xbox gives me the best of all worlds rolled into one. To turn on the box and still get the same feeling I did back in 2002 in the garage playing networked Halo or online with Unreal Championship but on much more powerful hardware today with many more friends online…
That’s why green has always been my colour.