Alas, poor Yorick

A while back there was a request for me to talk more about the 360 now that I've had it for a while. Glad to oblige, eventually! But this discussion must be peppered with sadness for tomorrow my 360 goes out for warranty service. I've seen occasional freezes in several games, but it's gotten really bad in GRAW (Ghost Recon Advanced Warrior) multiplayer. I've been playing GRAW in cooperative mode exclusively, and at first I only played two or the rare three player games (due to lack of friends with 360s). As Tony and I harassed more people into buying one we got larger groups, and last week we had four and five player games. Except it turns out my 360 will pretty consistently freeze in a five player game - pretty much guaranteed it will happen before 10 minutes elapse. There's no blinking lights, no error messages, just the screen freezes and the controller input is ignored. I have to power-cycle the machine with the main power button. I thought at first it was an overheating problem, but it happens with the box sitting out on the hardwood floor with PLENTY of ventilation.

So, it's still under warranty and back it goes. I was humored with my first tech support call to Microsoft - as their support database was down. I figure they probably use IIS for their web server :-) But the second call went pretty smooth, they sent me a box and shipping label for sending the box back. I should get a replacement unit in a couple of weeks, so that's not too bad.

Having said all that, what do I think of the console? I like it a lot, but the game selection is still pretty limited. If you don't want to play a FPS or a driving game it would be difficult to recommend the machine right now. The Live implementation is fabulous, and the recent dashboard update makes it even better. I can turn on the machine, start my custom soundtrack and queue up some files for background download. Then I can go play an arcade title while the files DL in the background, until somebody shows up in my friend list. We can voice chat, pick out a game, switch to the game and the downloads automatically pause when we go online. (Mind you, the custom music streamed from my Mac survives all of these mode shifts.) We can play a game (likely GRAW) for a few hours, then wind up with some more casual play in the Live Arcade. Both Billiards and Uno are surprisingly fun as a way to wind down after a few hours fighting terrorists.

What games would I recommend for the machine?

  • Oblivion

  • PGR3

  • GRAW

From the Arcade:

  • Geometry Wars

  • Joust

  • Billiards

  • Marble Blast Ultra

  • Uno

The jury is still out on DoA4 - I've only tried it online once and we had some problematic connection issues (couldn't get a three player game working right.) Kameo was fun, but not epic. Perfect Dark Zero was pretty disappointing. I really liked Call Of Duty 2 for a while, but I started having some crashy problems with it (which might be my console's fault).