Early 2006. Seems it was only yesterday that, with all the wonder of a bright-eyed Ralphie eyeing the Red Ryder BB gun through the department store window, I stepped out of a sewer in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion to behold the sheer power of the Next-Generation of Gaming. Whirring loudly as if it meant to take off like a fighter jet, my new, over-heating Xbox 360, standing upright and proud, evidence of genuine evolution, showed me things I couldn't believe: crisply rendered trees blowing in the wind, water I felt I could quench my thirst in, and draw distances that led me to believe this virtual world went on forever.
Within months, I was a weighty Gear of war chainsawing the locust horde and I was the Master Chief taking it to the Covenant for the third time. I was Commander Shepherd exploring a vast galaxy and I was Niko Belic mowing down pedestrians in a massively gorgeous and sordid Liberty City. I played Call of Duty 4 and bore witness to the birth of a phenomenon. I watched as the very act of turning my 360 on took on new and different forms. I could stream music; I could video chat. I could stream MOVIES! My on-line profile now had a face, an avatar, that looked suspiciously like me. It wasn't long before these revolutionary moments were complimented by downloadable content, more and MORE DLC. Map-packs, in-game items, costumes, episodic missions, ZOMBIES! I could now download entire retail GAMES to my harddrive, gigs and GIGS of data, all under the panicked, over-bearing churning of the Xbox 360.
I don't recall how many consoles these changes put me through. 7? 8? T'was the Intercooler that took my first one. A 3rd-party's solution to the 1st-party's design flaw. After that lesson learned, I saw a few red-rings, heard a few odd sounds over the chugging and plugging of normal functioning that led to multiple phone calls to "Max" and subsequent trips to FedEx to have replaced my hardware; I began to wonder if McAllen, TX wasn't simply littered with the corpses of Xboxes, the air over it thick with the silent swan songs of flashing red lights beckoning their last to the heavens. It's sad that I came to expect the short life-span of my systems; if I got 6 months out of one, it was good run.
I finally settled on one in late 2009, my last go-around with MS repairs. My new struggle was space. Day one, 20GBs felt like I'd have enough space to will to my children and my children's children. Soon, I couldn't keep up, frantically deleting old game saves and map-packs for long-ignored games, opting out of DLC I wanted for sheer lack of space and will to delete anything else. But I was content juggling my 20GBs; it's all I really needed after all, me and my trusty 20-giger.
Then it happened.
March 2012, nearly six years to the day. Started with it running unusually loudly. Then a few in-game freezes followed by some slightly more alarming dashboard freezes. A few times, I had to hit the eject button two, if not THREE, times to convince the tray to open. I was good to get an hour, maybe two, of solid gameplay before I knew it would freeze; fitting that this realization would come whilst playing Halo Anniversary, a game I'd loved for 8 years on a system I'd loved for 6.
I let it rest; maybe it just needed time? A couple months have gone by, and today, powering on for the first time in weeks, it freezes within seconds of being on, first time, second time, third time... every time.
"Max" need not answer my call; I won't be placing one. I will not be expecting my 9th box of shipping supplies in the next couple of days; they're not coming. Though my Xbox has died; I will not be committing its body to the bone yard of McAllen, TX or dropping it off on the doorstep of a Game Stop for the pittance it might merit. We've been through too much together for me to simply let it go in lieu of an upgrade: we bested Call of Duties on Veteran together, witnessed the fall of the covenant AND the Fall of Reach together, dropped HUNDREDS of hours into the vastness of Cyrodiil and Skyrim together! Over 60,000 Gamerscore, tons of friends and countless memories we've amassed together, all within the confines of the same 20GBs.
With a heavy heart, I will unplug it, I will collect its wires and heavy brick power supply, I will detach my Halo 3 faceplate and replace it with the factory white one, and to complete the circle of life, I will place it all back in the same box that I opened with all the excitement of a child on Christmas morn only 6 years ago, and I will place that box in my closet to keep in honor of the end of an era I fondly remember and shan?t soon forget.
- In memoriam 20GB Xbox 360 (v8,) 2006 - (2009) - 2012
"I will soldier on."