It was around May 2006, I was newly married and unemployed. Suffice to say, I had NO money. None! A new video game system was actually the furthest thing from my mind. I had still managed to play a few games. I had the Xbox at my house, but I only played it when someone else came over. I wanted to play games, but I felt a little guilty for doing it. I knew I should be working somewhere, but with all the free time from not working, I had to do something. I found myself getting out my old Super Nintendo to fill the empty hours playing some of my old favorites. It was completely unsatisfying and I was ready to quit on video games for good. So, when my older brother came back from training for the Marines suggested trading in the Xbox for an Xbox 360, I had no objections. I wasn't using the system and if he could get some enjoyment out, then that was a good thing.
I surrendered my original Xbox and went to Game Crazy where we were going to make the exchange. Even with all the Xbox equipment there was still a pretty significant amount left to pay towards a 360, but my brother gladly paid it. He also picked out our first 360 game, Enchanted Arm, to my objections (I really wanted Top Spin 2). I figured he was paying for it he should be able to pick it out. So we took the new system home and hooked it up at my parent's house, on a 20" tube TV, the old kind with the curved screen. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed. Apparently neither was anyone else in my family. My brother went back to work with the Marines and left the Xbox 360 behind, where it remained largely untouched for months.
So time goes on and I don't give a thought to the 360 for about five months. Then in November I manage to find a full-time job and set to work. Soon I discover that I have a lot more money available now that I'm working (go figure :p). I feel a lot better about my situation and don't feel like I'm totally wasting my time if I sit down for a while just to play video games. Of course, this gets me thinking about all the fun I had with my old Xbox and I am a little resentful about trading it in. So, the next time I've over at my parent's house I notice the neglected 360 and ask if anyone minds if I move it to my house. No one there objects and this magical gaming machine makes its way to my house. So, I hook it up to my system, the same one I used with the original Xbox, and... I just leave it sitting. I only turned it on to make sure I had it hooked up right.
So, Christmas goes by and I discover that when you've moved out on your own you're responsible for buying your own presents. So, I was still without a video game I actually wanted to play. In January, I was moved out of my temp status at my new job and was given a raise. I felt pretty good about myself and figured I deserved a reward. I had seen some commercials on TV for a new 360 game coming out that looked like just the right trophy to top off my recent success. I took a few of the original Xbox games we had kept, along with the unwanted Enchanted Arm game, and headed off to Game Crazy again to pick up Lost Planet! With the trade in credit I decided to go with the Collectors Edition, mostly for the bonus multiplayer stage included, and headed home, very excited about my purchase.
So when I finally get to sit down to play my new game I turn it on and am reintroduced to the Xbox 360. The graphics and sound is every bit of what a next generation system should be. However, upon starting to play I have mixed reaction about my game of choice. I feel like the game plays really slow and actually had a little trouble with the control scheme (I didn't even know you could roll at first). I turned the game off after about an hour and was only frustrated and slightly upset. However, I didn't spend $70 on a game to let it sit, so I decided I'd give it another chance. I'm glad I did. Lost Planet might not be everyone cup of tea, but the production values are through the roof. The games boss battles are so well made. The combination of the heart pounding battles and amazing visuals and amazing 5.1 sound had me enthralled. I was now an official Xbox 360 fan. There was no denying it.
Now I had the Xbox 360 and a game I liked, but I was still missing something; I did not have internet. Because of my previous experience with Live, I wanted to sign up again, but I wasn't about to get high speed internet just so I could hook it up to the Xbox. So, I decided to buy a computer. I figured I would need a computer eventually anyway. It worked out to be a good time as I had just filled out my income tax return and found I was getting a $650 refund (I had a whole $1000 of taxable income in 2006). So I did some research and decided on a Windows Vista Home Premium Desktop PC from Compaq and used the money from my tax return to pay for it. It was a good choice and provided me with the perfect excuse to add internet to the Xbox.
It was around March by the time I received my computer I had ordered and gotten the internet set up. I had played through the entire campaign on Lost Planet and was just itching to try the online. It took some work, but I managed get my hands on an Xbox Live Gold pack, complete with vision camera and Xbox Live Arcade titles (and yet another headset). I picked up a $20 wireless router and some ethernet cable and was ready to get on Xbox Live. I spent an afternoon getting everything plugged in and sat down that evening to my first session on the 360. Once again, however, my first impressions were not that great. I got my butt kicked in my first few matches on Lost Planet. That, added to the long wait times in the lobbies was enough to stain my original impressions of the service I had enjoyed so much on the original Xbox. I felt almost like I had wasted my money.
I'm sure now you're wondering how I ever got to liking this device with all these mixed first impressions. Well, there were two things that surprisingly endeared me to the 360. The first was achievement points. Microsoft was running an Xbox Rewards program that gave you prizes if for increasing your gamerscore by 1500 points. The challenge got me to play several different games and different game modes for the games I did have in order to unlock achievements. In the end I didn't get much except a gamer pic and a free copy of the Xbox live Arcade game Contra, but it was enough. I had fallen in love with achievement points and was already trying to unlock more. The second thing that made me a believer was the Xbox Live Arcade. Initially I was totally turned off to the idea, but when I saw that there were some fun titles on it I decided I would try it. I had gotten a copy of Uno and Robotron for free with my Xbox Live membership and really liked them. I downloaded Ninja Turtles Arcade and Geometry Wars, and pretty soon the XBLA became my favorite feature on the new Xbox.
Since then I've managed to find even more fun features and uses for my Xbox 360. I got a new 19" LCD HDTV monitor to display it on. Also, I have added a TV tuner in my computer, for over air HD (I don't have cable). Since Windows Vista has media center built in I am able to use my Xbox as a Media Center Extender. It's cool because my TV is in the basement and has no way of getting HD programming. Of course I've bought a few more games and rented several more. I have also discovered the numerous amount of demos for Xbox 360 games in the Xbox Live Marketplace. Downloading demos has actually become my method of choice for deciding if I'm willing to try an upcoming game. Of course I have made a few friends on Xbox Live. I find it amazing how well you're able to organize matches using the voice chat, even while watching TV in Media Center, or while playing completely separate games. It's nice!
Now, here I am today. After work I'm going to go out and place my preorder for Halo 3. I am very excited about it! I am absolutely in love with the 360. I love Xbox Live. I love the Xbox Live Arcade. I love achievements! I love the large selection of games on the Xbox 360! After all I've been through I know I am pretty fortunate to have this video game system and I couldn't be happier with any other product.
Thanks for Reading!