Gaming 2008: The Xbox 360

Not counting carry overs from Christmas 2007, I played exactly two disc-based games for my 360 this year, largely due to fears of the hardware failing again. One game was purchased in February, the other in November. The number of disc read errors I’ve gotten on the second game have not subsided this fear – even a post-NXE installation needed multiple tries.

But the appeal for me with the 360 continues to be Xbox Live Arcade, which is where most of my (space) bucks went.

## High Points & Surprises

Rez HD made a fantastic translation into an Arcade title. It provided me with a chance to finally work all the way through the game, and it now has a solid place in my heart. I would’ve bought it at retail at full price.

Culdcept Saga finally came out in the US, 15 months after the game came out in Japan. It was worth the wait for those into deep board games.

Braid made a strong statement for indie games on the 360; the story may not have made much sense, but the puzzles were inventive and the experience was a thrill. I wish I could play it with fresh eyes again.

Geometry Wars 2 showed the rest of the gaming industry how to do leaderboards. Hopefully people will follow Bizarre Creation’s lead in 2009.

n+ took my favorite flash game *ever* and turned it into some online behemoth. Bravo, metanet!

I didn’t end up buying it (due to lack of friends with it), but the translation of Ticket To Ride was well done.

## Low Points & Disappointments

Castle Crashers‘s broken network code. Horribly, horribly broken, enough so that I wouldn’t touch the online portion in fear of losing my saved game. It took three months to get a patch out, and in that time the community has mostly died off.

I was so turned off by the voice acting in Blue Dragon I didn’t get much past the tutorial before trading it back.

I was deep into Mass Effect when the year started, and finished it out within the first week. While the core story and plot were enjoyable, my completionist streak kicked up and I did all the side missions. And between the repetitive architecture, the horrible combat controls, and the general lack of variation, they ruined the game for me. Side missions matter.

While there were certainly enhancements to the core functionality, Gears of War 2 felt like more of the same. Another year, I would’ve given it much more attention; this year, it got lost in the pile.

## Open Questions

Why is Netflix now the reason I’m turning on my 360 the most?