Every few years the game industry reinvents itself with another round of new consoles for gamers to gawk, drool and argue over. In less than a week some of you will be parting with your hard earned dough for Microsoft's Xbox 360. The point of this Survival Guide is to help you weather the inevitable firestorm of opinions, insults, slags and altogether downright nastiness on the newest console to grace our hobby. As the doctor said to my parents when I was born, "It's going to get ugly folks".

How poignant that the movie Chicken Little is in theaters as gamers, industry pundits, Pwned297 on some gaming message boards and the fat know it all kid in school will all be exclaiming "The sky is falling!" when the Xbox 360 hits retail. I'm here to tell you to relax. Among the sure things in life, besides death and taxes, is the reality that people are going to try and knock the veritable piss out of a new system. That's just the way it goes.

I'd be a bold faced liar if I told you I wasn't pumped about the Xbox 360. I'm not exactly thrilled with the launch titles which is almost looking like the video game equivalent of a Hollywood Square's celebrity panel (on an "off" day) due to the "been there, done that" nature of quite a few of the games, but that's to be expected. In fact, that always happens.

Let me explain.

In case you're new to the "next generation console" debut - perhaps you have only recently become a diehard gamer since the introduction of the current gen systems in 2000-2001 - in which case, let me show you the ropes so you don't become confused, frightened or too greatly disappointed. It will all work out in the wash soon enough.

Here is what is going to go down soon after the launch of the Xbox 360 or as I like to call it: "How To Survive The Xbox 360 Launch"

  • Launch titles won't score incredibly high on many game reviewers lists due to most games not being much further ahead than what we're already used to. At the very least don't expect too many 10 out 10's and 5 out of 5's. Don't even get your hopes up for 8's and 9's. This is normal as there is always an adjustment period for game developers to become comfortable with the new hardware. Don't go in expecting the jump from Super Mario World to Super Mario 64. Not going to happen. In fact, I'm almost certain something as significant as the technological leap from 2D to 3D will never happen again.
  • In regards to review scores, the opposite is also true. Some reviewers will score too high due to their excitement surrounding the new system.
  • Forum boards will be abuzz with trash talk due to the low scores of the launch titles, sounding the death knell for Microsoft's new system - pissing off early adoptees of the Xbox 360.
  • Some of the criticism will be justified, some of it will be trolling and some of it will be from disappointed gamers who really want Xbox 360's but can't get one, so instead they lash out and try to rain on the early adopters parade.
  • Xbox owners who haven't upgraded to the new system may also turn into willing participants in the Xbox 360 bashing. Look at it this way - anyone confident enough in their own decisions doesn't need to bad mouth others choices. It's as simple as that and it works both ways.
  • Gamers who actually have Xbox 360's will hotly debate how great the system is - some to the death - because they need to justify their inve$tment. See "pride" under the 7 Deadly Sins. This behavior is also normal; it's not very respectable but alas we're all only human.
  • When the PS2 launched I wasn't impressed with any of the titles and I wasn't the only one feeling this way. Most of the games were pure unadulterated garbage. Review ratings were dismal. People were saying the PS2 was dead before it even started...all sorts of ridiculous things. A few months later when some quality software was released, everyone shut their mouths. Those who badmouthed the PS2 were now investing in them or wishing they had one.
  • When the Xbox launched it was almost the same experience, except that PGR2 and Halo managed to make a pretty huge impression. Anyone remember Fuzion Frenzy? Cel Damage? How about that big ass controller?
  • Hot titles will be announced for the 360 but will years away from release. Halo 3 anyone? If Halo 3 manages to arrive on store shelves at the same time as the PS3, I'll eat my words. Literally. I will print this page out and actually eat that sentence, on video for your twisted enjoyment.
  • Buy an extended warranty for your system. I know, I know....but since this last generation of consoles turned out to house some of the crappiest electronics in existence, buy yourself some peace of mind. I'm not taking a chance as I no longer trust any huge electronics company thanks to 2 PS2s, 2, Xboxs and 2 GameCubes (the GC was my wife's fault as she dropped it). Who knows, maybe this Xbox 360 has this years equivalent of the original Xbox's Thompson drive....shudder.
  • If you do buy an Xbox 360 and a plethora of game titles and accessories, please park as close to the door as possible! There WILL be incidents of violence again - there always is. Don't be a victim. Go in a group if you can. Also don't go to pick up your system by bus or subway. You're just asking for trouble. If you do happen to get robbed, just let it go. Don't fight back and end up injured or dead. It's not worth your life. Look at this way, at least you'll be around for the PS3 launch...a little wiser perhaps.
  • Since the Xbox 360 will be the "hot toy" this year, expect shortages and people paying through the nose for it. If you have one or two systems to sell, expect to make a decent killing on eBay.
  • If you are going to buy a system on eBay make sure that you're not getting scammed. Hot ticket items like the Xbox 360 are targets for scammers. Even people with spotless feedback ratings are starting to get in on the scams. Buyer beware! Demand to see a photo of the goods along with a newspaper clearly showing the date (make sure the photo hasn't been Photoshopped!)
  • At E3 Microsoft and other third party developers will unveil Xbox 360 titles for the Fall that will make your eyes pop out of your head. Developers will have had more time to know the development kits and will be churning out games in a year or so that will really take advantage of the next gen architecture.
  • Prepare yourself for rounds 2 and 3, when the Nintendo Revolution and Sony PS3 are released and remember that everything on this list applies to those systems and launches as well.

Soon the launch of the Xbox 360 will be a distant memory and you'll be playing games that you think are actually worthy of being on a next gen system. For those early adopters of the Xbox 360 who will be purchasing the system on launch day (and up until the price drops significantly) I salute you. You are the unsung heroes of the gaming world. You take the financial bullet right between the eyes so that others may pay less for the same system down the road.

If you need some extra assistance in convincing your parents or guardians that the Xbox 360 isn't that expensive, all you have to do is read this article and catch your mom or dad admitting that they once owned Pong, Atari, Colecovision or Intellivision. Trust me you'll want this information in your corner!

Now's an exciting time to be a gamer whether you're an Xbox 360 enthusiast or not. Anything that generates a positive vibe to the gaming industry is a good thing for all gamers as it perpetuates the hobby that we all love.


Vaughn Smith

Nov. 17, 2005

By Vaughn