Friday 10 August 2018

My Xbox Experiences: Part 1 [Personal]

I’ve said before that my Xbox history has been determined by Forza, and that is certainly true. It’s been just over six years since first joining the Xbox family, and I’ve had some great experiences over the years – with the Forza series being the starting point for both consoles. This first part will be giving my experiences from the 360, with the second giving those of the One.

When I first got my hands on the Xbox 360, I did make a first impressions post where I covered in brief about playing Kinect Sports and Kinect Adventures, as well as Forza Motorsport 4. Aside from that post, the only other time I’d be mentioning Xbox would be during E3. Only recently have I started really covering some of the experiences I’ve had on Xbox. So just like I covered a year of Switch, this post is covering my experiences of gaming on Xbox. But more personal.

Sometime between E3 2012 and the Xbox 360 First Impressions post, I had indeed got an Xbox 360. The Kinect Celebration pack – a celebration of Britain – had been the console of choice for me. I’d played the two Kinect games and found them good, but the reason for buying the console in the first place had been because of that Forza Horizon trailer. But that wasn’t releasing until later that year, so Forza Motorsport 4 would have to do instead.

Now, I have to admit, I have a habit of wanting consoles for the exclusive racing games that come with them. I was already a fan of Mario Kart, and so new Nintendo consoles were purchased as a given they’d be getting a new Kart at some point – with the Wii also having the rather fun Exite Truck released near launch. The PS3 was purchased when Gran Turismo 5 released for it back in 2010, and I’d certainly had fun with it. Then came the Xbox 360 and Forza Motorsport 4, which is when I have to say was the point when Playstation started to fizzle out for me in importance. I still got the PS Vita when that launched as I wasn’t passing up on ModNation Racers [and also came to play Need For Speed Most Wanted on it], but I found myself playing on the Playstation machines less.

With that bit of history out of the way, 2012 for the Xbox 360 saw me continue to play Forza Motorsport 4 for quite some time, and when Forza Horizon released I was hooked on it. Getting lost in the Horizon Festival on the streets of Colorado and journeying through the varying races to become Festival Champion was a lot of fun. It felt like a world to get invested in, and it certainly did that. As for the other games, Kinect Sports: Season 2 was fun to play for a while, lasting just over a year of occasional play. Skyrim was bought, but didn’t get played. I’d completed the first main quest and that was it. It never got touched again. I have no idea why I didn’t latch onto it, but I did at least experience it on Switch five years later [and unfortunately now associate the game with The Brittas Empire which I always seemed to be watching while playing it].

In celebration of the Olympics coming to Britain, the London 2012 Olympics was bought. I played it more than Skyrim, but wasn’t really liking the realistic approach – especially when still enjoying the original Mario and Sonic Olympics on the Wii. The first few months of owning an Xbox 360 was spent juggling the games I had with numerous demos. I’d demoed LEGO Batman 2, Need For Speed Carbon, F1 2012, Harry Potter for Kinect, WRC 3, Damage Inc., Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes, and Sonic Adventure 1.

I had trialled Sonic Adventure 2 as well, but that was bought the next day, along with Hydro Thunder Hurricane. Any sort of racing game I can get to grips with, and this is a game I had the original of on PC. Hurricane added three new modes to the original racing formula, and while I enjoyed gauntlet and ring master, racing was still where I had the most fun – and championships meant a mix of everything would be played. As for Adventure 2, need I saying anything? One of the original games I’d had for the Gamecube, I wanted the ability to play it without the ‘cube as it was one of my favourite Sonic the Hedgehog games.

GripShift, Need For Speed Most Wanted and Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed were demoed after Forza Horizon’s release. I’d got F1 Race Stars for Christmas, and was happy with it. It combined mascot racer with the more simulation-based racers – and while there was no manual gear shifting, neither was there drifting around corners. The variety of modes was great, and for a while it was my primary-tier game for the 360.

2013 was a continuation of buying for the new console. The Sonic Adventure 2 Battle DLC was bought in the first month, along with Things on Wheels in the fourth. If you’ve seen my review of that game, you’ll know that it’s possibly one of the only games I’ve regretted buying. Perhaps wanting to take the sting off things, I upgraded that trial of GripShift to the full game. January was also the month I downloaded the Sonic Generations demo, even though I’d already got the full game on PS3. April was a pretty packed month, with not only the two previously mentioned games, but also Joy Ride Turbo, Worms: Ultimate Mayhem, Minecraft, and Sonic Unleashed, as well as the 1000 Club expansion for Forza Horizon [though admittedly that was free].

Joy Ride Turbo was a breath of air from the more realistic racing of Forza, and while I wasn’t going to be calling it a competitor to Mario Kart, it was good fun racing across the stages along with the Stunt Park mode allowing for some free-roam driving. Worms: Ultimate Mayhem was bought after a craving for some 3D Worms action, and it was quite a fun game. As ever with Worms games, it was played mostly in local multiplayer role-playing as varying created teams. Minecraft is Minecraft. I’d bought it after wanting something more than the buggy free mode the old Minecraft launcher allowed to be played. As for Sonic Unleashed, I’ll be talking about that further down.

Fable 3 was the first Games With Gold game I’d claimed, followed a month later by Defence Grid. I also finally caved and bought Sonic Generations on the 360. Crackdown was the next game claimed on Games With Gold, but I never actually played it much until recently where I ran through the entire game and had a blast with it. I seriously can’t see why it was shelved after just one play back when it first became a part of my collection, but it has certainly got me excited for the third when that finally releases. Dead Rising 2 was also claimed on Games With Gold and I bought myself Nights into Dreams to see why the game was praised as much as it was. October was quite a fun month for me, as I finally dived into F1 2013. More than that, though – Sonic 06.

I’d joined the Sonic Stadium Messageboards in 2013 to join in with the hype around Sonic Lost World, and it was on those boards that I experienced the wider Sonic franchise. It was through joining SSMB that I felt I should try out some of the Sonic the Hedgehog games I’d missed out on, as well as some of the other SEGA franchises. But while on there, I was getting an understanding of this game and the near universal dislike of it. In October of 2013, I found out a cheap copy of Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 and bought it to experience it for myself. I could understand where the dislike came from, but found myself pretty indifferent to it, and while a few of the stages were replayed every once in a while, it was quickly forgot about.

As for Sonic Unleashed, I found it slightly off-putting after Generations. Oh, I loved the larger-scaled universe the game had, exploring the varying places it had to offer. But it was the gameplay where I felt it wasn’t as great. Funnily enough, I preferred the werehog levels to the normal hedgehog dash. With those normal levels, I was always slipping up in some small way as it felt too fast for me to get to grips with. The quick-time events didn’t help things either. I definitely preferred Generations of the two, though I had at least done the duty of completing the main story of Unleashed – despite the harder difficulty in later levels.

As a birthday gift to myself to end the year off, I finally bought Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD. I had played the third game while younger, and had enjoyed it. I was a big fan of Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 on the Gamecube, so some more extreme sports was always a good thing to have. Experiencing stages from the first two games was great fun, though it had obviously been quite a long time since I'd last had any time of the series. As such, it took a while to get back into it.

Now, for Christmas of 2013, I’d got a WiiU, and since I didn’t want my university room being cluttered with consoles, the choice was simple. I went with the newest one. So for 2014 and most of 2015 the only contact I had with my Xbox 360 was when back home. Instead of buying new games for it when I knew I’d be getting a few for the console I had at uni, I instead made the most of those I already had.

And that is all the experiences I had on the Xbox 360. Though of course part two will be looking at those experiences I had on the Xbox One, and there’s a lot more to tell with that, so in ten days’ time the second part will be added.