The entire week of Thanksgiving, I spent most of my time zombie-eyed in front of my TV with the sweet, sweet wireless 360 controller in hand. I had nine different games to play, and popping one out for the other every ten minutes took me back to my first days with the Super Famicom. While the 360 titles haven't had the same impact on me as Super Mario World, Pilotwings and F-Zero did way back when, they are still addictive enough to turn my brain into mush.
So yeah, overall, I love my shiny new 360. It's got a very solid initial game library, it's a fairly handsome piece of hardware, and the Xbox Live features continue to wow me. I've encountered a few rough spots (a hardware crash; trouble downloading things from Xbox Live Marketplace; a 360 headset that causes my voice to echo; a Ridge Racer 6 disc that inexplicably stopped working) -- but hey, no new console launch is flawless.
It really is amazing to think that the 360 comes from a company that's still a rookie in the games business. Microsoft has done an admirable job. (Well, except for the ridiculously low hardware shipments -- maybe a worldwide launch wasn't such a great idea after all?)
The only major thing missing is that one paradigm-shifting game that says "with this system, gaming just got better in ways you never dreamed of." Perfect Dark Zero, whether you think it's the second coming of Halo or not, is at least a fun, solid shooter, but it's obviously not a turning point for gaming. What you get with 360 is just what you'd expect: more of the same, only prettier, and with more online features. This isn't a bad thing, per se, especially so early in the system's lifespan. Hopefully, though, creative developers will soon find more creative ways to flex the system's extra muscle.
Switching over to PlayStation 3, I'm becoming more and more convinced that Sony will finally offer some sort of Xbox Live-type service. Kaz Hirai, President of Sony Computer Entertainment America, says as much in an interview we're running in the January PSM (shameless plug). I'll be very curious to see how they'll try to outdo Live.
BTW, for those who may not have been keeping a close watch on things, the general feeling amongst most in the industry these days is that PS3 will launch in Japan sometime next Spring or (more likely) Summer, with a U.S. launch in the fall/Holiday timeframe. That would give 360 almost a year's head start over here, which would just be huge for them. Better make the most of it, guys!
The only system I've been playing other than 360 is Nintendo's DS. How did this little "stop-gap" system rebound so strongly from a wishy-washy first few months? It took 360 to make me put Mario Kart DS down for even a second, and I'll be picking up the new Mario and Luigi DS title today. Plus, Animal Crossing is out in just a couple weeks, eventually followed by the New Super Mario Bros., Brain Training, Super Princess Peach and many more next year. Wowsers. (And for those who don't know, Nintendo's Osu! Tatake! Ouendan! and Jump Super Stars are absolute must-have Japanese imports.)
What an exciting time to be a gamer -- 360 ushering in the next generation, DS offering up fun innovation, and we still have PS3 and Revolution to look forward to :)