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5:27 AM on 11.01.2008

NXE? Big whoop. How about fixing the hardware?

Dear Microsoft,

Take NXE and stick it up your collective backside, sideways. Stop pimping this to me, I'm really not
interested. The Dashboard works fine; it's your hardware that sucks.

Its not that I don't appreciate your efforts to make my console more accessible to everyone. Its not that I
have been unhappy with my Xbox 360 experience overall. Its not even the fact that you have THE worst
customer service I've ever experienced. I just want my 360 to work for more than 12 months.

360 #1 died giving disk-read errors almost a year ago to the day. It worked beautifully until the week after
PGR4 came out, then it decided that none of my games were actually 360 titles. Irritating, but I knew what I
was getting into with this machine and had kind of expected it. The retailer I bought it from were most
accommodating and replaced it with a newer HDMI-equipped model. Merrily I skipped home to continue
playing PGR4 and Halo 3.

360 #2 has been in a slow decline for over a month. Disk-read errors again, ramping-up in frequency and
severity over the last few weeks, finally becoming fatal at 0330 this morning whilst playing Fallout 3.

So I called you this morning to see how much this will cost me.

Yes, I have checked that my disks are clean and unscratched (all fifty or so of them). The game that saw the
final error came out of it's sealed case yesterday morning and went straight into the drive - brand-new and
unmarked. My Xbox lives in what is practically a clean-room environment (no smoking, no cat - this room is
also my home studio), with plenty of space around it for airflow. The light on the power-supply is green, the
console boots fine, I'm connected to Live, my Arcade titles work, I can stream music and video to the
machine - the 360 works, apart from the drive. It doesn't even get that hot during playing, especially not
compared to my Wii and PS3; it's been a model citizen until this. HOW MUCH? I can nearly buy a new
Arcade system for that! To put this error in some context for you, my PS1, PS2, XboxHUEG, Saturn and
Dreamcasts all still work perfectly. PERFECTLY. I have an 8 year-old iMac that still has a functioning DVD
drive, and a 10 year-old Technics CD player that works like the day it was bought. Why the hell am I facing
another new 360 or a repair bill?

Treating me like a child after I have waited thirty minutes to speak to somebody when I call you does NOT
endear you to me, pro-tip there. I KNOW how to connect my system up to my home theatre. I realise that
you have a script to stick to 'Michael', but when I have gone through all of your troubleshooting steps TWICE
and the machine still does not work as expected, DO NOT SAY "maybe we should try this again in case we
missed something". I wish to murder you 'Michael', slowly and horribly. To then put me on hold for ten
minutes and come back asking for 80 to fix it WILL send me into a rage - this is NOT my fault, this machine
is less than a year old and this is the SECOND time this has happened to me in a year. Disk-read errors are
the second most common reason for Xbox 360 failures after the three red lights as far as I can tell, so yes,
there is a problem with your hardware and it's design. YOU fix it at no cost to me.

Part of the reason I'm so annoyed by this is that I'm meant to be having a Rock Band party tonight. No 360
no Rock Band, obviously. So my partner has gone out scouting for the best deal on a new 360. We can use
the borked one in the lounge as a media extender, so its not totally useless (and who knows, it may red-ring
resulting in a refurb anyway). Its just the bloody inconvenience of it all and MS' useless phone-line that have
got to me. Well, that and losing my progress in Fallout 3 when the stupid thing hard-locked.

NXE looks nice really, though its not really for me. I just wish the hardware was up to scratch. You market
this as the hardcore gamer's machine, it should stand up to hardcore gaming. Will this new one be any
better? It bloody well better be!   read

3:43 AM on 10.01.2008

On games I thought were rubbish 1......

Working some weird shifts lately, so I've had a fair amount of time to spend with my
This, of course, leads to a re-examination of my games-collection and a re-play of some of

Notable among these games is the ever-controversial Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. Most of
you will harbour some pretty poor memories of this title, what with Gertsmann-gate and the
huge amounts of hyping the game received (and, most would say, failed to live up to)
before launch. I think it got an unfair mauling, to be honest and I reckoned a decent
playthrough might redeem it.

Graphically, the game does nothing really wrong. It's nice to see a developer decide on,
and stick to, a defined art-style. K&L is a bizarre-looking experience for the first two or
three levels, but once it ingrains itself it's hard to imagine anything else suiting the game as
well as this soft, pastelly weirdness. It's almost like playing an oil-painting at some points,
and clearly-defined edges and great lighting really set a convincing scene. The infamous
nightclub level is a fine case in point - the effect here is spectacular. The whole thing has a
(deliberate, I'm sure) filmic feel.

Gameplay-wise, there are some issues but nothing that seems to justify the savaging that
was unleashed last Christmas-time. Slightly floaty controls make aiming harder than it
needs to be, and there is a lack of useful zoom on most of the weapons. I solved these
problems by cranking the sensitivity up and getting the hell out of the way - there are
squad controls for a reason, and most of the time your team-mates are pretty useful.
Trying to run-and-gun this game will result in a lot of player deaths, and some not-
inconsiderable amount of swearing (viz. my first two hours with the game). Play the game
as its intended and you'll enjoy it a lot more and get further - the story drives the
gameplay, and there are some great moments to be savoured. Persevere with the controls
and spend some time tweaking them and they're actually not as bad as they first seem;
there's a school of thought that the aiming is purposefully vague, as neither of your
antiheroes are meant to be ex-soldiers or anything of the sort, and the stress of the
situations they find themselves in will affect their aim. This seems reasonable to me, and
with this in mind the whole premise of the game becomes more believable.

In essence, so far I'm really enjoying myself with K&L. They are a pair of scumbags and no
mistake, and it's a breath of fresh air to be honest. So much of my gaming time seems to
be spent doing the right thing as a grizzled combat veteran, that deliberately misbehaving
in control of a cockbag is really good fun. I realise that I could get a lot of the same kind of
fun from other games (GTA looms constantly over this feeling), but not with this same
degree of storytelling. Sometimes too much choice is a BAD thing in a game - K&L provides
a definite beginning and end with a rollicking story to boot, where the open-world games
kind of fizzle out when the story is done. Doing your own thing is great, and sometimes I
love the random mayhem of Just Cause, GTA or Mercenaries, but I REALLY love a good
story. Thanks to Kane & Lynch for (so far) giving me that.   read

7:41 PM on 09.16.2008

Long-time lurker, first-time blogger.......

Well, been hanging around Dtoid for ages (like six months or more) and finally got my lazy
ass signed up.
This blog thing is pretty cool - something I'd only been peripherally aware of before.
So, a bit about me then....

I'm Rob, early-thirties longtime gamer from sunny Jersey. I'll play just about anything if it's
any good, and my games-collection will bear that out. Right now I'm playing through NFS:
Pro-Street (decent enough, looks pretty and handles well), Kane & Lynch (not as bad as
people make out, shocking controls and camera), Braid (what's all the fuss about, eh?) and
Geometry Wars Evolved 2 (pure awesomeness in every way). These are all on 360 BTW - my
PS3 makes a great BluRay player but not much else, sadly. Looking forward to Wipeout next
week though, and Super Stardust HD keeps my DualShock3 busy!
I've owned or own just about every system as far back as the C64 (represent!), and have
played pretty much everything of worth on all of them. To my likely discredit though, I just
don't get Nintendo. Never have and probably never will (I have a Wii which gathers dust and a
DS Lite which my missus has stolen). I was a Sega fanboy back in the day, to the point where
I sold my beloved Amiga 500+ to import a Megadrive from Japan. Spendy but worth it - I
have three of the bloody things now (one boxed as new, one on display and one which gets
played every so often) and still look back on those days as the best time of my gaming life.
All-nighters on SFII, Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Headdy, Earthworm Jim and

I was drawn to Dtoid by the rantings of Sir Jim of Sterling - Metacritic pointed to a few of his
reviews as outliers in the scale of things, and the RE5 "controversy" brought me to the site.
Since then I've checked-in every day for my gaming news and thought it was time to become
a member of the community. Cheers to you all!   read

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