The last few days have been quite interesting. The end of the year is the time of cheap games, for starters.

My new year’s celebrations were held this time in Animal Crossing: Let’s Go to the City. This game seems quite interesting so far, though I have to say the game doesn’t hit me like the previous parts did. Wasting time is starting to feel like wasting time!

Aside of that, I have, right at hand, a brand new system that was, to say the least, quite WTFy to get (to abuse innocent commas). It seems that this generation of consoles is really full of weird acquisitionary WTFs!

So here I am, a new owner of an XBox 360. I figured that simply having a Wii won’t cut it, and a serious gamer needs two next-gen consoles: Wii gets amazing interesting games and XBox 360 will get many of the remaining massive multiplatform megahits, since Wii doesn’t necessarily have the marbles to run the bigger titles. Oh, to get Soul Calibur IV! Oh, to get a smooth-running TES4: Oblivion!

The first big WTF moment was the package contents. You know the stereotype: “Nintendo is for kids, the $alternateconsoleoftheday is for Real Men.” Well damn! If they want to enforce that stereotype, maybe they should pick the pack-in titles with a bit more care.

packin-bundle-fight.jpg<div align="center">On the left: The totally hardcore rad-to-the-max pack-in game bundle (from late 2008).
On the right: The flimsy kiddie pack-in demo (from early 2005).
This was all the game store had. I may eventually try these games. Eventually.

Back to the two-platform approach for a bit. While on the holidays, I was joking to my sister that maybe they should make hardcore gamer bags that would carry both Wii and XBox 360. But when I saw the unpacked console, I had a very distinct sinking feeling. I had been under the impression that XBox 360 was going to be smaller and sleeker than its predecessor, but never in my life I could have anticipated how - pardon for not coming up with a more apt description - fng huge this thing is. Fng metal chassis. Fng huge connectors at the end of the cables. Fng gigantic “please insert the plug in a power outlet fed by a medium-sized nuclear reactor” power supply (and I thought Wii’s big power supply was a minus). I’m afraid no bag on this Earth can possibly carry this thing. (Or maybe I’ll use my iron-reinforced camping backbag on my next holiday trip…)

Then, the connections. My eyebrows rose when I saw that Wii only supported WLAN out of box, but so far, this has worked pretty well practically. Thus, my eyebrows rose even further when I saw XBox 360 supported Ethernet out of box, but not WLAN! …and came with an Ethernet cable that was way too short for my use. The store had 5 m cables, which were probably adequate but could be too short, so I got the next, longer one - a 10 m cable. Sold pre-knotted. Yay.

But aside of these little quirks, I’ve so far enjoyed XBox 360. I picked up BioShock, and aside of a few promo shots and a gigantic bunch of playing Thief and a nearly encyclopaedic knowledge of System Shock 2 (well, as encyclopaedic as anyone can have after about half a hour of playing…), I had no idea what to expect. A very pleasant and positive surprise indeed! I got Soulcalibur IV for pretty cheap, waltzed in the Xbox Live, was surprised by the somewhat low quality of the voice chat (but I suppose it’s much better than no voice chat at all!), was amused by the fact that the first voice chat comment that I could make sense of from another player was something along the lines of “this lag is killing me”, and pwn’t the first match I could actually play in. (SC2 experience probably helps.)

Speaking of BioShock, I’ve long been a big sceptic of dual-stick controls - I’ve been a mouse-and-keyboard (or lock-on-the-target or lock-and-wiimote-zap, in case of Metroid Primes) kind of a guy. Now, it seems to me that the system doesn’t entirely suck. As a gigantic Metroid fan, I obviously grabbed Halo 3, and was again somewhat positively surprised. A couple of pages of manual and one page of backstory explanation doesn’t really help me a whole lot, but who cares, I got the basic idea pretty fast - just shoot whatever’s trying to shoot you and run to the next room. …and I ran out of ammo and it autosaved and basically I needed to grab weapons from a room with giant load of enemies and dodge and shoot and die a lot. Damn, if they want me to save the world, they should at least invest in some freaking energy guns! Oh well, I guess this will turn much more fun in time!