Wednesday, May 17, 2006

My Tail of Whoa

One of the reasons I gave up on my Playstation 2 (I still have it but I
traded in all my games and its no longer my primary console. I only use it for reviews now.) is because of all of the problems I had with it. Disc read errors, games locking up, DVD's freezing in the middle of a movie - it was enough to make me want to scream! I went through three PS2's (I was Sony loyal to a fault) and my current one isn't the most reliable machine in the world.

I also had an original Xbox which never gave me any problems. So when I bought my Xbox 360 and heard rumors of overheating I didn't care. I didn't have one issue with my original Xbox and with all of the problems I had with my PS2's, I figured I had earned some good karma. Oops. That's what I get for thinking.

About 2 weeks ago my Xbox 360 started acting up - locking up during games, not signing me up for Xbox Live, displaying some kind of weird white and blue checker design on my blades. It was minor at first, just a hiccup. But then things got progressively worse until I couldn't even play anything. I was completely caught off guard by this. I didn't have one problem with it and suddenly it started screwing up on me. I knew it wasn't over heating because it would give me problems when I first turned it on, I knew it had to be something serious.

Thankfully, I also bought a service agreement from Game Crazy when I bought my 360 (Yes I have to buy my own consoles and no, I don't get reimbursed by The Gazette for it). I didn't do this when I bought my first PS2 and learned a very painful lesson. I brought it back to the store and they gave me another one with no hassles. Of course all of my single player loads, burned music and anything else on my hard drive no longer exists. Luckily my achievement points, gamer tag and friends list were not affected - but it still stinks.

While I know there are risks in buying the first generation of a new console (hello PS2 and Xbox 360) I know I would still have bought my 360 on launch day anyway. But there are some things I've come to realize as certainties when it comes to new gaming consoles.

#1 Buy a service agreement - The best way to cover your butt in case you get a bad console. I know the extra $40-$60 seems like a lot after you just plopped down a few hundred for your new system but its worth it. I prefer buying one from the store rather than the manufacturer. With my second PS2, I bought an agreement from Sony and I had to mail the console to them and wait weeks for it to get repaired. With my Xbox 360 I had a new console in 1/2 hour. Besides the time issue, the manufacturer would rather repair a console than send you a new one and chances are you're going to have the same problem anyway. With a local store, you deal with a real person and they're much more helpful - especially if you're a regular.

#2 Don't be blinded by loyalty - One of the first things that popped into my head after getting locked up for the fifth time while trying to play some online Battlefield 2 was "Screw this, I'm trading this hunk of junk in for a PS3". And I know I will, if I have any more problems with the 360. As much as I love all of the cool things the 360 can do and as great as I know Xbox Live is, my prior experience has taught me that there is no such thing as product loyalty when it comes to gaming consoles. I plunked down $400 for an Xbox 360, I expect the damn thing to work everytime. If it doesn't, I'll trade it in and move on. I know for some gamers this is blasphemy. There are Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony fanboys out there that would rather eat a hand grenade then play an opposing system - I know, I used to be one of them. Not anymore. I spend way too much of my hard earned cash to waste it on a system that doesn't deliver what it advertised. Its time a console was loyal to me, not the other way around.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing any console maker, I'm not bent out of shape about my recent 360 issue. I know it happens sometimes and I still think Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft make incredible products. I'm looking forward to the PS3 and the Wii and I still love my 360. I'm a gamerguy and I always will be.

Gamerguy is the key word in that last sentence. I'm all about video games and the enjoyment I get from gaming. No matter what system its on.

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