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Xbox 360's Best (and Worst) Moments
So the Xbox 360 has nearly reached the end of its life cycle.
Microsoft are soon to announce the successor to their hugely successful console, and we're waiting with baited breath to see what they've got hidden behind that curtain.
So while we wait, let's recount the highlights (and the lowlights) that have defined the 360's lifespan. Here are the Xbox 360's best, and worst, moments.
BEST MOMENT: The Kinect
Although it wasn't utilised as well as it could have been, the Kinect was still an awe-inspiring piece of technology that forced every gaming journalist to repeatedly refer to the movie Minority Report back in 2010.
While it didn't quite feel like the future of gaming that it was touted as being, its greatest innovation didn't really have anything to do with video games at all - navigating the Xbox Dashboard using your hands and voice, while a little finnicky, was a good insight into what ways the inevitable Kinect 2.0 can be implemented in the Xbox 360's successor.
WORST MOMENT: The Kinect's Games
Unfortunately, the initial excitement surrounding the Kinect quickly subsided when it became apparent that Microsoft didn't have a software line-up that was going to showcase the technology in the way that we'd hoped.
Games such as Kinect Star Wars and Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor took potentially great ideas but failed to implement them properly, while the rest of the Kinect's library was mostly just shovelware or kid-friendly titles such as Kinectimals.
While I have no problem with kids being accomodated to (if Nintendo didn't accomodate to my tastes as a youngster, you would not be reading this), but it seems that the Kinect came into fruition despite no one really knowing how they could successfully implement it into a video game. Hopefully this changes in the future.
BEST MOMENT: Gears of War
I'm not the biggest Gears of War fan, but the impact it had on the success of the Xbox 360 cannot be denied. Before GoW came along, the 360 was suffering from an overabundance of average sports titles and very few must-have titles, but Gears of War's tense multiplayer gameplay convinced many to plump up the cash for Microsoft's console, and in the process was responsible for introducing a whole new wave of people to online gaming.
WORST MOMENT: Xbox Live Gold Membership
Yes, the Xbox 360's online service is more adept than that of the PlayStation 3's, but the fact of the matter is we simply shouldn't have to pay for it.
Xbox Live Gold gives virtually nothing back to the consumer in exchange for their money other than granting them the ability to play their games online, and when you compare it with the PlayStation Plus service, which for the same amount of money gives players full retail release games for FREE, it will be surprising if Microsoft aren't vilified if they try to reintroduce a subscription service with their next console.
BEST MOMENT: The 'New Xbox Experience'
Do you remember the old Xbox 360 UI? It wasn't a pleasant sight. Consisting of five unappealing tabs (referred to as "blades"), when Microsoft unveiled the "New Xbox Experience" it was a breath of fresh air.
The Xbox 360 Dashboard featured smooth transitioning between content, much more user-friendly search tools and, yes, avatars. While today's Dashboard is cluttered with intrusive advertisements, its initial incarnation was a welcome visual update.
WORST MOMENT: Lack of Exclusives
In the past few years, the Xbox 360 has suffered from a notable lack of exclusive titles. Whereas Sony has brought us the likes of Uncharted, God of War and Heavy Rain, and is soon to give us The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls, all 360 owners have had at their disposal to use in frivolous "my console is better than your console" arguments are the Gears of War and Halo series.
While the Xbox 360 may have trumped the PlayStation 3 in terms of sales, it has not exactly bowed out of this console generation on a high note.
BEST MOMENT: Packaged Headset
It sounds so simple, but Microsoft's decision to package the Xbox 360 with a headset was a statement of intent, and helped it move towards becoming the most popular online console available today.
Whereas the PlayStation 3 was initially barren online, the Xbox 360 steadily built up a thriving community thanks to quality multiplayer titles and its user-friendly online service. Speaking of which...
WORST MOMENT: Red Ring of Death
For a while, Xbox 360 owners lived in fear of the 'Red Ring of Death', a fatal hardware error that forced many to rebuy the system again and again. As I only faced the Red Ring once I am considered to be one of the "lucky" ones, because many others found themselves constantly replacing their malfunctioning consoles.
Fortunately, Microsoft eventually sorted out the problem and we no longer have to worry that our Xbox 360's are going to turn spontaneously self-destruct. Which is nice.
Paul Tamburro is the UK Editor of Crave Online. Follow him on Twitter @PaulTamburro.