Sunday, December 25, 2005

Look Who Made It In Time For Christmas

"Ask and ye shall receive." And so it was...

Yes indeed readers, my quest has ended - I have obtained my XBOX 360.

The words emblazed upon this picture seem to be befitting in more than the obvious sense. If you'll read the second and third lines of text in this blog (found at the top of the page), you'll see that it reads, "The rantings of a man who has the funds and desire to make a purchase and can't do so on his own terms." My goal wasn't only to acquire an XBOX 360, but also, as my text reads, to do so on my owns terms, namely walking into a retailer and paying the retail price. That, unfortunately, is not what happened.

The XBOX 360 comfortably perched in my room is one that was bought on Ebay. Yes, that's correct, I said Ebay.

Afterall I've had to say about Ebay and it's opportunistic sellers, does making my own purchase through Ebay make me a sellout? A hypocrite? Perhaps, if you so choose to deem that way, but if I be those things, along with them I'm a proud owner of a XBOX 360, and that, above all else, was the goal all along.

So again, I refer back the to the two words placed on the image above; while they may not be the words I'd truly prefer to have up there, I find them appropriate because my mission has been accomplished about as much as George W. Bush's was when he uttered those same two words. Things haven't gone as planned, and the mission (in my case, buying a 360 for 399.99 at a local store without a reservation) wasn't truly accomplished, but I'm far better off than when I started, and that alone is reason for celebration.

Thankfully, my mission didn't have the fate of a nation and culture relying on it - just my own satisfaction and gamer pride, which I assure you are now thriving like never before.

With that said, I HAVE A FREAKING XBOX 360, MAN! And thus far I'm loving every minute of it. Trust me, you don't think about where you purchased it when you're playing it, it's just far too enjoyable an experience for anything like that. I wanted a 360 and now I've got it. What can I say? I'm stoked.

My current titles include: Perfect Dark: Zero, Project Gotham Racing 3, and Madden 2006. Once I've had some more time with the system and the games, I'll be sure to dish out my thoughts on it all(the good, the bad, and the ugly). But so far I can say everything has been superb; the games look astonishing(I almost crapped my pants when I first popped in PGR 3), the Dashboard is brilliantly clean and innovative, in my time so far I haven't had a single crash or overheat, and the fans(despite what I'd heard) are surprisingly quiet.

So there it is, I got my 360. On November 22nd this whole thing started and I was sure to tell the world(or maybe just a few people who actually read) that I wasn't happy about the whole debacle. It may have taken over a month, but things look much better when looking at them through a ring of light.

Lastly, this was suppose to a rant blog. Once my beef had ended, I was to be done and go quietly off on my way, satisfied with my prize. But really, what's life without balance? The good with the bad, the happy with the sad. So yeah, I think I'll stick around a little longer, maybe dish out a few game reviews, and let people know I do have a happy side.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all.

Still Satisfied in Life

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Blame Game

There's always someone to blame.

Isn't there?

You see, the very nature of this blog would suggest that there is. Afterall, I am pissed, but pissed with whom exactly? Where exactly is my dismay aimed at? Sure I've hinted in certain directions. Retailers(GameStop), Ebay "merchants", Microsoft, Japan. But really, none of these can be forced to fully shoulder the mighty blame of this XBOX 360 shortage. I may be rather miffed, but I'm not unjust.

I'd like to just blame ol' Billy boy and Microsoft, they are, afterall, the easiest of targets. But logic, as oppose to knee jerk reaction, demands we not slay MS in one strike with our troubles. Microsoft did not intentionally cause this shortage; only someone with the ignorance of a three-year-old would believe such nonsense. I do believe they are trying to produce as many units as possible, they take some heat from me because they are failing miserably, but not because I think they're trying to.

I've already voiced my dismay about Ebay and the people going for %200 percent profit and four-digit price tags on 360's. There's good reason why, so far, they've been the only ones singled out. On launch day morning, while waiting in line in the cold, the guy next to me confessed he already had a 360 and that he had got it at midnight. He was only in line here(a few hours later) to get a second one so he could sell it on Ebay. Now thankfully, this guy didn't get one. But just think if he had. He buys a premium system for $399.99 and the as a result maybe the guy behind him has to pay $850 for it on Ebay the next day. But again, it can't go all on a few individuals on Ebay. They may have contributed to a lack of units available in retail stores, but they didn't cause any shortages themselves.

The retailers only garner my disapproval due to the fact that they seemed to fail unequivocally in every area. From pre-launch and EB Games/GameStop's bundle or bust idea, to launch day when my local Circuit City didn't have a clue on how to deal with lines, to post launch day when retailers would say "no units till March", get some that week, and have no better explanation than "oops". It really isn't their fault they couldn't get enough units from MS, but still, most retailers made themselves look like dumbass in all this.

Japan. Now honestly, I never really had anything against Japan. I love Japan. But when I heard some people on launch day talk about Japan receiving units was dimishing the amount of units in North America, I thought it was an amusing enough theory to entertain somewhat.

Really truly, there is no one in particular to blame. Is that a bad thing? No, not really. It might make me feel better to have a bull's eye for my rhetorical darts, but I'd like much more to be playing a XBOX 360 than a game of darts.

signed in misery,
Still Standing in Line

Friday, December 09, 2005

Still Standing's Most Wanted

We all want things, me especially.

If this blog itself isn't enough evidence to convince you of that, then you were probably on O.J's jury.

Obviously, I want me an XBOX 360, the premium package, naturally. But what's a console without games? It's all about the games.

So, in the spirit of this all-inclusive, indiscriminatory, non-denominational holiday season (because democrats killed "Christmas"), Still Standing is making a list of his top five most wanted titles for the XBOX 360.

  • Madden 2006
Even with the 360 version being severly stripped down (no Superstar or Owner mode and the much acclaimed Mini Camp mode is also missing), all evaluations thus far have Madden as the best video game football experience to date. The graphics look amazing, the sound is said to be superb, and the core gameplay should remain the key draw in the veteran franchise.

  • Project Gotham Racing 3
Possibly the most visually astonishing game at launch, PGR 3, at least from a spectator's view point, seems like one of the closest things to a must have for the launch titles. A trimmed down selection of cars may cause some hardcore automotive enthusiasts to frown, but the incredible details in the cars that are included should keep the auto freaks happy. And of course the Xbox Live features will be a huge draw as well. Allow me a moment while I only dream about it...

  • Perfect Dark: Zero
Now granted, early on, I wasn't too optimistic about PDZ. I'm still not sold on Joanna Dark as a proper lead character. Nonetheless, the online play is said to be quite good and the graphics seem to be on par with anything else of this generation. I'm sure there's a fair number of people who don't care for it, but I certainly think the aforementioned multi-player is reason enough to nab a copy whenever I do manage myself a unit of the 360 goodness.

  • Kameo: Elements of Power
"Kameo is the most next-gen game at X05." Douglass C. Perry(IGN) wrote that in early October. And it was about at that point when I started to really take notice of Kameo. Much like Douglass, it would appear I have underestimated Rare's latest offering. The core gameplay is being touted as fun, original, and intelligent. It should be an interesting and unique platformer that is most certainly worth picking up.

  • NBA 2K6
Certainly this pick is based on the fact that I'm a big sports fan, hoops especially. I've always been a fan of the 2k series in both football and basketball. The graphics look astonishing, everything from sweat to tattoos is rendered with amazing detail. There's not much new offered up in terms of gameplay tweaks or game modes... but hey, look at that jersey! It flows!

Alas, all my speculation is still just that. Other bloggers are putting out reviews, I'm still just here 'in line'... Damn. I'm out.

signed in misery,
Still Standing in Line

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Gaming Moments With No Gaming

There's just no substitute.

UCLA and USC go at it today in a hell of a nice rivalry game. This writer has USC by two touchdowns, just in case you were wondering.

Oh, and Texas blows out Colorado in a landslide. Hook 'em horns, baby!

I do have a life. I hang out with friends, I like to read, I'm a sports junkie - I keep busy with all the usual routines. But it's those moments of free time, that night after a hard day, that slow weekend, or free half hour of time before you step out the door to make your next engagement - that's when a gamer without gaming suffers most. That, and when the hardcore gamer in you rises up and you feel the need to go on an eight hour Halo 2 marathon[check the play on words] .

You see, my position is likely worse than most without a 360. I currently have no gaming console. Why? Everytime I've purchased a new system, I tend to sell my old one(helps to pad the cost of those new items), which is precisely what I did with my XBOX. I sure as hell wasn't going to trade into EB Games either. I sold it to an acquaintance along with a few games for way more than I would have gotten at Gamestop. I did this a week before launch date for the 360, obviously, because I thought I'd be getting the newest thing in gaming. Heh, dumbass me, eh?

So here I sit, on a Saturday morning watching Tulsa and Central Florida on ESPN, about to dabble with RPG Maker XP to waste some time and take my mind off the fact that I have no gaming life.

Before the launch, I watched every XBOX 360 commercial with anticipation and glee. Now, at the site of a 360 ad(all of which are too familiar at this point) I scramble for the remote, maybe fumble it clumsily in haste for moment, and slam on the 'recall' button to change the channel to the one I was watching last. Why torture myself?

Lastly, understand this: not having an XBOX 360 isn't some sort of death sentence; there are plenty worse things that could happen to a person and I do have much bigger things to worry about. Perhaps that why I haven't posted in a few days, if you keep busy, the pain of lacking a gaming console lessens significantly. But it's the moments like these, lazy Saturday mornings, watching Central Florida on a second and seven on a fifty yard line, distracted by the relative silence, and left having to stare at the gaping void above your TV only dreaming about what could - nay, what should - be there.

signed in misery,
Still Standing in Line

Saturday, November 26, 2005

XBOX 360 to the Rescue(PC Mag)

An article on the XBOX 360 from John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine.


Dvorak's articles are always insightful so it's a good read.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Price Gouging

Why does this particular picture make it's way into a blog about the much anticipated, highly sought after XBOX 360? Simply put, because price gouging opportunists on Ebay are to the 360 what Saudi Arabi is to oil.

On the right you'll find a link directly to the results of a search query for the XBOX 360 on Ebay where countless morons are either trying to over charge to a ridiculous degree for the next-gen console, or rip you off to an even higher degree by taking your money and leaving you with nothing at all. If you click on the link you'll see prices that soar above retail value, once on the page, click on the refresh button and you'll see the bidding on these units rise before your very eyes. The fact that certain greedy individuals are attempting to take advantage of the shortage isn't what is surprising(anyone who isn't completely naive knew something like this was bound to happen), what is, however, is that people are flocking to an absurd means of acquiring this item.

I want an XBOX 360 about as much as anyone, that I've dedicated an entire blog to my anxious anticipation of it should be testament to that. But I'm not about to lower myself to the point where I deal with thieves, because that, in the simplest and most blunt terms, is what the Ebay 360 merchants are.

I'll wait till Christmas, till after that, or until March if I have to. Not happily mind you, but I'm not trading in my integrity for a video game console no matter how bad I want it. And you shouldn't either. As I'm sure you can tell by now, this isn't purely a monetary issue in my eyes - it's about the principle. We aren't just talking about overcharging someone for a product, that happens everyday, albeit on a smaller scale. We're talking about taking advantage of someone who likely stood out in the cold for hours to acquire this item at it's fair price, someone who is probably just a mom or a dad trying to get their kid the top item on their list.

Finally, I'd like to make it clear, I know these people didn't cause the shortages(there's other people to blame for that). I doubt anyone selling their 360 on Ebay sits in their house all day thinking up ways to take people's money. This is just a situation that happened and this is how some people have chosen to react to it, but that still doesn't make it right.

The people selling XBOX 360s on Ebay are fully within their rights to do what they're doing. In just the same way, however, I'm fully within my rights to tell those individuals to take their $1,000 offer and swivel on it.

signed in misery,
Still Standing in Line

I Want My XBOX 360

I want the much touted Xbox 360, this much I'm sure you already know.

What you likely don't know is my story, not personally. Nevertheless I'm sure you're familiar with one similar, and more than likely - if you're a gamer - had an experience similar to mine.

Imagine, or recall, if you will, a Best Buy, a Walmart, a Circuit City, or one of many other retail stores(anyone will do, or all of them if you made the complete roundup). Imagine a group of people, around fifty or so, lined up on a sidewalk. They're all different sorts of people, some hardcore gamers, other just moms or dads standing in line so their son can get the holiday's most coveted present(or to snag one for themselves). Race and class is mixed, but in defiance to what any other circumstance would suggest, that doesn't seem to matter here. Most everyone is friendly and eager despite unsavory conditions. There's a few malcontents grumbling about the cold and making it obvious they're in need of sleep, but this doesn't cause any real problems. The majority lined up are talkative. Conversations that would otherwise never take place thanks to barriers like age or occupation spark in speculation over the first next-generation system launch.

Hours pass and in many cases calenders shift - people have been waiting for a long ass time. Those in front of the line - despite cold and sleep deprivation - are in an enviable position. However long and arduous the wait may be, they know what's coming at the end. If you're stuck farther back, you're left only hoping your efforts will be successful.

This is the point where stories begin to vary.

For some, the campaign ends in blissful success and acquisition of the Xbox 360. Needless to say, my story didn't have that ending. Chances are, yours didn't either. I'm not alone in my lacking, this much I'm sure of. In every instance where I lined up unsuccessfully, I walked away as one of a dozen, two dozen, three dozen or more of people who didn't get what they came for, and that's just a damn shame.

Now by this point certain readers(those that are currently clutching a white wireless controller in their hands, no doubt) are screaming, "you could've gotten on if you really made an effort you idiot!" Surely thoughts of, 'why didn't this guy just preorder?' float around some people's head, these thoughts are certainly understandable and they pop into my head now and again, I assure you. Suffice to say, my brief explanations as to each possible retailer are given on the right sidebar. And if you're so inclined, call me an idiot for doing what I'm doing. I won't bitch about you bitching about me bitching, because hey, that would just be hypocritical.

And what exactly am I doing? I'm doing what any game obessessed person would do in an internet age, I'm grabbing whatever platform I can and complaining till I'm satisfied(which won't happen till I get my 360) or someone makes me stop.

From now until whenever I snag me an Xbox 360 I'm going to spout off on this here blog. Taking the occasional shot at Microsoft or retailers like Gamestop for taking so many damn preorders. Mostly though I'll just complain, try to entertain, and maybe post a few of my speculative thoughts on the 360 and its games.

So if you're like me and 360less, I'm sure you'll appreciate my expression of dismay. And if it's the opposite, then cackle away at my suffering, I'd do the same to you.

signed in misery,
Still Standing in Line
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