This Christmas will see its annually bout of gift exchanging and many people will find themselves with shiny new consoles to play video games on. The Playstation 4 and Xbox One are sure to dominate this year, with the Wii U not far behind them, spreading a whole new generation of joy to wine and kebab puke flavoured gamers the world over. Fancy pants share buttons and aggressively high definition graphics will light up living rooms and bedrooms as people dive into slightly more polished versions of games that they could play on their last gen machines. Unfortunately though, in order for the next gen to truly take over as the most important consoles on the market, it means that the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 will find themselves being phased out. Pushed to the back until they’re no longer relevant, and then eventually disappearing for good. Of course, it also means that eejits on Twitter will be calling them “retro” by February.
The good games started rolling in as rereleases of games I’d previously played on other consoles. Tomb Raider: Legend and Anniversary passed some time as I relived some of my favourite Playstation 2 moments and gathered a few achievements along the way. Street Fighter II gave me a shot of arcade action and Duke Nukem 3D took me back to my PS1 days while also allowing to compete in online death matches to knock the sunglasses of other Duke players from all around the world. These titles kept me going and did what they had to do, but it wasn’t until some hot new games dropped that I really became a fan. The first of which came in the shape of a violent lady named Rubi Malone, a paid assassin who quite simply didn’t give a fuck what you thought. She was in it to get the job done, get paid, and get the hell out of there. Her game, Wet, was exactly what I was looking for. It was a frantic slow-mo shooter which incorporated acrobatics and swordplay in an over-stylised Quentin-Tarantino-esque fashion. Although the game was fairly short, it had enough to keep me coming back for more, constantly attempted to better myself at the score attack and time trial modes. Miss Malone could have been my first love on Xbox, and my first reason to think that this generation of games may just have something to say.
Of course Wet and Dante’s Inferno were just the tip of the iceberg here. When I got into it, I realised that there were tons of great games available on the console. Being a big fan of horror, I loved the first instalment in the Dead Space series. Here was something that took me out of my shoot-now-think-later comfort zone and threw me onto a ship where ammo and health were scarce, but horrific beasts and mutilation were plentiful. It was a survival horror game set upon a lost ship in the depths of space, and left me not only fighting for my life in conventional ways against the monstrosities on board, but also fighting for air to make sure I didn’t just drop like a sack of space potatoes. Dead Space forced me to think on my feet when confronted by alien uglies. Simply unloading on them would be about as effective as harsh language in a vacuum. Instead it made me consider my surrounding and systematically dismember my enemies, piece by piece, to end them. However, it wasn’t the beasts themselves that made Dead Space the terrifying experience that it was. No, it was the fear of them that did this, and ensured that my space cacks were constantly full. If there was one thing worse than battling a monster, it was knowing that it was in the room with me but being unable to find it. That’s where Dead Space really excelled. It was that perpetually fear of fear that drove this title and kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through, making Dead Space the best horror game on the system, bar none.
Some weird things happened during the Xbox 360’s lifetime, creating ripples throughout the world of gaming. Not only did we see the Kinect fall flat on its face and Max Payne shave his head, but we also saw Ninja Theory take Devil May Cry’s lead character and turn him into Captain Emo. I’d be lying pretty damn hard if I said I was a fan of the new Dante when he first appeared; quite the opposite in fact. I was pissed off, I was unimpressed, and I was downright offended that they had taken one of my all time favourite video game characters and changed him into just another boring looking wannabe thug. Fucking around with his story of his father being a demon to squeeze in the new idea of his mother also being an angel didn’t get me onto Team New-Dante either. Now, not only had they Twilight-ed the fucker up, but they were Little Nicky-ing him too? From the first time I saw the trailer for DmC, I had made up my mind that I fucking hated this game. If there truly was a Dante hate train doing circulating, as the internet would have us believe, then I was the one driving it. However, one faithful day while wearing my Sunday frown, I popped the game’s disc into my 360, began to play, and had that frown blown clean off my face by one of the most enjoyable hack ‘n’ slash games I’d played in a very long time. The combat was amazing, the combo potential was enormous, the one-liners were actually funny, and again the combat was amazing! This new Dante had picked me up, smacked me upside the head, put me back in my box, and kicked it off a cliff. DmC was not only one of the most surprisingly fun games I had played that year, but also I one that I’ve been dying to replay ever since. New Dante doesn’t hold a candle to his original counterpart, but he has still earned a place in my heart by proving just how wrong I can be. I believe there’s a lesson to be learned here. A proverb that I’d expect to hear in from a wise old Chinese man, bestowing knowledge onto those who need it- Don’t judge a game by its trailer, or the Son of Sparda will kick the living shit out of you.
...Throughout my time on the Xbox 360, I found new games companies and producers which I promptly fell in love with; namely Suda 51 and Platinum Games. Suda is a mad man, pure and simple. What makes him more mental than other game designers like Ed Boon of Mortal Kombat fame or Cliffy. B who created the Gears of War series? Well for starters, Suda’s surname is a number. Secondly, Lollipop Chainsaw! Suda does the types of things that I’ve always enjoyed about gaming; he takes crazy and adds humour to it, creating a unique blend rarely found outside the mind of The Joker. In Lollipop Chainsaw, he created a comic book style happy-go-lucky world populated by zombie representations of different musical styles. Punk zombies, disco zombies, death metal zombies, all battling against a dumb blonde cheerleader who’s equal parts fun and Buffy Summers knock off. He pretty much summed up how school feels, except with more undead and less complete arseholes. He also gave us No More Heroes, a game where you play as an assassin who assassinates other assassins. Again, this takes place in a whole world of crazy shit, including grannies with rocket launcher shopping trolleys and crazy drunk bitches who like to slap gimps so hard with her baseball bat that they become fetish based missiles. How could anyone not love Suda’s work?
It was late in the generation’s life that I got to have a taste of the PS3’s variety of games. The Playstation fan is still within me, and still wants to have its time in the limelight. After years of Xbox-ing it made perfect sense to go straight for Playstation 3’s exclusives, and I was not disappointed. Twisted Metal was one of the main reasons I wanted one of these machines. I wanted to sit back into the driver’s seat of some of my favourite psychotic vehicles and bring about another carnival of carnage. Seeing Dollface rear her disfigured head for the first time on PS3 made me smile a crazy smile, reminding me of the days I’d spend as Darkside, ramming lesser vehicles into walls. Getting control of Sweet Tooth is always a pleasure, and some of the newer cars also really appealed to me. Meat Wagon stood out as a personal favourite of mine due to its fantastic special weapon in which it launched a stretcher out its back doors. The stretcher had a human strapped onto it, with a bomb implanted in its heart. From here, you could steer the poor soul into an enemy to blow them sky high. In the midst of laughing at this idea, I found it deeply disturbing yet a very enjoyable weapon to use.
Of course checking out The Last of Us, Heavenly Sword and The Adventures of Man-Lara… I mean Uncharted, was fun but the real star of the show on PS3 was God of War 3. I had waited many years to finally indulge in the last adventure of Kratos. He’s one of my favourite video game characters of all time, and he left me on a cliff hanger at the end of his second game. The third instalment was only available on PS3 so I bided my time. I played the waiting game. Then I realised that the waiting game was shit, so I played Street Fighter IV instead. Eventually though, I got to take that final step with Kratos, live his last adventure and fight that incredible battle against Zeus. I felt every blow, I watched in horror as the entire world around him was destroyed because of his anger, and in many ways I agreed with everything he had done. I even got to see his human side as he tried to protect a young girl named Pandora, ultimately losing to his own rage once again. I got everything I’ve ever wanted from God of War 3, and it holds a place in my heart that no game can take away.
For me though, the real meat and two veg of the generation was the Xbox 360. The console was quite simply a monster. It has been my go-to machine since 2009, and supplied me with an absurd amount of fantastic games. Throughout these years, I’ve taken to the skies in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, I’ve fought on the sides of both good and evil with the [Prototype] series, I’ve seamlessly scaled buildings in Mirror’s Edge, and I’ve kept Onechambara: Bikini Samurai Squad locked away in my closet so nobody knows I own a copy of it. That’s without mentioning the amazing time I spent galloping across the lonely planes of Red Dead Redemption, just contemplating my life a whole, or the shit time I’ve had playing through Duke Nukem Forever, wishing the damn thing had never gotten released. The fun of the WWE games with friends, or the satisfying solitude I found in Alice: Madness Returns. Through this machine I have learned how to play Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat at a tournament level, and I’ve also learned patience needed to be a ninja in Tenchu Z. From gritty atmosphere of Batman’s Arkham series to the tranquillity of Enslaved: Odyssey to The West. From the mind bending puzzles of Portal 2 to the sheer scale of Darksiders; the Xbox 360 has brought me to more places than I could have ever imagined.
As the new incarnations of Xbox and Playstation begin to silently kill off a generation of phenomenal gaming, I’m left torn. The gamer inside me wants to push on and purchase a Playstation 4 before Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat X and Drawn to Death get realised. It wants this machine so that it can carry on gaming long into the future, and so it can fucking bury the ferociously bad Xbox One. However, the collector in me doesn’t give two shits about moving forward. With the new machines taking over this Christmas like a Terminator sequel, my inner collector wants to grab all the 360 games that it’s missed and stack them high before they disappear off the face of the earth forever. Or even worse, before they get digitally rereleased on Xbox One for twice the price because they’re suddenly “retro”. Regardless of what the future may hold and what kind of changes this Christmas brings to the gaming market, I’ll still have a lot of love for my Xbox 360, my Playstation 3 and my Nintendo Wii for the games they’ve given me, the great times I’ve had playing them, and the games I still intend on playing.