For those of you familiar with my blog, you’ll know there are plenty of things I despair about in gaming today. This has included everything from continuous, yearly updates through to the stupidity of enemy AI. One thing I haven’t complained about in a while though is multiplayer gaming. This is because I haven’t ventured beyond split screen in a long time.
Without sounding like a dinosaur, I remember early networked versions of Quake played at school. I also remember how frustrating and technical they could be just to get set up. Don’t even get me started on latency, ping and hacking the game. Of course, things got better. Just look at how (Steam aside) Counter-Strike: Source is practically a three clicks and you’re there affair. Even still, issues can arise.
All of this is what makes Xbox Live such a superb workable solution to online gaming. No longer just the domain of the leet-speaking techno-geek, gaming is now a pursuit enjoyed by the masses (thanks to the Sony magic believe it or not). Online gaming is now only just a button press away – is also on the TV to boot.
The migration of gaming out of the bedroom and into the living room has resulted in the sight of many (more than 50% of Xbox 360 owners according to Microsoft) people sticking on a headset mic and lambasting each other. More to the point, it has conncected them in way which make their experiences more valid. This has been brought on through camaraderie, a sense of adventure, humour and competition.
I am in complete support of Live and really enjoy the features it provides. The demos are good, the micro transactions on the whole reasonably good value and the free game content is excellent. Even factoring in £35 per year, I’d certainly consider it worth the money.
So, here’s a quick recap on the features of Xbox Live Gold:
* Friends service
* Text and video messaging service
* One stop download centre for updates, demos, extra content etc
* Premium multiplayer experience including matchmaking and feedback tools
So, what’s not to like? Well there are idiots on there – there is a system to report them though. How bothered you get by a twelve-year-old kid calling you names is up to you. A lack of open net access was also a very glib choice by Microsoft. After all, it does mean you are a locked into an extremely value engineered system.
With this few problems in mind, I’m pretty sure that Xbox Live Gold is pretty much a must buy – if you’re a bit luckier than me. I’m unlucky in that my router is too far away from my 360 at the moment, and there’s no way I’m paying for the overpriced wireless dongle for it. Never mind. Other than that though, if you’re curious to experience multiplayer and you are looking at a console then there’s no better a choice than Live.