Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lights equal Warranty

Or "How Microsoft Did Me Over".

Just before Christmas my 360 started making funny noises when loading some games, Mass Effect being the most obvious. Then it started being a bit funny reading some discs, but give it a couple of tries and it would be fine. But everything really started going wrong just after I completed Assassin's Creed.

I was running around one of the cities trying to find some of the flags and Templars because I've got this nagging feeling that once all are found it's going to unlock something though I doubt I'll actually bother doing it. Anyway, as I was running around the graphics went majorly wrong the whole thing started cross hatching and bits of scenery flashing in and out of existence. So I went back to the dashboard but the system notifications were suddenly see through so I switched the whole lot off and asked Chris if he had anything go wrong while he'd been playing but he hadn't.

Over the next week I had quite a few similar glitches across different games when Chris came up with the idea of checking how a DVD displayed. Everything was fine so we decided to try reconnecting the cables and see if that made a difference. Boy did it. The damn thing wouldn't switch back on.

Instead of a lovely green shade my 'Ring of Light' was now displaying the long feared colour of red. Not in the oft talked about three display but one red light in the lower right quarter. I was gutted but took solace in the fact that although my console was 14 months old Microsoft had extended warranties to 3 years. So I ring technical support who seem to get the same lessons as I did when I started my wonderful job in a call centre but they don't seem to apply them intelligently. Microsoft, it is very annoying to have someone on the other end of the phone rabbit exactly what you said to make sure they understood. Then came the bombshell, "I can see that you're guarantee has run out." But hasn't the damn thing been extended to three years? "Sorry sir, that is only for the three light problem." So Microsoft have opened up and said Yes the 360 has a lot of faults and yes it is our fault so we'll extend the guarantee, but only for one specific problem. So now the bastards are charging me 60 quid. However, her computer bust so I had to call back in two hours to finish the call.

Two hours later I get through to a guy who says that one of the options I had chosen previously was quite slow and this other way was much quicker, I was inclined to believe the guy because he sounded much more switched on than the other one. A week goes by and the courier still hadn't turned up so I ring Microsoft again only to be told that the original operator was right the e-mail option was quicker and the 2nd guy was talking out of his arse. So now I wait up to two days for them to e-mail me the labels before I can contact the couriers. Why does it take two days to e-mail me? Surely it's just a case of marking that's the option I chose and clicking a button that sends me the bloody things, talking about time wasting bureaucracy. Then they take two to three sodding weeks to fix the machine.

Well at least I've been lent Wind Waker to distract me.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Game of the Year 2007

We're now a week into 2008 and its the time of year that everyone's giving there Best of lists for the year previous. Not one to break tradition but not arsed enough to actually create a full list I'll just run through the candidates of my Game of the Year.

First a bit of background of my gaming habits. I'm an action gamer at heart, I occasionally dip into driving and Guitar Hero but most of the time I'm prefer to be shooting or slashing my way through games. Though I do have a penchant for RPGs too.

First a breakdown of the contenders, the list almost reads as what I can remember from the last few months but in my opinion they are the better games of 2007. From earlier in the year both Crackdown and The Darkness came close to being included here but neither really stood out, The Darkness wasn't overly outstanding and Crackdown's missions left a lot to be desired.

Everyone's probably expecting my final choice to be Halo 3, but to be honest not really. I thoroughly enjoyed the story but the single player was just more of Halo, nothing about it was amazing to play that I hadn't seen twice before. Multiplayer was amazing, and some of the features it included were revolutionary and I really miss when playing other games.

As I said in the review, Halo 3 was battling all year in my mind with Mass Effect as the one I was most looking forward to. Mass Effect wasn't without its problems though. My biggest problem being that the side missions were horribly under developed.

Bioshock was a fun game with fantastic design behind it, but the gameplay was pretty standard FPS fare. Assassin's Creed I've just finished, I loved the story and the game play was fun, I keep hearing how reviewers found the game repetitive, and while I never felt like that I can certainly see why they feel that way.


My game of the year, which I'm sure people have worked out due to it's lack of appearance in the candidates list is Call of Duty 4. The single player was fantastic offering two great perspectives of the open fighting of a US Marine and the more sneaky version of Modern Combat in the role of a member of the SAS. It varied from little set pieces to massive pitched battles, running across Eastern European fields escaping following guards to searching a Middle East city for some Saddam wannabe. There's even one level where you control an AC-130 gunship.

The mulitplayer is fantastic and I've had more fun with Call of Duty 4 then I did with Halo 3. The only questionable point is that the further you get in multiplayer and complete the challenges the more guns you unlock, making the dedicated gamer automatically stronger due to the kit selection. There is also, in my opinion, the genius stroke of making all achievements single player, so you're not having the problem as you do in most games of people ignoring the actual objective of the game and just doing anything possible to get an achievement.