Last week I finally got broadband (256k DSL) at home and so I decided to give XBOX Live a try. I had in fact been keen to try the service ever since it launched in New Zealand. However the lack of broadband had delayed my foray into online console gaming. Now only three days into my 12 month subscription I have concluded that it was $100 well spent.

I’ve always enjoyed online gaming on my PC and still play a little Desert Combat and Battlefield Vietnam
when the mood strikes. But on the whole, gaming at home tends to be
restricted to consoles due to their easy of use and low hassle factor.
A keyboard and mouse just don’t work very well on you lap (even if they
are wireless).

As a broadband gaming service XBOX Live
works very well. When playing with local (Australia & NZ) players,
games are relatively lag free and voice communications are clear. Due
to the relatively small size of the XBOX Live subscriber population it
can sometimes be difficult to find local games in some titles, but this
is to be expected. No doubt as the Live subscriber base enlarges and
broadband adoption rates increase there will be more players online.
Key game releases such as Halo 2
will hopefully also increase the subscriber numbers. Of course it could
also just be the times I’m playing (generally after 8pm). However in
some titles it doesn’t really matter that the other players are not
"local". I’ve quite happily played with users from Canada, Japan and
the UK. Lag has been more of an issue in those sessions but never to
the detriment of my enjoyment.

Personally I think the voice communication aspect of XBOX live is the "Killer App" for the service. Without it the experience would be greatly deminished. It gives the experience a much more personal feel. Even though you are talking to total strangers being able to hear and speak to your teammates and adversaries makes for a more immersive game experience. I think to a certain extent it also reduces the number of smacktards and griefers. I’ve been using voice comms online for a long time when playing games with friends but there is nothing like knowing everyone in the game or on your team can hear you and reply.

Another aspect of XBOX Live that I find interesting is the Friends list. Just like when using an Instant Messaging service you can construct a friend or buddy list from any of the gamers you meet online. Hopefully over the next few weeks I can build up a good collection of XBOX Live "Friends". One of the best things about the Friends list is that you can see which games your Friends are playing no matter what Live enabled game you’re in. You don’t even have to be playing a game as the XBOX dashboard itself shows you when your Friends are online.

So far I have been playing the following Live enabled games:

All of which I have been enjoying immensely.

There are a few games I’d like to try online that I have yet to find
players for. They include SNK vs Capcom 2 & Splinter Cell:
Pandora Tomorrow
. I’ve seen some activity on the NZ XBOX Geek
forums regarding Spliter Cell 2 so hopefully I should be able to hook
up a game of that soon. SNK vs Capcom will be harder to arrange I
think as it is not a very common game.

If you are also an XBOX live subscriber you can find me online as orj. I’ll be more than happy to lose to you in any of the above listed games. 🙂 I might be an old school gamer but no one ever said I was any good.


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