Oh, the perks of being in the industry! As writers, we get exclusive access to all sorts of cool things, and the latest is early access to the new NXE dashboard and set up. Yup, only us industry peoples totes got access. There's no way anyone else could do it. Nope. No way at all.
So what can one do in this current update? Is all that stuff from E3 we were told about now readily available? No, no it isn't (and I can't say I'm complaining about that either). What we get is the long awaited Netflix and Avatar goodies we were initially promised at the beginning of the NXE. That and Games On Demand, a set up I haven't even bothered to look at yet. No offense to that system, but it just doesn't interest me at the moment. With the little time I have to play games, I'd rather play what I already paid for! Regardless, there's a whole list of things that come with the update, including little details that are supposed to make your life easier. A new way to look at Achievements, for example. I looked at it, I wasn't all that impressed, but I can see the attraction. We also get shorter clicks to different screens, such as your Active Download Queue. It's neat, but did we really need it? Are we so lazy that the two extra clicks it took before the update really brought us down?
"So Matt," you say. "If you're so negative all the time, is there nothing you enjoy about this new update?" No, silly Billy. There's plenty I like. Why, just look to your left and you'll see exactly what I like. Here's a few quick notes and thoughts on the most visually apparent new stuff:
See that handsome man? That's me in my current incarnation. When it was first announced that you could now pay for clothes and props, I thought, "That's stupid. Who would ever do that?" The answer is me. I totally did that. XBOX's new marketplace 100% spoke to my interests with it's Steampunk fashion setting, and I'm thrilled to say I purchased all new attire to show off (although I kept my XBOX Chucks as a small tribute to my favorite physician). I gotta say, as much as it annoys me that this stuff costs money, it is very neat. I love the props category, and was highly considering getting some of them (I used up all my money on goggles... just like in real life!) if only for the hilarity factor (such as the one item that had Nate VERY curious: a giant ear swab). I also really like that now, in the free stuff that normally came with the Avatars, they've condensed the categories to make it a bit more neat. It's not a huge change, but it definitely looks better.
My only real question that comes up with the Avatar section is the brand new Props and Awards categories. When I looked in these, they were both blank, and they told me that I needed to win these things in games... but what games? Are all games open to giving me props? Even ones before the NXE? And how exactly does one earn a prop? Or an award? I found the lack of details in this category to be a bit annoying, to be honest. Sure, I can just buy a prop, but how do I win one? If I'm playing Marvel vs Capcom 2, can I win a prop or an award, or does it have to be a full retail game? If I play Fallout 3 and I do a particularly gruesome headshot, does that get me an award? There are no standards as defined by the XBOX crew, so I'm left in a futile situation where I don't know what to do in order to attain more glory on my XBOX. I really like to know these things, so if they release some sort of comprehensive list, or at least a hint or two at what games to play, I'd appreciate that.
Netflix's insta-watch capabilities have certainly improved. Most of the videos now have a nice little "HD" logo next to them, and even if you don't have an HD TV it'll still stream as such. The load times have also improved, and the whole streaming thing is a lot faster. That's wonderful. Also, you can set your Netflix so that when you watch a video, it'll tell everyone what video you are watching! How novel! "Oh look, they're watching Very Young Girls... huh... uhm, well, anyway." And of course, there is the full access to the Netflix instant queue, which is 100% glorious in it's entirety. It's also severely confusing! At least, to a movie buff like me. Now I have all these movies in the palm of my hand and I don't know what to do. Do I add Lakeview Terrace just because I can?! It's a conundrum, but one I openly welcome. It's important to note that you will have to do a lot of flipping through when searching the instant queue. Not only do they give you the good stuff, but you'll also have to scroll through every B-Movie in existance to find a lot of what you want. This isn't XBOX's fault though, that's Netflix's fault for offering so many bad movies on demand. Have you ever seen Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker? I have. It's not pretty. But hey - now you have the opportunity to! Plus, we finally have the ability to watch videos in a party. So you don't have to watch Mulva alone!
So the new stuff is certainly nice. Like I said, a lot of it was done for convenience's sake. I feel like they hyped it up a lot more then it was really worth, but I'm also very cynical. I do enjoy the new additions to my dashboard and XBOX, though. I'm not having this appear with unopen arms. I'm ready for change and happy to be doing it early. I love my little Steampunk guy (and those who knew my previous gaming icon will probably get a mild chuckle out of my new one). So that was fun!
Oh. And Marvel vs Capcom 2? If you didn't get it, you're totally lame. I played that online with a group of friends and it was a wild experience. I had some friends over later to also play it, and it was so much fun. Here's a tip: use Servbot for all your characters. It makes for super hilarity fun time happiness. I also played Left 4 Dead until 4 in the morning again, which I haven't done since I worked at Target, so that was a lot of fun. I was wrecked the next day at work, but it was totally worth it in retrospect because I'm young and in love!