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Xbox LIVE - Are You On?
by Andrew Broas
March 29, 2005

So Xbox LIVE has been around for a couple of years now. Are you a subscriber? I didn't hop on the bandwagon immediately myself. I waited until Rainbow Six 3 came out. That was the game that sold me on it. When I saw two of my friends playing co-op along with two strangers on LIVE, I knew I had to get in on it. Since subscribing, I have to say I am very pleased with the experience I have gotten out of it. I was hooked on Rainbow Six 3 for months. I think I may have played it exclusively until Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow released. Then I pretty much forgot all about Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell was my main game for 3 months straight. Near the end of that time though, I started to notice something about Xbox LIVE games. I really think the best time to play them is when they newly released. Think about that for a minute.

The reason I say this is because what seems to be the case in my experience is that around release date, you seem to have a higher number of people who want to play the games the way they were meant to be played. Look at Halo 2 for example. It's the Xbox LIVE game right now. Despite that, I don't play it anymore. Why? Too many assholes out there who want to cheat, exploit glitches, or just be a nuisance in general. The first couple of weeks that the game was out it was much better. Everybody was enchanted with how new all of it was and how cool it is to play a Halo game over an Internet connection. A couple of months later and you're left with a lot of people who really want to play Halo just to mess with people whether it's by cheating, poor sportsmanship, or any other way to ruin somebody's day. You just don't see that kind of thing when the game is brand new to everybody. I feel bad for anyone who wants to buy Halo 2 with Xbox LIVE and has yet to do so. When they get on, the game will only be half as good as it was when it was new because the things I just mentioned.

Same thing happened with Pandora Tomorrow, believe it or not. The game was fantastic when it was brand new. I could tell tales for hours about some of the matches and the amusing things that went down as everybody seemed to be exploring the game together. That's exactly what it was too, we were playing it together and it was all new to all of us. Some months later, it became real hard to find a good match because some people didn't even want to play the game the way it should be played. Instead of being a spy trying to infiltrate a facility to neutralize the dangerous bombs inside, players would become a spy hellbent on suffocating the mercenaries with smoke bombs until they could snap their necks 3 times or jump on you and win by default. Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow had some balance issues that could be debated into next year, but it could be argued that the right kind of bastard could play as a spy and completely turn the game into something else entirely for everyone. But you didn't really run into this kind of thing so much when the game was new and if you did, they hadn't quite perfected their craft of dicketry just yet so your chances of fighting back were better.

So what can you do to make sure your Xbox LIVE experience is all that it can be? I think the answer is as simple as picking up games the day they hit the street. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory just dropped today and I was waiting at GameStop this morning so I could get my copy (expect the Game Assault review very soon). Now that I have it, I'm going to play the hell out of it and rally savor this period in time. To me, this will be the absolute best time to play it. Its brand new to everyone again, there are new maps, gadgets, and weapons to figure out, and the only people that run out to buy a game on release day are the ones who really want to play it. Its going to be the best time to be a Splinter Cell fan. The next few days are the ones where my friends list will grow and communities will be forming all over again. Those other players out there on day 1 are just like me in the way that they have probably been waiting for this since Pandora Tomorrow and they want like-minded people to play with. I recommend that anyone with an interest in an Xbox LIVE game get out there and pick it up when it's first hitting the streets. I guarantee that the best times you'll have will be in those opening weeks.