2009 In Review: The Year Of The Xbox 360?

2009 was an eventful year for the Xbox 360. It was a year of Halo, fewer consoles, more Halo, motion control, social networking, streaming movies and, er... yes, yet another Halo game announced. But how was it for you?

As January rolled around we were all still getting used to the "New Xbox Experience" dashboard revamp and working out which clothes best suit our avatars. To this day I'm not sure I've seen a persuasive argument of the benefit of avatars, despite my friends' ability to waste money on pointless items of clothing.

February brought the year's first big releases in the shape of GTA IV episode The Lost And Damned and Halo Wars. The former set download records for Xbox Live content, while the latter set sales records for console strategy games. Did you know Halo Wars was both the best-selling strategy game of 2009 and the late Ensemble Studios' best-selling game ever?

Between February and June, the only Xbox 360 release of note was... Ninja Blade. So let's move right along to E3!

At the show, Microsoft handed Project Natal its public debut. Natal promised to combine motion control with full body and voice recognition, the prospect of jumping around like an idiot and finally discovering what lies on the bottom of your avatar's shoe. They also announced games such as Forza 3, Crackdown 2 and Halo Reach.

Xbox Live Arcade continued to play host to many of the best downloadable games on any platform, and this year's Summer Winter of Arcade didn't disappoint. 'Splosion Man, Shadow Complex and Trials HD kept us busy during the slow mid-year period. Speaking of downloadable games, the Games On Demand service allowed us to download full retail 360 games, although the prices seemed all over the place.

In response to the PS3 Slim reveal, Microsoft streamlined its product offering by cutting the 60GB Pro console and dropping the price of the Elite. While the hard drive-less Arcade remained the cheapest console on the market, the Elite was now down to the same price as the Wii.

The big releases towards the year's end were all sequels. Halo 3: ODST didn't make the splash its big brother had two years ago, while Forza 3 benefitted from the absence of a PS3 Gran Turismo and we all went gay for GTA IV's second downloadable episode. The Xbox 360 could claim many other console exclusive titles throughout the year, so long as you forgot about the PC version: Left 4 Dead 2 was easily the biggest, but there was also Section 8, Divine Divinity II, Velvet Assassin, Battlestations Pacific, and others best left unremembered.

More records were also broken with the launch of Modern Warfare 2, this time for the most concurrent Xbox Live players - over two million of them, globally.

In November, Xbox Live got another overhaul in the shape of social networks Facebook and Twitter arriving on our dashboards, with MC Hammer in tow. Also, in Australia, we finally saw Movies On Demand, a clear three years after the US got their Video Marketplace. To ensure we didn't get too excited though, Microsoft curiously culled Australia from its plans to deliver Last.fm to Gold subscribers worldwide, and has refused to explain why ever since.

So, that was 2009 for the Xbox 360. I’m keen to hear what you thought of 2009 from an Xbox perspective. Were you happy with your 360 lot this year? What were the highlights? The lowlights?


Comments

    While it wasn't exactly a bad year for the Xbox360, I think the PS3 shone a lot more brightly this year.. It beat the xbox in every aspect except for downloadable arcade titles with GTAIV DLC & Shadow Complex showing us how awesome the xbox live can be..

    The exclusive games however can't hold up against the PS3s this year with really Forza and Halo ODST being the only real standouts..

    And for a price point, the PS3 @ $499 (often with a game or two of its own) is a better deal than the xbox elite with multiple games due to the ps3s blu ray, wireless internet and rechargable controllers, all out of the box..

    That being said, I still love all my consoles!!!

    Nah, nothing really unique or interesting this year - ODST was a short bore, Forza's gonna be whooped by GT5, and a lot of the games, yes, I'd rather chuck on that big pile of crap.

    So nay, not the year of the 360.

      "Forza’s gonna be whooped by GT5"

      While I agree with you on ODST, lets not go jumping the gun on Forza. GT5 isn't exactly the second coming of Christ. It looks nice, it looks very nice, but Forzas a hard one to beat at this point. And christ knows IF Sony EVER gets around to releasing GT5....

    09 sure wasnt the 360's year. halo wars sucked and odst was a huge letdown. facebook and twitter on this console are just pointless because you cant view any links or videos that people post. you have to jump onto a pc anyway. natal looks as gimmicky as the wii itself.

      I quite enjoyed Halo Wars and ODST even if both was a little too short on the single player campaign.

      Incidentally, I think I spent more cash on XBLA titles this year than off the shelf titles. The XBLA titles of 2009 were really stand out.

      Most of the other games I bought for the XBox360 were not 360 exclusives.

        Agreed. The single player side was short in both cases but I was actually impressed with both games. Halo Wars was an RTS that was easy to control on a console and ODST was Bungie trying something different.

        Speculation: I'm thinking ODST was a dev experiment if anything else for their upcoming new IP which will also have a film noir feel to it.

          I'm pretty sure that bungie said ODST was dreamed up as a timefiller after Peter Jackon's Halo project fell through. They essentially had a team set aside to do that, and a team already in full production for Reach, so decided that the Legends (I think thats what the PJ thing was called) crew would just work in the existing engine to thrash something out.

    Not owning a PS3, my gaming experiences were pretty much limited to my PC and 360 this year (Sorry wii, you had Madworld, Mario and that's about it). In terms of exclusives, the GTA Expansions were well worth the money and it was great fun to pop back into Liberty city to experience a new story. I'm not a halo player, so anything haloish would just go straight over my head.

    Shadow Complex was brilliant and highly enjoyable.

    The social aspects were fun when I installed them, and I have since not used them. Maybe if you could tweet/facebook while actually playing a game they might be useful, but at the moment they just serve as fancy fullscreen data visualisers.

    And although it wasn't an exclusive, I was waiting a long time for Brutal Legend, and I was extremely happy with the product I got. So I think that would be my 360 highlight of the year.

    I think next year holds more personal promise for the 360, with games like Alan Wake and Mass Effect 2 (and a host of other non-exclusives like Mafia 2, Bioshock 2, Diablo 3, Deathspank (woo!), Metroid (other M), etc, etc etc ... There are a lot of '2's in that list.

    I thought Halo Wars was a great game. The problem is that MS didn't market it as something different and everyone rushed in to get the new Halo game only to discover it wasn't an FPS.
    It's hands down the best console RTS. I haven't seen another RTS that's been planned out so well from the start, and the story is great.

    As for the rest of the year, exclusives were few and far between. As the PS3 begins to pick up steam, I'd say we'll see less exclusives than we have in previous years - which I personally don't mind. I don't care which console games come out on, as long as they're good.

    All in all, the Xbox Pro that's lasted two years without a RROD has been pretty good -- except for when I got a HDMI-capable plasma and now it seems that the HDMI output on the Xbox is broken.

    Thinking of getting a PS3 next.

    I barely touched my 360 this year. That didn't stop it from dying the red-ringed death again though.

    I would have said 2007 was the year of the XBOX 360, and it has been pretty flat ever since. A handful of great games recently, but mostly multiplatform stuff and cut down ports of PC games.

    If any platform had a "great" year in 2009, I would say it was the iPhone. Mostly terrible games, but a huge year for the platform.

    I was pretty happy with 360 this. nice collection of games came out the whole year.

    Highlights: Borderlands. just love the game. Been waiting for a co-op loot collecting game since PSO on DC.

    Lowlights: No 1 V's 100 in Aus. Any news on this David? High prices for avatar items.

    The problem for the Xbox this year was that it's exclusives just came nowhere close to the PS3. I bought a PS3 in June and have barely touched my xbox since; the 360 has had no answer to games like Demon's Souls and Uncharted 2. Forza 3 is by all reports excellent but when your next tier of exclusives is mediocre expansions to tired franchises like Halo, it's not going to stack up to the competition.

    One (timed) exclusive that I did enjoy on the 360 this year was Tales of Vesperia, but that wasn't exactly a key title for the 360 this year.

    As a 360/PS3/PC owner i would give this year to the PS3.Sony continually add features to the PS3 while MS still charge you for a Gold account when in fact all they deliver is a Bronze at best.
    Uncharted 2 = GOTY

    2009 was a painful year for my 360.

    I got one game for it, Forza III- luckily it was a bright spot, albeit and overrated one, but one none the less. The rest of the year was a joke.

    Lucky I also own a PS3.

      Some further thoughts...

      Xbox to me is sorta becoming irrelevant with the lack of exclusives. It used to be so good- a year, 2 years ago the box dominated my game time, and had all the best stuff going for it. But it seems like they've rested on their laurels and the big announcements are just 3rd, 4th or 5th installments to games that came out ages ago. I can think of maybe 3 upcoming exclusives in 2010 that interest me- Alan Wake, Mass Effect 2 and Halo Reach (albeit I'm pretty sick of Halo). So many games are multiplatform nowadays the separating features of the consoles are they're exclusive games and the extras they offer.

      Natal doesn't interest me at all, to be honest. Motion gaming to me is not what my gaming experiences are about- I go outside and play basketball and stuff when I wanna get my heart pumping. So im not excited for that.

      Also, the 80 bucks I pay for my Xbox Live subscription seems like it gets me nothing I cant get on the PSN for free. The tinsle parts on a live subscription aren't worth it. I could just go for the lesser options but hey, again, that is free on the PSN.

      On PS3 there's a bevy of exclusive titles that came out this year, and are coming out next year, and it seems at each big even they have a new big exclusive. So many games on my radar for next year, and so many I bought this year. I've only played Forza recently on Xbox, and I'm already over that in anticipation of GT5.

      Xbox has got to step it up, right now they're looking like the hare to PS3's tortoise.

      I'd get rid of Live fees, get some new, original IP's that aren't rehashed ideas of space marine types blowing away aliens, and a redesign for the box that's slimmer, cheaper, and with bells and whistles like built in wi fi, and xbox will be back on top. Right now to me, its yesterdays news and PS3 is taking all the attention.

    This wasn't the year of the 360. I own a 360 and a Wii, but it was clear to be despite a few standout releases, the PS3 performed much better exclusive-wise than the 360. I ended up picking a few exclusives then getting games I'd missed out on. 2010 is going to be better for the 360, but I'd still say the PS3 was dominant.

    It was a standout year for XBLA, I think. Shadow Complex and notable other releases were critically recieved. XBLA picked up steam from the past two years, and I'm really looking forward to 2010 XBLA-wise.

    The price drop in response to the Slim was a good move for MS. Not only did it ensure that it was still a competitve price, but cutting the Pro and leaving the two consoles was a better option. It would have been better for MS to beef up the Arcade more, despite leaving it and the Elite at the two extremes at which to purchase a 360.

      Why are exclusives the sole metric for success?

    This year was not a very good one for xbox but next year its gonna own.I'm already waiting for Mass Effect 2, Alan Wake, Red Dead Redemption and lots more just in the 1st quarter of next year...
    btw anyone who looked at this because they wanted to know if they should get an Xbox or not dont get scared away by all these RROD complaints, microsoft changed some of the hardware a while ago so it's no longer going to over heat (as long as you don't wrap it in a blanket). I bought mine this year and havent had a problem(but having that f***ing strict NAT pisses me off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

      This year was not a very good one for xbox but next year its gonna own.I’m already waiting for Mass Effect 2, Alan Wake, Red Dead Redemption, Splinter Cell Conviction and lots more just in the 1st quarter of next year…
      btw anyone who looked at this because they wanted to know if they should get an Xbox or not dont get scared away by all these RROD complaints, microsoft changed some of the hardware a while ago so it’s no longer going to over heat (as long as you don’t wrap it in a blanket). I bought mine this year and havent had a problem(but having that strict NAT pisses me off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

    Seriously Wildgoose, when that creepy Milo kid thing comes out get two of them to talk to each other, Get two 360’s and natals and face them towards each other. It would be like pointing two mirrors at each other. imagine that two completely artificial people arguing with each other. Honestly i think the space time continuum would rupture at the very thought of it, what the hell would they say to each other?, what do two robots say to each other, please do it. And to think just 20 years ago we were playing Wonderboy and Alex kidd on the Sega master system.

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