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?