Games for Windows is a Total Port of Xbox Live


Because I've been a wee bit busy lately, I haven't gotten a chance to experience the next-gen renaissance that is Games for Windows Live as much as my Shadowrun-obsessed coworkers. But since I've recently turned into an insomniac, I've been able to sit down with both Halo 2 (for Vista) and Shadowrun (again, fo' Vista) and give 'em a bit of a whirl. While I appreciate the fun gameplay elements of both titles -- even though Halo 2 is a direct port -- I simply can't stand this Windows Live whatever crap. And it's not because the service itself is inherently flawed; it's entirely a matter of how it's been presented.

In short, whoever came up with the brilliant idea to port the Live experience straight from the Xbox to the PC, sans any modifications whatsoever, should be fired. Fired outright. It looks stupid, and is critically lacking in any additional functionality that should be damn-near commonplace in this day and age.

Case in point: they still have the controller buttons listed for actions like moving back and forward in menus. Hello. It's a PC. There is no round red "B" button, and no bright green "A" button for going backwards and forwards. Whatever happened to "Esc?" Or "Enter?" It's a minor point, but a critical element of the user interface that's simply been overlooked -- and if they overlooked it for the buttons, how much are you willing to bet that they ignored the service's functionality as well?

Case in point number two: Games for Windows Live requires you to actually be logged into the game to access Live functions. Why? What's the sense in making the Windows Messaging client the sole gateway between PC and Xbox users? Why not just make Windows Live a taskbar utility that signs in on start-up, and tells your Xbox friends what you're up to -- a quasi-AIM client that you can use to say "hey, I'm in Vista right now," or " I'm in your media player, watchin' your movies. " This would not only be an awesome way to unify gamers on a common network (cough Xfire cough), but it would allow my friends to invite/persuade me into games when i'm otherwise... not playing... the game. I mean, if I log onto Shadowrun, I'm expecting to play. But when I'm just hanging out, listening to music and surfing the 'net, I really have no way to tell if everyone else is playing on Xbox. If they were, I'd surely join up as well.

I won't overkill you with details. But suffice, thank god Microsoft isn't charging Xbox Live subscribers anything additional for the Windows version. Because this is hardly a $50 experience as-is, let alone anything more. Microsoft, I'm disappointed in you.

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