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Six reasons the Xbox is the best system of all time

Ten years ago today, Microsoft released the original Xbox in North America. While it was far from the best-selling console of all time, moving a relatively meager 25 million consoles, the system was still groundbreaking in a number of ways. It also set up Microsoft to release their next system, the Xbox 360, which would beat the competition to retail by nearly a year. But how did Microsoft, a company that had never even dabbled in game consoles, go from nothing to great success in so little time?

We, naturally, have the answers. While some might argue that the PlayStation 2 (check out Six reasons the PS2 is the best console of all time) or the GameCube were the greatest consoles ever, there's definitely grounds to make that argument for the original Xbox as well, and we have compiled six reasons the original Xbox is, indeed, the best console of all time.

1. It brought shooters to consoles for real

PCs owned the first-person shooter genre until the last generation. Thanks to the one-two punch of mouse and keyboard controls mixed with online play, games like Counter-Strike, Battlefield, and Rainbow Six flourished while consoles got stuck with half-baked ports and infrequent successes. Sure, there was Perfect Dark and GoldenEye, but be honest: those ended up being seen as party games, not game-changing shooters.

Above: Hate on Chief if you will, but he was the first real console FPS hero

Once Halo was released, that all changed. It truly perfected FPS controls with a controller in a way that none have before, making it feel comfortable to use joysticks, even for those who grew up with a mouse and keyboard. Once Halo 2 came out it really kicked the shift into high-gear, and set the stage for FPS on consoles becoming more commonplace in the coming generations

2. It successfully pulled off online gaming

Speaking of Xbox Live – the original Xbox’s addition of Live service completely changed the industry. Even though the Dreamcast tried to do the same thing, the ability to add friends online and play games with them seamlessly hadn’t been perfected on consoles until the Xbox.

Above: Limited, ugly, and revolutionary

This was partially because of Microsoft’s relatively ballsy decision to disallow dial-up connections – something that was still relatively common when the Xbox launched. By refusing to allow slow connections, Microsoft was able to build the framework for fast, competent online multiplayer that would change the industry forever. 

3. It had a hard drive, but didn't abuse it

The inclusion of hard drives has undoubtedly changed the industry forever. Beyond making it possible to save games without needless peripherals (see: memory cards), it also gave way to one of the most important additions to this console generation: downloadable games. It opened up consoles to smaller, more inventive games that wouldn’t be worthy of a full disc, but also wouldn’t have been developed if not for the console crowd. Games like Stacking, Journey, and Shadow Complex likely wouldn’t exist if not for consoles having hard drives, and consoles may not have hard drives if not for the Xbox.

Above: Like this, except inside the system and smaller

More importantly, it didn’t abuse the hard drive. This generation’s games come with mandatory installs, or optional installs that might as well be mandatory. The Xbox didn’t dabble in such things, and made sure game developers kept their full, disc-based games on the disc where they belong. Microsoft was (rightfully) strict when it came to handling the hard drive space, a stance it should likely have stood behind moving into the 360.

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59 comments

  • Errrrbo - November 15, 2011 3:40 p.m.

    7. Knights of the Old Republic was on it.
  • BazyLastard - November 15, 2011 4:21 p.m.

    ^This. I bought an Xbox because of KOTOR. And it forever changed my view of rpgs. Suddenly story was a big deal and Final Fantasy games seemed increasingly absurd.
  • NubberzTheHedgehog - November 15, 2011 3:43 p.m.

    The only truly excellent game that came out on the 360 was KOTOR and KOTOR2. PS2 for life.
  • NubberzTheHedgehog - November 15, 2011 3:43 p.m.

    games*
  • EnigmaSpirit - November 15, 2011 3:44 p.m.

    I had an Xbox. Never freaking used it. Gamecube!
  • Spybreak8 - November 15, 2011 3:47 p.m.

    Thumbs up.
  • Overlord153 - November 15, 2011 3:48 p.m.

    Oh you have angered the Dreamcast fanboys greatly with this article. But I never had an xbox i'll liked the PS2 better.
  • Chewrocka - November 15, 2011 3:55 p.m.

    Uh... #7 you could mod it and play not only play xbox games for free but emulations of NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, PS1, and homebrew games (super mario war anyone?) that is why I love my Xbox to this day.
  • MyCoolWhiteLies - November 15, 2011 3:56 p.m.

    Obviously it's pretty hard to actually say the Xbox was the greatest console of all time, but it definitely was one of the most forward thinking. So many things that Microsoft laid the groundwork for with the Xbox are now standard this generation. It's hard to say what would have happened without it, but it truly does seem that Sony copied quite a number of features from the original Xbox and the 360. Even small things like Achievements really ended up adding a lot.
  • revrock - November 15, 2011 4:04 p.m.

    It also was the first to have a definite advantage when buying a multi-platform game. Back in the 16bit wars most multiplat games had negligible differences between the SNES and Genny... This stayed the same during the PS1 vs. N64 vs. Saturn, too. But when the XBOX had better graphics, online community, hard drive save, etc. there was no question which console to buy "Star Wars Battlefront" or "Madden" for if you owned more than one current gen console. Oddly enough, this advantage carried into the next gen but I kinda think the PS3 has the advantage now...
  • Moondoggie1157 - November 15, 2011 5 p.m.

    I have to disagree with you. The Saturn could not stand the competition with Sony and N64 (regardless of how innovative it was, example: Dreamcast). And sure, the Xbox had better graphics at first, but the PS2 definitely overtook them later in the game. As I said before, Microsoft starts off strong, while Sony finishes.
  • HankVenture - November 15, 2011 4:06 p.m.

    lol I love how it "check out our feature about Ps2 being the best console, and then you mention gamecube and that's it LOL
  • SoulBrotherKab - November 15, 2011 4:12 p.m.

    This is a great comedy article Surely this site lives up to the title "cracked for video games" it strives so hard to get
  • Moondoggie1157 - November 15, 2011 4:57 p.m.

    A little harsh, no?
  • LOZ4EVAH - November 15, 2011 4:29 p.m.

    While I don't agree with the title, I couldn't help but agree with #5. USA! USA! USA!
  • FunkyPickle - November 15, 2011 4:33 p.m.

    The Xbox is a petty underrated console in my opinion. Not my favorite, but still great.
  • Moondoggie1157 - November 15, 2011 4:56 p.m.

    Meh, I stand by my Ps2 choice. Xbox was a great system, don't get me wrong. I love the fact that it really did make the West a voice in the gaming industry, as well as giving most developers a stable base to build on. But when it comes to game quality and power, I have to disagree and give it to the PS2. It might just be me, but it seems like Microsoft starts off VERY strong, quickly taking the market by storm; Sony seems to be more subtle, usually out lasting the competition. Hell, Ps2 was still competent in this generation. Keep the games coming and systems running, can't wait to see what's next :D
  • Personamanxx - November 15, 2011 5:28 p.m.

    The Xbox had it's flaws as a console but fuck them, It Was My Console. Nintendo and Sony systems, I can't really crap on or anything but I grew up with the Xbox and it and the 360 will always be preferable to a PS2, PS3, Gamecube, Or Wii. Also the article could have only contained the word KOTOR a thousand times, and still be as effective.
  • PanicJester - November 15, 2011 5:58 p.m.

    I grew up with all 3 last gen consoles. didn't like the xbox all that much, for me the ps2 was the best because it was the more casual system and didn't try to be all techy, which is why i prefer the 360 over ps3 nowadays.
  • KolbitosFruitJuice - November 15, 2011 5:31 p.m.

    Last generation was a wonderful one. The gamecube rocked my socks off, as did the PS2. I never had an Xbox, but my friends did! naturally, halo 1 and 2 splitscreen was where it was at

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