The XBox 360 is now officially the shoddiest piece of hardware I’ve ever owned, right up there with the solar powered radio that melted from being in the sun too long and complimentary airplane headphones. My second — and by some accounts, I’m lucky that it’s only my second — XBox 360 is showing signs of dysfunction. It’s not dead yet. There’s no “ring of fire”. Yet.
It started acting up a few weeks ago by randomly freezing during DVD movie playback. It was unusual, to say the least, but rare so I didn’t give it any mind. Then I noticed the occasional hiccup while playing Guitar Hero II. It was as though the game got ahead of it self, distorted for a second and caught up with where it should be. It was enough to knock the snot out of my concentration leading to a sequence of bloops and bleeps as I would miss all the notes right after it. Then this one time with Crackdown the game seemed to slow down and walls would disappear, cars wouldn’t render — though the drivers would so you’d see sitting people floating all around the roads — and the whole game would grind to a reboot requiring pace. It happened one time. I brushed it off.
Then I rented The Corner, the fantastic miniseries from the creators that later made The Wire, and that’s when it started to get annoying. I couldn’t get through a single episode without at least one freeze. Sometimes I’d get three in an hour. The problems were getting increasingly common.
Yesterday, while playing DiRT the issue reared its head again. Having seen things mess up a number of times already my prognosis is that the DVD drive is failing in someway. Live arcade games and demos, running off the hard drive, had zero problems. Every fault that occurs seems to happen when the disc is spinning. Either the sensor loses track of the disc or it stops spinning for some reason. I don’t know.
When you’re doing a point-to-point race in DiRT a lot of the track data is streamed in. I had recently reached a high tier in career mode and unlocked one of the faster cars in the game. Obviously, the faster you go the more data you need. With the faulty drive the game choked on it. It froze up. The screen went green, though the interface remained. It stayed like that for a few seconds before it booted me out into the XBox dash. Two achievements popped up. In those few seconds the game thought I had “Driven in excess of 500 miles” and “Driven in excess of 1000 miles”. At least I got something out of it.