halo: reach

back when games still came on cartridges, figuring out how exactly to play them was a no-brainer.  you put the cartridge into the slot and turn it on.  that really didn’t change at all when cartridges moved to cd’s for the psx, dvd’s for the ps2 and xbox 360, and ultimately blu-ray discs for the ps3.  then it got a bit more complicated – add ons for hard drives and wifi units became pretty much necessary to turn gaming consoles into media machines and give the user online social capabilities.  and game consoles come with those devices built in these days – the ps3 always has and now the new xbox360 slim does as well.  even further there’s a 360 slim with a 4GB hard drive unit inside for only $199.  this sounds like a good thing overall – not needing as many peripherals anymore.  but it can also bring its share of problems.

i always thought consoles had an advantage over pc’s in a couple arenas.  one of them is compatibility – i don’t have to worry about my console’s systems specs to play a game, because the game is created specifically to work on my console.  no need to bench my video card or upgrade memory.  software and hardware always work together hand in hand.

unfortunately that’s not true for the new halo: reach game.  now i’m not a huge halo fan but i can understand the draw, and the latest version had people flooding malls and game stores everywhere to get their grubby hands on a copy.  but as it turns out, if you want to play a little online co-op, and you have one of the new $199 xbox360 slim units,  you might get the following error message:


“One or more players do not have an Xbox 360 Hard Drive. An Xbox 360 Hard Drive is required to play co-op on Xbox LIVE or system link.”

… eh?  and it becomes a head scratcher.  everyone says they have hard drives.  the microsoft FAQ on halo say that this message directly points someone not having a hard drive.  so you figure it can’t be you because there is a hard drive, just inside.  so some other noob is to blame.  yelling ensues, accusations of noobery are flung around, and some meatheads find each other in real life where an all out brawl ensues.

a grim tale, to be sure.

xbox 360 slim 4GB edition, $199

but in this situation, much to your shock and chagrin, you are the problem.  the memory unit inside the $199 version of the xbox 360 slim doesn’t actually count as a “hard drive” but a “memory unit.” meaning what?  you guessed it – you have to buy a retail xbox 360 hard drive, and it’ll set you back around $130.  this problem has also been reported for halo 3: ODST, so this is probably a bug that affects all halo online co-op play.  which is even more awesome.  how on earth did microsoft not test this out?  online play is the thing now – single player games are quickly being overshadowed by the online realm.  this is doubly annoying because it’s not like playing online is free.  a 1 year subscription cost for xbox live gold will set you back 50 bucks.  a modest cost, but a hard cost nonetheless.  triply annoying because nowhere on the halo tech specs does it list a hard drive for co-op play.


so the final damage?  your $199 xbox 360 slim + your $129 hard drive = $328.  wouldn’t it have just been easier to buy the full xbox 360 system with a 250gb hard drive for $300?  just goes to show, you get what you pay for.

bravo microsoft.  really, excellent work making your users happy.

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1 Comment

Lex September 24, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Go on Ebay and knock that HD down to about $40-$60. Only suckers pay retail.

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About Tushar

Author and creator of Technical Fowl. IT/Tech hero. Jiu Jitsu purple belt. Enjoying the venn diagram intersection of tech, gaming, business, and politics.

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