I bought myself an xbox for my birthday 4 or 5 months ago. I’ve never been a big gamer. Over the last decade or so, I’ve played the odd shooter game for a while and then stopped again for years at a time. But, I heard that Half-life 2 was going to be coming out soon, and since I don’t own a PC, I figured an xbox would be a cheaper way to get that game. I was also interested in the xbox since a lot of my friends had them, and I had seen at least one game that interested me a lot: Project Gotham.

So I bought the box, a cheap copy of Gotham, and borrowed a few other games. For the first few months, I would play Gotham once in a while, but nothing serious.

Then a BAD THING happened. Actually, 3 bad things.

1. Project Gotham 2

2. Xbox Live

3. Counterstrike.

Now I feel that a wierd shift has happened in my brain. Some kind of chemical imbalance. I find myself scanning game review sites. I bought not one, but TWO football simulation games, and I’m not even much of a football fan (in my defense, my copy of Madden 2003 crashes all the time, so I had to get something else).

Anyway. Project Gotham 2 is just an excellent version 2 of perhaps the best Xbox game that there is. The game-play and the structure of the “Kudos world series” is nearly perfect. They’ve made the game challenging, but not impossible for even feeble old non-gamers like me to make it to the end and drive at least some of the coolest cars.

And, the Live aspect is super even if you don’t want to actually race live against your buddies. This is because there is a global scoreboard for all the races that is an endless source of obsessive competition.

Counterstrike is the sort of first person shooter that had traditionally been my favorite kind of game. Not much back story, lots of guns, and short rounds that you can start and then quit 15 minutes at a time. Perfect. But, I never thought I’d play this kind of thing on the xbox because of “the controller problem”. Well, I still have controller problems (the two sticks don’t seem to allow me to whip around 180 degrees as fast as the mouse), but the game is great anyway, especially since I never played it on the PC.

So, in summary, the first hit wasn’t free, but I somehow got myself hooked on the crack anyway. Someone must pay.