Oh, 360… you were the first console of the 7th generation and I remember seeing your launch line-up and thinking “next gen, sucks ass!”… you had some up-rezzed ports of old, original Xbox games and then… Fight Night, which admittedly, looked pretty damn good for the time. But otherwise, I remained nonplussed.
Then there was the whole Xbox gold thing… putting Netflix behind a pay-wall is a pretty shitty move, I think we can all agree. Yet, despite it all, you were a great console; you were powerful and more often than not, third party games performed better on you than on the PS3.
It was a love/hate relationship we had for all these years and now that it’s over… well, it’s just over. If I’m being totally honest, the 360 has the weakest exclusives line-up of all three consoles (according to my personal tastes, that is), so I really had to stretch to even fill out this top ten… where the 360 truly shined was through the awesome third-party support. Still though, after all is said and done, thanks for the memories and thanks for the following games:
I’ll be honest. I’ve never really played a Halo game before. I never owned the original Xbox 1 (or whatever they call it now), but I had a friend who did, so I played the first Halo for a total of about fifteen minutes once. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, I was simply burnt out on FPS at the time and I didn’t own an Xbox anyway, so who cares.
My next experience with a Halo game was when I bought my second 360 (after my first one, ironically, the Halo special edition 360, RROD’ed on me). I bought a new 360 bundle, right before they unveiled the slim models (doh!) and it came with a copy of Halo 3 ODST. I played it for about fifteen minutes again, just to check it out, and then I ended up giving it to that same friend who all those years ago had me play the original Halo with him.
With full-disclosure out there, yes – I’m still putting this series on the list even though I never really played any of the games. The reason? Well, they’re undeniably well-made games and they are about as important to the Xbox brand as I can imagine, they are THE exclusives, so to leave them off would be straight-up fucking bananas. So here it is, #10 – mother fucking HALO, whatever that means. Pick your favorite.
If there is one thing I really enjoy in games it’s solid level design. If there is another thing, it would have to be innovative mechanics. If there was ANOTHER thing, I guess it might be humor that actually works. I like games that are well written (a rarity!), clever and don’t take themselves too seriously. This is where Breath of Death VII really excels. The whole thing is one solid, long-form meta-joke on the RPG genre as a whole…. well, actually it pokes plenty of meta-fun at the medium of video games in general, so it isn’t limited to simply being a long string of RPG jokes alone, which really helps to keep the humor fresh throughout the entire game.
It plays like a NES RPG and it works perfectly well in this regard, certainly the mechanics are archaic… but that’s part of the charm/joke. I actually, sincerely enjoy old-school RPG mechanics, so this was still fun for me to play just on the ‘game’ level too. Otherwise it is pure ridiculous fun that makes me pine for the days when you used to have to read games as much as play them.
Also – the game costs .99! That’s less than a dollar, in case you didn’t know! I love Indy devs so much… they put a ton of work, effort and love into their creations and then they sell it for as cheap as they’re able just so people get the chance to experience it. I love it.
10/10, would RP again.
8. Perfect Dark HD
An HD remaster of a Nintendo 64 game has made my list of the best Xbox 360 games… deal with it.
What can I say, really. I loved Perfect Dark back in the day and this HD remake is the same game, with a significant visual upgrade and a beefed up multi-player mode which now includes an online component. For the record, it’s still tons of fun and has a ridiculous story.
Being the spiritual successor to Goldeneye, Perfect Dark had a lot to live up to back when it was released and most people agreed that it took everything Goldeneye did and improved upon it… now if only James Bond had been the main character… either way a cheap and totally solid purchase on the XBLA.
7. Dead Rising
That’s right, the original Dead Rising with its tough -as-balls save system and constant, brow-beating timer.
I started and quit playing this game probably five times before I finally made myself man-up and just play through the pain and confusion. Once I did that, I found it irresistible. All the aggravating design quirks even started making sense to me, it was like being indoctrinated into a cult.
Take one of the greatest zombie films ever made, Dawn of the Dead, and turn it into a playable, Surrealistic fever-dream of a game where you can use anything as a weapon and you’ve given me a semi already. Take those elements and then include a leveling system, bosses (psychopaths) that are unhinged, creepy-as-shit humans and then throw a bunch of wacky social commentary into the mix and I think you’ve finally, fully excited me. Just like my awkward metaphor there, this game was crass and uncomfortable in a whole lot of ways — and I just love it all the more for it. Sex, violence and a egotistical creeper with a camera at the center of it all, what’s not to like?
Ah, Fez. A game that is almost as noteworthy for what went on before and after its creation that for how good the game is itself. Regardless of all the silly personal garbage this game is saddled with, as a game, it is phenomenal. this is a puzzle platformer at its purest. You don’t fight, kill or die, you simply run around and figure out how to advance through the world you’re in.
The perspective-shifting mechanic works very well and manages to provide a continual stream of engaging puzzles throughout the length of the game. It has heart, whimsy and a wonderfully pleasant overall aesthetic design, for me it was definitely worth all the personal turmoil that its creators had to endure while creating it. Do yourself a favor, forget all the drama and the fanboy vitriol for Phil Fish and just play the game – it’s fantastic and about as pure as a ‘game’ as you’re likely to find in this day and age.
5. Fable II
Fable 2, was, in my opinion, the closest the 360 ever came to having a truly Zelda-like experience on the machine. Of course all the comparisons to a Zelda game are superficial at best, a few shared mechanics here and there, sure, but overall they’re totally different beasts. I know that – but I still think it managed to capture that wondrous and fun sense of adventure that Zelda games always seem to effortlessly provide.
It was full of quirky humor, interesting towns and NPCs, subtle secrets and contained some truly enjoyable combat. There was a lot here and it looked fantastic to boot. Great music, setting and characters, the game just worked very well and it stands of one of my most memorable and enjoyable 360 gaming experiences.
4. Alan Wake
Alan Wake is a really underrated and unique experience. It’s not quite a simple survival horror game, but more of an honest to goodness psychological horror piece. You play as Alan Wake, a writer who is searching a moody Washington town for his missing wife. It’s part Twin Peaks, part Twilight Zone, part X-files all woven together within the auspice of a slow-paced and narrative-focused game.
There is game play of course; you shoot, run, solve puzzles, etc. But it’s all very meticulous and tension is used very well throughout the game – a tension between the story, the setting and the mechanics of the game. The use of environmental lighting in combat is a fantastic coup of inspired game design, and the writing is far above the average for most games. It comes highly recommended for those who want something different that is engaging in a slightly unnerving way.
Besides, any game that utilizes David Bowie, Tom Waits, Depeche Mode and Nick Cave (amongst others) on the soundtrack is worth a play right out of hand.
3. Left 4 Dead
Valve – you bastards. How do you manage it? To take a burnt-out concept and make it giddily fun and full of polish and precision? Left 4 Dead was the first contemporary shooter that I actually played online – I mean sure, you kind of have to, but still, I had never been compelled by any other game to jump into the multiplayer shooter thing before.
This game was just balls-out frantic fun though; awesome team-based gunplay, giant hordes of zombies viciously chasing you, lumbering monstrosities bearing down on you – and all of it wrapped in that distinct Valve style – little easter-eggy jokes and nods abound and you always feel you’re in control and the game isn’t cheating you. Just barely making it into a safe-room before you’re ripped to pieces is exhilarating, but so is being torn to shreds by an undead horde when you’re inches from safety. The witches were creepy as fuck too, weren’t they? All in all, Left 4 Dead was a competent game in its own right, but still stands as the best multi-player shooter of the last generation for me.
2. Shadow Complex
Shadow Complex is a direct, blatant rip-off of Super Metroid… but it’s a damn good one.
Super Metroid is in my top five games of all time, so you could say I’m a fan… I love the structure of the game and Shadow Complex takes that design philosophy and utilizes it in a modern shooter-like setting. It’s a great reminder of just how satisfying the back-tracking design can be when used correctly. The desire to explore, fill in the map and obtain new powers to go back and access previously inaccessible areas is a strong pull for me – as long as it remains playable and engaging. Shadow Complex manages this very well, never feeling like a grind or a chore to play through. The graphics are great, the animations spot-on and the environments stay interesting while filling themselves with a good variety of opponents and puzzles.
Chair, the developer, an off-shoot of Epic games went on to make the HUGELY successful Infinity Blade games for iOS, so I fear we may never see another Shadow Complex… that means it is probably up to the creators of the genre, Nintendo, to make me another Super Metroid-style Metroid game. DO IT, Ninty, do it now. Give us an HD side-scrolling Metroid on the Wiiu or even a 3DS version. Short of that I’ll just replay the holy trinity of Super Metroid-styled games – Super Metroid (of course!), Castlevania Symphony of the Night and now Shadow Complex.
Shadow Complex sits amongst giants, and while never being better than those two other games, it does a damn fine job of scratching the itch that no other games last gen managed to. So bravo, Chair, bravo!
1. Lost Odyssey
No big deal, Lost Odyssey is just a hard-core JRPG that was exclusive to the 360 developed by Mistwalker Studios… you know, the studio run by the man who INVENTED FINAL FANTASY. Woo-hoo, that’s a pedigree.
A lot of the creative minds at Mistwalker are the cream of the crop when it comes to RPG development and lo and behold, they created one of the best RPGs of the last generation for the Xbox 360. How weird is that? The 360 was not known for its RPGs by any stretch of the imagination, so seeing this game just blow away anything else I’d played on any of the other consoles was a shock to the system.
Lost Odyssey was long, challenging and drop-dead gorgeous. It was basically everything that was good about Final Fantasy games before they totally went off the fucking rails into action-movie-androgynous-nonsensical-anime crazy town. The story was solid and the characters were actually likable – even the main protagonist was! Imagine that for a FF game! On top of the in-game writing there were also “dreams”, short stories scattered throughout the game that were genuinely well written and emotional. I was really floored just by the first one.
Critics gave this game shit for its old-school mechanics but honestly, that’s what I love and miss in a lot of modern RPGs. The ring system was engaging enough and added a rhythmical element to the battle system that kept everything from being a simple hit ‘X’ over and over again affair. I’ve never had a problem with random encounters either, so that didn’t bother me in the least. The leveling system between mortals and immortals was really aces too – it kept things fresh while still remaining satisfyingly straight-forward. You could grind if you wanted too of course (which I did because I fucking love grinding) or you could probably eek your way through the game without much grinding. As long as you explored the world and paid attention to your equipment you could put up a decent fight.
I really cannot recommend Lost Odyssey enough – it is the best Final Fantasy game that Squeenix never made. Mistwalker picked up the ball and ran it in for a glorious play.
There you have it –
my ten favorite Xbox 360 games! Tell me what I missed or why I’m a stupid idiot below.
I’ll post my favorite PS3 games soon and then … dun dun dun – My favorite game of the generation… What oh what could it be?!?!?!?
I’ll let you know. Until then, keep playing with yourselves.