The Xbox may be most well-known for being the first real step toward the modern online console service, and a franchise that reads “olah” when spelled backwards. But there are a lot of other quality titles found on the platform. Many of Xbox titles went hand-in-hand with a PC version, so in this entry we’re making the exception of allowing Xbox/PC titles instead of simply exclusive or timed exclusive software.
Hit the jump to find out what titles were picked out by TSG’s staff as some of the best for the platform.
Let’s face it, Bioware is the kings of the RPG genre – move over Squeenix, the Canadians are indeed coming. Jade Empire was one of these early statements that showed that while their base formula – good or bad path, multiple reactions, gather party of eight and only ever use one – may get repetitive, the gameplay certainly varies from each group of games. You play as one of several martial arts students who must save their sensei from the evil emperor, leaving your sheltered school and find your true calling. It’s a brilliant little RPG that is sadly missing from most top ten RPG lists. With so many ways to play, it would be a shame not to give it a whirl.
Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
My favorite Xbox game just so happens to also be a movie tie-in game. Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay was great beyond any reasonable persons expectations. With a more interesting story than the film it was based on and some very interesting strides in making a first person game rather than a straight first person shooter, Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is not to be passed up. For a good long time it was difficult to play because the Xbox 360 couldn’t play the game due to some trickery they had to do with the hardware of the Xbox just to make it run. Now, however, Starbreeze has released a remake with an extra campaign for 360 and PS3 that, as of writing, has a very affordable price tag.
I went into Ninja Gaiden knowing two things: it had ninjas, and it was incredibly difficult. Despite causing its fair share of rage quits, it was an awesome game that I found myself coming back to over and over again, despite swearing I was done with it. The fast-paced action and intense boss battles, while frequently frustrating, were just as satisfying to conquer as they were difficult to play through. Ninja Gaiden features an interesting and eclectic mix of locales that keeps things from getting stale; after all, you don’t want to scatter the bloody limbs of your enemies in the same place over and over again, right? The violence is so over-the-top that it borders on comical at times, so this isn’t a game for the faint of heart… But when a game can make you bust out laughing or stare in awe and wish you had someone to turn to and scream, “DID YOU SEE THAT?!”, then it’s doing something right. A fantastic reboot to the series that spawned several more great (and increasingly difficult) sequels and helped cement the Xbox as a contender in the console wars.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was the first western-style RPG I ever played, and the first title that gave me the need to be a completionist – to explore every galaxy, every world… To see every inch of the universe Bioware created and hear every line of dialog. To wield a lightsaber with a snarky homicidal droid by my side, traversing the galaxy and providing help/murder to all beings who require it… Excuse me, I now have the need to start a new game; don’t expect to see me for a few months…
Panzer Dragoon Orta
Panzer Dragoon Orta is one of the greatest video games since Panzer Dragoon Saga, which was one of the greatest video games since Panzer Dragoon Zwei which was one of the greatest video games since Panzer Dragoon. Smilebit is one of the only companies that make high quality games for the original Xbox that can’t be found anywhere else (From Software being the other) and Orta is considered to be one of their finest work to date. For one thing, it addresses the biggest complaint of rail shooters (the length) by giving you TEN levels to explore, with each level being a unique creation that helps to form a unique world that it’s predecessors helped to define. For another thing just like Einhander (great game, by the way) the game gives a sense of scale that you are a small part of a large universe. The gameplay emphasizes this with the combination of Orta’s gun and the dragon’s laser to allow different approaches in the game. However, this game expands on it by not only allowing the berserk attacks featured from Zwei and onward, but also in changing the form of the dragon to whatever you most think is appropriate for the situation. Smilebit would continue to make great games and could have become one of the most prolific developers in the modern industry… Until SEGA shut the developer down in 2004, absorbing the staff into other SEGA teams.
Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo: Combat Evolved; or more commonly know to people simply as Halo. The game was developed by Bungie, and was the first game in the Halo franchise. This game stars everyone’s favourite alien butt kicking, Halo destroying, super soldier; Master Chief! This is mine and I think a lot of other people favorite Xbox game. This title launched at the same time as Microsoft’s first console, the original Xbox was a huge hit! This game had an amazing campaign mode, with 10 expansive levels that can vary in time depending on the difficulty, but usually averaged to about an hour or so on the Normal difficulty. Legendary, however, can take like fifty million hours… There was a lot to see and many levels had some amazing scenic views and were visually impressive for the time. The story was rather interesting with well written dialogue, but you don’t have to listen to it to follow what is going on, you can always just focus on the action if you want to but it was still, I thought, a really good story. I think where people get their most value from the game is the multi-player. Halo was considered to be the new age GoldenEye 007, invading many homes with its split screen multi-player action. I know multiplayer is where a majority of my play time went to. You can deeply customize many modes and it gives you a plethora of game modes to play with. And you can even hook up your Xboxs over system link due to the lack of Xbox Live at the system’s launch. But, before Halo 2 was released, they decided to port the game on PC as well where online multi-player was available and people still play it to this day! This game was what kicked off Microsoft in the console war and did a hell of a job at that. If you haven’t given Halo a try, there is a wide variety of options to purchase the game, through the PC version, on Xbox Live Marketplace or even the new Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary edition! So there really isn’t much of an excuse if you haven’t played it yet. If you love first person shooters and over the top action, this game will be right at home for you.
Jet Set Radio Future
SEGA’s contributions to the last generation of consoles was, arguably, poor, specifically toward the half of the system cycle where SEGA couldn’t develop a good game even if the title was basically handed to them. But early on in the system cycle, SEGA was still running off that Dreamcast high of creative and quality content. Jet Set Radio Future was one of the first titles released as a third party title under the SEGA name and one of my first Xbox games. Not only did the title build off the original Dreamcast’s entry’s unique art style, music and characters, but also further improved the game to the point that, after playing Future, playing the original is nearly impossible. Its unique style and fast paced gameplay makes for an experience nearly impossible to find elsewhere on the Xbox or, really, any other platform out there.
Fable was the first Xbox game I had ever played and I was hesitant at first. The concept of running around in a sandbox world was new and foreign to me, since I stuck close to traditional turn based RPGs which are way more linear. Fable had its lovely moments where it seemed to irritate me which in turn I would spam lightning magic everywhere. That was probably one of my favorite aspects of the game, just zapping my enemies to death. It was practically a beacon to show I was irritated. Fable was a completely solid title with plentiful quests and a decent story which somewhat continues on in the later titles – Fable II has a 500 year gap from Fable and Fable III has a 50 year gap from Fable II. The game is fun but may get boring after some time, at least for me it did. Fable is an adventure most should play if you own an Xbox or PC.