This week marks the tenth anniversary of the Xbox 360, Microsoft’s second system in the gaming industry. Say what you will about the Xbox 360 with its flaws like the infamous Red Ring of Death. I went through two systems. The Xbox 360 was a powerhouse for the last generation of gaming, and if it wasn’t for that system things like a friends list for online play and achievements wouldn’t be here today.
To mark the wonderful system called the Xbox 360, I decided to make my own list of my most favorite Xbox 360 games of all time. One of them is even on my short list of my favorite games of all time. There is one thing to keep in mind; some of the games are multiplatform, they left such an impact that if I remember them, I remember playing them on the Xbox 360. Like in every list, there is no order for which these are ranked. They can change depending on what I’m feeling on a particular day.
Except Alan Wake. Alan Wake will always be my number one spot for the best game for the Xbox 360, and one of my most favorite games of all time. Set in a town similar to the cult TV series Twin Peaks, you play as horror writer Alan Wake. While the story remains the same, wife gets captured; you find wife, the atmosphere of this game oozes and never lets up. Except for Telltale Games’ episodic, once a month storytelling, this is the only game that I know of that successfully makes you feel as if you are watching a TV series created by Stephen King in one go. Even to this day, defeating bad guys with the light mechanic is still unique and hasn’t been replicated. Right now Remedy Games, the developer behind games like Alan Wake and Max Payne, are making Quantum Break. If I had a Xbox One, you can be sure that I would be all hyped for Quantum Break.
While I have played a few games on the original Xbox, I never went online with it, and thus missed out on Halo 2 multiplayer. While I did get to play Halo 2 on the original Xbox, Halo 3 was the first online multiplayer game I actually enjoyed. It’s an amazing First Person Shooter with a wide foray of game modes that kept me coming back for more. I spent hours playing the superb single player and even more on the multiplayer. While I was never the best player on the match, it didn’t stop me from having a ton of fun. Halo 3 and Halo Reach are two of the three games I played a ton of multiplayer matches in. The third game is….
This is the game that started the multiyear juggernaut that is the Modern Call of Duty, and with good reason. The year this game came out, it was pretty much all I was playing. The multiplayer progression system, the intense action of the single player. There wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t boot this game up at least once. I loved this game so much that I even managed to beat the game on Veteran Difficulty with the Mile High Club achievement. Except for the last mission of Modern Warfare 3, no other Call of Duty game after Modern Warfare has managed to surpass it. While this franchise started the annoying annualization of games, I still consider Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare a classic.
I didn’t get an Xbox 360 until a year after it launched, and when I did get one, Gears of War was the first game I played. Gears of War was my first foray into the next-gen system and it blew me away. I played it obsessively. While the multiplayer was pretty good, it was in the single player where Gears of War truly shined. Much like Call of Duty 4, I beat the Hardcore difficulty level by myself. Gears of War is a fantastic game that can’t be missed, and from the sound of it the newly remastered Xbox One version is great as well. While Gears of War is a great game in itself, Gears of War 2 is where the series becomes one of the best for the Xbox 360. Bigger, louder, faster and more violent than before, Gears of War 2 manages to keep the promises the first one made and surpass it. The characters are better, the action is better and the set pieces are better. Gears of War and Gears of War 3 are great games, but Gears of War 2 is still the absolute best in the series.
It says a lot about a launch game to make this list. When Call of Duty 2 came out, stores were oversaturated with World War II shooters. You couldn’t go a week without seeing one. So it should come as no surprise that one of the first games to come out to the next-gen system was a World War II game. And what a game it is. Call of Duty 2 is, to me, the greatest World War II game ever made. Much like Gears of War, the action is intense, the settings are great and it showed me what that generation was capable of.
I love Resident Evil 4. I think it’s one of the greatest games of all time, and while it did ruin the series in the long run, it is still a fantastic game. How do you follow up Resident Evil 4? Skip Resident Evil 5 and play Dead Space instead. Taking the best aspects of Aliens and The Thing, Dead Space is terrifying, unnerving and relentless. Limbs fly out as if they are confetti, and blood flows in ways that would make the Evil Dead franchise blush. I believe that Dead Space was Electronic Arts’ first attempt at making a survival horror game and they succeeded in spades. I chose Dead Space over Dead Space 2 because it had the perfect match of horror and action, but I also played the sequel on the PlayStation 3. Still, you can’t go wrong with Dead Space or Dead Space 2.
When Mass Effect first came out for the Xbox 360 it was a great game, but it had some pretty major flaws. Long load times, uneven frame rates and the shooting wasn’t up to par with other games. Despite that, Mass Effect elevates on having a great story, great characters and the world BioWare made felt truly alive. Mass Effect 2 took all of those flaws and made them even better while taking what did work to the next level. It does what every RPG sequel should do. Take the first one, expand it, and seamlessly integrate it so it feels like it’s part of the original’s world, or in this case universe. I do remember Mass Effect 2 having two disks and it was weird you needed to switch the disks twice. However, it still delivered on a fantastic game. With Mass Effect Andromeda coming out, it’ll be interesting to see if BioWare can make a game better than Mass Effect 2.
For the longest time, The Orange Box was the BEST deal in gaming around. It had Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episode One, Half-Life 2 Episode Two, Team Fortress 2 and the game that became a pop culture phenomenon, Portal. I didn’t play a lot of Team Fortress 2, but the Half-Life 2 games and Portal were the ones I played a lot. Even playing those games for the PC, they were still phenomenal and worth every penny. The only bad thing about The Orange Box is the wait we are still enduring for Half-Life 3.
Bayonetta makes Over-The-Top scream “STOP, IT’S TOO MUCH!” This game is so fast-paced that it becomes dizzying after a while. I can’t describe how unbelievable this game is. It is hack-and-slash perfection. Bayonetta will make you scream in frustration, especially the Space Harrier sequence, but when you beat a level you felt like you have beaten a level. Bayonetta is so diverse with her move set and the events that happens in the game that I still can’t believe the whole thing didn’t fall apart. The story makes no sense whatsoever, but Bayonetta is such a fun character that it doesn’t matter. If I had a Wii-U, I would have played, and most likely loved, Bayonetta 2 by now.
Indie games are a big deal now, but one of the first indie games I played continues to be one of the very best. If Bayonetta is Hack-and-Slash perfection, then Super Meat Boy is platforming perfection. The controls are so perfect that it no longer feels like you are controlling Meat Boy. This game is hard, damn hard. Each new level opens up a new, more challenging level and if you are lucky, you might even find a new, hidden level that might glitch up the level or find a new character to play as from other games. Super Meat Boy for the Xbox 360 is incredible and easily one of the best games of all time.
While the Red Ring of Death was a major flaw for Xbox 360, it still didn’t stop it from being a fantastic console. I may not have an Xbox One yet, but I can still see a bright future for Microsoft’s third console.
Jesse Webster is a Senior Writer for MONG and is going to buy more games at once than ever before.