As was done for the PlayStation 4 launch, the Xbox One’s arrival provides a good moment to take a look back at some of the amazing games the last generation has provided. From shooters to platformers to puzzle games, the roster of games for the Xbox 360 offered a plethora of amazing titles that we will remember for many generations to come.
10. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Love it or hate it, Call of Duty has made sure that no matter what, in early November the eyes of the nation turn to one of the most successful and prolific franchises ever. While sports games might enjoy annual success, it hardly equates to the dominance Call of Duty has demonstrated over the last five years. Modern Warfare 2 obviously is not the first of the series, but established the success the published Activision has come to expect. With fast paced multiplayer that created one of the most intense–and scorned–sub-cultures in video games, Call of Duty became an animal unlike any other video game franchise. It is hard to predict Call of Duty’s success will continue as strong as-ever into the next-gen future, but it will be hard to look back at the Xbox 360 and not remember all the bloody fun this series provided.
9. Batman Arkham City
Batman Arkham City made the top ten of the PlayStation 3 and returns to the Xbox 360 list. The second games in the Arkham series is the essential Batman video game experience and turned the success of Arkham Asylum into a bonafide franchise that Warner Bros was not ready to let die. Developer Rocksteady crafted a Batman experience that combined the visions of Nolan, Burton, and the animated series in to a wonderfully delicious mix, while still paying tribute to certain characters only die-hard comic fans would know about. The future of Rocksteady lies in a different Batman universe, but what they built with Arkham City will always be a treasured experience.
8. Gears of War
Cliff Bleszinski hardly needed any more feathers in his cap to establish himself among the developer greats, but all the same Gears of War was just that. While the series never captured the emotional tone it was going for, and always seem to finish action sequences with a cliched one-liner, the series still stands out as a design masterpiece, filled with intense encounters that made players reconsider the run-and-gun styles made so popular in prior action shooters. With a cover-mechanic that, while not original, became the point of reference for all future third-person shooters, Gears of War is must-play on the Xbox 360.
Microsoft has been dragged through the mud recently with its treatment of independent developers, but it is important to remember that they gave these games a stage before it was cool. The Summer of Arcade promotion was one of the best independent platforms for developers and one of the best games to arise from the slew of titles featured was Braid. Playing on video game conventions and using a rewind mechanic, Braid showed a large audience how independent games could be as great as the AAA blockbusters.
6. Halo Reach
After making four games that told the story of the war between the Covenant and UNSC, three of which featured the iconic Master Chief, Bungie announced they would be hanging up their Spartan Armor with their fifth Halo title, Halo Reach. Telling the origin story of a key Halo character, Reach was an epic farewell to the to the series that had built Bungie into the studio they are today. Reach and ODST might end up being remembered as the weird bridge-games between the two Master Chief trilogies, but Reach was every bit as good, if not better than its numbered brethren.
Bethesda had been making immersive fantasy worlds for a long time before releasing their fifth Elder Scrolls game. What makes Skyrim stand out in the Elder Scrolls franchise was its mainstream acceptance.. The game streamlined many of the more detailed RPG elements from Oblivion, and what it lost in intricacy it gained in appeal. Dovahkiin and world of Skyrim became a cultural phenomena and established Elder Scrolls as a blockbuster franchise. The game is a gorgeous marvel, with the mountainous northern region of Skyrim being a world that players would escape to for dozens, if not hundreds, of hours. We may be able to return to Tamriel in the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online, but that idea of solitary exploration and total immersion, may not be the same as Skyrim for a long time.
4. Red Dead Redemption
The wild, wild west may have been a popular genre of film, but it has been relatively unexplored in the video game space. While there have been attempts, none of them remotely compared to the Rockstar masterpiece Red Dead Redemption. Following the adventure of John Marston, the game traverses an America that is still finding its feet and discovering its beliefs. As Marston hunts down a past he longs to put behind him, he comes across one of the best casts of characters Rockstar has ever assembled. Red Dead Redemption perfects the uneven open world mechanics of the Rockstar formula with better cover-shooting and trading the wonky driving of GTA IV for a smoother horseback experience. Red Dead Redemption might be the best game Rockstar has ever made.
3. Fallout 3
“War never changes,” is the iconic line the post-apocalyptic open-world triumph from Bethesda. The story takes the player from birth to adulthood, traveling across the wasteland remnants of Washington D.C. in search of a father on the run. Fallout 3 grabs the player with their dirty, riveting world, and drags them through the horrors of a land where society has crumbled in favor of barbarism. While a post-apocalyptic future is not an unknown setting for video games, few beg to be explored like Fallout 3’s ghostly atmosphere.
2. Portal 2
Valve does not pump out games the way some studios do, but the quality of their titles is often worth the wait. Portal 2 stands out as one of the greatest puzzle games of all time, challenging yet rewarding. The game blends two of the hardest genres–puzzle and comedy–and pull it off in amazing fashion. The puzzles can be head scratchers that require experimentation and precision, and the comedic writing is some of the best in games. Portal 2 is game that speaks to video game veterans and newcomers a like, delivering a hilariously inventive experience that can be played alone or with a friend.
1. Mass Effect 2
Choice has been one of the largest mechanics in video game plots from the Xbox 360 generation. From shooters, to puzzle games, to RPGs, it seemed that every developer felt it was important to give the players choices to make. While sprawling, decision-driven narrative was not created by BioWare, the developer has demonstrated an aptitude with these kinds of stories, from Baulder’s Gate to Knights of the Old Republic. Mass Effect was the culmination of this experience and carried dynamic choices through its sci-fi trilogy with such success they held the video game world captive with each release. Mass Effect 2 was the best of these games, telling the story of a Shepard forced to work outside law and make uneasy alliances. The story lines of Mass Effect 2 were some of the best writing to date and the cover shooting mechanics are a significant upgrade from the game’s predecessor. Mass Effect 2 is the centerpiece for one of the most intriguing and inventive series in video game history.
Of course this list is going to differ from yours, everyone will have their own special games from the days of the Xbox 360. Let us know your favorites in the comments below.