The Xbox 360 is the system that elevated Microsoft’s entry into the gaming console business to the next level. The Xbox 360 is known as one of the best game consoles of all time, with an enormous library of excellent games.
It wasn’t easy paring down the collection to its top games after more than 2,000 titles were produced for the platform over its nearly eight-year lifespan. With the 4 finest Xbox 360 games of all time, we’re looking back at the console’s glory days (in alphabetical order).
Many of the games mentioned here are still playable on Xbox One and Xbox Series X today, and some have even been remastered with improved visuals and gameplay features.
1. Grand Theft Auto IV
Criminals are more worthy of pity and contempt than adoration since they are unsightly and cowardly. This is what you’ll discover when playing Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto IV’s single-player campaign. The show that was praised (and chastised) for promoting violence has taken an unexpected turn: it’s become legitimate.
Sure, you’ll blow up cop cars, run down innocent citizens, bang hookers, help drug dealers and lowlifes, and do a slew of other horrible things, but it’ll cost you the soul of the main character, Niko Bellic. GTA IV lifts its story from a simple shoot-em-up to an Oscar-caliber drama by giving us characters and a setting with a level of depth previously unmatched in gaming.
Every aspect of Rockstar’s latest masterwork is deserving of praise. Grand Theft Auto IV is without a doubt the best game since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
You play the role of Niko Bellic, an Eastern European trying to escape his history and the horrors of the Bosnian war. He arrives in Liberty City hoping to experience the American dream, only to learn that his cousin, Roman, may have embellished his success stories.
Niko makes a living as a killer and enforcer, a badass foreigner with no morals who pretend to have none. The longer we spend with Niko, the more we notice that he is a broken human being who would give anything to be free of the person he used to be.
Don’t worry, GTA’s famous over-the-top action and tongue-in-cheek humor are still present, but the characters and game environment have a new level of sophistication that elevates the story above the ordinary.
Niko gets more self-aware as he becomes entangled in the last throes of American organized crime. Niko’s battles with his merciless nature never detract from the gameplay, but rather add to the emotional depth of a fantastic story. The more ludicrous the action becomes, the more we feel Niko Bellic’s very real pathos.
The artists at Rockstar North deserve a lot of credit for creating such a realistic city. Liberty City is inspired by New York, yet it is not bound by it. While there are numerous connections, Liberty deserves to live in its universe.
Many open-world games have cities that feel to exist just from the time you switch on your console, but Liberty City appears to be inhabited. It’s an old city, and each neighborhood has its personality and history.
You’ll be able to recognize each block as you drive about Liberty City. Even though Liberty is densely packed with brownstones and a plethora of similar brick structures, you can distinguish one from the other, just as you can in New York.
When you visit an affluent neighborhood, the streets are likely to be freshly paved, the pedestrians are more well-dressed, and the officers are more numerous. In Dukes or Bohan, though, you’ll find streets practically devoid of tarmac, homeless people walking aimlessly, and crooks preying on the vulnerable.
Grand Theft Auto III was a game that inspired the game industry forever, inspiring a new generation of 3D action games. Grand Theft Auto IV is a significant step forward, albeit in more subtle ways, and sets a new benchmark for open-world games. Everything in Grand Theft Auto IV is in sync.
The story would be meaningless without the city; the physics engine adds realism to the city; the physics complement the upgraded AI, and the AI would be meaningless without the new cover system.
It goes on and on. There isn’t a single serious flaw. We don’t give out “10s” very frequently. The last time we gave a console game a ten was in 1999 with Soul Calibur.
A ten doesn’t imply a game is perfect; it indicates it is pushing boundaries, expanding a genre, and accomplishing many things to such a high level that any imperfections are overshadowed.
GTA IV does have certain flaws, the most notable of which is the rare flaw in the cover system, but there are many more pieces of the game that are better than anything I’ve seen in the last decade. We don’t award tens very often; we only do it for games that deserve it.
BioShock is Irrational’s best game to date, and it also serves as a sort of swan song for the Irrational brand, as they just dropped their long-standing and well-known studio moniker in favor of the more corporate, faceless 2K Boston and 2K Australia.
BioShock is a first-person shooter set in the marvelously frightening city of Rapture, which the megalomaniacal Andrew Ryan built beneath the sea. Throughout your lengthy stay, you’ll discover combat options that are as complex and enjoyable to understand as the story and characters, something that only a few games can claim.
But to merely call this game a first-person shooter, a game that successfully blends gameplay and narrative, is a disservice to it. This game is a lighthouse. It’s one of those life-changing experiences that you’ll never forget, and it’ll serve as the benchmark against which games will be judged for years to come.
This isn’t just a sequel to System Shock 2, but a call to action for the entire industry. Play this, and you’ll understand why you should expect more from publishers and developers than the same tired sequels that are pushed down our throats year after year with tiny changes to their formulae.
It’s a wonderful example of how all aspects of game design may be brought together and succeeded to the nth degree.
The game begins with your plane crashing into the water, forcing your character to seek refuge in Rapture to survive.
Irrational tamper with and vastly strengthen the fragile, intangible relationship between the in-game protagonist and yourself by putting you through experiences that toy with and vastly strengthen that fragile, intangible bond between the in-game protagonist and yourself.
It sometimes causes you to ponder, which is so crucial and unusual in games, forcing you to consider the nature of blindly accepted game traditions, which we can’t discuss for fear of spoiling things.
It lays out a fairly straightforward narrative path for you, yet it never feels linear, which is due as much to the gameplay as it is to the story.
The game is divided into large portions, each with its own set of load times. These don’t load times as in Half-Life 2, where the game unexpectedly pauses. Rather, load times are logically arranged and never disrupt the experience or detract from the immersion.
Each part has its cast of NPCs who aren’t just staging bosses, and you don’t always have to fight them. Instead, you’re fighting their ideas and fears, debating their intentions as much as the splicer minions who attack you so constantly.
They’re such hauntingly spirited adversaries that you may pity sorry for them. Rapture’s lumbering guardians, the Big Daddies, for example, may walk around stages knocking on outlets where their wards, the Little Sisters, would ordinarily emerge.
If you’ve killed or liberated the small females, which you almost always must, the Big Daddy will knock again, seeming perplexed as to why no one is coming out as they lumber and moan their way to the next outlet. It’s yet another example of the amazing touches that make Rapture to life.
From Roger Ebert to game designers like Hideo Kojima, there is art here, despite what many would say isn’t feasible with games. But it’s in BioShock—in its Rapture’s brilliantly rendered watery hallways. It can be found in a Little Sister’s expression of gratitude if you choose to save her, or in the total quiet if you choose to harvest instead.
It’s in the way the characters develop, and in the testimonies, you collect from the recording boxes along the road. It’s in the framework of the narrative and the way it flows so naturally with the action. With this game, Irrational had a defined concept, which they executed with astonishing perfection in every department.
They didn’t just make a game that’s fun to play, which is typically used as a criterion for determining whether or not a game is valuable. BioShock is a one-of-a-kind example of how to combine fun gameplay with an irresistibly dark, captivating tale that has a diverse cast of characters. This is a must-have gaming experience.
3. The Orange Box
There has never been a console package quite like The Orange Box. You receive five games for $60: Half-Life 2, HL2: Episode One, HL2: Episode Two, Portal, and Team Fortress 2 are some of the games that have been released.
If you’re keeping track, that’s one of the best shooters ever, plus two expansion packs, a new and unique puzzle game, and a bizarre multiplayer game. All of this is contained in a single box and on a single CD. The Orange Box is without a doubt the must-have game of the year.
Half-Life 2 and Episode Two are the two best single-player first-person shooters on Xbox 360, with all five components being great.
The five games are easily accessible thanks to a simple but appealing menu structure. Without having completed the previous versions, you can jump into any of the Half-Life components. If you’ve already played Half-Life 2, you can skip the tutorial (though you should still do so) and play right into the episodic material.
Director commentary is also included in every game (except HL2), providing an in-depth look at the level and map construction as well as story components for the Half-Life world. It’s about as nice a console package as you’ll find. The only flaw is the terrible box art, which I’m quite sure was created by a group of mildly skilled fifth graders.
Due to a large number of pieces in The Orange Box, Microsoft made some exceptions to its usual Achievement standards. There are 99 Achievements to unlock, although there are only 1000 Gamerpoints to be gained (as opposed to the normal limit of 50).
You can also view game-specific Achievement lists from within each title. There are some well-thought-out accomplishments to be had. Attempting to obtain every Achievement will add some flavor to your Half-Life 2 replay. It’s a difficult task.
Team Fortress 2 delivers two things to the Xbox 360 that are rarely seen together: humor and solid class-based multiplayer. The whimsical look of TF2 contrasts perfectly with the harsh gameplay. Up to sixteen players battle in objective-based games while playing one of nine different roles on a total of six maps.
The class system distinguishes TF2 from other Xbox 360 games. The nine various roles are all highly different from one another, so playing a Soldier and a Demo Man are two completely different experiences. There are classes for individuals who simply want to blast stuff or make it blow, but there are other classes that rely on talent rather than pure power.
In a gunfight, the Engineer is useless, but he can put up teleportation nodes and turrets, making him a vital asset. To assist comrades in battle, the Medic fires a healing pistol at them.
He can even make them invincible for a short time. Then there’s the Spy, a class that’s sure to be popular. The Spy can take on the appearance of any other class while posing as a member of their team to the opponent.
However, being a spy entails more than just dressing up like the enemy; you must also act following the disguise. You can’t dress up as a sharpshooter and then run into battle like a moron. Something is wrong, and the opposing team will notice.
Playing a spy has a lot of complexity to it. The majority of the other classes are less complicated but no less entertaining to play. TF2 gets the class structure right by making each duty both valuable and enjoyable for the team.
The Orange Box is unlike anything else available on any console. Even though Half-Life 2 has been out for a while, the Box still has four components that are new to consoles. Incredibly, so much fantastic stuff is available for the usual single-game price.
It’s like batting with the ’27 Yankees if you replay Half-Life 2 and then continue to Episodes One and Two. It doesn’t get much better than this when it comes to Hall of Fame titles.
Add in Portal, a creative puzzle game with a wicked sense of humor, and Team Fortress 2, one of the few multiplayer games to get the class system right, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic package.
And it’s all contained on a single DVD. While Portal and Team Fortress 2 may not be good enough to stand alone, when combined with the Half-Life games, The Orange Box is truly one of the best games ever made.
4. Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect is one of the best games I’ve played in the last ten years. Despite its technological flaws, BioWare’s initial installment in what was billed as a trilogy elevated the role-playing genre to new cinematic heights. In nearly every regard, Mass Effect 2 is a superior game.
You’ll be hooked from the very first scene. And the deeper you delve into this huge action role-playing game, the more enjoyable it becomes. It lives up to its predecessor’s promise while continuing to push the boundaries of what we can expect from a videogame.
Commander Shepard’s story continues here. It’s the future, and all sentient life on the face of the galaxy is on the verge of extinction. The Reapers, an advanced race of machines, are on a mission to wipe the slate clean. Shepard, a decorated soldier, has faced this menace before and triumphed, but victory is not guaranteed.
Shepard now has to confront the enemy, a mission that has been labeled suicide from the start. Things don’t appear to be going well, but Shepard has a plan. It entails gathering the galaxy’s best and brightest and persuading them that their lives are worth sacrificing for the greater good.
The story of Mass Effect 2’s actual strength, though, is how intimate BioWare has made it. If you made Mass Effect 1 and still have your save data, this game will import your character as well as all of your decisions.
The basic plot will not change significantly, but the overall experience will. Based on the decisions you made in the last game, some old friends and acquaintances will return — and some will not. Even the opening sequences of Mass Effect 2 can differ slightly.
This sensation of personalization is greatly heightened by the acts you choose in the sequel. As the result, you’ll have made so many decisions – from simple things like whether you play as a male or female to those dictating life and death – that the game will feel unique to you.
The decisions you made in Mass Effect 1 come back to haunt you, reminding you of past good actions or wrongdoings. The decisions made here have an impact on the result.
Everywhere you go, there are reminders that everything you do in Mass Effect 3 will be reflected in the game, adding to the drama of every conversation. Things you say and do genuinely have an impact, which is a fantastic feeling to have from a videogame.
Mass Effect 2 is one of those rare games that comes around now and again. Look at any aspect and you’ll see that it’s fantastic. It’s deeply intimate while maintaining a sense of epic grandeur. Combat and mission design are excellent.
The images, voice acting, soundtrack, and direction are all far superior to anything else on the market. Perhaps most impressively, Mass Effect 2 manages to achieve its enormous ambition with only a few technological glitches.
The only major caution I have is that if you haven’t played Mass Effect 1, some of the discoveries and story twists won’t be as dramatic, but that’s no excuse to skip this excellent videogame.