The first Xbox was Microsoft’s debut foray into the console space, but the Xbox 360 established them as the top dog. Focused less on exclusives and first party titles, MS was looking to publish the highest possible quality of games they could, and considering the sales and reception of the standouts, the strategy was a huge success.
No Xbox “best of” conversation could be deemed legitimate without mentioning Microsoft’s elephant in the room, Halo. Created by Bungie as the original Xbox’s system seller, Halo had become an iconic franchise, rivaling even Mario as the most recognizable and popular videogame IP in the world. The 360 brought gamers the conclusion of the original trilogy in the form of the critically acclaimed Halo 3, and kicked off the next generation of Master Chief-themed games with the 343 Industries-developed Halo 4. With Bungie out of the picture, it is 343 that must continue the grand tradition, and has started off very strong with an initial offering that includes the feel of a Halo game, coupled with new features, weapons and enemies that can only come from a new and energetic take on the classic series.
The second largest Xbox exclusive, Gears of War was the other AAA game that has helped define the console and convince on-the-fence gamers that they should pick up an Xbox. Cliff Bleszinski and crew at Epic Games succeeded in every category in this high-octane, post-apocalyptic thrill-ride.. Gears of War 2 can be looked at as the perfect sequel. Bigger, prettier and nastier than the original in almost every way, the polish of this AAA-title is readily apparent right when you pick up the sticks to play as Dom, the badass commander of of Delta Squad.
Many top game’s lists will inevitably include a Rockstar title. The creators of GTA, Rockstar might just be the best dev house in the world. Red Dead Redemption is, by far (not even close actually) the best Western-themed game of all time. This Xbox 360 open world frontier title was a breath of fresh air that took the gaming community by storm. Taking the reins of popular protagonist, John Marston, you can go anywhere and do anything in the Wild West. Following the competent Red Dead Revolver, the sequel went all out to create an experience that built upon the foundation of the first, while ripping down every static, uninspired mechanic, in order to develop a game that would accept nothing less than greatness. Mission accomplished.
One of the few original IP’s that truly made an unexpectedly big impression on gamers was Crackdown. Successfully crafting a GTA rival that allowed players to go anywhere and do anything as a genetically modified law enforcement agent tasked with taking down drug kingpins and cartel bosses in the fictional Pacific City, Crackdown was gaming escapism at its best. Developed by Real-Time Worlds, this sandbox game is a funny, high-octane, over-the-top experience that never takes itself too seriously…something that other titles should certainly take note.
The final entry in the best Xbox 360 games list is BioShock, the brainchild of industry scion Ken Levine and the rest of the crew at Irrational Games. A spiritual successor to System Shock, BioShock ups the ante in every way and provides what may be the greatest gaming environment of all time: Rapture. The underwater dystopia drips with personality and atmosphere. You enter not knowing what to expect, with no knowledge of Rapture ever existing, and must figure out the mystery of this vast city and what role you play in its future. With one of the greatest antagonists in any game (Rapture creator, Andrew Ryan) and roving boss battles with the now iconic Big Daddy’s, BioShock is as immersive a game as you can find, and should not be missed by anyone who considers themselves a gaming enthusiast. Scratch that, it should not be missed by anyone who considers themselves an entertainment enthusiast…it is really that good.