Every Week I will be posting a new “top 10” list for every major video game platform in my lifetime, starting with the 5th generation of consoles and moving forward from there. I would love to hear your input on some of your favourite games, from each console or handheld. This is not necessarily an objective list of the 10 best games on the console, but rather my subjective opinion on the best 10 games of each console.
In the interest of diversity, I decided to not include many games that I love on the Original Xbox (e.g., Star Wars Battlefront 2) because they are on the PS2 list.
#10 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Morrowind was a very special game for this generation of consoles. It was the first true massive open world rpg-style game that we are used to now with the Skyrim’s, Fallouts, and Far Cry’s of the world. If you haven’t played Morrowind yet, it’s not a game that you have to go back and play if you have played Oblivion or Skyrim, but it was the introduction to these great games and was a fantastic entry in its own right.
The game starts off with a bang. The first half of this game is easily one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever played… but as is the case with many humorous games, the jokes become dry in the second half. It’s an inventive action/adventure game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s definitely worth a look. Also, Psychonauts 2 was recently funded on Kickstarter… so expect a sequel coming out soon.
#8 Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
The Sands of Time was one of the great platformers of that generation, and it was good enough to spawn a lot of sequels. On hiatus recently, the Prince of Persia franchise was always about puzzle solving and unique combat. Winning multiple game of the year awards from outlets like IGN but selling fairly poorly due to the simultaneous release of Beyond Good & Evil, the Sands of Time is truly a gem of a game.
#7 Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory
Splinter Cell Chaos Theory was revolutionary in giving players the precision of a pinhead in executing enemies, sneaking through levels, and accomplishing goals. At the time its sense of realism and animation was unmatched across any other game, and combined with stellar gameplay, a captivating single-player experience, and a ton of replay value, Chaos Theory remains to this day one of the best Splinter Cell Games.
#6 Forza Motorsport
The best part about any Forza game beginning with the original and staying a big part of the newer games is how both casual racers and automotive nuts who want to tweak the finest details of their car can enjoy the game. Tire pressure bothering you? Fix it. Don’t really care about that stuff, and just want to go fast? There’s an option for that too. Forza has always been a hallmark for graphical fidelity on any Xbox platform as well, and the first game is no exception.
#5 Conkers Live & Reloaded
This game is almost a direct remake of the N64 classic but with updated visuals and expanded multiplayer with Xbox Live functionality. It’s not perfect, and they could have done more to update the single-player with more recent movie spoofs and video game references to make fun of, but overall I can’t really complain about a game that is one of my all-time favourites.
Fable has never been about console-defining gameplay or visuals, or masterful storytelling in a serious tone. Fable is all about creative invention and exploring a world that you can get lost in, coupled with suitable gameplay and story that does not impede your interaction with the world (like so many other RPGs). Although I think that Fable II is ultimately the best game in the franchise, it is hard to not mention the original Fable as one of the more important games of the original Xbox as it built one of the most important franchises for Xbox (well… until now anyways). Fable is a can’t-miss experience, and if you did miss it definitely pick up the Anniversary edition for the 360.
#3 KOTOR 2
Before there was Mass Effect, there was Knights of the Old Republic. Even better than the original, KOTOR 2 immersed players in an epic space opera with an ocean-deep level of possibilities for RPG elements. The story was masterfully told, the mechanics were fine-tuned and improved from the first game, overall KOTOR 2 is one of the best RPGs of all time, yet alone for the Xbox. Seriously, who doesn’t want to become a Sith Lord?
#2 Halo: Combat Evolved
Before the entire internet gets mad, deciding between Halo and Halo 2 for the top game on the original Xbox was a tough decision. However, it has always been my mindset that Halo 2 was the perfect storm of development and technology coming to fruition, whereas the original Halo was simply a very special game. Halo: Combat Evolved is the single-most important game the Xbox has ever had. Without it, Xbox would not exist. Without it, first person shooters and many modern games would look, play, and feel drastically different. The entire video game industry would be a different place. Halo did an incredible job of immersing the player in a completely unknown universe, filled with all the makings of an epic space-opera, great first-person shooter, and ultimately a universe so deep that it could be expanded infinite times. The campaign was stellar, with certain levels showcasing the power and performance of the original Xbox while others showcased the mechanics of the game on a perfect level (e.g., The Silent Cartographer). In the end, no game before it felt like Halo and after it, a whole heap of games did. It changed the industry, and it changed my life. But…
#1 Halo 2
Halo 2 is the better game. On purely a technical scale (which is to no discredit to Combat Evolved) the visuals improved ten-fold over the previous game with the exact same hardware due to advancements and optimization in the game engine. Also, with Xbox Live being a service that Halo 2 could launch with and take advantage of, Halo: Combat Evolved did not have that opportunity. Those points aside, Bungie was able to weave and intertwine two different characters stories, the Chief and the Arbiter, into one massive space-opera that took players on different planets, another halo ring, and more importantly, Earth for the first time. The reason the story turned out the way it was with two dueling storylines and a cliffhanger ending was because Bungie actually scrapped the work they put into their original plan half-way through development, which is incredible given the fact that they were able to pull it off. Dual-Wielding is something that I miss in current Halo games, something that was introduced in Halo 2. Halo 2 somehow upped the tension and the ante from the original Halo game, which is why it is a better game. Also, the campaign was much more reliable in terms of quality when compared to the original game, with every level in Halo 2 providing a unique challenge, great map design, and ultimately no level was a bore to go through (such as the Library in Halo: CE). Halo 2 had the best multiplayer until Halo 5 came out as well, with incredible map design and near-perfect mechanics. Without Halo 2, Xbox Live would not be where it is today as the premier online service for gaming. Halo 2 is the better game and is easily one of the best games ever made, on any platform.
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