Sony launched the original Xbox 16 years ago. During the console’s five-year run, hundreds of games were released, some good, some not-so-good. Although the Xbox console itself has moved on with the recent release of the Xbox One X, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look back at the best 20 games that the Xbox brought us.
The best Xbox games ever
20. Beyond Good and Evil
Beyond Good and Evil was a smart, quirky game that offered real depth and emotion to its story. It looked at tough topics, from government corruption to trust and truth, and handled them all expertly thanks to the care and craft that went into the game’s storytelling. When you also consider the game’s varied gameplay, from vehicle racing, espionage, and of course photography, Beyond Good and Evil is a hard game to forget.
19. Burnout 3: Takedown
Put simply, Burnout 3 was a racing game for people who liked things fast and fun. While titles like Forza Motorsport offered a more serious racing experience, Burnout was never a series to take itself too seriously. The third Burnout offering was no different, and offered gamers the most over-the-top crashes and high tempo racing yet.
18. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
Despite what your thoughts may be on the actual film, Escape from Butcher Bay was unreservedly good, making it a rare exception for a movie tie-in video game. The first-person action threw you into the thick of all variety of knife and gun fights, and you got the real sense of being in a grimy, sci-fi prison while working through the compelling storyline.
17. Half-Life 2
Although originally a PC game, Half-Life 2 was still a stand-out game on the Xbox, and remains one of the best FPS you could buy on the console.
Although Xbox gamers will have to make do with just a single-player campaign mode, the campaign itself is engaging, scary, and one of the best things you’ll ever play through.
16. Jade Empire
Before the days of Dragon Age and Mass Effect, BioWare released Jade Empire. Although BioWare’s ability to craft a great game was never in doubt thanks to their work on titles such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, this was one of BioWare’s first forays into creating their own world.
Players could choose to follow either the Way of the Open Palm or the Way of the Closed Fist, and could make a number of choices that had an impact on how the end-game plays out. Overall, Jade Empire was a truly compelling RPG that stands the test of time.
15. Jet Set Radio Future
Jet Set Radio Future was one of the very first games to come out on Xbox, and was packaged along with Sega GT for the first Xbox consoles. You play as a graffiti artist who skates around Tokyo, spraying graffiti, grooving out to the game’s soundtrack, and causing a general nuisance for the local police. Although simple in plot, Jet Set Radio Future was memorable due to its unique design, gameplay, and soundtrack.
14. Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge
Another title that was transitioned from the PC to the Xbox, Crimson Skies was an action-packed flying game that pushed realism to the side in favor of better gameplay.
Flying around in an assortment of fighter planes, the real charm of Crimson Skies came through in its online mode, which was engaging enough to keep you playing long after the single-player campaign had ended.
13. TimeSplitters 2
Although the original TimeSplitters was only available on PlayStation 2, its sequel made its way to the Xbox, and we were all better off for it. An insanely fast-paced FPS, players battled their way through ten different levels, as your time-traveling heroes tracked down aliens who were jumping to different time periods. There’s a lot to like about this game, from the two and four-player split screen modes to the N64 GoldenEye 007 throwback during the Siberian station level.
Psychonauts was one of the gems in the Xbox’s catalog of games. The dialog was witty, the visuals were spectacular, and the platforming gameplay presented an enjoyable challenge. Although the game sadly didn’t meet with the commercial success it arguably deserved, Psychonauts was still immensely enjoyable and was by far one of the funniest games you could find on the Xbox.
11. Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction
Essentially a military-inspired Grand Theft Auto, Mercenaries was a sandbox game that let the player take the reins and decide how to complete missions. The range of vehicles you could choose from was impressive, as was the sheer arsenal of weapons at your disposal. Leveling buildings has never been so fun.
10. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was an action-platformer that impressed with its story as well as gameplay. The ability to rewind time made for an interesting and at times challenging gameplay experience, although the game could have done with being a little bit longer to capitalize on this.
9. Ninja Gaiden Black
Ninja Gaiden Black was a re-release of the original Ninja Gaiden, which added new levels, items and other features, which actually ended up improving Ninja Gaiden as a game. The result was a quick, striking action game that was set across a sprawling backdrop of environments.
8. Forza Motorsport
A game that is in many ways akin to the Gran Turismo racing series, Forza Motorsport made its own mark on the genre thanks to its high-quality graphics, extensive customization options, and great gameplay. All this, combined with a single-player campaign mode, provided an experience that other Xbox racing games struggled to match.
7. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
KOTOR is easily one of the best Star Wars universe games ever made. BioWare knocked it out of the park with this title and crafted an RPG that delivered compelling characters, story, and fluid turn-based gameplay as your character aligned themselves with the light or the dark side of the Force.
6. Halo 2
Halo 2 had huge shoes to fill given the success and all-round critical acclaim of its predecessor, and it did not disappoint. Although Halo 2 took steps to improve on the original, with an intriguing plot in the single-player campaign, Halo 2 really shone with its online multiplayer, which paved the way for online play as we know it today.
Although Fable didn’t quite reach the heady heights of the “ultimate RPG” that was originally promised, it certainly didn’t disappoint. An action-RPG that had wide appeal, there was something endearing about the world Fable created and the characters that inhabited it. Not only did you get to watch your character grow from a child into an adult, but the elements of good-or-evil decision making that were in place made Fable an intriguing, fun, albeit short, game.
4. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Although it was Grand Theft Auto III on the PlayStation 2 that really set the standard for sandbox games, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas stays true to its predecessor’s roots, while seemingly doing everything better. The game itself was the largest GTA made at the time, and sprawled across three cities, each with their own distinct feel.
You could also customize your character, CJ, in a way that pushed new boundaries for the genre. And of course, anyone looking to cause absolute carnage on the streets, or the skies, was not disappointed with the range of vehicles and weapons on offer.
3. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory corrected the mistakes of its predecessor, and as a result solidified itself as one of the best stealth games ever made on the Xbox. The game was a visual delight, and gameplay was improved, making it more forgiving for players. The addition of more multiplayer options was just the icing.
2. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Morrowind was a sandbox RPG at its finest. Whether you were committed to following the main quest through to its end, or just wanted to wander aimlessly and attack or steal everything that lay in your path, anything was possible. Although the subsequent iterations of the Elder Scrolls, namely Oblivion and Skyrim, have overshadowed Morrowind, Morrowind remains a landmark for RPG-console games to this day.
1. Halo: Combat Evolved
There could only ever be one winner in this countdown, and naturally, it is the original Halo. Although there is heated debate about whether Halo or Halo 2 is the better game, Halo takes the top spot simply because its impact was so enormous that the Xbox would not be what it is today without the original game.
A solid campaign mode, a multiplayer experience that spawned so many LAN-parties, stylish graphics, and atmospheric sound all made this game so memorable, and more than worthy of the top spot.
Do you agree with our choices? Let us know in the comments.