The Xbox is the first console machine made by Microsoft and it’s the genesis of Microsoft being a bigger gaming company than just being developers for the PC Windows Market. Ever since Sony dominated the gaming market, consoles like the Sega Dreamcast disbanded upon the released of the Playstation 2. When Bill Gates first announced the Xbox at the turn of the century no one knew exactly what to make of it. Was he mad, brave or just plain deluded? With Sony bashing Nintendo into a distant second place and Sega struggling to stay in the console arms race, his plans seemed a little crazy. But Microsoft never does things by halves, and five years on we see an industry radically altered by a powerhouse platform that many pundits wrote off before it even went into production. There were a lot of games from Windows that were too advanced for consoles and Microsoft’s Xbox was the one machine that was able to deliver the good into the big screen in our living rooms. All of those FPS, Western RPGs, and other mature games that the PC market is most known for is being offered right on the Xbox. But being that this is Microsoft’s first video game home console they didn’t’ have much of an audience, than the standard Windows fans who followed Microsoft’s product for many years. For being that this is their first console, it shows. Their original controller called “The Duke” was a horrendous block that was is considered as the worst controller of all time, the size of the console is almost as big as the Atari 2500, and a lot of exclusives weren’t much to talk about (except for Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee & Halo: Combat Evolved) released for the time. There were a lot of skeptics for the Xbox, however there were a lot of people interested in playing the console. There were a lot of older gamers who were interested in many of the mature games provided from this console. One of them being Halo: Combat Evolved that was something that Sony and Nintendo could never come up with but somehow it because an world wide hit that save the console. A lot of people forgot the importance of the Xbox because its successor the Xbox 360 overshadows it, but the original Xbox is a hell of a console. It made all of those PC gaming appeal to feel welcomed in the home console and not only that Xbox Live forever changed the face of online gaming. And where did it all started? Right here on the original Xbox. The Xbox deserved to be the second place console in console market in competition against the Playstation 2 and Gamecube. Nowadays, people like to look at the Xbox as a console for Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, but I guarantee to you that there’s more to the console than just those two games. And this list shows the whole appeal of Xbox for me and one of the ten greatest consoles of all time!
Number 10. – Jade Empire
We haven’t seen an original Bioware title since MDK2 and being a great follow up to KOTOR was really fantastic! Though I really would love to have Bioware to make KOTOR2 instead of having another developer that gave us a disappointing experience, Jade Empire is a masterful action RPG set in a fantasy martial arts theme. Jade Empire was one of the developer’s first attempts at creating an entire universe of its own, and while the world wasn’t as interesting or involved as Mass Effect’s would be, it was still incredibly interesting–it’s no wonder fans clamor for sequels to this day. You make plenty of choices on your way to the end of the game, choosing to follow either the Way of the Open Palm or the Way of the Closed Fist as they fight to find their master. Early seeds of future BioWare game mechanics–including player romance and choice-driven gameplay–were present in the game, making Jade Empire a true spiritual predecessor to games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect.
Number 9. – Crimson Sky:
High Road to Revenge
I still remember the original Crimson Sky in the arcade where they place you in a giant plastic bottle and you navigate the plane with the handles connected in the bubble. It was the best graphics in the arcade at the time and it was made expensive to play the game; 1 dollar each play. Thought it’s an arcade title that isn’t’ memorable, however High Road to Revenge abandoned the arcade formula and decided to be an adventurous experience. A lot of reviewers recommended this title because of it’s simplistic gameplay and amazing graphics, but part of the appeal for me is the feeling of the classic adventure films. The setting in the 1930’s is really present here and I’m amazed that this game looks better than many of the modern games that uses HD graphics. The gameplay is where Crimson Skies truly soars. It does a marvelous balancing act between flight sim realism and in-your-face, frantic action. Players can jump into the thick of things without reading volumes upon volumes of flight manuals. While you don’t need to boggle your mind with thoughts of ailerons and HUD’s, you do need to watch out for engine stalls and that pesky gravity, which will cancel your flight faster than a rogue hurricane off the Florida coast. This is definitely a game for gamers, not flight school wannabes. Overall, High Road To Revenge is an excellent, polished package that offers instant and constant entertainment from the moment it hits the disc tray. It’s by no means groundbreaking or remotely innovative, and you might get fed up with some rather samey single-player mission objectives, but it’s all delivered with a charm and style that will win over your heart and ultimately offers a satisfying multiplayer facet that helps round off the package nicely. Definitely one of the most enjoyable releases in the Xbox’s library.
Number 8. – Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
From the early to mid 2000′s, the Tom Clancy video game series were the top military games in the market. Somehow the whole franchise ever got better after Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. It’s so amazing that with stunning graphics that could fill up the entire disc, Chaos Theory had so many features like co-op, online multiplayer (spies vs. mercs), and a lot of replay value with each and every one of the levels. When it comes down to it, what makes Chaos Theory great to this day is the constant variety the game throws at you. Part of the reason is that Chaos Theory is the last classic Splinter Cell game before they had to change the direction of the series to lose it’s identity. There is no one right way, and you aren’t punished for taking one over the other, though those looking for 100 percent ratings on all of the missions will need to go full stealth – not killing anyone or setting off alarms. Even so, I never felt restricted even when going full-stealth, because the levels offered you so many options for being stealthy that you never even really notice you’re doing things one way. Chaos Theory, amazingly, can be both very difficult and very easy, depending on your play style. If you aren’t happy with the direction that the series has taken over the past few entries, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory holds up spectacularly, and can easily be called the best in the series thus far. Any fan of the stealth genre should do themselves a favor and pick this game up.
Number 7. – Panzer Dragoon Orta
It’s kinda sad to see that this is the last great on-rail shooter and the final game of the Panzer Dragoon series. Orta was supposed to be released on the Dreamcast but after the console disbanded before the game was finished in development, it was ported on the Xbox. It was perfect marketing strategy to get the Sega’s audience into the Xbox, but over the years people forgotten that this title exists, along with every other game of the Panzer Dragoon series. In fact, it’s been five years since we last saw the Dragoons back in the Sega Saturn days. The good news is that Panzer Dragoon still hasn’t lost the magic touch when it comes to shooters. Though simple in nature, there’s still plenty going on to keep you on your toes. Your main character is Orta who’s the child of Azel and Edge, the main characters of Panzer Dragoon Saga, to fight against the evil Dragonmares (who already taken over the world) with her powerful dragon. Admittedly, I think that this game should have been and RPG just like it’s predecessor because it’s gameplay and storyline was so damn good that it became my favorite game of the 1990s. Since nobody but Sega Saturn diehard actually experienced such a rare masterpiece, Sega had no choice but to bring back the series to its roots. Interestingly enough, Orta also has a branching path in each of its levels (determined by the direction of your cursor at the time). This often leads to completely different areas with completely different enemies. The fork in the road isn’t always that obvious, but the ability to fly through different areas of a single level add a little replay value to the game. And speaking of replay, there’s plenty to do even after the main game is completed. Orta boasts a large extras section known as “Pandora’s Box” that’s sure to keep you coming back for more. Besides the mildly amusing films, illustrations and records options, there’s also plenty of playable levels featuring other characters and vehicles. Not only that, you can also play the full version of the original [Panzer Dragoon]! This is a real great treat of the last installment of Sega’s best and most under-appreciated video game series ever!
Number 6. – Fable: The Lost Chapters
I maybe the only person that actually likes the remake (with more quests, weapons, and choices) than the original Fable. I hate to say that this is the ONLY Fable game that I like, since Peter Molyneux loves to hype shit up and turn us all down. Everything in Fable 1 and The Lost Chapters really is a coming of age story where you have so many moral decisions to make in becoming the ultimate good or bad. A tremendous RPG from the mind of Peter Molyneux where he created a fantasy world where Players’ every action determines their character’s skills, appearances and moralities. Life stories are created from childhood through adulthood and on to old age in choosing the paths of righteousness or dedicate their characters’ lives to evil; observing as they transform into reflections of their actions and decisions. As players’ characters develop, the world reacts to them and their actions. This was around the time where Western-RPG’s were actually working extremely well on console and it’s thanks to Xbox giving us that PC Gaming experience right in our living rooms. Fable just had amazing visuals that is breathtaking as we all get sucked into this stratosphere. From the guild to the graveyard, Fable is both beautiful and extremely disturbing as you adventure on all of Albion. Yet, it doesn’t play or feel like any other RPG as you can interact with the world, make any choices you want, and EXP is used for spending for new powers and abilities, not just leveling up. You really feel connected to nearly everything the game delivers and yet we blame Peter Molyneux for not delivering on what he promised because we want more. It is a solid title for Xbox fans who want to have a different title outside of Halo 2 that has been hyped up throughout 2004. I love Fable for many reasons outside of the abandoning the level grinding; I love the gothic, haunting atmosphere, I love the enemy variety, I love the design, I love the decisions you can make that benefit yourself or others around you, I love the sense of humor, I love the powers and abilities, and so much more. Yet I put it only at number 4 because every decision you make is always about morals and not an alternative. Nevertheless, I never once had to focus on stats to progress wherever and whenever I want to do.
Number 5. – Shenmue II
Shenmue II is epic in every sense of the word, from the sprawling cities to the achingly beautiful musical score; the game just oozes quality and is arguably one of the most important releases in the Dreamcast’s limited lifespan that’s thankfully released on the Xbox in the USA. Being the sequel to one of the most loved and loathed titles of the generation 6, there were a lot of expectations and excitement leading up to release. This added with news that the title wouldn’t see the light of day in the USA; made those last remaining fans feel special that they would be able to experience the game in its original form before anyone else. Everything you loved about the original has been taken and refined with the result being one of the most daring and epic adventures of last generation. A fantastic cast of characters (well, maybe not Delin), seamless interaction with everything around you, a gripping Hollywood style narrative and a blockbuster musical score make this an experience like no other. Yes it has its flaws, but what game doesn’t? One part of the title completely blocks progression till you have a sufficient amount of Yen, this means finding employment or spending hours gambling only to end up with as much money as when you started. This is quite easily the lowest and most tedious section of the game but it doesn’t detract from the overall experience, the rest of the title is just too enjoyable to be broken by such a petite issue. The Dreamcast version of the game only carries the Japanese voice track and English subtitles, however the Xbox port which contains a localized dubbing. It’s generally advised against this version though as it contains some of the downright worst voice work ever recorded. Overall, Shenmue II is for the fans, it’s not likely to attract new fans nor has it broken new ground in the genre but it’s undoubtedly a memorable and special experience.
Number 4. – Psychonauts
Tim Schafer gathered up his team that worked on Grim Fandango (now known as Double Fine Productions) to create one of the most clever and creative games ever. And just like Grim Fandango, Psychonauts flew everybody’s radar and sold poor despite high praise from critics. So what makes Psychonauts a game that’s worth your time? How about being that it’s a 3D Platformer that are levels that are taken place in many of the character’s minds. Because we have a vast variety of characters in this game, it made each and every one of the levels to have a different challenge, completely different environment from each other, and the whole experience from start to finish is unpredictable. Not only that, but the style of the design is so cartoonish but more varied than any other game imaginable. That’s why Psychonauts achieved it’s goal of being original. Psychonauts just has a touch of everything that Tim Schafer is now known for; the comedy, creative gameplay, and even stylish designs that feels magical.
In a sort of way, Psychonauts does feel a lot like an adventure seen from old Lucas Arts before they exclusively make Star Wars games. I also give this title a lot of credit for actually telling a great story in a 3D platformer, a genre that isn’t known for telling great narrative, that looks like it fits right into the adventure game genre. From going to a summer camp for psychics that turned out to be a giant conspiracy behind it became one of the most engaging and satisfying game narratives. You also didn’t expect the game to be taken so seriously, yet they swerve you with plenty of comedy (mostly dark humor). Even the gameplay is phenomenal with the traditional old school 3D Platformers, the game gives the player new abilities the more they progress in the game to reach new areas.
Raz (being that he is a psychic) has the ability to use telekinesis, pyrokenisis, confuse enemies, turn invisible, levitate, regenerate, and even summon a glowing ball to roll, bounce, and even descend slowly. These are really some of the best power-ups ever seen in any video game and still to this day Psychonauts reigns supreme for being the most creative and original concepts for a game. This title was absolutely brilliant that deserved a huge cult following after so many websites and game critics announced how underrated this game is. As we speak, Psychonauts is no longer underrated because everyone now is familiar with this title and chances are you have already played it (unless thetoplister.wordpress.com is the first video game website you’ve that checked out).
Number 3. – Oddworld:
Who would have guessed that Oddworld Inhabitants, creators of quirky and environmentally conscious puzzle-adventures, could pull off a full-blown shooter? In a matter of fact, Stranger’s Wrath is a lot of things, an action adventure, 3D Platformer, first-person shooter, stealth-action game, and sandbox into one! A lot of very old Oddworld fans refuse to pick this game up because it doesn’t feature Abe in it. At this point, the whole Oddworld Quintology should not rely upon one character, we’re talking about a whole universe here and if we were going to experience much more of it, we need to have a different character to see more variety (and yet some familiar elements seen from the series. That’s where Stranger comes in, an elderly bounty hunter (reminiscent to Clint Eastwood) out to capture bounties for money, but most importantly looking for this creature called the Steef that’s almost extinct. Yet the most unbelievable thing about Stranger’s Wrath is that the slow-paced, lever-pulling Oddworld universe has been transformed into a fast and frenzied action affair without losing a single ounce of its lovably weird personality. Despite the macho Western setting, the story’s theme still concerns nature vs. industry. And despite the hero’s tough-guy aura, you’re still fighting to protect dewy-eyed innocents from greed-obsessed monsters that look straight out of a demented Jim Henson film. Even the gun itself isn’t what you’d expect. Forget bullets–this baby shoots actual live ammo. As in, living creatures that you snatch off the ground, load into your crossbow and launch, screaming and writhing, at the enemy.
And speaking of living creatures, the whole design of the game is absolutely gorgeous. It made the whole universe of Oddworld to feel so lively that it has it’s own personality. Constantly I just love exploring the vast world that the game leaves me and just have so much fun wondering off from the game’s story. It’s a darn shame that Oddworld Inhabitants were going in a brand new direction with the series, but because EA Games (being the most evil bastards in the whole gaming industry) refused to give the game any promotion, it flew pass a lot of people’s radar and it never got as much attention. Sure people can consider Psychonauts as one of the most underrated games of all time, but Stranger’s Wrath is even more-so because still to this day Oddworld Inhabitants constantly re-release many of the games of the series and still never could get as much attention as before. I urge you to pick up any version of Stranger’s Wrath and see why it’s that damn good of a game.
Number 2. – Star Wars:
Knights of the Old Republic
Though we all had to suffer through the Star War prequels through the 2000s, the only great thing that has happened to the franchise in the decade was the Star Wars video games. It’s a no brainer to consider KOTOR the best game of the whole franchise because never had we ever imagined a Star Wars RPG or a Wester-RPG to work well on consoles, but here it is! In terms of experience, essentially Knights of the Old Republic is the first successful Western-style console Role-Playing Game of the modern age. There have been attempts at it (Morrowind sticks out as a recent example) but they’ve been very much afterthoughts, little more than a PC game with the controls mapped onto a joypad. KOTOR isn’t like that at all. KOTOR takes the design beliefs of the Western RPG form and then works out how to present them best for playing whilst sprawled on a sofa in your living room. The westernised RPG model differs from the eastern, as seen in such things as Final Fantasy, in several definitive ways. Mainly, rather than following a relatively linear path, you’re given a degree of freedom.
Your character may have a destiny, but the details are very much your own to create. For example, depending on how you choose to progress – either being nice or nasty, essentially – you can lean towards the light or dark sides of the force. It actually does pose moral dilemmas. Some evil actions are deeply attractive. Some are just utilitarian. Some acts of good are intrinsically very stupid indeed. All this adds to a game where you feel your actions have a direct effect on your experience and the experience of the world. Combat is similar to the Baldur’s Gate games, in that you give orders to your individual characters who will then carry them out in a pseudo-real time manner. That is, there’s all manner of calculations behind the scene, but you don’t have to be party to them. Equally, you have the option of pausing time at any point to alter your tactics and try something else. Thermic Detonators are always a good one. This is the very game that made Bioware a household name in the gaming industry and if you though Xbox’s only highlight is just Halo: Combat Evolve, you’re proven wrong.
Number 1. – Halo: Combat Evolved
When the Xbox was released, what’s the the big talk about the system? Well, there wasn’t anything to talk about the Xbox in 2001 other than a brand new franchise called Halo. This was unlike any shooter of its time where we were given a war drama that made the campaign worth a damn. The story is great and progresses you through the game very believingly with twists and turns that keep it intriguing. Each of the game’s campaign refuses to stop being suspenseful as you have the best variety of expanded level designs, coolest weapons (seriously the pistol is the best ever seen in the FPS), great variety of vehicles (such as the Scorpion tank, hoverbikes Ghosts, Banshees, and a Warthog), and so many enemies to blow off or gun down. Even despite the fact that the enemy variety is left to be desired out of the Covenant (Elite, Grunt, and Hunter as the only variety) the game’s atmosphere is like no other. Halo is never, ever the same twice. That’s something that Halo 2 couldn’t do for me because playing as the Arbeter instead of Master Chief was laboriously boring. Even in the Flood-swamped doldrums of the Library, even over hundreds of man-hours of replay, it somehow manages never to repeat itself, not once.
There’s an alchemy at work here, a precious equilibrium in the AI and the design and the psychology of the game which means that things don’t happen the same way and, crucially, you don’t behave the same way in the same situation two times over. It’s a game that has broken free of its binary origins and come, gloriously, to life. Even among the medium’s greats, that’s rare indeed. And if that’s not a good enough reason why to play Halo there’s the multiplayer. The multiplayer was so much fun with it’s competitive nature, has all the weapons and vehicles seen from the campaign, expended map selection that so fleshed out, and so many more that creates many hours of fun. But in the end, Halo has totally revolutionized how we look at console FPS games. Because of its revolutionary take on FPS, it became the phenomenon that it really is. For the entire decade we have to endure the annoyance of Halo fanboys and even the awesome Red vs. Blue comedic series. Combat Evolved never becomes a simple shooting game. This piece of work will continue to shine in your Xbox because of how varied it is. With an addictive multiplayer mode, completely random single player experience, and the title of Halo, you won’t be let down.
The Top Listed Xbox Games
10) 9) 8)
7) 6) 5)
4) 3) 2)