The lights are on
We’re on the verge of learning our first official bits of information about Microsoft’s follow-up to the Xbox 360, and it has us thinking about the company’s previous console launches. Like most launches, Microsoft has seen its share of rushed stinkers and standout gems. Take a look below for some examples.
Best launch games: Xbox
Halo: Combat Evolved
Without a doubt, this entry was the easiest slam dunk on this list. Bungie's Halo: Combat Evolved isn't simply the best Microsoft launch game of all time, it's one of the best launch titles in the history of the industry. The early days of the Xbox weren't exactly smooth sailing for the publisher, but the runaway success of Halo kept Microsoft afloat long enough to get its footing in the console wars.
Project Gotham Racing
Bizarre Creations came through for Microsoft in the early days of the Xbox, delivering the well-received Project Gotham Racing. It featured detailed recreations of various real-world cities, an impressive licensed soundtrack, and supported the custom soundtrack feature of the new console. Bill Gates himself even referred to it as his favorite game.
Dead or Alive 3
While this fighting series never quite had the clout of others in the genre, its exclusivity was still a selling point of the original Xbox's lineup. Its gameplay was solid, but the visuals are what really impressed gamers that wanted to see the power of their new console.
Best launch games: Xbox 360
Call of Duty 2
Activision's long-running series has been synonymous with console multiplayer gaming for years now, and this Xbox 360 title is what helped launch the franchise into the stratosphere. It featured graphics that showed off what the console was capable of and online multiplayer that enticed gamers to purchase Xbox Live – two very important check boxes that Infinity Ward nailed down immediately.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Call of Duty may have had the FPS market virtually to itself at the 360's launch, but Sega offered up a different kind of first-person experience. With brutal melee combat and various crime scenes for investigation, Condemned felt more like a hybrid of horror films and an episode of CSI than a military battleground.
Project Gotham Racing 3
For the second Microsoft console launch, Bizarre Creations' Project Gotham sat alongside the system on release day. Like its predecessor, it was well-received by critics and fans. As an added bonus, this sequel included the wildly popular Geometry Wars: Retro Involved.
Next, we call out some of the biggest flops of Microsoft's Xbox and Xbox 360 lineup.
Email the author Dan Ryckert, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.