The lights are on
5. Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
Grand Theft Auto had two amazing entries on the Xbox 360. Many
resonated with GTA IV’s taciturn and haunted Nico Bellic more than GTA V’s trio
of more clichéd protagonists, but at the end of the day, there’s no denying the
mammoth scale and brilliant quality of the fifth entry in the franchise. Not
only does it deliver the widest variety of landscapes we’ve ever seen in a
video game, GTA V also offers the best gameplay in series history. Thanks to
the efforts of Rockstar North, driving was
finally a pleasure and not a chore. The shooting mechanics were excellent, and
things like mid-mission checkpoints helped ease some of the frustrations of
past games. Rockstar North once again proved why it’s one of the best game
developers in the world.
4. Mass Effect 2 (2010)
Of all the games on this list, Mass Effect 2 is most closely
tied with the others in the series – the interconnected trilogy was an
unprecedented experiment by BioWare that paid off handsomely. However, the
second in the series, just as in original Star Wars trilogy, is our pick for the
strongest entry. It vastly improved the combat over the first game, and
delivers an epic ending that truly satisfied all players – something that
can’t be said for the also-excellent Mass Effect 3. Mass Effect 2 set a new
standard for RPGs, the power of choice in games, and interactive storytelling.
It’s the most polished, consistent, and best of a franchise that’s among the
greatest ever in gaming.
3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
While The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was a landmark game in
the early part of this past generation, its follow-up, Skyrim, is simply a
better game – and one of the greatest games in RPG history. It’s unmatched
in size, scope, and variety, allowing players to pour literally hundreds of
hours into the game and not discover all it has to offer. The combat and spell skills
are remarkably deep, allowing for a wide variety of character types and play styles.
Characters can also use “dragon shouts” to unleash powerful blasts at foes.
Never before has a game offered so much to do and explore. And dragons – did we
mention it has dragons?
2. BioShock (2007)
Ken Levine and Irrational Games aren’t your average game
creators, and BioShock is not your average game. A first-person shooter on its
surface, BioShock is actually a profound parable about ambition and a meditation on the political
philosophy of Ayn Rand. Set in Rapture, a ruined undersea city created by
magnate Andrew Ryan to be a libertarian paradise where the best and brightest
of mankind could freely achieve greatness (with some help by genetic
modifications), BioShock tells an unforgettable tale while delivering great combat.
More importantly, it shows that social commentary isn’t exclusively the domain
of indie games, and it doesn’t have to happen at the expense of a great story or
1. Red Dead Redemption (2010)
We select Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption above all the other
great games as this generation’s best Xbox 360 title. This sprawling western
has it all: a gorgeous open world full of activities and interesting characters
to meet, a huge variety of gameplay from frantic firefights to liar’s dice, and
an affecting story. More so than any other Rockstar game, Red Dead Redemption
packs an emotional punch; John Marston’s indelible tale helps serve as a
requiem for the Wild West itself, which is vanishing around him even as he
adventures across the American Southwest and Mexico. Throw in a surprising and
emotional ending, and you have a game that we’ll never forget. Red Dead
Redemption is a classic through and through.
Email the author Matt Helgeson, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.