Top Ten Tuesday 49

My Top Ten Xbox 360 Games


Disclaimer: There are many top ten lists but this one is mine, if you think a game is missing here, I either didn't play it, didn't have any interest in it, or I just hate you.


Pre-List Notes

Here it is - my final top ten list for an owned system, and my penultimate Top Ten Tuesday list. I'd never been a fanboy of any console; I've owned Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft consoles without feeling the need to defend or destroy them. Although I never owned the original Xbox, I did play frequently on a friend's in college, sampling the fruits of Halo and Crimson Skies and marveling at the online multiplayer that was previously the sole domain of my beloved PC. When the next generation hit, I was largely unimpressed and satisfied with my PC...until all the awesome new franchises started appearing as console exclusives. Achievements, friends lists, seamless multiplayer, that fantastic controller - these were things I had to experience, and I finally got my hands on an Xbox 360 as a Christmas gift in 2009.

I couldn't have asked for better timing. Numerous best-selling and critically acclaimed titles where mine for the taking at deeply discounted prices, and tons of great games still awaited on the horizon. Now with the newest generation finally in gamers' hands we can just about put a bow on the 360's library of games, and I can highlight my top ten games of the system.


Important Note the First: I still mainly game on the PC, and many major franchises such as BioShock, Mass Effect, and The Elder Scrolls I played exclusively on the PC, so you won't see them here. A few I double dipped on and played on both PC and Xbox, such as XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Grand Theft Auto IV, so you won't find those here. These are only games that I played exclusively on Xbox 360.


Important Note the Second: I did a separate top ten list for my favorite XBLA games last month, so this list contains major retail releases only!



Top Ten Xbox 360 Games



10) Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

38 Studios got a really bad rap after their sudden closure following their first and only release. Despite the generic and somewhat dorky title, Kingdoms of Amalur was a surprisingly great Action-RPG, featuring an enormous (albeit fairly linear) world, mountains of side quests, and some really fun combat mechanics that utilized multiple abilities and skill trees with different weapon styles and combos. The main quest easily takes over 50 hours to complete, but most folks will want to explore the very MMORPG-inspired side quests that take you to new dungeons and battling new foes. Criminally underrated, with its main flaw being that it had so much content it was a little overwhelming.



9) Brutal Legend

I always have to carry a big torch for Double Fine's last major retail release before they focused on smaller titles. Brutal Legend combined great voice talent with a uniquely fun world of rock metal, action exploration, and real time strategy battles. It's those RTS battles that turned folks off, but I adored them, evoking gameplay mechanics from one of my favorite RTS games Sacrifice. The story of Eddie Riggs and his grand rebellion is filled with love, loss, betrayal, and of course that trademark Double Fine humor and should not be missed.



8) Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

MUA2 had the honor of being the very first game I played on my 360, and it remains one of my favorites. I've been a big fan of the X-Men Legends series and MUA is essentially the same isometric Action-RPG but opened up to include all of the awesome Marvel universe characters and locations. I loved the Civil War setting for pitting hero vs hero battles and creating a reason to replay the story, and the drop-in/out co-operative multiplayer was my first instance of how well co-operative gaming can be on a console, and I was completely sold. Now where in the hell is MUA3?



7) Burnout: Paradise

I've never been a big racing game fan, with the large exception of the Burnout series. The focus on speed, near misses, and insane crashes always elicits a great combination of exhilaration and laughter. Paradise brought the perfect evolution to a racing game- an open world city where every intersection represented a new race ready to pop into. Multiple race modes and the amazing crash mode can be found throughout Paradise City, not to mention Burnout's signature soundtrack of pop-rock that gets your heart racing along with the gameplay.



6) Transformers: War for Cybertron

I've mentioned before that I'm a big Transformers nerd. I have all the DVDs of the old cartoons, a whole book shelf of nothing but action figures (organized by era), and every video game I can get my hands on, which has been nearly bare save for a pair of amazing prequel tiles by High Moon Studios. Although the sequel Fall of Cybertron gave us more intriguing level designs and abilities, I prefer the original for the better story and fully co-operative campaign. Telling the story of the original civil war between Autobots and Decepticons, I got to pilot my favorite heroes and villains in the awesome world of Cybertron. Great moments in the Transformers universe, like fleeing from Omega Supreme or meeting Starscream are performed with the utmost respect and adulation for the source material, and the gameplay and transforming mechanics are tight and super satisfying. On top of that we got a fun competitive multiplayer mode that I spent way too much time in, simply because it was finally my chance to embody my action figures and kick robot ass.



5) Darksiders

Darksiders is a great example of a game that I was intrigued about based on reviews, screenshots, and trailers, but ultimately unsure if I'd end up liking it. I'm glad I took the plunge as this unashamed Zelda clone took that winning formula and warped it into a really interesting apocalyptic setting of biblical proportions. The art style, story, and setting were all kinds of comic book cool, and War was a confident badass with a ton of combos, spells, and very Zelda-like puzzle solvers at his disposal. The game was awesome enough to warrant a sequel, but while I enjoyed it I was ultimately disappointed in the story and the larger scope it attempted to cover. With the death of THQ, I maintain hope we'll still see a great third game, and hopefully my dream of a co-operative sequel where the four horseman ride together can still be fulfilled.



4) Batman: Arkham City

I think we'll look back at superhero games and compare them as Pre-Arkham and Post-Arkham. Rocksteady has crafted a wonderful series of games featuring everyone's favorite brooding superhero in a world dripping with fan service and great gameplay mechanics. Whether you enjoy Asylum or City is largely a matter of style - Asylum has the tighter narrative and focused area, while City adds in more everything and a fun little open world to explore. I loved flying around Arkham City and beating up random thugs as much as exploring the neat side quests with Batman's friends and foes, and the main quest had plenty of surprises and amazing story moments.



3) Grand Theft Auto V

It's tough to compare recent games with those you experienced years go, but I'm confident that GTAV would make my top ten list no matter how long I waited to write it. Featuring the pinnacle of the series' gameplay evolutions since those early days of the PS2, GTAV gives us Rockstar's most fully realized open world yet, multiple protagonists that we can seamlessly switch between, epic heists, a crapton of side missions, and that unique joy of just running around the city and screwing around that the series has become synonymous with. The single player alone would warrant a high place on my top ten, but the added multiplayer of GTA Online makes it truly something special, as it took the multiplayer free roaming of Red Dead Redemption and added purchasable property, impromptu races, co-operative jobs, bounties to hunt, and much more. Provided Rockstar can keep the updates coming (and add heists already!) my friends and I will continue exploring San Andreas and wrecking havoc together.



2) Borderlands 2

I enjoyed the original Borderlands as a interesting mash-up of first person shooter and Action-RPG. The co-operative gun play was enjoyable and the randomized loot kept me playing in Gearbox's wacky world. Then came the sequel and I was utterly blown away - they did the perfect job of not fixing what wasn't broken, but improving upon every aspect of the game and creating damn near the perfect sequel. The world of Pandora had multiple varied locations, tons of enemies, side quests, and that wonderfully hilarious writing that fueled some of the funniest moments and characters I've seen in gaming. Split screen and online co-op was my main beat, and I played so much that I had to abandon my solo play. This was my main game I played with friends and my wife for months thanks to the amazing post-game DLC, and now I'm a full-fledged fan of this amazing series.



1) Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead finds its way to the top of most of my lists that it qualifies for, and for damn good reason - it's one of my all time favorite games, and my favorite Xbox 360 game. Proving Rockstar can do more than just low-hanging social satire and Dick jokes, RDR gave us a compelling narrative, an actual likeable protagonist in John Marston, and the wonderfully rich world of a classic Western. I never realized just how much this genre was missing in the world of gaming until I mosied up a mountain on horseback and watched the sunset as I could hear crickets chirping and that wonderful ambient soundtrack softly playing in the background. RDR is as much an awesome open-world experience, with a rich single player adventure and an amazing multiplayer that let us really explore a Rockstar-crafted world for the first time with our friends. Red Dead Redemption is really something special, and an experience that I'm not likely to forget.



Wrap Up

I've loved the four years I've spent with my Xbox 360 and I'm satisfied that console gaming remains in a great place throughout the years. It's the only way to take advantage of my HD TV that's larger than my PC monitor, and obviously my destination for awesome couch co-op experiences. With the days of most console exclusives behind us (most titles see a PC release at launch) I have no plans to upgrade to new consoles at this time, but I'm sure a year or two down the road I'll be ready to make the plunge and explore my love of consoles all over again (or I'll find a convenient, cost-effective way to connect my PC to my TV...).

Stay tuned next week for my final Top Ten Tuesday list!