The lights are on
Most PC games that get ported to consoles come out looking (and more importantly, playing) like inferior versions. Only a few survive the process, but they can give PC-impaired gamers a window into what drives some of us to drop thousands of dollars on electronics every few years.It wasn't by our design that all of the games that made this list appear on Xbox 360 rather than PS3 or Wii; it's just the way that things worked out. Our apologies for the incoming console flamewar stupidity in the comments below.
Torchlight (Xbox 360, $15/1,200 Microsoft Points)
I could write another 2,000 words about this action/RPG's excellent Xbox Live Arcade version, or I could link you to my review.Alternatively, I could give you the short version: Torchlight on XBLA is a great port that is nearly as good as the PC original, and arguably better in certain respects. You won't find many better dungeon crawls on any platform, much less on a high-definition console.
[Next up: Risen][PageBreak]
Risen (Xbox 360, approx. $20)
The team behind long-running German RPG series Gothic made its finest work (in my opinion) after leaving that franchise behind. Risen is an open-world RPG that offers enough structure to point you in the right direction while giving you the freedom to write your own story along the way.Don't let me mislead you: The 360 version is not as good as the PC original. It is, however, quite playable and an RPG I recommend to anyone interested in the genre. Many console gamers may be living their lives unaware of the thriving European RPG scene since it exists almost exclusively on PC, and Risen on 360 is a great introduction to a whole new world of role-playing action.
Tropico 3 (Xbox 360, approx. $20)
This city builder gets by half on charm, half on its wonderfully deep economic simulation, and half (shh, I'm inspired by Kool Keith) on outstanding gameplay. The only part of this equation diminished in the transition to console is the interface, and it's not even that bad. True, the occasional framerate issues and rough spots in the control scheme are annoying. Even ignoring the lack of competition within the genre on console, Tropico 3 is a great experience on 360.
[Next up: Sacred 2][PageBreak]
Sacred 2 (PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360, approx. $20)
Like Torchlight, Sacred traces its lineage back to Diablo. This action/RPG is a grander experience that trades Torchlight's tight design for a sprawling world unrivaled in the sub-genre. Not every character performs optimally with the slightly goofy gamepad controls, but as long as you don't pick a skillset that requires frequent ground-targeted magic you can get through the game without much trouble. If you like to build fantasy heroes and wander the world conquering ever-greater challenges, Sacred 2 will easily hold you for 40-plus hours.
Also, heavy metal in-game concert with unicorns and crap. For serious.
Arcania: Gothic 4 (Xbox 360, approx. $60)
Publisher JoWood retained the rights to Gothic after parting ways with original developer Piranha Bytes (which went on to make Risen), and Arcania is the result. This solid third-person RPG may not blow you away with its story or combat, but the beautiful world is a fascinating place to explore. Though Arcania's linearity relative to previous Gothic titles earned it the enmity of many longtime fans, it nonetheless has a ton of content any RPG enthusiast should enjoy.