The lights are on
Today is the Xbox 360's 10th birthday, which is a great excuse to revisit our list of the console's best 25 games. We originally published this list in earlier this year in April.
Microsoft launched the
Xbox 360 in 2005, kicking off the last generation of gaming. This was the most
successful period for the company to date; with its excellent Xbox Live service
and deep support from third-party developers, the Xbox 360 in many ways became
the defining console of the last generation. This success was driven by great
games – the Xbox 360 was the destination for dozens of amazing titles, and
the difficulty we had compiling this list of 25 speaks to the depth of its
For the sake of making
a list with more variety, we decided that we would include only one game per
franchise on this list – that’s why you see only one game from fantastic
series like Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed, and Grand Theft Auto on the list.
Even after agreeing on this approach, narrowing down the list proved tough;
many great games didn’t crack this list, and entire genres like fighting and
sports failed to make the cut.
Here are our picks for the 25 best Xbox 360 games. Let the angry comments commence, and don't forget to check out our Top 25 Wii Games list as well.
25. Super Meat Boy (2010)
Team Meat (Edward McMillen and Tommy Refenes) created an
unlikely sensation with Super Meat Boy, a game that flew in the face of many
prevailing trends in the game industry at the time of its release. The game,
though primitive in look, features ultra-challenging 2D platforming that
recalled some of the best of the 8- and 16-bit eras. More importantly, its
charm and dead-accurate controls revealed a game that had been made to the
highest level of craftsmanship. In the years since its release on Xbox 360,
it’s helped inspire a veritable 2D platforming renaissance in the indie scene
– and a return to difficult gameplay.
24. Tomb Raider (2013)
Lara Croft is one of gaming’s most recognizable icons, but her
path has sometimes been a rocky one. Since taking over for series creator Core
Design, Crystal Dynamics had delivered some solid work on games like Tomb
Raider: Legend and Anniversary. However, its 2013 reboot is a true classic and
the best game in the franchise to date. Though it amps up the focus on action
and takes some inspiration from Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series, you can’t argue
with the results. This deep, polished third-person action/adventure game is one
of the best of the generation.
23. Gears of War 2 (2008)
Gears of War served as Microsoft’s flagship new franchise for
the Xbox 360, and Epic Games delivered a masterwork with the second game in the
series. Gears of War 2 features the usual gameplay tweaks but leaves a lasting
impact on the cooperative side. In addition to its co-op campaign, this entry introduces
Horde mode, which pits five players against increasingly difficult waves of
enemies. This proved to be addictive and has since been imitated by many other
games, becoming a staple multiplayer mode in popular franchises like Call of
Duty, Halo, and Team Fortress.
22. Dishonored (2012)
Dishonored refutes the prevailing industry wisdom that
challenging new IPs can’t debut late in a console generation. Arkane Studios
built an amazingly creative stealth game helmed by Raph Colantonio and Harvey
Smith. The game tells the tale of Corvo, a deadly bodyguard framed for murder
in the steampunk city of Dunwall. By offering a freeform approach to each
mission, players can switch between stealth and combat whenever necessary, and
Corvo’s otherworldly abilities like being able to instantly “blink” from place
to place breathed new life into the stealth genre.
21. Far Cry 3 (2012)
In a generation when many gamers have complained about first-person
shooter campaigns turning into “on-rails” experiences that glide from set piece
to set piece, Far Cry 3 shows that these single-player modes can excel when
offering the flexibility of a dynamic open world. While the story about a
one-percenter running awry on a native island rubbed some people the wrong way,
the open-world gameplay and unpredictable island wildlife gave players great
satisfaction, helping to set up anticipation for Far Cry 4. Its ‘80s infused
expansion, Blood Dragon, proved equally superb.