The Best And Worst Games Of The Xbox And Xbox 360 Launch Lineups

by Dan Ryckert on May 18, 2013 at 07:01 AM

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.

Worst launch games: Xbox


Licensed titles have seen a long history of mediocre titles, and Shrek didn't do anything to escape that stigma. With awkward platforming, a finicky camera, and missions that were the very definition of fetch quests, this title didn't deserve to go home with anyone on launch day.

Fuzion Frenzy

With its four controller ports, the Nintendo 64 was fondly remembered for its local multiplayer offerings. Microsoft wanted to dip its toe in the party gaming scene, so it launched the Xbox with this Mario Party clone. Unfortunately, it featured all of the tedious elements of that series and none of the charm.

Cel Damage

Like a Looney Tunes take on Twisted Metal, this vehicular combat game put you behind the wheel of ten cartoon vehicles. Freeze rays, boxing gloves, chainsaws, and black holes could be used to take down opponents, but the rough gameplay and tiny arenas ensured Cel Damage would only be remembered for its mediocrity.


Worst launch games: Xbox 360

Perfect Dark Zero

One of the most exciting prospects of Microsoft's acquisition of Rare became a reality when Perfect Dark Zero was announced as a launch title. The original Nintendo 64 title was widely regarded as one of the standout titles of that generation, and gamers couldn't wait to inhabit the role of Joanna Dark again. Unfortunately, the dream of awesome online play and another exciting campaign was dashed, thanks to the mediocre final product.

Gun/Tony Hawk's American Wasteland

When gamers buy a new console, they take it home with dreams of a true next generation experience. Surely it will present new ways to play, mind-blowing new visuals, and a clear sign that gaming as a whole is moving forward, right? Not so with these rushed ports from Activision, which looked like higher-res versions of games from the original Xbox.

Before you weigh in with your own best and worst, be sure to check out the full launch lists on the next page.

Full Xbox Launch List

  • 4x4 EVO 2
  • AirForce Delta Storm
  • Arctic Thunder
  • Cel Damage
  • Dead or Alive 3
  • Fuzion Frenzy
  • Halo: Combat Evolved
  • Mad Dash Racing
  • NFL Fever 2002
  • Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee
  • Project Gotham Racing
  • Shrek
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2X
  • TransWorld Surf

Full Xbox 360 Launch List

  • Amped 3
  • Bankshot Billiards 2 (XBLA)
  • Bejeweled 2 (XBLA)
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins
  • FIFA 06: Road to FIFA World Cup
  • Gauntlet (XBLA)
  • Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (XBLA)
  • GUN
  • Hardwood Backgammon (XBLA)
  • Hardwood Hearts (XBLA)
  • Hexic HD (XBLA)
  • Joust (XBLA)
  • Kameo: Elements of Power
  • Madden NFL 06
  • Mutant Storm Reloaded (XBLA)
  • NBA 2K6
  • NBA Live 06
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted
  • NHL 2K6
  • Outpost Kaloki X (XBLA)
  • Perfect Dark Zero
  • Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie
  • Project Gotham Racing 3
  • Quake 4
  • Ridge Racer 6
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06
  • Tony Hawk's American Wasteland