The original Xbox often gets panned by gamers for being nothing more than a Halo machine, and while there's a shred of truth to that claim, that doesn't negate the fact that Microsoft's first gaming box had a ton of great software; some multiplatform, but also a lot that couldn't be experienced anywhere else. Don't believe me? Well the staff here at GameRevolution crafted a list of the 25 best games available on the system, and I think you'll be surprised by how many awesome games there really are. So let's get right into it.
Developer Bizarre Creations crafted one of the most unique racing experiences with Project Gotham Racing for the original Xbox. Instead of simply striving to get first in a race, the player is tasked with the goal of racking up as many Kudos points as possible, which can be obtained by pulling off slick moves like successfully power sliding around a sharp corner. These nifty little points could then be used to get new cars. So why is the sequel here instead of the original? PGR2 expanded upon its predecessor in just about every way, from new cars and tracks, to a more robust Kudos system and even Xbox Live play. Speaking of which….
As one of the very first games to support online play through Xbox Live, MechAssault helped pave the way for online console games as we know them today. Features we take for granted now like matchmaking and the ability to invite friends to a game were groundbreaking at the time, highlighting one of the major advantages the original Xbox had over the GameCube and PS2. Online elements aside, this was one killer mech game, and for that reason alone it deserves recognition on this list.
By the time 2005 rolled around, the Xbox platform was a mean green online machine, and Unreal Championship 2 took advantage of the console's features in just about every way imaginable. With a total of fourteen different characters to choose from, a handful of new game types, and even the addition of melee weapons, this fast-paced shooter was able to hold its own against the competition, with just enough to differentiate itself while still appealing to the Unreal crowd.
22. Dead or Alive 3
Team Ninja and Tecmo delivered one of the most visually stunning experiences on the Xbox in the form of Dead or Alive 3, a fighter that will go down in history as one of the best ever available on Microsoft's first gaming console. The game sticks very close to the franchise's formula, centering heavily on counter attacks and the hallmark characters fans have come to know and love. Thanks to the developing prowess of Team Ninja, DOA3 featured some of the most impressive character models available at the time, really showing off the power of Microsoft's gaming machine.
Believe it or not, there was quite a bit of diversity in the game library for the original Xbox. Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge was one such title that really served as evidence to this fact, delivering an action-heavy flight game. Borrowing concepts from its PC counterpart, this Xbox-exclusive provided a super polished and incredibly addictive flying experience that worked surprisingly well on console. Navigating your plane while spraying the sky with bullets was simple and fun. Plus, it supported online play, which made for some intense sky-bound firefights with your pals.
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Fans of on-rails shooters should be familiar with the Panzer Dragoon series from Sega. Owners of the Saturn got to experience the dragon-flying chaos, and after Sega stepped away from the hardware business, it was Xbox gamers' turn. The game was (and still is to some degree) a visual marvel, thanks to impressive art direction. It also served up quite the challenge, providing the hardcore with just enough punishment to keep things interesting.
The Oddworld franchise was primarily a PlayStation-centric series until the Xbox rolled out with Munch's Oddysee. While this first Oddworld game was a unique experiment for the studio, the franchise really found its footing with Stranger's Wrath, a unique first-person action game set in the wild and wacky Oddworld universe. If you're looking for a fun and charming FPS unlike anything else on the market, I highly recommend you give this one a go.
There's a reason why gamers have been clamoring for a new Battlefont game for the past several years. Star Wars: Battlefront II was an immensely entertaining experience that not only provided endless hours of friend-filled fun, but boasted a campaign that treated Lucas' sci-fi universe with the care and respect it deserved. With DICE currently working on a brand-new entry in the series, there's plenty for Star Wars fans to look forward to.
Ubisoft's impressive open-world first-person shooter Far Cry made the jump to consoles with a remake, dubbed Far Cry Instincts. While the Xbox lacked the same level of technical horsepower as PCs at the time, the game managed to still serve up an incredible action-heavy experience, despite the fact that it had to be made a bit more linear. Ubisoft also added in additional multiplayer modes, weapons, and more, making Instincts a worthy port of the PC original.
16. Shenmue II
The sequel to Sega's beloved adventure game Shenmue was released on the Xbox back in 2002. The game picks up right where the original left off, telling the story of Ryo's search for the man who murdered his father. It has some great characters and a memorable story that fans of Chinese culture will undoubtedly enjoy. There really isn't anything quite like Shenmue II out there, and for its originality alone, deserves to be praised.
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15. Forza Motorsport
For the longest time Sony and Polyphony Digital dominated the racing sim genre with Gran Turismo, but then came a worthy competitor: Forza Motorsport. The talented team at Turn 10 Studios proved that it has what it takes to craft a hardcore racing game that gives GT a run for its money. With gorgeous visuals, a slew of awesome cars, and tight controls, Forza Motorsport was the start of a long and prosperous future for Turn 10's racing series on the Xbox platform.
While Sam Fisher's debut on consoles was impressive, Pandora Tomorrow simply blew the original Splinter Cell out of the water. With far more impressive visuals, the perfect blend of stealth and action, and an engaging story, the sequel to Ubisoft's super sneaky Tom Clancy game was a must for fans of the genre. Between the three console versions, the Xbox had the upper hand, so Pandora Tomorrow and the Splinter Cell series in general became synonymous with Microsoft's platform.
Peter Molyneux promised big things to Xbox gamers with his first console-based RPG, and while it may not have lived up to all of his lofty goals, it was still a killer experience. Role-playing games were a dime a dozen on the original Xbox, so getting an exclusive title from Lionhead in the form of Fable was a much welcomed addition. The world Molyneux and his team created was filled with charm and character. And let's not forget about that morality system. It totally had me eager to go back a second time for an evil play-through.
While the word "Xbox" often brings to mind shooters, there was still plenty of variety on The Big M's first gaming console. One such title was Sega's Jet Set Radio Future, a Smilebit-developed sequel to the original Jet Set Radio. In the game you play as a member of a skating gang that goes around spreading graffiti in a futuristic Tokyo. It's got a unique soundtrack and cel-shaded art style that really help it stand out as one of the most offbeat games to ever come to the Xbox. Those with an artistic edge simply have to play this game.
BioWare's legendary roleplaying game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic will undoubtedly pop up later on in this list, but that doesn't mean we can't include the Obsidian-developed sequel, The Sith Lords. The game picks up a few years after the events of the original and tells yet another gripping tale set in the Star Wars universe. Seriously, what is there not to love? If you are a fan of Star Wars and role-playing games, KOTOR II is an absolute match made in heaven.
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10. Rainbow Six 3
Those looking for a hardcore tactical first-person shooter found a happy home on the Xbox with Rainbow Six 3. Instead of merely being a run-and-gun FPS, this popular Tom Clancy game for the Xbox required careful thought and precision. It's more about accomplishing the task at hand rather than mowing down as many foes as possible. Working within a squad offers up a unique experience that makes Rainbow Six what it is. It also featured Xbox Live support, so yeah, there was a lot of fun to be had online.
9. Jade Empire
After blowing gamers' minds with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, BioWare handed off the franchise to Obsidian and opted to work on a role-playing experience that was very different in theme, Jade Empire. The game is set in a mythical form of ancient China—a very different setting than Star Wars, so no blasters or lightsabers to be found here. Instead the combat was far more active, incorporating various fighting styles including martial arts and magic. Those looking for an action-RPG with a really unique and inspired setting should give this game a look.
To just about everyone's surprise at the time, Starbreeze Studios was able to craft an incredible first-person action game set in the Chronicles of Riddick universe. Riddick actor Vin Diesel played a significant role in the game's development and naturally served as the face and voice of the protagonist. Butcher Bay was a visual marvel back on the Xbox, but the game's quality went far deeper than that. The incredible blend of stealth and intense action moments makes The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay one of the best first-person games available on the platform.
Those with a creative side certainly have a soft spot for Psychonauts, an incredibly imaginative and quirky action platformer from Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine Productions. The game stars Raz, a boy with psychic abilities who sneaks into a summer camp with the aim to become a Psychonaut. In the game, players are able to jump into the minds of other characters. As you might expect, this lends itself to some of the most creative level design ever conceived in an action-platformer. Psychonauts is a real gem that didn't get as much love as it should have when it first launched.
Sam Fisher's final outing on the Xbox was easily his best. At this point, the folks over at Ubisoft Montreal had plenty of experience developing for the hardware and was able to squeeze every ounce of processing juice out Microsoft's gaming machine. In addition to its stunning visuals, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory featured an incredible multiplayer portion, including a much-improved version of Pandora Tomorrow's Spies vs. Mercs game mode. With such a unique approach to asymmetrical multiplayer, Chaos Theory's online offerings will go down in history as some of Ubisoft's best.
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Before there was Skyrim, before even Oblivion, there was Morrowind, the third chapter in The Elder Scrolls franchise. For a while, Bethesda's ambitious open-world role-playing series was limited to the PC crowd, but that all changed with Morrowind, which also was made available for the original Xbox. Aside from games like Grand Theft Auto, console gamers had never experienced something on such a massive scale. The ability to go anywhere and do anything within a fully fleshed out fantasy world was unprecedented on consoles at the time, and for this reason earns Morrowind a top spot on this list.
There are few games with combat as tight as Ninja Gaiden. Team Ninja and Tecmo's super polished action game is one of the most difficult, yet totally fair games you'll ever play. A slightly improved version, dubbed Black, was released a year after the original, and is considered by many the best action game ever made. With some improvements to the engine and a whole bunch of added extras, Ninja Gaiden Black offers a whole lot of bang for your buck. Any self-respecting action gamer simply has to have this game in their collection.
You've been waiting for it… and here it is! BioWare's epic sci-fi RPG set in the Star Wars universe is believed by many to be one of the best games the studio has ever created—and that team made a lot of gems mind you. With an engaging battle system, branching dialog options, and a morality system that undoubtedly paved the way for Mass Effect, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was a genre-defining game to say the least. Did I mention it boasts one of the greatest stories in all of gaming? Yeah, it's got that too.
The original Halo is the sole reason why the Xbox platform wasn't dead on arrival. Bungie's console first-person shooter single-handedly made Microsoft's console worth owning, and the franchise has gone on to be the most valuable exclusive the company owns. Combat Evolved proved that first-person shooters can be done on consoles in proper fashion, thanks to the expert use of a dual-analog control scheme. For the longest time, the PC was the de facto place to play shooters, but that all changed when the Master Chief stepped onto the scene.
1. Halo 2
Bungie took its FPS formula one step further with the sequel to Combat Evolved, as Halo 2 changed the online gaming landscape in a major way. Suddenly gamers everywhere were getting broadband internet connections just so they could shoot their buddies online. The game's seamless matchmaking system was one of the greatest innovations to come along that generation, and proves to still be the best way to connect and play with friends. Halo 2 was more than a game, it became a second job to many, a lifestyle. The fate of Microsoft's place in the gaming industry was a point of contention for quite some time, but the release of Halo 2 cemented the fact that The Big M would be around in the gaming sphere for quite some time.