Top Five Games for the XBox 360
I'm a pretty big gamer, and the writing of this list was supervised by my boyfriend, who gives new meaning to the word "gamer," so it's got to be a pretty accurate list.
We own most of the games created for the XBox 360, as hard as that may be to believe. This list is not just a list of our favorites; it is games that we love and that we think will appeal to many other people, as well.
I'd like to disclaim that this is just my (our) opinion. It is not in any particular order. I'd also like to say that we're not restricting ourselves on ratings, so this list is probably not appropriate for a child.
One: Gears of War
Genre: Third-person, Sci-fi Shooter
Developer: Epic Games
ESRB Rating: Mature
Gears of War is incredible on pretty much every level. One-player gameplay is great. Co-op story mode is even better. The replay value is way up there (though you can't replay it forever). And the next-generation graphics and storyline are, quite frankly, otherworldly.
You are basically a manly reinstated-ex-soldier with badass guns, killing new and interesting aliens as you try to save the world after the infamous E-Day (Emergence Day, whereupon they arose from under the earth). The duck-and-cover style play makes it a strategic game more than a whose-gun-is-bigger game, especially in co-op mode, when you'll find yourself literally devising plans as you learn from your mistakes on each level.
The story is interesting enough that we have played it all the way through at least six times, if not more. But even more than that, if you have XBox Live, you might find yourself addicted to the online games for several weeks. You'll get at least your money's worth of gameplay.
While the game is impressively gorey (my favorite machine gun has a power-saw attached to the front, which you use to saw aliens in half), the Gore Factor does not bother me as much because you're killing fictional characters and not humans. That could be just me, though, and that doesn't bother a lot of people anyway.
If you own an XBox 360, you need to own this game. That's all there is to it.
Two: Guitar Hero (any version)
Genre: Miscellaneous, Music
Developers: Harmonix (2), Neversoft (3)
ESRB Rating: Teen
The Guitar Hero series certainly seems to be a crowd favorite. It's a great game to have around for small gatherings; the mere sight of the tiny electronic guitar sends visitors into yelps of, "You have Guitar Hero!?"
As a fairly serious musician, I resisted playing this game until at least the second generation until peer pressure finally kicked in.
Never have I been so glad to be forced into something.
This franchise chooses great, classic songs (whereas Rock Band disappointed me in this area) and transposes them to a five-button system in an incredibly musical way.
Levels range from amazingly simple to surprisingly hard, and the "storyline" of a small-time band rising to the top builds well and is fairly interesting. Earn money; unlock new gear, songs, and characters; and work your way up to stardom!
Two-player play is great fun: play cooperatively or competitively, and choose to both play guitar or complement each other with guitar and bass.
I'm not sure why this game is rated Teen; I can only assume that it's because of some of the content or language of the songs because there's nothing in the gameplay that would give it that rating.
I'd say that pretty much everyone can get something out of this game, music-lover or not, serious gamer or not. That's why it has done so well and will continue to do so.
Three: Elder Scrolls Oblivion
Genre: First-person Role-playing
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
ESRB Rating: Mature
This fourth installment of the Elder Scrolls game is their best so far. With an expansive world, custom character creation, and nearly unlimited gameplay, once you're drawn in, it's easy to get lost in the fantasy.
You can choose your character to be one of any number of races and classes. The gates to Oblivion are opening, and leaders in the world want you to help close them. Work your way up through guilds and factions -- mages, fighters, thieves, etc -- or just wander the world and accumulate wealth, killing anyone who crosses your path. Choose to follow the main storyline or not, or both!
There are add-ons like Shivering Isles, which can be fun if you've created an invincible character in Oblivion. This extends the fun of the storyline and adds quests but doesn't offer much room for character improvement.
Those who play World of Warcraft and/or love adventure games will get a kick out of the hundreds of side-quests, the storyline, and the intricate armor and weapons that they can unlock. Expect hours upon hours of -- if not unlimited -- gameplay. The one problem is that there's no two-player option, but with this type of game it doesn't make much sense anyway.
Four: Rainbow Six Vegas
Genre: First-person Action Shooter
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
ESRB Rating: Mature
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas has astonishingly complex gameplay. Strategy is key, and I don't mean the kamikaze strategy (though that can occasionally be fun, too). The story will take you from Mexico to Las Vegas rescuing hostages and stalking a terrorist organization. And you get to ride in a lot of helicopters on the way!
Most of my time with it has been spent in co-op terrorist hunting missions because they can be played time and time again on various difficulties, and they just never seem to get old. Try different tactics, try playing the whole level with a terrible hand-gun, or blow through on the easiest settings with a shield and a Desert Eagle.
You'll have a huge arsenal of weapons from which to choose and multiple grenade types. Whether you want to hide in smoke to pick them off one by one, or you want to light your enemies on fire and then blow them all away, this game has something for your style of play.
It's a fairly violent game in terms of human-on-human violence; that will either intrigue you or turn you off to it, but for what it is, it's a very well-made game.
Five: Assassin's Creed
Genre: Historic Action-Adventure
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
ESRB Rating: MatureAssassin's Creed is a beautiful game. That's probably weird to say, but it just is. The design is flawless; it's hard to tell the difference between cut scenes and gameplay. Character control has honestly never been smoother; you can leap from building to building, swords flashing, or you can bow your head and fold your hands to blend in, and everything in between. Plus, as you're finishing a kill in battle, the camera will take on a new, movie-quality angle -- you'll think this is a cut-scene, but you still have control over the moves that will finish your opponent! It's spectacular.
Not only that, but the storyline is unlike anything else out there. It combines ancient secret societies with modern major pharmaceutical companies and transports you almost literally to another dimension. Relive the life of your warrior ancestor to uncover secrets of the past while crossing the boundaries of space and time. It's a truly innovative storyline; nothing even compares.
No XBox Live or two-player on this game, but we forgive them. After all, the main character is pretty much a lone wolf; a second player would only cramp his style.
If you want to be transported to another world that feels like it might have really existed, and if you want to do it with a flawlessly designed game, get Assassin's Creed.
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I want to say that BioShock seriously almost made that list. It was a tough decision to leave it out, but Assassin's Creed swooped in at the last minute to take its place. Just know that BioShock is a game that's different from many others, is beautifully designed, and is worth playing if only to expose yourself to the world they've created.
A couple other that just missed were:
- The Orange Box (Portal!!)
- Mass Effect
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
- Halo 3
- Rock Band
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