User review: Top 10 Role Playing Games for Xbox 360
Top 10 role playing games on the Xbox 360
Since the Xbox 360 was released in 2005 it has been sold over 42 million times. The offer of games is immense in any category. Personally I play Role Playing Games, some shooters (HALO, Gears of War, Crysis, Bioshock etc.) Hack and Slash games and music games like Guitar Hero. But of all of those Role Playing Games are my favourites. Although the genre of Role Playing Games isn't as big as it is on other consoles the Xbox 360 offers some good RPG's. Some of these games well known, others you might not have heard of. With developers like Square Enix, Bioware and Bethesda there are bound to be some RPG's that are worthwhile. But don't rule out the smaller less known developers which sometimes come up with a game that is not a commercial success but is definitely worth a thorough playthrough.
With this Top Ten I will show which Role Playing Games are my favourites and maybe help shed some light on which games are worth while when choosing a role playing game. keep in mind that not every game in this list is solely a role playing game, but could also be a game with strong RPG elements in it.
At the end are some games to keep an eye on in the future, to show the role playing game genre on the Xbox 360 has not bled out yet!
I found the title of this game to be really original and hoped that it was the start to a great and epic story. Unfortunately this is not the case. Although the story is not bad, it is nothing special either. Just a typical Japanese story, not that different from other JRPG's. During the fights you only control one character, and for the most part you only use 2 buttons. This sounds really boring, and in some way it is but it is actually surprisingly fun. And you can "use" your other party members during the real time fights to attack together with pre-set combo's. The AI fights for itself during the rest of the combat but you can set their parameters, and the system goes deep enough for it to make an impact on the gameplay. Some points of criticism are the short duration and the easy difficulty of the game. On one hand the short duration means that the sligthly repetitive combat never really gets annoying because the game is over before that could happen. Even though I really enjoyed this RPG, but if you are no JRPG fan or looking for a lot of depth in a RPg this might best be left alone.
Star Ocean: The Last Hope
This space orientated Japanese RPG comes from Square-Enix, one of the more popular RPG companies of the last 20 years. Having brought us the Final Fantasy series the quality of their RPG's doesn't have to be discussed. The most special about this game, in opposite to the normal turned based fights in JRPG's, is the real time combat system which not only relies on player skill, but luck plays a big role as well. This sounds worse then it is because the system is well balanced. So the fight are based on chance but you as the player can influence the chances which makes it a very interesting system. The fights do not get repetitive as the changing skills keep the level of variation going. The style and story are what one may expect from Square and are of good quality. The game has about 40 to 50 hours of gameplay which is decent for a RPG of its style. So if you always wanted to play a Japanese RPG but do not like turned based games, this might be just the game for you.
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel
Sacred is a Hack and slah RPG in the style of the Diablo games on the PC. The controls with the Xbox controller in stead of a mouse and keyboard work pretty well and I never got frustrated with the controls, but it has to be said that navigating through the menu's works much better on a PC. What appealed to me most is the item system (common weapens/armor, rare and unique etc.) and the big free roaming world they created (and with big I mean BIG). I am a big Diablo II fan, but I rather play on a console then on my PC, and this is the only game for the Xbox 360 that is a Hack and Slash RPG. The main story isn't too bad and there are a lot of sidequests. So you won't get through this game too quickly unless your are rushing the story. The multiple classes that you can choose from give the necessary variation and thus a higher replay value. This game can also be played with multiple players at the same time and I for one love coop gameplay in RPG's. playing with two players on one console might sometimes get a little frustrating because you can't open you menu's at the same time. So when one player adjusts his gear the other has to wait until he can do the same. Second minor flaw is that these kind of games can get a little repetitive at times. I personally do not mind that to much but I can see why some do. This game brought me many hours of exciting gameplay!
Eternal Sonata catches the eye because of its unique style of gameplay and graphics for the Xbox 360. the graphic style is not really that unique, it being anime, but because the Xbox 360 is a console that is not very popular in Japan, it is remarkable that these games are being developed. The story in Eternal Sonata is an original one as well, it all happens in the dream of a famous composer and pianist. This does mean the whole game is somewhat music orientated, but that never really bothered me, and unless you really hate music I doubt it would bother you. The fighting is in real time and you are free to roam about the battlefield trying to pull of combo's and evading or blocking enemy attacks, unique about this is that the exact place in which you are standing has a great influence on your strategy, some moves can only be pulled of while standing in shade for example. The game doe have its flaws though. It is not a particularly long game (25 to 30 hours which isn't much for a RPG) and the enemies do not have much variety. It just does not as deep as a real RPG player would like it to go. But it is still a very enjoyable game and it unique features definitely make it worthy of a top ten spot!
- Fable II
- Fable III
These games are mostly popular because of their unique cartoony style and humour. The games are an excellent example of RPG's from the western world (in oppose to the japanese RPG's). The stories are not really original, but the idea behind the games is. The story is as follows, in Fable II you begin as a child and follow him as you become king and in Fable III you start of as a prince and become king quite fast. After you have become the king in Fable III it really gets interesting, it is from that moment you decide what kind of king you are gonna be and how you deal with the responsibility. In the Fable games the choices between being good, evil or neutral play a major role and everything you do affects your good/evil status. Nice feature is that your looks (and even the looks of your equipment) reflects the way you play the game. The fights are fast and action packed but get a little simple fast and never get very challenging. That is the major problem in all Fable games actually, the difficulty. The game never gets hard and although playing the game is enjoyable even though it is simple, an extra difficulty setting would have been very welcome. Next to that the games are not the longest of RPG's and do not give you as many side quests and freedom as say an Oblivion. But don't let these flaws influence you to much because the fable games are very enjoyable and their unique style makes playing worthwhile.
- Fallout 3
- Fallout: New vegas
Fallout is one of those games of which it is not very easy to put it into a single genre. I would say it is 75% RPG and 25% shooter. With its unique leveling system using perks, item system and lots of conversation options it is definitely a RPG as you can shape your character in the way you want. Also the different choices you can make during the story gives you a sense of freedom, which usually aren't found in shooters. The game has multiple endings and that makes the replay value of the Fallout games high. The almost endless world which can be explored for towns, houses, caves etc. is beautifully put together. That brings us to one of the strongest features of these games, the atmosphere. The games takes place after a nuclear disaster and when walking around in the world the developer created scavenging for useful items gives you exectly the right feeling. The Fallout series is a little bit of a stranger in the RPG genre but just like with the Mass Effect games, if shooters and RPG's take your fancy, you will love these games.
The Mass Effect series:
- Mass Effect
- Mass Effect 2
Although these games are as much shooter as they are role playing game, conversation and finding picking up items (espacially in the first Mass effect) play major roles in these games. And don't forget the leveling up and class system which gives the games strong RPG elements. The first game is a bit more RPG then its successor, the item system in this game has got something of the diablo system (finding random guns or parts for your gun) and gives the player the opportunity to create his own unique set of guns and armor. The story was stronger in the first game, and the story being an important factor in RPG's the original Mass Effect is more of a RPG then Mass Effect 2. Both games last about 40-50 hours when not only following the main story line. Nice feature is the possibility to play through the game a second time with the same character in a harder difficulty and if you ended at say level 30 you continue to level up. It is even possible to use your Mass Effect 1 character in Mass Effect 2. If RPG's and shooters are on your favourite genre lists, these games will definitely keep you busy for hours.
Final Fantasy XIII
Compared to other Final Fantasy games, this one aims less at the die-hard FF gamers and a little more on a broader audience. The combat system and levelling are the best examples of that. You reciee no longer experience but CP (Class Points) with which you choose in what class you want your characters to advance. At some points you can choose some side paths to this but this does not happen very often. The depth of developing your character has vanished from this game and that really is a shame. The combat is more simplistic because you only control one character and the AI does the rest. Next to that you have the option to enable auto-attack and you can really kick back. Even with your equipment you can let the computer pick the best offensive gear for example and you do not even have to figure out yourself what's what. The game looks great though and the story is what you would expect from a Final Fantasy game.
So Final Fantasy XIII is a beautiful game which offers enough gameply hours (50 to 60) to keep you going for a while. But it is a shame that they made the game more simplistic then its predecessors. If you feel a little lazy you can let the computer do almost everything for you, if you do everything yourself though, the game has some depth to it. Althoughthe game is not as depp as you would hope from a Final Fantasy game, it still is a great game with a strong storyline to keep you busy for hours.
Dragon Age series:
- Dragon age origins
- Dragon age II
The dragon age series are the best when it comes to the combat. It both looks and feels great, it is the most enjoyable fighting in any RPG in my eyes. Big difference is that in Dragon Age II there is only one main character where in Dragon Age origins ther ewere more. But there are a lot of skills that can be chosen for each of the three classes in Dragon Age II so replay value is great as every class fights differently. The games have, besides their good replay value, enough gameplay hours stuffed into them in the form of side quests. Some can be done in a couple of minutes but some side quests can be rather big and time consuming, which is in my opinion a great feature. The world of Dragon Age II itself where all these quests take place does not show as many variation as the quests itself and sometimes you find yourself doing more then one quest in exactly the same area. In Dragon Age origins the world showed much more variation. The story of the dragon age games is quite good and will keep you interested until the end of the game. There is even some good humour in the games which is always nice in RPG's. During the game there is lots of conversation but thanks to great voice acting the conversations never get boring. Add to that some great music and the great combat system and these are games you do not want to miss!
Elder scrolls IV: Oblivion
Oblivion is definitely (one of) the best RPG's on the Xbox 360 at the moment (Elder scrolls V: Skyrim is coming up) and can give you literally hunderds of hours of gameplay. The enormous world that can be explored contains so many dungeons, caves, towns and other amazing places that when you have just a little exploring drift, you'll be roaming around for hours. The world is so beautiful that the first few hours in the game will fly by without you even doing something that is wortwhile naming. The game has a good encounter system when it comes to enemies which levels up alongside you so you can begin exploring from the start and will not constantly be killed by monsters that are way stronger then you. On the other side the fights don't get easy when you get stronger which makes the game never go dull. The main story in Oblivion wasn't as strong as I had hoped but there is so much more then the main story line, think of guilds and side quests and item hunting, that the little flaw of a weak story line can be easily overlooked. These game will keep RPg fans busy for at least 50 hours and if you don't mind exploring for bit you can easily add 50 to 100 extra hours to that.
Future Xbox 360 RPG's
Elder scrolls V: Skyrim
One of the games I am looking forward to the most. Oblivion was a great and big game which offered hunderds of hours of gameplay, and this one does exectly the same and more...
Mass Effect 3
Because the story does not end with Mass Effect 2 this will be the big finale. I for one hope that some elements from Mass Effect 1 return but this game is going to be great either way!
Lord of the Rings: War in the North
Not much is known about this new LOTR RPG but the world and story of LOTR are great and if they manage to make the combat system decent this could be a very enjoyable game.