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Letters from the Front

Microsoft’s first attempt at console gaming may have been marred by its incredibly short life cycle but it had some great games, one that have had a lasting impact on gaming in the years since.

When the Xbox 360 released in 2005, Microsoft stopped making first party titles for the big black box and nearly every publisher moved on. This list really was hard to complete as every game that I played on the console were some of the best games that I have ever played: From GTA III to Medal of Honor: Frontline to Dead Rising to Red Dead Revolver but here we are, here are the Top 10 Best OG Xbox Games. What are yours?

10: FABLE

The original Fable, and the whole franchise as a whole I guess, wasn’t made for your hardcore RPG fan. It’s made for everyone because of how deep the package ended up being; from exceptional world design and fluid combat mechanics and well-designed skill tree for its time made the game fun to play.

9: RAINBOW SIX 3

Rainbow Six 3 originally released on PC and became an instant PC classic. In 2003, Ubisoft saw how big Xbox Live was getting and decided to release Rainbow Six 3 and became a huge hit, this was Rainbow Six Siege before Siege would ever be concieved. This was our Rainbow Six Siege.

While the campaign was nothing too extraordinary, it’s multiplayer stole the show and was a revolution. It became a real-time based tactical shooter that stole my heart; from tactical inserts to the powerful range of modern day weaponry to the quick TTK, Rainbow Six 3 ended up being one of the best games on the OG Xbox. It revolutionized multiplayer forever.

8: JADE EMPIRE

At this point in time, BioWare was the king of RPGs. KOTOR was a runaway success and became an iconic game for the ages, the followup to KOTOR was Jade Empire. Jade Empire was a very unique game that I seriously hope that BioWare revives it at one point.

The reason why Jade Emprire is one of my favorite OG Xbox games is because it was set in a deep world, the world was well-crafted and improved on many of the mechanics seen in KOTOR. The combat system was deep and refined the morality system that was in KOTOR. It was everything you wanted in an RPG and then some.

7: MEDAL OF HONOR: FRONTLINE

In 2002, Medal of Honor was at the height of its power. 5 months before the release of Medal of Honor: Frontline, EA released Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, a game that would forever be influential and gave birth to the modern day military shooter.

5 months after the release of Allied Assault, EA released another influential Medal of Honor game titled Frontline. Much like Allied Assault’s version of the Omaha Beach assault, the beginning section of Frontline started off with the Omaha Beach landings and was one of the greatest introductions in video game history, the game ended up being very iconic in the WW2 genre.

Medal of Honor: Frontline placed you in the shoes of Lt. Jimmy Patterson, an OSS agent that must go behind German lines in hopes of finding the Horton Ho IX, a new stealth fighter that could turn the war around for the Germans and steal it. The game was very linear and straightforward, as was FPS games were in that particular era but it ended up being a very focused game because of it; that is the most effective way to present a story. It was really like watching a very good WW2 film where you could escape from reality and immerse yourself into a very good story about a lone OSS agent ready to steal the most top secret German weapon as he makes his way towards Germany.

6: GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS

Grand Theft Auto III and its spin-offs to that landmark game made their debut on the Playstation 2. Xbox owners had to wait a while until Grand Theft Auto came over to the system because Sony had brought the exclusive rights but Rockstar Games found a way around with the GTA Double Pack in 2003 and when San Andreas released in 2005.

GTA III, at this point in time, had the biggest impact on the industry but GTA: San Andreas was the biggest and the baddest and in many ways, it too was a landmark game in its own right. San Andreas was the biggest game of the entire franchise in this point in time; from CJ to the West Coast hip-hop scene that the game was inspired by to a world filled with things to do and the NPCs, it pushed the game to its limit. Everything added up to a game that was an absolute landmark in its own right and became very influential as time went on, GTA: San Andreas is my all-time favorite game in the entire franchise just because of how ambitious it was. It is the quintessential game on how to do a crime game in the Xbox and PS2 generation.

5: GRAND THEFT AUTO III

The launch games of the Playstation 2 weren’t all that great and there wasn’t really anybody really looking forward to it until Sony got their hands on a Rockstar game, they were desperate for a system seller and they got their system seller with Grand Theft Auto III.

Grand Theft Auto III didn’t arrive to the Xbox until a year later in October of 2003 and it became a smash hit on the system. It is undeniable what Rockstar did with Grand Theft Auto III; GTA III became one of the most influential games of the early 2000’s and of the decade as a whole. Rockstar changed the gaming landscape forever with its open world and it birthed a new genre and popularized it. There was nothing quite like GTA III and probably never will be.

4: KOTOR

Much like the other games on this list, KOTOR is influential for the OG Xbox and gaming in general and then some more. It showed us that it was possible to get a good Star Wars game before Battlefront, a year later, but it also brought the Xbox to the forefront.

The story rivaled the film’s and rivaled a lot of stories that were considered good at that point in time. If it wasn’t for KOTOR then Jade Empire wouldn’t have become one of the best games on the OG Xbox and BioWare wouldn’t have made such a great impact on RPGs.

3: THE ELDER SCROLLS III: MORROWIND

Morrowind brought something to the original Xbox that console owners had been deprived of, which seems something like we take for granted now given how many RPGs released on consoles since then.

Morrowind really was the Fallout 3 of the original Xbox era; it made a strong first impression that solidified Bethesda’s hold on RPGs for the rest of the 2000s.

2: HALO 2

Halo 2 wasn’t just a game. It was an experience. With $125 million in sales just on the first day, it became the single biggest event of 2004 and maybe the first half of the 2000s. Halo 2 lived up to the hype.

The campaign’s ending may have been abrupt, but its multiplayer stole the show and is the sole reason why its number two on my list. Full clan party support, excellent matchmaking especially for the time that Halo 2 released in, tons of customization options, it was as seamless as seamless could get in that particular era. Halo 2 singehandily made Xbox Live worth it and it would pave the way for the Xbox Live service system on the Xbox 360, there’s a sole reason why Halo 2 was the most played game until Gears of War in 2006.

1: HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED

The game that started it all.

Halo started it all, it carried the original Xbox for the first three years of its lifecycle before Halo 2 and it created a whole new subculture of its own. Halo led to the creation of the iconic webseries, Red vs Blue, carried the Xbox for the first three years, was a revolution in the FPS genre, and it influenced gaming forever. The legacy of Halo: Combat Evolved can be felt today in every single game that we play, it led to the creation of a generation of gamers, its influence and power expands time and space. This was the game that started it all.

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