The Xbox 360 dominated last generation after its debut in 2005. There was a reason why the Xbox 360 took the lead over the competition for the most part of the generation: the 360 had some of the greatest games ever made. Seeing this as a “Best of” list, it is hard to narrow down.
The following is a collection of 12 standout games in no particular order that is well worth the countless hours I spent with them. And since the dear old 360 gave way to the Xbox One, the Xbox One X, and the Series X, you can consider the following as 12 of the greatest games of the generation.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)
In my eyes, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the most definite CoD that everyone should pick up and play. It has the best narrative of all its predecessors and successors, it controls just as well as you remember, and MW still has a warm following that has been keeping the multiplayer up and running. There isn’t to say there haven’t been any improvements on the multiplayer side, I recommend you pick up the latest CoD if multiplayer is all you’re looking for. But as a full package, CoD 4: Modern Warfare is still the best game in the entire franchise.
BioShock is a haunting experience that explores what happens when humanity breaks the glass ceiling and is left to embrace its ideals to the fullest, without any sort of restrictions including societal. It suggests, in a very convincing way, that pride is often fatal. These eye-opening themes are conveyed through rather fun gameplay is just icing on the cake. BioShock is in many ways a wake-up call to the industry and remains so 13 years after its release.
At a glance, BioShock may seem like a first-person shooter but it’s far more than that. The basic gameplay mechanics tie themselves nicely into the narrative and ties everything up in a haunting message, coupled with its amazing atmosphere and immersion, makes this one of the greatest games to play on any console. The greatest thing about BioShock is that it never gets old.
Fallout 3 (2008)
By 2008, Bethesda was already well known for its skill at creating open-world RPGs, thanks to their history prior to the release of Fallout 3. The iconic 1990s franchise was picked up by Bethesda, and many had their doubts that Bethesda could modernize the series, let alone reintroduce it to a massive new audience. And Bethesda delivered.
Fallout 3 captured the magic, the dark humor, brutal combat, and its haunting setting of the original games and delivered one of the greatest RPGs of the 2000s. A big factor in that is the freedom of choice, the freedom to explore, the freedom to be whoever you want to be. Definitely check it out.
Dead Space 2 (2011)
The original Dead Space was a frightening experience that echoes the brilliance of the original Alien film, but Dead Space 2 exceeds it in every possible way and is perhaps one of the greatest sequels ever made, which is already an outstanding feat. Dead Space 2 ramps up the action and pays off with a deeper story that has more to do with character development than the original.
The story picks up some time after the events of the original Dead Space, he spends the sequel coming to terms with what has happened to him and learning to rebuild right as everything is turning to shit again. Dead Space 2 is an epic blockbuster from top to bottom.
Dead Space (2008)
The original Dead Space was a vision that came out of EA, EA wanted a fresh project that had nothing to do with the rest of their portfolio that they had in the 2000s. What came about in 2008 was Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space, it was the first time that EA had the guts to do something besides shooters and RPGs. In October 2008, EA Redwood Shores, later renamed as Visceral Games, rocked our world with what could have possibly the scariest game of that year.
In Dead Space, you took control of Issac Clarke, an engineer, who is tasked to board the USG Ishimura and fix the ship’s communications after the ship goes mysteriously dark. If the sequel was Aliens, then the original Dead Space, was Alien and the horror genre saw a brief resurgence. What Dead Space did for the horror genre is unspeakable, it is a legendary game. Much like the sequel, the original Dead Space is an epic blockbuster from top to bottom.
Batman: Arkham City (2011)
Batman: Arkham City is easily the best Batman game of all time and possibly one of the greatest superhero games of all time. The follow-up to 2009’s greatest game finds the Dark Knight trapped in Arkham City, a section of Gotham that has been sealed off and abandoned and is filled to the brim with Batman’s greatest villains from his rogue gallery and their henchmens. The gameplay and the story still holds up in 2020 which further its lasting appeal.
Halo 3 (2007)
2007 was defined by innovation and experimentation of something new, 2007 was the year that developers really understood the new technology within the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3’s hardware and delivered games that would become iconic. The sheer amount of games that launched within 2007 was astonishing and that included Halo 3.
In 2004, Halo 2 raised the bar but Halo 3 perfected it. With the addition of four player co-op, its multiplayer was unrivaled alongside its ranking system alongside forge, the iconic mode that allowed us to build whatever it was that we wanted to do on the game’s multiplayer maps. With age, it has gotten better and it still is fun.
L.A Noire (2011)
L.A Noire is one of the generation’s most underrated games despite its critical and commercial success, while it may have Rockstar Games on the box, it was developed by now defunct Team Bondi and the mechanics that were present within the Grand Theft Auto games made little to no impact here. Largely an investigation, dialogue-heavy, narrative-driven game set in 1947 Los Angeles. L.A Noire’s historical accurate rendition of Los Angeles in the post-war era is true, it was a dark and depressing time with the police heavy on corruption and taking action that brings them down to the level of criminals they’re trying so hard to lock away.
L.A Noire shines the most within the dialogue system, which makes use of performance-capture faces that allow the player to pick up on visual cues to determine if a NPC is lying, hiding something back, or telling the truth. Correctly determining an NPC is trying to mislead you is very fulfilling while calling you on an assumption allows for some great dialogue.
Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
By 2013, you already knew what to expect with Grand Theft Auto. The series’ fifth installment is no different, showcasing an extremely well-written script that’s centered around 3 characters who are both lovable in their own way.
A return to Los Santos and the sun-soaked state of San Andreas meant a return to the trademark absurdity that was abandoned with Grand Theft Auto IV, GTA V put its foot on the gas and never let the car stop. The campaign is truly one of the greatest works Rockstar has ever done, while, its multiplayer still looms large today and is more popular than ever.
Battlefield 3 (2011)
2011 was an unforgettable year for gaming, the war between Battlefield and Call of Duty was at its all-time high and the industry was shaken to its core with multiple releases. By 2011, EA had transformed the Battlefield franchise into the Call of Duty killer and it succeeded to an extent, Battlefield 3 was the next generation of military shooters and showed us what next generation was going to be like. Blending environmental destruction with vehicular combat and large maps alongside riveting infantry gameplay delivered an experience that was nearly next generation.
Battlefield 3 wasn’t just a game, it was an experience. A bittersweet experience that shows how far DICE has come from the days of old.
Mass Effect 2 (2010)
Mass Effect 2 stands as the pinnacle of BioWare’s epic trilogy and the pinnacle of old BioWare, pre-Inquistion and Anthem. In the middle of the series, Commander Shepard explores exotic planets and undergoes a dangerous mission to defeat the Collectors.
It’s gameplay was nicely tuned and improved from the original Mass Effect and its wonderful Paragon/ Renegade system returned and the crew assignments felt more important alongside plenty of other improvements which made Mass Effect 2 a true sequel.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
It seems like only yesterday when I remember the hype of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and its eventual release that November and how everyone at school was talking about it. I remember walking into lunch and sitting next to my group of friends and we were all just talking about Skyrim and where we were in the story and what level were we. It’s popularity upon release is something that I have never experienced before and nor have I seen it ever again, it was explosive and unprecedented.
Skyrim is one of the most memorable RPGs of the past 10 years and for good reason, there’s a reason why the world of Skyrim is so memorable, and there’s a reason why Skyrim continues to mean “an open-world fantasy RPG done spectacularly well” in the realm of videogames. It was because it was accessible, gorgeous, and easy to play alongside it was easy to understand without the need to pick up the previous games before it. Skyrim was a revolution and still to this day, I haven’t seen a revolution like Skyrim.