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Letters from the Front

2005 was a very different time to the present.

On March 9th, 2005, the press crowded into a ballroom in the Moscone Center in San Francisco to witness the birth of a new era. Sony had dominated the industry since 2000 and had wrapped the last generation around its iron grip, and even Microsoft had been no match for the PlayStation 2. But the original Xbox was just only the beginning, and the company’s gaming evangelist J Allard was about to take the stage to talk about the next-generation – only three years after the launch of the original Xbox and that was just only the beginning of the Xbox 360’s iconic legacy. Who knew the console would go on to be one of the greatest consoles of all time.

The Xbox 360 defined an entire generation of gamers, including myself. The games that were on the platform have long-lasted into the modern day and have become stuff of legend; games like BioShock Infinite and Halo: Reach, games that will forever be talked about. I didn’t think of doing a follow-up to yesterday’s post but here we are, welcome to some of the Best Games of the Xbox 360 era PART II.

Call of Duty 2 (2005)

In 2005, the Xbox 360’s launch lineup wasn’t the greatest and nor was it all that impressive. Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo failed to make waves, so, the only other game was the only game that was a must buy. Call of Duty 2 was a must-buy World War II military shooter that ended up being one of the greatest Call of Duty games ever made and was a wonderful follow-up to the 2003 underdog.

Call of Duty 2’s single player campaign took you around to some of the war’s greatest battles, including, the unseen Pointe du Hoc landing on D-Day where you partook in scaling the cliffs with the US Army Rangers and fighting the Germans in the snowy landscapes of Moscow and Stalingrad. However, it was the multiplayer that stole the show and for good reason; the multiplayer had great emphasis on skill and gunplay, two traits we don’t see anymore in contemporary multiplayer shooters. With no killstreaks, upgradable weapons, and customized gear and soldiers to worry about, all that stood between you and your enemy was your skill in battle.

Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)

In 2001, the revolutionary Grand Theft Auto III set players loose as a small-time criminal at the bottom of the food chain in one of America’s biggest cities, Liberty City, a sprawling metropolis where anything could happen but it wasn’t until the next generation of consoles that we were able to see this sprawling metropolis in all of it’s glory.

Grand Theft Auto IV brought Liberty City and some of the cities’ most iconic characters to life, Niko Bellic was a complex character. Haunted by the memories he made during the Bosnian War while trying to start anew in the United States of America. He’s surrounded by some of the iconic side characters to ever grace the screen, with standouts including Cousin Roman and Brucie Kibbutz, the former, giving many memorable quotes that have become running jokes since the game’s release in 2008. What makes Grand Theft Auto IV a classic isn’t just its characters or the freedom Rockstar gives you, it’s the story that makes the game a classic: a dark and gritty version of the American Dream, one that is too true for immigrants coming to the country. What are you willing to do to achieve the American Dream and what does the American Dream even mean? It’s a question worth pondering.

Borderlands 2 (2011)

In 2009, Borderlands introduced us to the world of Pandora, a bandit-infested wasteland of a planet filled with secret vaults with a lot of guns. The sequel took everything that made the first Borderlands great and improved upon it tenfold. Borderlands 2 is a bigger and funnier sequel which makes it one of the premier cooperative gaming experiences out there. It’s a classic.

BioShock Infinite (2013)

BioShock Infinite chose to completely abandon its iconic setting that made the franchise famous in 2007, in place of that iconic setting, was Columbia. In place of a story about Objectivism was a tale of nationalism gone awry, with the floating city of Columbia on the brink of destruction. Your role in the story wasn’t made clear until the very end of the game, where in classic BioShock fashion, you question your perceptions and the universe around you.

While, it may not be as iconic as the original BioShock, it is just as creative as the original game, where it blends pseudo-scientific powers with traditional gunplay and a riveting story. It is a riveting game from top to bottom, definitely check it out if you haven’t played it yet.

Assassin’s Creed II (2009)

Throughout a better part of a decade, the Assassin’s Creed set of games has had its ups and downs, but Assassin’s Creed II is the peak of the series. It is arguably the crown jewel of the series, with iconic Italian cities painstakingly recreated and excellent side stories featuring some of history’s greatest men, including Leonardo Da Vinci. Although, later entries would fix some of Assassin’s Creed II’s mechanics and did them better, Assassin’s Creed II remains the tightest game in the series.

Alan Wake (2010)

In the 2000s, Remedy Entertainment became known for moody, atmospheric games with tragic characters and sympathetic characters that can’t be found anywhere else in the industry. Alan Wake, Remedy’s long-delayed game, is perhaps the best known example of this. Starring a thriller-genre author who discovers his own novel while looking for his missing wife, Wake must uncover the truth while being hunted by mysterious creatures. Alan Wake is one of Remedy’s finest creations.

Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season One (2012)

Since 2012, Telltale Games has had a reputation for its excellent story-focused games, covering iconic franchises like Batman and Borderlands but it was The Walking Dead that started it all. The grim, emotional tale of Lee Everett and Clementine helped separate the game from the rest of the genre. Telltale had the guts to kill off the main character in that so very iconic final episode.

The first Walking Dead season ditched the gritty and photorealistic graphics for a comic-book art style that made the series so iconic in later iterations. Definitely check it out.

Fallout: New Vegas (2010)

Left for dead, you wake up in the town of Goodsprings and begin a quest for revenge and find the person who shot you in the head in the Mojave Desert. That is the beautiful and simple plot of Fallout: New Vegas, which makes the opening sequences of 2008’s Fallout 3, seem long and needless. The Mojave Desert is a far cry from the grim and shattered ruins of the Capital Wasteland, New Vegas was spared from the destruction that was caused during The Great War, and has retained some of its color and vibrancy, 200 years after the war ended. Fallout 3 was a sea of depression, but New Vegas was a sea of color and happiness. It was a more vibrant Wasteland, but it still tinged with the sadness and depression that has defined the Fallout series.

Fallout: New Vegas is considered to be the true Fallout 3 as it continues the original story back where it all started and is considered to be the greatest Fallout game of the 2010s and of the modern Fallout games. It has the greatest writing, many of the companions are rich and interesting characters with distinctive personalities, there are more ways to role-play and more options to get yourself out of trouble and into more trouble, the faction system makes it highly replayable, New Vegas in every aspect outside of probably atmosphere is the greatest Fallout out of the two Fallout games that released in that era. Obsidian’s historical ties to the series and the involvement of Chris Avellone makes New Vegas a more authentic experience. It is a set deal that Obsidian will never make another game in the franchise, so, this is the only game we get from them going on forward.

DJ Hero 2 (2010)

Nowadays, the musical game genre has died down since its heyday back in the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 era, but back in the day, it didn’t get much better than DJ Hero and the DJ Hero franchise which sadly only had 2 installments. DJ Hero 2 built on what made the original game of 2009 so iconic, including its terrific turntable controller and room for player creativity, and its setlist included iconic hits from artists like The Jackson 5, Busta Rhymes, Damian Marley, Rihanna, The Crystal Method, and Donna Summer.

The Beatles: Rock Band (2009)

Back at the height of the Xbox 360, the music genre was exploding in popularity, thanks to the efforts of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Rock Band rose in popularity and rose to the top of the music genre and became the go-to party game of the 2000s and in 2009, a spin-off would release titled The Beatles: Rock Band. T

The Beatles: Rock Band introduced me to the music of the one of the greatest bands of the 20th century and of the 1960s and in many ways, the Beatles: Rock Band was the perfect vessel for introducing the very iconic music of the Beatles to the younger generation who was growing up in that era, like myself. However, the game, didn’t exceed the sales of other Rock Band titles earlier in the generation thanks to the economic depression in the United States and the overabundance of the games itself made the genre fall out of favor by 2010 and the genre simply disappeared.

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