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Sunday, March 13, 2011

0 Top 25 Xbox Games of All Time




25) Jet Set Radio Future


Developer: Smilebit
Publisher: SEGA
Year Released: 2002


Synopsis: You've got to have soul. Nearly every Xbox owner knows that thanks to Jet Set Radio Future, along with SEGA GT, getting the Xbox pack-in treatment. Microsoft thought it was good enough to help sell consoles and, although JSRF may have been a bit out there and unique for the action loving Xbox fans, it certainly delivered on its promise. The Xbox sequel to the Dreamcast's Jet Grind Radio didn't just provide gamers with a bigger and better looking city to grind, tag and trick their way through, it took every criticism leveled at the first game and reworked the way the game played. The result was a much friendlier and fast paced game that had more style and funk than George Clinton.

Jet Set Radio Future is so unique that the only other game just like it is Jet Grind Radio. For that alone it deserves to be on this list, but JSRF has the whole package. It's fun, stylistic, visually impressive, and has a fantastic soundtrack. Beyond that, JSRF is a huge reason the hardcore SEGA audience embraced the Xbox despite its new kid on the block status. Long live Professor K.







24) Forza Motorsport


Developer: Turn 10
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Year Released: 2005


Synopsis: The first few waves of Xbox games were electric, irregular, and even a little sketchy. But as Microsoft grew as a manufacturer and publisher, it found its feet. In 2005, the publisher's focus gave birth to a competitive simulation racer that could content with Sony's Gran Turismo series. The internal Microsoft team behind Forza were admitted GT huge fans, but like everyone else they grew tired of Polyphony Digital's redundancy and lack of change.
On the innovation scale, Forza ranks answered long-burning GT issues, giving players the ability to play the single-player campaign offline or online, giving cars three levels of damage, creating the Drivatar, which learned drivers' patterns and could be commanded to race challenges for you, and creating hundreds of leaderboards (not to mention putting a racer in the car).
Perhaps more fun than anything else was its sophisticated and deep customization system that inspired people do crazy things with their cars. Forza is perhaps the only other racer on the consoles that was able to re-create the magic in GT in a different and compelling way.







23) Fight Night Round 2


Developer: Electronic Arts Chicago
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Year Released: 2005


Synopsis: Electronic Arts toyed for many years with Knockout Kings before the strange but lovable Rocky game caught our attention. And while EA might not be pushing the envelope with sports now, over the last five years the publisher underwent a small revolution in its approach to all sports games in features, physics, and mechanics. With Fight Night Round 2, EA took the previous year's excellent first effort and went to town like a mad, inspired elf on Christmas Eve.
Visually, EA delivered stunning, real-life boxer lookalikes with Winky Wright, Roy Jones, and cover boy Bernard Hopkins. The blood, sweat, skin textures and motion capture were exemplary. The refreshing cutman mini-game opened the game up a little between rounds, and while the announcers were only decent, the sound effects -- whether they were perfectly connecting haymakers, gut punches or perfect knockout punches -- rang true. Aside from the graphics, EA hand-delivered the ability to punch while moving, the clench, and specialized analog controls that worked like a champ. The haymaker system was a huge boon.








22) Beyond Good and Evil


Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Publisher: Ubisoft
Year Released: 2003


Synopsis:Unusual, quirky and endearing, Ubisoft's Beyond Good and Evil is familiar in some respects, but entirely different than any other action-adventure game. Like any developer intent on creating a 3D adventure title, Michel Ancel and his team in Montpellier, France, borrowed liberally from the book of Zelda. Only Beyond Good and Evil is really one of the first "activist" games, starring Jade, a woman of color photographer, as the lead character.
The story is well told, the graphics are artfully handled, and the sound is outstanding. The narrative is unique to gaming. Jade is recruited to help IRIS, an underground organization working to prove that the Alpha Sections are not at all what they seem, to expose a massive conspiracy. She and IRIS try to counter the Alpha Sections's propaganda, spread by a corrupt media, by disseminating evidence of the truth. Her handy camera grabs photos, naturally, but also scans data that uncovers information relevant to the story, a central part of the game's attraction. The charmingly gruff Pey'j, a half-human, half-pig works in tandem with Jade to solve problems and defeat bosses and becomes one of the most endearing characters in the game. How? Through carefully handled dialogue and smart editing. The use of logic and physical puzzles and a nice range of vehicles round out the game, which is presented and told with craft and skill.






21) Panzer Dragoon Orta

Developer: Smilebit
Publisher: SEGA
Year Released: 2003

Synopsis: The Panzer Dragoon series is almost legendary around the IGN offices. It began on the Saturn and reached an audience far too small for games as good as these. When SEGA gave up on the console market and became a third party publisher, Panzer Dragoon Orta was amongst the first titles announced for the Xbox. Fans would not be disappointed.

The pinnacle of rail shooters, Panzer Dragoon Orta took the series to new heights. Even now at the end of the Xbox's life, Panzer Dragoon Orta remains one of the most beautiful games on the console with fantastic design chock full of vibrant imagery mingled with post apocalyptic despair. Fantastic visuals aside, Orta succeeded in delivering deep shooting mechanics the way no rail shooter had in the past, or has since. You can zip through the game a few short sittings, but then you'll revisit it over and over again as your skills improve and those seemingly impossible targets begin to open up. Rail shooters may be all but dead, but at least they went out on the highest note possible.


20) MVP Baseball 2005


Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Year Released: 2005


Synopsis: Sports licenses are a finicky thing. After EA bought the exclusive rights to make exclusive NFL games, Take-Two fired back by purchasing Visual Concepts and the exclusive rights to major league baseball. In the videogame world, these dealings are bigger than the Red Sox paying $51 million for the rights to talk to Daisuke Matsuzaka. Rather than running off into the corner and pouting, EA Canada delivered its finest MLB-licensed baseball game yet (it already had the license for this one) and the best Xbox fans ever knew.

While the previous year's MVP 2004 brought a ton of new modes and features to baseball videogame world, EA's last stand with MVP 2005 refined it to greatness. It also added the owner mode, the "hitter's eye," mini-games and more. With its hold on the MLB license for that last year, EA showed us all that it wouldn't sit on its laurels after losing the baseball license in a display that made us enjoy competition all the more.







19) Madden NFL 2005


Developer: Tiburon Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Year Released: 2004


Synopsis: After re-tooling the offenses in Madden NFL 2004, EA came up really big, perhaps with its biggest and brightest football game of them all, in Madden NFL 2005. Florida-based Tiburon successfully implemented new working elements in this iteration that made everyone re-think their past football experiences.
Once you experimented with and mastered the defensive Hit Stick, tinkered with defensive hot routes, and finally, once you used offensive formation shifts, it was impossible to return to the old way of Madden, and in some folks' minds, to return to Visual Concepts' gridiron titles. Madden NFL 2005 brought depth and ingenuity to the game on offense and defense. Defensive AI players swatted more balls, intercepted more throws, and covered the ball on ground better than ever before. On offense, calling audibles, using Playmaker, and calling orange routes, or option routes, made huge differences. The franchise mode and the online game really branched out too.
While Madden has taken a slight turn south in recent years, on Xbox, the best Madden game on the console was 2005.







18) Psychonauts


Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Majesco
Year Released: 2005


Synopsis: Although Psychonauts didn't meet with commercial success, the universal opinions of critics was that Tim Schafer had done it again. The man whose original mind helped to bring us Grim Fandango and The Secret of Monkey Island delivered Psychonauts to the Xbox with high expectations of humor and imaginative gameplay.
Imaginative may be the best way to describe Psychonauts, too, as the platformer pits Raz, a psychic camper, in levels that take place inside other characters' minds. Each level is designed around that character's persona, which provides insane, hilarious and bizarre environments and challenges. Of course, it wouldn't be a Tim Schafer game without some chuckles (exemplified in mostly through dialog) and in that area Psychonauts does not disappoint. The cutscenes in between stories are sure to make you smile and it's hard not to enjoy yourself while playing a game that knows you're there to have fun. If Psychonauts had an influence on other games, we haven't seen it yet. But surely, the game must have had an affect on game story writers and the boundaries they're able to cross. We're still waiting for the game that somehow puts us inside our own minds.








17) Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge


Developer: Fasa Studio
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Year Released: 2003


Synopsis: Though Microsoft and Fasa Studio stumbled a few times while transitioning the fabulous Crimson Skies PC game to Xbox, the final result was tailor-made for the console. A beautiful-looking game built with strong Hollywood movie cinematics and production values, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge was like playing an Indiana Jones movie in air.

The gameplay was simplified from the PC version, i.e., made even more forgiving and easy to handle, but the wild range of airplanes were incredibly fun to handle, whether you were being chased, chasing an enemy, or pulling off snap turns and Immelmans. The flying wasn't realistic at all. In fact, the game felt more like an action game with wings than a flying game in the manner of PS2's ace flight game, Ace Combat. But the 12-hour single-player campaign earned you all sorts of enhancements, new planes, and enough skill to connect to Xbox Live and play for the rest of the holiday. While Secret Weapons Over Normandy and Battlestar Galactica might have had their own appeal, Crimson Skies was the Mac Daddy of flying games on Xbox and still holds its own today.






16) Mercenaries


Developer: Pandemic
Publisher: LucasArts
Year Released: 2005


Synopsis: Two years after Grand Theft Auto III burst onto PS2, publishers and developers alike were still standing back in awe. The thug-simulator sandbox hit was a success beyond everyone's wildest dreams and creative minds across the planet began their own versions of GTA. Taking hard lessons from DMA's success and finding EA difficult to work with, Pandemic split with EA on what would have been the newest iteration in the Strike series and signed with LucasArts to make Mercenaries, an open-world military game that fused the wily openness of GTA with the destructive power of MechAssault.
Mercenaries offered players three characters to choose from and a whole world of open destruction in North Korea. A myriad of elements made the game fun. The vehicles were numerous, from pedestrian cars to jeeps to tanks to helicopters, and you could use them or go it on foot to get any job done. The weapon packages grew more and more powerful as you progressed, until you could level whole buildings and shoot down helicopters. And playing the five factions off one another added a level of tension and surprise.
While Mercenaries was more or less influenced by Grand Theft Auto III and a wide range of military games, it wasn't so influential on other games, although Pandemic is now making Mercenaries 2: World in Flames with online co-op capabilities.






15) The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind


Developer: Bethesda
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Year Released: 2002


Synopsis: Morrowind brought something to the Xbox that console players had previously been deprived; a truly open and free RPG experience. This game didn't just allow you to create your own character, it let you attack the world in any way you pleased. Want to ignore the main quest and go spelunking? Go for it. Want to try to wipe out every Argonian lizard? Get a good sword and start hacking. Nearly anything you wanted to do was yours to attempt. This game wasn't just good, it was a landmark in the history of console RPGs.

With so few great RPGs even on the Xbox, Morrowind would have made it even higher on the list if it weren't for its unfortunate number of bugs. With so much freedom came so many times we watched our game crash. Even with all of the frustrations, Morrowind was still amongst the most addicting games out there with hundreds of quests, thousands of unique objects, and more bang for your buck than you could ever hope for.







14) NCAA Football 2003


Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Year Released: 2002


Synopsis: EA may have been a bit slow to come around to the wonders Xbox Live, but their first college pigskin game was good enough to make even the staunchest of EA haters quiet down a bit. Still running on a modified version of the Madden engine, NCAA Football 2003 had so many features surrounding the actual on-field game that it was nearly a college fan's dream come true. Over 100 teams, rivalry games, fight songs, a create-a-school mode, dynasty mode, and more all come together in one of the first games to truly bring the collegiate feel to a football game. There's so much here that more recent NCAA games feel limited in comparison.

NCAA Football 2004 may have improved a bit upon this iteration, but 2003 brought the most to the table, especially for the Xbox as a whole. 2003 delivered a fantastic football experience and marked the beginning of the progression towards the college game's eventual dominance in the football videogame market.






13) Burnout 3: Takedown


Developer: Criterion Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Year Released: 2004


Synopsis: When Acclaim first showed us Burnout 1 in 2001, we were floored by its speed, visceral impact and potential. Two games later under the publishing helm of Electronic Arts, Criterion's uber-arcade game reached its true potential and grabbed the racing crown from Polyphony Digital's spectacular Gran Turismo series with one of the best racing games on any system, Burnout 3: Takedown.

The code-crunching team at Criterion delivered an unflappable framerate, stunning sense of speed, and unholy crash sequences that, combined with new takedown elements, super aggressive AI racers, and online support, made this the most desired racer both instantly enjoyable and maddeningly addictive. Criterion added excellent new modes such as the brilliant Road Rage, Eliminator, Face-off Burning Lap, as well as grand prix, and feature mechanics such as aftertouch, an uncannily perfect gameplay feature that gives life to your flaming skeleton of metal well after the crash. Visually and sonically, Burnout: Aftertouch also excelled in every way with fantastic crash scenarios, eye-popping particles and sharp samples and sounds that matched its visual intensity. At its core, Burnout 3 easily vies for fastest racer ever created and it's frighteningly satisfying to play.






12) The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay


Developer: Starbreeze AB
Publisher: Vivendi Games
Year Released: 2004


Synopsis: When looking back on The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, the biggest water-cooler topic was, and still is, the comparison to the movie. With the exception of GoldenEye 007, no game has so outshined its big-screen counterparts as The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. It's all true. The game was way better than the movie sequel.

There is so much more to Riddick. While it's also true replay was at a minimum (unless you wanted to collect all the cigarette packs) and multiplayer didn't exist, Riddick was an exclusive Xbox game that blended first-person shooting, fighting, stealth, and RPG-elements into one smartly presented and told science fiction universe. Vin Diesel's perfectly delivered voice acting lent great credibility to the game's audio feel, and Starbreeze's handling of the story and presentation was masterful, a difficult task given how much was known and saved for the movie sequel. Riddick's unique Eyeshine abilities, the game's multiple paths and NPC side-quests, and its debut of normal mapping distinguished it even further from the masses of first-person shooters that littered the Xbox.







11) Prince of Persia: Sands of Time


Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Year Released: 2003


Synopsis: Ubisoft's Prince of Persia: Sand of Time wasn't a perfect game (but then again no game is). It was rather short, there weren't too many boss fights, and there weren't all that many puzzles. Having laid down these criticisms and knowing them full well enables us to look at the game with clear, rather than with rose colored, glasses. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was a major evolution in the series and, to a certain extent, cross-genre games in general. More to the point, Sands of Time was an astounding example of cutting-edge game mechanics, character animations, and art design. It still is.
POP brought an ancient 2D game into the current generation and made it better in most ways, so much so that few people still wished they could play the old one, and it imagined and delivered gameplay that people had only dreamed about before blending three genres (action, adventure and platforming) perfectly. It didn't matter which system you played it on, either, Xbox, PS2, GameCube, or PC. It was beautiful looking, smartly told, mechanically exemplary and compelling, and underneath it all, a great game. And surprisingly, neither of the sequels had the long-term impact nor was as impressive as that first one.







10) Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas


Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Year Released: 2005


Synopsis: Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto III and the subsequent sequels to that landmark series made their name on the PlayStation 2, plain and simple. Sadly, Xbox owners had to wait long for their GTA. Sony bought the exclusive rights, which Microsoft and Rockstar eventually found loopholes for later, and the result was a two-for-one bundle, GTA III and GTA Vice City in the GTA Double Pack in 2003, and the delayed release of GTA San Andreas in 2005.

While the GTA III easily had the most profound effect and influence on the industry, from game development to production values to taking a stance on mature themes, the biggest, baddest and best game in the series is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The three-city game, filled with mini-games, side quests and countryside, was far and above the biggest game, in virtual physical space, of its kind. The innovative character growth and customization along with the use of NPC sidekicks, the use of simple vehicles like bicycles, and the African-American central character, CJ, pushed the game to its limits in all respects. Naturally, Rockstar infused the game with its own brand of style, continuity, and pop cultural references, which boosted it far above any game in its genre. GTA San Andreas is the quintessential game of its kind and the crown jewel of thug-style sandbox games in the previous generation.





9) ESPN NFL 2K5


Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: SEGA
Year Released: 2004


Synopsis: Nobody tries harder year in and year out than the indefatigable Visual Concepts, which manages to thwart its competition with ingenuity, hard work and fewer resources despite being out-marketed every season. And this is why the competition of two major, NFL licensed football games created the best atmosphere for competition and for great games during the former generation of consoles (on PS2, Xbox and GameCube). Finally, however, Sega and 2K Games called Madden out. They upped the ante with its combo-package of ESPN NFL 2K5, a fantastic new football game in it own right, which sold for only $20.
The game had an angle for everything. The ESPN presentation was smartly integrated into the game from smart on-field camera angles to the right announcers (you could even watch SportsCenter in between games), it presented realistic and impressive graphics and even better animations, and it packed in a superb VIP systems, training sessions before games, and debuted online leagues. Visual Concepts even gave gamers the very likeable ESPN25th Anniversary mode. The running was tightened down and the passing was loosened up a little, the Franchise mode was improved, and in every way thinkable, this mighty $20 just couldn't be beat for the value. Ironically, it was also Visual Concepts' last official football game for years. Still, when compared to the football games of the last few seasons, ESPN NFL 2K7 holds up like the Bus on Superbowl Sunday.





8) Fable


Developer: Lionhead Studios / Big Blue Box
Publisher: Microsoft
Year Released: 2004


Synopsis: You couldn't plant an acorn and come back later to find a tree. Children in Albion would not change their hairstyle to mimic yours. There weren't branching story paths. In fact, much of what Peter Molyneux and Lionhead promised in their "ultimate RPG" never panned out. But guess what? The game is still an absolute blast to play. Microsoft's best answer to Zelda, Fable isn't a game that's made for the hardcore RPG gamer. It's not made for the hardcore action or adventure gamer either. It's made for everyone and has enough layers to provide both a superficial and exceptionally deep experience in one tight little package.

Fable wins with its exceptional world design and great good vs. evil dichotomy. Every town, region, and dungeon was hand crafted with loving detail so that every nook just screamed to be explored. The story may not have been the most engaging in the history of the RPG, but the fluid action mechanics and well designed skill progression tree made for an RPG that was fun to play regardless of which genre of game you prefer.






7) Ninja Gaiden Black


Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Tecmo
Year Released: 2005


Synopsis: If you don't like Ninja Gaiden Black, it is because you're not a true ninja and can't handle the insane levels of difficulty. For heart pumping, adrenaline filled, blade wielding, off the wall, insane action, there is no better choice on the Xbox than Ninja Gaiden Black. The first new-generation Ninja Gaiden game was excellent, but this special edition re-release showed the world the right way to repackage a game with new modes and levels of difficulty, new items, improved control and boatloads of new gameplay opportunities. Even if you had already played the first Ninja Gaiden Xbox title, you had to give this one a look. It simply is the ultimate Xbox action experience.
Ninja Gaiden Black isn't just the best action game on the Xbox. It's also one of the finest examples of the power held in the big, black box. Even with the great AI and numerous enemies on screen, Ninja Gaiden Black put its competition to shame. Smooth, crisp, and beautiful, this game is every bit as good looking as it is fun.





6)Rainbow Six 3


Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Year Released: 2003


Synopsis:
Originally created for the PC, Red Storm's, and then when Ubisoft bought Red Storm, Ubisoft's Rainbow Six series evolved into a mass market product that has served the hardest of the hardcore shooter, casual gamers, and military fanatics alike on multiple systems. On the Xbox in 2003, Ubisoft saw opportunity knocking and tapped into the growing Xbox Live community with a real team-based tactical shooter that grabbed IGN's editorial team attention and never let go.
While the single-player missions didn't blow the lids off any doors, the team mechanics and controls were solid, and multiple door approaches into terrorist's barracks gave you a feeling of control and tactical command. And after you finished those off, the substantial co-op and the multiplayer missions kept you riveted for days and weeks afterwards with your friends offline or online. Overall, the powerful range of weaponry, the smart mechanics, the quick impact of a kill, and the sense of camaraderie created while playing on Xbox Live all came together to satisfy our gaming souls.





5) Jade Empire


Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Microsoft
Year Released: 2005


Synopsis: BioWare knows how to make a fantastic RPG. The follow-up to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire showed that knowledge and then some. Though many fans were frustrated at BioWare's decision to eschew work on KOTOR II in favor of an original IP, the move paid off in spades. The Wuxia-kung fu film and Chinese mythology inspired world gave us an original and wondrous story to get lost in that few games could compare with.

It wasn't just the well crafted world that set Jade Empire apart from the pack. The real-time action-oriented combat system was deep yet accessible and provided a fresh look at the way RPG battles could play out. Jade Empire also further refined the morality system they laid out in Knights of the Old Republic with branching philosophical paths the player could take. In fact, everything that BioWare did right in their previous game wasn't just included in Jade Empire, it was improved to new levels of excellence. Jade Empire had everything you could want in an RPG; a beautiful world, great story, and excellent combat. The game was so well constructed that it was a must-play title even for people that don't like RPGs. It's just that good.






4) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic


Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Microsoft
Year Released: 2003


Synopsis: Knights of the Old Republic is a landmark title in the Xbox library for more reasons than we can succinctly describe. It didn't just show us how good a Star Wars licensed game could be, it brought the Xbox to the forefront of RPG fans' minds the world over. With lightsabers, force powers, an amazing story, and some of the most memorable characters on Xbox, Knights of the Old Republic had universal appeal for good reason.

Simply being a Star Wars RPG may have been enough to endear Knights of the Old Republic to most people, but BioWare didn't let the branding do all of the work while they sat back and reaped the rewards. The story here rivals even Lucas's original trilogy with one of the best twists in videogame history and more unique, yet familiar, characters than you could ever hope for. Jade Empire may have seen over the mountain, but only because it was standing on the shoulders of KOTOR.







3) Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory


Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Year Released: 2005


Synopsis: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory on Xbox represents the pinnacle of the series. From a gameplay standpoint everything about it was honed, enhanced, and improved upon over its predecessor with tight controls, great level design and beautiful graphics.

From an audio-visual perspective, Sam's world is one of the best looking games on the system, replete with gorgeous animations, meticulous texture work, and realistic lighting and shadows -- all of which were strengths in the previous versions and bettered in Chaos Theory. Ubisoft also upped the ante with a highly polished adversarial mode and new on- and offline co-op missions, giving it new life after the tough but engaging Pandora Tomorrow.

Equipped with new moves, a knife, sniper and shotgun attachments for the SC-20K, and alternate fire options that interfere with electrical circuits and disable lights for a short period of time, Fisher, the bad-ass, got even badder. All of this took place with a robust, multi-tiered alert system that created gameplay options, rather than limiting them. Finally, the four new specially designed cooperative levels, and the 11 new multiplayer maps were all built around a more full-bodied set of modes, both offline and online, giving this game legs well beyond its excellent single-player mode.








2) Halo 2


Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft
Year Released: 2004


Synopsis: Halo 2 wasn't just a game. It was a full blown entertainment phenomenon. With a $125 million in sales on the first day alone, it became the biggest single event in entertainment history. People lined up hours in advance and sat through all manners of weather to be amongst the first to get the most hyped game of all time. Then, somehow, Halo 2 managed to come as close as possible to living up to that hype.

Say what you will about the somewhat confused story mode, the online game alone is nearly enough to get Halo 2 to the top of our list. Full clan and party support, excellent matchmaking, tons of customization options, and innovative web options all combined to give Halo 2 the best Live experience to date. Halo 2 provided everything we could have wanted in Xbox Live and helped set the stage for the Xbox 360's current success. Oh, and did we mention that Halo 2 online still provides a huge adrenaline rush to this day? Well it does. There's a reason Halo 2 was the most played Xbox Live game until Gears of War shipped. It simply is the complete online package.






1) Halo: Combat Evolved


Developer: Bungie Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Year Released: 2001


Synopsis: There is great debate among hardcore fans as to the superiority of Halo or Halo 2. IGN scored Halo 2 higher than the original, but looking back on the games from the perspective of 2007, the profound effect, influence, and long-term lifespan of the first Halo puts it in a special category of its own.


Halo essentially carried the Xbox for the first three years of its lifespan. It created a sub-culture of gaming. It gave birth to Red Vs. Blue. It kick-started and sustained the Xbox from the first day the system shipped with one of the most bad-ass game characters ever in a memorable story until Halo 2 finally pushed it off its perch. And it stole millions of college students' potential time crafting their social skills to meet women, and replaced them with endless hours of co-op and LAN multiplayer parties. A videogame that's better than a girlfriend? Apparently so.
Aside from some slightly dull backtracking and confusing hallway sections, both of which are minor quibbles, Halo's influence was profound on games in general. It showed the world how to make great first-person shooters work well on consoles. It influenced dozens of companies that tried to copy its two-guns-and-grenade weapon system, Cortana's friendly narrative-style, a functional vehicle mechanic in an FPS, and for those who could do it, cooperative campaign gameplay. It did all these things well, with gorgeous graphics and incredible sound effects and mesmerizing music. Play the Halo today and you'll realize how remarkably well it has held up.


IGN Weekly's Top Games of All Time
You've seen all of our choices and read our Top 25 feature. Now what? How about a special episode of our show IGN Weekly? We've gathered all the editors together to reflect on what truly made these games great. So now you can savor this moment a littler longer. Just sit back, turn up the volume, and click play. We guarantee not only some of the industry's most respected nerds, but also pretty girls. How can you resist?

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