Since its first release in 2001, Microsoft’s Xbox has provided plenty of memorable games for fans of all ages. Whilst some have gone onto create successful franchises, others have died a death and are now just fond memories.
Fortunately, retro is back. A host of classic games have been given a new lease of life by either being remastered completely, like the original Halo, or made available to players on the Xbox One through the backwards compatibility catalogue.
That’s given games like Mass Effect their chance to shine once again but, whilst they can still be enjoyed, it’s not quite comparable to the newer instalments. Whatever your view on Andromeda, there’s no denying the game is beautiful- and retro games don’t quite have that.
The market has also become relatively saturated with the main games being annual releases. Battlefield and Call of Duty dominate the shooting scene, whilst it’s Forza that holds the crown as the best racing simulator – but it really doesn’t have much competition.
Going back to yesteryear, there’s plenty of games that deserve the remastered treatment and we’ve selected ten of the best from the original Xbox console.
Project Gotham Racing 2
The aforementioned Forza Motorsport has become the flag bearer for racing games on Microsoft’s console and it’s a phenomenal game. However, it’s a racing simulator and that doesn’t appeal to everyone. If you want a more arcade-like racer, you may find yourself disappointed.
Project Gotham Racing was a superb game for driving fanatics, combining the realism and beauty we’ve grown to love in Forza with the pick-up-and-play arcade model. The Kudos system that gave you more points for driving stylish aided the arcade enthusiast and Forza wouldn’t be the success it is today without learning from Xbox’s original racing great.
Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenage
A cult classic, Crimson Skies was taken from PC and made into a piece of console genius. One of the greatest games in the early days of Xbox Live, Crimson Skies allowed you to, at times, hop out of your plane and occupy gun turrets. At that time, the ability to switch between approaches was a lot rarer than it is today.
A dogfighting game in the sky is something the Xbox One definitely needs and the thought of playing it in 4K with the Xbox One X is enough to get fans excited. We saw with Star Wars: Battlefront that games can be successful strictly with aerial fighting and it’s about time someone revived that area of gaming, rather than just having it as something you can do during a game.
Midtown Madness 3
Jumping back to the driving games, Midtown Madness is one of the earliest games I remember from the original Xbox and was one of my favourites. I knew my way from the Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower like the back of my hand, even though I’d never actually been to the French capital.
From free roam to stunts to races, Midtown Madness was thrilling and my interest in the game led me to then play the aforementioned Project Gotham Racing and later Forza Motorsport. It was my route into driving games and I miss the free roam where it was simply cars; no guns, no getting out of your vehicle, just driving.
I bet you’ve heard of Steel Battalion, I also bet you’ve never played it – few gamers have given its $200 price tag, for which players were treated to a bespoke 40-button controller and foot pedal.
The game was incredibly difficult. If you didn’t eject at the right time and died, then you would have to start the campaign from scratch. YouTube stars across the world would thrive on a game like this and it really is a unique approach like we’ve never seen. Just lower the price-tag, please?
It’s incredible that ancient China remains such an untapped market in the modern age, especially as things like both World Wars and the Wild West seem almost overdone. That’s part of the reason Jade Empire is remembered so fondly, as there’s nothing quite like it.
Largely following the template of Knights of the Old Republic (more on that later), Jade Empire’s dialogue, combat and morality system was already a success, so there was no risk of issues there. The character development was also superb, as was the immersive culture. Give us more ancient China.
Full Spectrum Warrior
Originally commissioned by the United States Army as a training tool, this tactical shooter remains a one of a kind game to this day. Caring for your A, B and C fire-squads, you were in charge of not only succeeding with your mission but keeping your squad alive.
The graphics were realistic enough, although nothing like we’re used to now, and having this sort of shooting game would be a nice break from your standard Call of Duty or Battlefield. Tactics are the way forward, just ask those who used it for the army.
You’re in control of a giant robot and fight other giant robots… need I say more? It’s a travesty that the series didn’t survive through to the modern age as it was a flagship title of the original Xbox Live. Imagine a remastered version with current graphics- it would certainly settle arguments amongst friends.
Adapted from the PC game, which itself adapted from a pen-and-paper based RPG, MechAssault was evidence of how your imagination can progress into something you can physically see. Imagine the boundaries it could push in VR.
One of my earliest memories of Fable was working really hard to be a ‘good’ character, then making a mistake, killing a friend and somehow finding myself evil. Oh, how I embraced it, men and chicken everywhere across Albion feared me; I was a king.
Fable didn’t come to life fully until the second instalment on Xbox 360 but it set the pace for one of the most loved games on the platform. Now returning in card game form with Fable Fortune, it’s not quite the same. We need the original back and not on its own (we’re looking at you Fable Anniversary). Heck, we need all three instalments in on. Make it happen.
Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic
Before the days of Mass Effect, Bioware constructed another masterpiece in the form of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic; a game that goes down as the best Star Wars game in history and potentially the best RPG as well.
Allowing you to choose the light or dark side, across a campaign that spanned a monstrous 40 hours, KOTOR was praised for its multi-plot approach. You could double cross someone, hell, you could even triple cross them, and it’s that sort of vast expanse to the plot that makes it so memorable. In the modern age, you can bet your entire salary this wouldn’t be released as one game and we’d be handed numerous DLC’s.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
If KOTOR was to be split into DLC’s, then Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory would have certainly been spread across numerous releases. Overall, it was a game that offered three superb approaches; a single-player campaign, a superb multiplayer and a co-op campaign that was completely different to the single player experience.
The multiplayer was a favourite of mine, as the spies vs mercenaries approach is something that can never truly be replicated. The spies had no lethal weapons and tried to infiltrate and complete an objective. The mercs, on the other hand, had to stop them. It sounds simple enough but the experience was addictive. You couldn’t walk away after someone had sneaked up behind you, mocked you over the Xbox Live headset and then snapped your neck.