30 must-play Xbox 360 games: how many have you played?
The Xbox 360 is one of the best consoles ever made, with one of the best games libraries ever.
In this post, we’ve picked out 30 of the best Xbox 360 games. Many of them are compatible on the Xbox One too, and you’ll find most of them on the musicMagpie Store (one of the cheapest places to buy video games, by the way!). How many have you played?
Let’s start with possibly the best video game ever made: Dark Souls. If you haven’t heard of it, a) where have you been? and b) you’re missing out.
Dark Souls is an action RPG notorious for being harder than Vinnie Jones in a titanium factory. The game starts by dumping you in the middle of a dungeon with little to no help and gets progressively tougher from there: normal baddies can kill you instantly, there are no quest markers and, to top it all off, there’s a honking great boss within the first half an hour.
Eventually, you’ll learn from your mistakes, start mastering the amazing combat system and enjoy a great sense of satisfaction as you sweep through baddies who were once a challenge… and then you’ll meet an even bigger boss who’ll kill you over and over again. There’s a reason the special edition of Dark Souls is subtitled Prepare to Die.
As tough as it is, you’ll struggle to find a game as rewarding or immersive as Dark Souls.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim
More RPG fun, this time with the legendary Elder Scrolls series. Skyrim is a huge open world role-playing game in which you take on the role of the Dragonborn, a special fella/lady who could potentially save Skyrim from dragon attacks and solve the ongoing civil war too.
Of course, anyone who’s played Skyrim knows it isn’t really about the story; it’s about exploring the vast lands, collecting treasure, fighting stuff or taking one of the many, many sidequests. You’re free to do whatever you please, basically. It’s a second life, except with more swords, magic and dragons.
The best video games make you feel awesome even though you’re sitting on a sofa pressing buttons. They make you feel like a super soldier, or a racing driver, or a sassy witch with sick martial arts skills.
That’s precisely what Bayonetta does. Even though you’re pressing buttons, this fast-paced, brutal and immensely fun game will make you feel like the coolest person alive. Even cooler than people who can actually have sick sword skills in real life!
Set in a future where humanity is part of a galactic alliance (which it hasn’t voted itself out of, yet…), Mass Effect casts you as a Commander exploring an evil force that may well threaten the galaxy as we know it.
Joining you on your journey is a cast of colourful characters with different abilities, whom you can pick and choose to join your team depending on the challenge ahead/who looks coolest.
Mass Effect’s RPG elements are awesome, with the conversation wheel becoming a videogame staple, while the combat is reminiscent of Gears of War – again, a very good thing!
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Before Modern Warfare, Call of Duty was a serviceable World War shoot-em-up series. After, it became one of the biggest video game franchises of all time.
So, what happened? Well, there’s the story for a start. Like a tense Tom Clancy thriller, it’ll keep you playing for hours on end, desperate to find out what happens next. It also features one of the most shocking twists in any game ever. Honestly, it’s jaw-dropping.
The real highlight, though, is the incredibly addictive multiplayer mode. Modern Warfare has some of the best maps in the series, although you may struggle to get a game online. Still, there’s nothing to stop you getting a few mates around and enjoying perhaps the best Call of Duty game of them all.
Portal 2 is a puzzle-adventure which asks you to get from one room to another using a gun which fires two portals. It requires a sharp mind and a decent grasp of physics, with tough-but-fair levels are massively rewarding.
It sounds quite daunting, but it isn’t. Portal 2 eases you in with some fairly simple puzzles, which prepare you nicely for some of the later head scratchers.
The gameplay is only half the fun, though. Portal 2’s quirky sense of humour will keep you laughing while you try and figure out what to do, with the main villain GlaDOS possibly the funniest baddy in any game ever.
Grand Theft Auto V
We don’t need to explain why you need to play this, do we?
Alright, we will. Grand Theft Auto V is an open world crime simulation which follows three characters in a crime saga Martin Scorsese would be proud of, taking on missions from various miscreants and ne’er-do-wells on your way to the top.
You’re free to do pretty much whatever you want between missions, whether it’s driving around like a maniac or getting a swanky new haircut and some new threads. This freedom is what makes GTA V so great.
But don’t just take our word for it. With over 65 million copies sold worldwide, GTA V is one of the best selling games of all time.
Indie games hit the mainstream thanks to Xbox Live Arcade, with Braid one of the biggest successes.
This side-scrolling platformer explores the concept of time, with each level turning time into a puzzle. On some levels, time will rewind when you move backwards, while in others, time will only advance when you move.
If the concept doesn’t appeal then the graphics might. The hand-drawn characters and worlds are some of the best visuals we’ve ever seen in a game.
Halo 3 is the game a lot of people bought an Xbox 360 for. In the final game in Bungie’s original trilogy, Master Chief is fighting the Covenant invasion back on Earth, while having to make some big decisions that could lead have dramatic consequences for the rest of the universe.
The gameplay is as fast-paced and frenetic as ever, with the series’ trademark ’30 seconds of fun’ gun-and-grenades combat at its finest. The campaign and multiplayer feature some of the best level design in the series too.
Reach is a prequel to the original Halo trilogy, set on the planet where the conflict between humanity and the Covenant began. You play as a Spartan in a team trying to halt the invasion and save the planet.
With an excellent story, fantastic level design and brilliant gameplay, Reach is an underrated classic with a strong claim for being the best game in the series.
Gears of War
Gears of War launched with one of the best game adverts of all time, with a lone soldier running through a wasteland to the sound of Gary Jules’ cover of Mad World. At the end, he meets a honking great alien. Could this be a long-awaited solemn take on intergalactic warfare?
Erm…no. Gears is about as in-your-face as games get, with four burly blokes running around a post-apocalyptic earth shooting aliens in the face – although they sometimes chainsaw them in half too.
Gears helped redefine the modern third person shooter, with its cover-and-peek system inspiring many, many games that followed. It also gave us some brilliant characters, like the ultra gruff Marcus Fenix and the Cole Train, an ex-American footballer turned catchphrase-spouting war machine.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Despite being the best superhero ever (argue in the comments), good Batman games were few and far between when the Xbox 360 arrived on the scene.
Then along came Arkham Asylum. Thanks to an awesome combat system, a superb arsenal of gadgets and some fantastic stealth gameplay, it finally made you feel like an ultra-intelligent super-ninja capable of taking down even the most evil of villains (without the threat of getting beaten up/getting laughed at for being dressed as a bat).
If you fancy even more Batman action, check out the sequel Arkham City: it has more villains, more gadgets, more moves and a huge city to explore and beat up baddies in too!
As much as we love Forza, realism isn’t always what we’re looking for in a racing game. Sometimes, we just want to tear around a city in a ridiculous car really, really fast.
That’s where Burnout Paradise comes in. Set in a huge open world city, Paradise is fast-paced and frantic; few racing games capture the feeling of speed quite as well. Even crashing is fun!
Crackdown is an open world action game which puts you in the shoes of a biologically enhanced crime fighter with superpowers. Sounds good already, doesn’t it?
Your mission is to take down crime lords and their gangs, mainly through beating them up and smashing stuff. In a unique move, you’re free to take on missions in whatever order you like; there’s no linear narrative, no strict ‘go here and do this’ – just running around, stopping crime and generally having an awesome time.
Deadly Premonition is a surreal murder mystery heavily inspired by David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, with players taking on the role of an FBI agent investigates the murder of a young girl in a small American town (see, told you).
What follows is one of the strangest and (depending on who you ask) video games you’ll ever play. It certainly divided opinion on release, with IGN giving it 2/10 and Destructoid giving it a perfect 10. This is one you need to experience for yourself.
Video games aren’t renowned for their in-depth explorations of philosophy, which made Bioshock all the more stunning.
On the surface, it’s a story-driven first person shooter set in a desolate underwater city. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find a sophisticated critique of capitalism (particularly the views of Ayn Rand) explored through gunplay, psychic powers and lumbering death robots. One of the best games on the Xbox 360, hands down.
From sophistication to erm…non-sophistication, Bulletstorm is perhaps the most ridiculous first person shooter ever made.
Developed by Epic Games, the team behind Gears of War, Bulletstorm awards points based on how creative your kills are. It doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest, which is a breath of fresh air in a world full of COD clones. It’s just a shame more people didn’t play it!
Have you ever watched The Walking Dead and wished Rick would just fashion a weapon out of a pole and two chainsaws and run through the zombie horde like a madman?
Then Dead Rising is the game for you. Set in a mall, Dead Rising pits you against an army of undead with just a series of increasingly ridiculous weapons to hand. If the zombie apocalypse is going to be this fun, all we can say is bring it on!
The ever-popular racing simulation goes open world and the results are incredible.
As you’d expect from a Forza game, the racing is incredible. It recreates the feeling of driving a supercar incredibly well, with realistic controls that are forgiving enough to make you feel like a pro driver. There are a huge range of beautiful cars to drive around the huge open world too.
All in all, Forza Horizon is one of the best racing games ever.
Saints Row: The Third
Remember when Saints Row was little more than a Grand Theft Auto rip-off? How times change.
Saints Row: The Third lost the GTA shackles and embraced absurdity, with some truly insane missions that are as funny as they are challenging.
It’s possibly the funniest game on the Xbox 360, and certainly one of the most enjoyable. It might even (whisper it) be better than the great-but-dour Grand Theft Auto IV!
Borderlands 2 is like a combination of Call of Duty and Skyrim, with first person shooter action combined with an open world and RPG elements like character building and loot hunting.
You play as one of four Vault Hunters, who have travelled to a far-off planet to hunt for lots and lots of lovely treasure. Throughout the game, you complete missions and search for increasingly rare items.
Borderlands II is also very, very funny. Honestly, it’s worth playing just for the gags.
Assassin’s Creed II
Assassin’s Creed has become one of the most popular video game series around, with millions of people enjoying the slightly confusing but still engaging time-hopping story line.
AC II is arguably the best game in the series, with a young chap sent back in time and assuming the role of Ezio Auditore, an assassin in Renaissance Italy investigating a conspiracy.
Most of the game is spent exploring the beautiful cities of Florence, Venice and Rome, parkouring around rooftops with the occasional stop-off to assassinate some guards and complete some missions. You can even go and have a natter with Leonardo Da Vinci, who provides you with some sweet gear. Cheers, Leo!
If you needed further proof that ninja assassins are awesome, here it is. Set in a steampunk city overrun by plague, Dishonored sees you play as a royal assassin cast into the wilderness by an uprising against the Empress. Your goal is to find out what happened, get revenge and restore order.
Dishonored is totally cool with you going about those missions however you want, though. If you want to sneak around and avoid conflict, that’s fine. If you want to run through the city cutting everyone in half like a tornado of vengeance, that’s fine too. Each approach has its consequences, however.
Red Dead Redemption
Describing Red Dead Redemption as ‘Grand Theft Auto in the Wild West’ doesn’t do it justice, even though that’s pretty much what it is.
RDR is one of the most ambitious games ever made, with players exploring vast plains and outlaw towns as John Marsden, an ex-outlaw forced into hunting down his old gang by a corrupt marshall.
Along the way, you can ride horses, take part in duels, lasso people or even just enjoy a tequila down the saloon. It’s easily the best Western game ever, and there’s a good case for it being the best game ever made too.
Fallout: New Vegas
New Vegas is the black sheep of the Fallout family. It was made by a different studio, with Obsidian taking over from Bethesda, and it had more bugs than an entomologist’s lab when it was first released.
Years later, the bugs have been fixed and we’re left with possibly the best game in the series. Taking the basic elements of the series, New Vegas places players in the middle of a post-apocalyptic Nevada and lets them explore seedy casino cities and vast deserts as they please.
While games like this are never about the main story, New Vegas has a brilliant core set of missions based around your character getting vengeance on the people who left him for dead, while trying to resolve a civil war at the same time.
Here’s a unique proposition for you: a puzzle game with motorbikes.
While Trials Evolution looks like your standard extreme sports games, with lots of ramps and fire, it’s actually a complex physics puzzler. Getting to the end of each level requires careful calculation and masterful control. It’s difficult but rewarding, like a good puzzle game should be.
Luckily, the ragdoll physics, which send riders flying into the air like a teddy bear fired out of a cannon, make failing fun too.
LIMBO is the videogame equivalent of an arthouse film. Set in a monochrome world, you play as a young boy looking for his sister. To find her, he has to solve numerous puzzles, navigate gruesome deathtraps and avoid the clutches of evil spiders.
You’ll die a lot, but that’s the point. LIMBO is all about learning from your mistakes and reaping the rewards. If that doesn’t hook you in, the beautiful graphics and bleak atmosphere definitely will!
Too many games take themselves too seriously these days, which is why Fable 2 is so brilliant. Developed in the UK, it’s an RPG with a uniquely British sense of humour. It’s like playing Final Fantasy if Monty Python wrote it.
Of course, a game can’t get by on its humour alone. Fortunately, Fable 2 is exceptionally great in that department too, with easy-to-master combat, loads of places to explore and a fun good/evil scale depending on your actions.
Left 4 Dead 2
If you’ve ever wondered how you and your friends would fare in a zombie apocalypse, Left 4 Dead 2 has the answer.
Each mission starts with you and 3 friends in a location overrun by brainmunchers. With teamwork, a sharp eye and the kind of arsenal Arnie would be proud of, your goal is to reach an extraction point without becoming zombie chow.
It’s a lot harder than it sounds and there’s a strong chance you’ll fall out with at least one friend over it. But it’s totally worth it.
How many of the games in this post have you played?
If you haven’t played any, check out the musicMagpie Store. It’s one of the cheapest places to buy Xbox 360 games, plus you’ll get FREE delivery on all orders!