It’s been more than nine years since Microsoft first unleashed its snow-white, seventh-generation console into the gaming world. Although games like Call of Duty 2 and Perfect Dark Zero initially paved the way for the product’s rocky launch, they’ve since fallen to the wayside as even more robust titles from Activation, Microsoft, and Rockstar Games garnered rave reviews and redefined what it means to be a gamer in the 21st century. With more than 900 offerings from both big-name and indie developers, it can be tough to choose the title deserving of your hard-earned money. Thankfully, we’ve culled together a list of our favorite titles for the last-gen system, whether you prefer intense, open-world shooters set in the Wild West or head-scratching puzzlers
How does the expression go again? Pick your poison? No such thing below.
Grand Theft Auto V
You know what to expect with Grand Theft Auto: drug dealers, cars, and a colorful cast of characters. The fifth installment is no different, showcasing a fantastic script that’s centered around three complex characters in the stunning city of Los Santos. You can choose to lead the three protagonists through gripping story missions, explore a jam-packed world filled with a welcome sense of joyous nihilism, or even carry out elaborate heists with a little help from your friends.
Mark of the Ninja
Mask of the Ninja follows an unnamed ninja, marked with an all-consuming tattoo, who sets out to save his sensei from the Hisomu ninja clan. The story is fairly shallow, but the superb controls and stealth mechanics render it both rewarding and beautifully-constructed. The array of hidden challenges and memorable cinematics sequences only add to the replay value.
Available at: Xbox Store
The original Halo raised the bar for first-person shooters, but Halo 3 perfected it. It pushed the Master Chief’s story along and left lingering questions, while simultaneously introducing four-player online co-op and a robust map editor. Moreover, the game still looks gorgeous in 1080p and features in-depth matchmaking to boot. Blowing up aliens is still rarely as fun.
Gears of War 3
GOW 3 is the pinnacle of Epic Games’ thrilling trilogy. The harrowing gameplay is both brutal and deeply emotional, spanning a variety of beautiful environments and multiplayer modes. Its longevity lies in its vast number of achievements and the expanded difficulty settings — not to mention the waves of enemies to slaughter in Horde mode and the new Beast mode.
Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption is as close to perfect as it comes. The Wild West story places you in the shoes John Marston, a former outlaw who’s hellbent on finding his old cronies after a run in with the FBI. The open-world gameplay from the Grand Theft Auto developer thrives on the rich story and a cast of memorable characters, while offering a melange of remarkable activities built on the best western cliches around.
Braid is a surreal puzzle game with a twist. The object of the title may still be to save a damsel in distress while navigating six, story-book worlds, but the clever puzzle design and mature story render it more than your average Mario knockoff. The music and watercolor-like world you inhabit are bewitching, and the increasingly-sophisticated use of time manipulation is brilliant, to say the least.
Available at: Xbox Store
Forza Motorsport 4
Forza has never been known for a captivating story. Forza Motorsport 4 is no different, but it still manages to refine the franchise’s hallmark gameplay. The visuals and welcome attention to detail are astonishing on the cars. Online play and top-notch AI cater to racers of all skill levels and calibers. There are only a few race types and circuits, but everything included is masterfully crafted.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Showcasing an excellent campaign spanning two different time periods, Black Ops 2 mixes the fresh with the familiar. It offers multiple endings based on tough, in-game decisions, but as with all COD titles, it’s value truly lies within its multiplayer components. The robust zombies mode is still a standout, but it’s the 10-slot limit on load-outs that changes the way you play.
Saints Row: The Third
The Third makes up with personality what it lacks in visual flare. It’s lined with more vehicles, weapons, mini games, and customization than most open-world games, yet it still packs a rollicking storyline that’s outrageously raunchy in the best way possible. The experience is only amplified online with a friend, or when playing the ridiculous “Whored” mode. In this entry, the series that started as a Grand Theft Auto clone blossomed into the magnificently goofy and self-aware parody that we needed.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Arkham Asylum may be the best comic book title ever concocted. The enthralling story pulls you in from the moment you hear Mark Hamill as the Joker, only to follow it up with superb puzzles and fighting mechanics that take advantage of a slew of iconic weapons from Batman’s arsenal. The new detective vision and the 240 riddles only further Gotham and the game’s lasting appeal.