Best Xbox Live Arcade games

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Action and adventure

The Walking Dead — $5

Sure, Telltale Games built its initial foundation on family-friendly affairs like Monkey Island and Back to the Future, but its five-part episode on Robert Kirkman’s award-winning zombie series is where the company has found its true calling. The storyline is gripping and compelling, centered on convicted criminal Lee Everett and the events foreshadowing the story of Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes, with an intricate plot dictated and tailored by the player’s actions and various decisions within the world. The fixed camera angles sometimes prove to be a nuisance, but the game’s stunning, cell-shaded looks still make the apocalyptic environments seem quite appealing.. err, as appealing as the undead are capable of being anyway. See our comprehensive Walking Dead game, Season 1 review for a closer look.

The Walking Dead

Heavy Weapon — $10

I wasn’t around for Moon Patrol’s 1982 debut, but I’ve heard PopCap’s latest side-scrolling shooter dons some uncanny resemblances. With Heavy Weapon, players control an atomic tank using two joysticks, warding of the Red Star army through 19 action-packed levels in true, arcade-style action. You begin with a basic cannon, upgrading your weapon arsenal to include lasers and homing missiles along the way, while continually striving toward the iconic nuclear blast that eliminates all enemies on the screen. The game is challenging, regardless if you’re playing alone or with others, and adorned with cartoonish graphics reminiscent of Worms or my personal favorite, Metal Slug. If the main mission mode isn’t daunting enough, give the chaotic survival mode a whirl.

Heavy Weapon

Shadow Complex — $15

While it’s true Metroid and Contra are no longer the 2D powerhouses they once were, they undoubtedly left a profound imprint on generations of games to come. Shadow Complex is a fine example of that former gameplay, a shooter deeply rooted in an arsenal of power-ups, color-coded doors and vast exploration that will keep you running for hours on end. However, the old-school feel only delves so deep, as the title is bolstered by new-age, 3D graphics and futuristic flourishes courtesy of the powerful Unreal 3 Engine. The plot? Your girlfriend has been captured and held hostage in an underground complex by a band of revolutions planning on carrying out a violent government coup in the near future.

Shadow Complex

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons — $15

Swedish film director Josef Fares’ first foray into the world of video games is a shimmering, gut-wrenching narrative powered by one of the most beautifully conceived worlds we’ve ever seen. The visual design is simply gorgeous, a stark contrast to heavy elements driving the underlying plot, but they merely serve second to the unique controls and simple inputs. Although Brothers is a single player game, each joystick and accompanying trigger controls a different brother, meaning you’re required to simultaneously maneuver each character individually. Fortunately, it becomes easier as the game progresses, making the game’s many puzzles and challenging tasks that much more achievable. Check out our Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons review for more details.


Aegis Wing — Free

There’s always some impending invasion waiting to wipe the human race off the face of the galaxy. With Aegis Wing, that invasion comes in the form of the Araxian, an alien colony on the verge of attacking the newly-settled planet Europa. Although the single-player game is worth the download alone, the cooperative gameplay via Xbox Live is where the heart of the title lies, allowing up to four players to take control of fleet of intergalactic ships in a side-scrolling journey to rid space of enemy forces. Power-ups are frequently scattered through out the scrolling levels, as are lengthy boss battles, and multiple players can even combine their ships in Transformers-like fashion for a more cohesive attack. Just keep your fingers crossed your ally knows what he or she is doing if playing Insane mode.

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