The 20 best Xbox 360 games ever made

Xbox 360Remember this guy? He remembers you. Where’ve you been?

This week, we’re giving thanks to the Xbox 360.

Released exactly 10 years ago this week, the Xbox 360 had a far larger impact than Microsoft’s first game console.

Many of the Xbox 360’s games are unforgettable, and if you own an Xbox One, you’ll be able to play some of them again: Thanks to an important update that landed this month, the Xbox One is now “backwards compatible” with over 100 Xbox 360 games, with more to come in the near future.

So! We’re here to celebrate the games that made the Xbox 360 such a special console over the last decade.

'Red Dead Redemption'

Rockstar Games

Think 'Grand Theft Auto' set in the Wild West -- that's what you can expect from 'Red Dead Redemption,' the open-world action adventure game from the same studio behind the 'GTA' franchise. You're John Marston, a former outlaw whose wife and son are held hostage by the government -- and you'll need to do their bidding to get your loved ones back. You can ride a horse, fire your pistols in slow-motion, and meet all sorts of colourful characters and desert animals during your travels, some of which want you dead. It's one of the best games ever created.

The 'BioShock' series

YouTube/AkN/2K Games
Pictured: 'BioShock'

A satisfying blend of science fiction, horror, and shooting games, the 'Bioshock' series is beloved for its incredible story and atmosphere, as well as its satisfying gameplay mechanics. After your plane crashes in the ocean, your character discovers an underwater city called 'Rapture,' a utopian Atlantis gone wrong. To survive and escape the city, you'll use weapons, gain superpowers, and make plenty of moral choices that directly affect your game. It's still considered by many to be one of the best, most unique games ever created.

The 'Gears of War' series

Epic Games
Pictured: 'Gears of War 2'

What would happen if aliens crawled out from under the earth and wiped out most of humanity? That's the beginning of 'Gears of War': Set on an Earth-like planet called Sera, humanity was already at odds with each other before 'The Locust' crawled out from under the planet's surface, in what's known as 'Emergence Day.' As an imprisoned former military leader, your character Marcus Fenix is rescued from prison and tasked with leading a squad to eliminate the Locust threat once and for all. The 'Gears of War' series has earned over $US1 billion in revenue, as of last January.

The 'Mass Effect 'series

BioWare/Mass Effect 3
The first game is already supported, so the other two make this a complete set.

A timed exclusive for the Xbox 360 (it later released on the PlayStation 3), 'Mass Effect' is still one of the best games ever created. With a deep, interesting plot with fantastic characters and plenty of moral choices along the way, you played as Commander Shepard as he raced from planet to planet to save the galaxy from a race of evil mechanical beings called Reapers.

'Halo: Reach'


'Halo: Reach' is actually coming to the Xbox One, we just don't know when exactly just yet. But that's ok -- we want it now! It's almost certainly the best 'Halo' game ever made, and it's the forgotten 'Halo.' It tells the story that sets up the entire franchise, and it's got some of the series' best gameplay and storytelling all in one package. Better yet: it's still remarkably pretty.

The 'Portal' series

Valve Software
Pictured: 'Portal 2'

Solving puzzles has never been so much fun. In 'Portal,' you wake up in a room inside Aperture Laboratories, which is running a series of 'tests' on you. You must pass these tests with just one tool: a portal gun, which creates one blue and one orange portal. Enter through the blue portal, you'll come out of the orange portal, and vice-versa. It's an extremely simple premise -- best the tests, and escape Aperture Labs -- but the game and its sequel are extremely clever the whole way through thanks to creative physics-related puzzles and some of the funniest writing you'll ever hear in a game.

The 'Left 4 Dead' series

Valve Software
Pictured: 'Left 4 Dead'

You like shooting zombies, eh? The 'Left 4 Dead' series has trillions of 'em, desperately trying to eat your brains and what have you. But you and three of your closest friends are gonna stop those zombies, using a whole mess of weapons in a first-person perspective, aren't you? Yeah you are. That's what 'Left 4 Dead' is all about -- that, and an especially interesting component called the 'AI director,' which directs the game's zombies in varying waves of size and difficulty depending on how well (or poorly) you're doing. It's a high-stress game full of last-minute escapes, and we'd love to jump back into it on Xbox One.

The 'Fable' series

Rare / Microsoft
Pictured: 'Fable 2'

The 'Fable' games are all about making moral choices, and seeing those choices play out in a myriad of ways. You start out as a young boy destined for greatness, but the choices you make affect your game and your appearance as you progress and age -- yes, your character actually ages throughout the game. Kill your childhood rival instead of showing them mercy? People treat you differently, the entire story changes, and your appearance permanently changes. The same goes for scars: If you get too careless in too many battles, you'll literally wear your defeats everywhere you go. With a flexible game design and satisfying mechanics for combat and progress, the 'Fable' games have inspired many of today's games to embrace the idea of choice.

The 'Battlefield: Bad Company' series

Pictured: 'Battlefield: Bad Company 2'

The 'Battlefield' series is known for its ultra-detailed depictions of combat, and it's gotten more and more serious over the years. But we first fell in love with the 'Battlefield' series in an offshoot, the 'Bad Company' games, that brought fun and levity to an otherwise very self-serious first-person shooter franchise. These games are sadly locked to the last generation of consoles -- it'd be a real delight to see them active once more on a newer console.

'The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim' and 'The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion'

Bethesda Softworks
Pictured: 'The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim'

Seeing games like 'Oblivion' and 'Skyrim' on game consoles was a revelation with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. These kinds of extremely involved first-/third-person role-playing games are typical on the PC, but rarely (if ever) made it to the consoles. In the case of 'Oblivion' and 'Skyrim,' it was arguably even better to play them on home consoles. And after having spent a few dozen hours with the studio's latest effort, 'Fallout 4,' we'd love to jump back in to Tamriel and kill some massive dragons.

'LA Noire'

Rockstar Games

There are so many different ways for the story to play out in 'LA Noire,' the crime thriller from 'Grand Theft Auto' studio Rockstar Games, and we've only seen one or two. Sure, we could play it on our PCs, but it'd be even nicer if we could just throw in the old Xbox 360 disc and spin up a fresh start on the Xbox One.

The 'Dead Space' franchise

Pictured: 'Dead Space 2'

The 'Dead Space' series may be dead, or it may be quietly waiting in a corner to pounce on an unsuspecting space engineer -- we're not so sure. But sales of the last game weren't quite so hot, and it looks like EA may have moved on from the third-person action/suspense franchise it popularised on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. We'd love a chance to show our friends why those games were so terrifying and thrilling the first time around.

The 'Crackdown' series

Realtime Worlds
Pictured: 'Crackdown 2'

Leaping over buildings in a single bound is supposed to be reserved for a certain Man of Steel, but the 'Crackdown' series enabled that from the very start. Guiding a supersoldier around a fictional city in third-person has never been as high-flying or as outright delightful as it is in the 'Crackdown' series. While we wait for the next entry, it'd be great to have the whole series at our fingertips.

The 'Geometry Wars' series

Bizarre Creations
Pictured: 'Geometry Wars 2'

Yeah, you could play 'Geometry Wars 3' on your Xbox One. And yeah, you could play most of the same twin-stick shooter levels and game modes found in 'Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved' and 'Geometry Wars 2' in the newer game. But does it feel exactly the same? No, no it does not. There's a concision to the first two games that got lost in the development of the latest 'Geometry Wars.'

The 'Dragon Age' series

EA BioWare
Pictured: 'Dragon Age 2'

Sure, it may be the second series on this list that involves fighting massive dragons in a fantasy setting, but the storytelling in BioWare games is second to none. That remains the case in both 'Dragon Age' games on the Xbox 360, which you'l want to play before jumping in to the newest game in the series, 'Dragon Age: Inquisition.'

'Burnout Paradise'


'Burnout Paradise' is, straight up, the best game on the Xbox 360. Does that sound hyperbolic? Because it totally isn't. 'Burnout Paradise' is an incredibly fun, densely packed open-world racing game. It's got great music, a massive, interesting open world, and loads of stuff to do.

The 'Saints Row' series

Pictured: 'Saint's Row: The Third'

It may be puerile, and it may be silly, but the third-person sandbox series 'Saint's Row' has some especially high highs. In 'Saint's Row: The Third,' for instance, you play an entire level as a toilet with a gun. Sure! Seriously though, it's an excellent game that's part of a hit-or-miss series, and it's something more people should get a chance to play.

Two Xbox 360 exclusive Japanese role-playing games: 'Lost Odyssey' and 'Blue Dragon'

Pictured: 'Lost Odyssey'

Microsoft's struggled for years to break into the Japanese market. That remains the case, but two especially huge investments Microsoft made in its effort happened during the Xbox 360 era: 'Lost Odyssey' and 'Blue Dragon,' Japanese role-playing games from a legendary JRPG creator, exclusive to the Xbox 360.

The 'Trials' series


'Trials HD' takes a series that was once known for its hardcore fan-base on PC and moves it to consoles. It's a game made for perfectionists, and it's one that you'll love to hate (if you don't already, of course). Even better: it's a digital-only game, so if you bought it previously, you'd still own it if it made its way to the Xbox One.

The 'Splosion Man' series

Twisted Pixel / Microsoft
Pictured: 'Splosion Man'

'Splosion Man' and its sequel, 'Ms. Splosion Man,' are arguably the best platforming games made for the Xbox 360. Microsoft liked 'em so much, in fact, that it bought developer Twisted Pixel Games. They're hilarious, silly, incredibly challenging games, and now that they're owned by Microsoft, highly likely to get support on the Xbox One.

Microsoft says more games are on the way, staring in December. Though it doesn't say when, all seven titles below are already being worked on for support.


Without giving specific numbers, Microsoft says even more Xbox 360 games are headed to the Xbox One through backwards compatibility:

Our launch of 104 titles on Nov. 12 is just the beginning. You can expect new Xbox One Backward Compatible games to be announced on a regular basis, starting in December. More titles are on the way, including fan favourites like 'Halo Reach,' 'Halo Wars,' 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 1,' 'BioShock,' 'BioShock 2,' 'BioShock Infinite,' and 'Skate 3.' Stay tuned because this is just the beginning of a long list of Xbox 360 games that will run on Xbox One.

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