Earlier this week, Xbox head Phil Spencer announced that Microsoft would cease production of the 11-year-old Xbox 360 while continuing to support the platform in the future. As the seventh generation consoles era comes to an end, Phil Spencer added that the Xbox 360 “became a beloved gaming and entertainment hub with over 78 billion gaming hours played, nearly 486 billion Gamerscore on 27 billion achievements and over 25 billion hours spent in apps over its lifetime.” While Microsoft no longer reports consoles sales, the company last revealed during E3 2014 that Xbox 360 sales have risen to 84 million units sold (via GameSpot), making it the highest-selling console made by an American company.
If you fear that your Xbox 360 will soon become useless, the platform is still actually far from dead: Microsoft will keep supporting Xbox Live on the console with weekly “Deals with Gold” discounts plus free monthly “Games with Gold” titles, and Microsoft is also keeping alive Xbox 360 titles through backward compatibility on the Xbox One. Last, we expect Microsoft Studios to keep supporting some of their games such as Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition with new content, and some third-party developers like Telltale Games are also still supporting the platform with new games in 2016.
I think I’m not the only one to still love the Xbox 360. It’s actually the first Xbox I ever bought, and I actually waited for the console to approach its end of life to buy one. I currently own an Xbox 360 E that I bought a few months after Microsoft introduced it during E3 2013. I’m glad I waited for it as I really like this aesthetic redesign based on the Xbox One design: it’s a little slimmer than the previous Xbox 360 S and it’s also relatively quiet. As someone who used to play PC games in front of my desk, I now much prefer casually playing games on my Xbox while sitting on a comfortable couch.
I also have to admit that I’m not really a hardcore gamer and there are still many popular Xbox 360 games I have a yet to play such as The Elder Scrolls V : Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto V, Fallout 3, Alan Wake, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Mass Effect and Dark Souls. However, I still wanted to share some of my favorite Xbox 360 games (not all of them are Xbox 360 exclusives or even console exclusives) that I would probably never have discovered if I didn’t buy my Xbox 360 nearly three years ago.
Let me start with two Xbox exclusive franchises: Halo 4 was the first Halo game I ever played, and it has since become one of my favorite Xbox 360 games. I didn’t like it much at first as the story is kind of difficult to get into if you’re not familiar with the Halo universe. However, as a Microsoft Studios game, it really seems to be one of the most beautiful Xbox 360 games ever released and I was blown away to see that a nearly 10-year old console could display so many detailed graphics. While Halo 4 is pretty fun played alone, I truly enjoyed playing it with my friends in split-screen mode. There are still many players having fun with it on Xbox Live, and I really think it will stay one of the best shooters on the Xbox 360.
Gears of War is another Xbox exclusive franchise that I enjoyed playing on Xbox 360, and my favorite title is currently Gears of War 3. It’s a different kind of shooter, and it’s a bit easier to play than a Halo game as the action is slower (you can’t jump or use a jetpack like in Halo) and you’re also supported by three badass teammates. I also really liked that it’s a game franchise that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor among some dramatic moments. If you don’t care that much about the story, I would say that playing Gears of War kind of feels like being Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1985 Commando movie. It’s another game really worth playing with your friends in local multiplayer or on Xbox Live!
Max Payne 3 is another shooter that I enjoyed playing. Just like Gears of War games, it’s played from a third-person perspective and you will also find a similar cover system. However, the gameplay adds the “bullet time” mechanic that allows you to slow down the action to pull out some Matrix-style moves. The game’s story is really dark and dramatic, and it’s pretty unusual to fill the shoes of an anti-hero addicted to scotch and painkillers. While the single player campaign is definitely unforgettable, the game also offers an online multiplayer mode with maps and modes that dynamically change within a match.
Metro 2033 (and its sequel Metro Last Light) is a survival horror shooter based on the novel of the same name by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You’re set in the ruins of a post-nuclear-apocalyptic Russia and most of the action takes place within Moscow’s metro system. You will have to fight mutants and hostile survivors belonging to the Stalinist ‘Red Line’ and the “Fourth Reich”, and the game’s artistic direction is truly impressive. You will definitely feel immersed in this post-apocalyptic world and those dark metro tunnels definitely deliver some scary moments.
Bioshock Infinite is the third installment in the Bioshock series, but as it doesn’t strictly follow the storyline of previous episodes you can actually enjoy it without being familiar with the game’s universe. It’s another first-person shooter and you’ll be set in the fictional flying steampunk city of Columbia. Just like Metro 2033, the game has a great artistic direction as this floating air city with a rollercoaster-like rail system is truly amazing. Like previous Bioshock games, the gameplay allows you to use psychokinetic powers granted through “vigors”. You will also get the help from Elizabeth, a young woman imprisoned in Columbia since childhood who also has the ability to open “tears” and move into other universes. I really enjoyed the game’s complex story and discovering the city’s dark secrets along the way.
Red Dead Redemption is another console exclusive game in my list, and it’s one of my favorite open-world games. The game is a western action-adventure published by Rockstar Games, the guys best-known for their Grand Theft Auto franchise. I did not enjoy Grand Theft Auto IV that much as I felt there was too much to do and the gameplay wasn’t that great either. Red Dead Redemption is not the same beast. You’re set in a fictionalized version of the Western United States and Mexico and the gameplay is much better than GTA IV: first, hero John Marston automatically heals itself and gunfights also rely on the “Dead Eye” mechanism that allows you to slow down the action (similarly to Max Payne 3 “bullet time” system) and mark multiple shooting targets for easier gunslinging). Microsoft seems to be working to make this game backward compatible on the Xbox One and it definitely deserves it!
Dishonored is a stealth action-adventure game set in the fictional, plague-ridden industrial city of Dunwall. You play an assassin with some magical abilities who has to complete a series of assassination missions, but you actually don’t have to kill anybody to achieve your goals. The game puts a real emphasis on player choice, and the levels are designed to give you several ways to avoid lethal encounters if you want to. It’s really fun to play if you’re the patient kind of gamer who aims to reach the “zero kills” achievement, and the game’s variety encourages replaying. Last, the game’s visuals and design while not up to par to those of Bioshock Infinite are still quite impressive.
My last favorite game on the Xbox 360 is Deus Ex Human Revolution, and in some ways, it’s actually quite similar to Dishonored. It’s another action role-playing stealth game but set in a cyberpunk world where multinational biotechnology corporations have become very powerful. You play a former security manager who had to receive artificial replacements for his own body parts after being mortally wounded in a terrorist attack. While you have to look after who did this to you, you have different ways to complete your objectives: violence, stealth, hacking and talking. During your progression, you will be able to upgrade yourself with technological modifications that will improve your various abilities. The cyberpunk universe is really interesting, and just like in Dishonored you can have a lot of fun trying different approaches to complete your missions.
I hope the Xbox 360 will continue to give me a lot more fun over the next years as I’m not ready to make the jump to Xbox One (or a rumored Xbox One 1.5) yet. Do you still enjoy your old Xbox 360? Please tell us why and share with us your favorite games!