It’s hard to believe that over 16 years have passed since the Xbox 360 launched. That’s right – Microsoft’s second-born home console is old enough to drive now (or would be if it had the proper appendages). My, how the time flies! It seems like just yesterday the 360 was getting its first system update.
While the 360 may seem ancient to some, many feel that this is where Microsoft really began to make its mark in the video game sphere. There is an entire generation of gamers that grew up with the 360, who have an enduring fondness and nostalgia for it, and who would dare you to contest that it was one of the best consoles ever made. It was home to so many of the seventh generation’s best games, and no doubt every 360 fan has their favorites. Here are just a few of mine (in no specific order).
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
(Skyrim is not backwards compatible; but there’s an Xbox One version)
We all knew this juggernaut would be something special when it finally released. And once it did, the game did not disappoint, building upon the groundwork laid by Oblivion and taking its massively open world action-roleplaying to the next level. People are still playing and talking about Skyrim over a decade after its launch, and the game’s lasting impact on the industry is undeniable.
That moment when you finally make your way out of the tutorial dungeon beneath Helgen and see the sprawling expanse of Skyrim (a portion of it, anyway) laid out before you, with the dragon flying off towards Bleak Falls Barrow, you knew you were in for a once-in-a-generation experience. That moment is an indelible gaming memory for many, myself included. And though the 360 version isn’t backwards compatible with the Xbox One or Series X/S, it is still one of my personal favorites from the 360 era.
(Backwards Compatible with Xbox One and Series X/S)
Between its stunning and unique visual style (which can only be likened to that of a comic book…a sick and twisted comic book), frenetic gunplay, and distinct humor that manages to be at once zany and degenerate, the Borderlands series offered up an incomparable experience back in the PS3/XB360 era.
The second game in the franchise was the one that really nailed it, more so than the others. While the series is beginning to get stale nowadays in the eyes of some, no one can deny that Borderlands 2 was one well of a thrill ride, and one that made you chuckle in spite of yourself on more than a few occasions. And the best part is that the game is backward compatible, meaning you won’t have to dust off your 360 to enjoy it.
Forza Motorsport 3
(Not backward compatible with Xbox One or Series X/S)
Some would say that this third installment of Microsoft Studios’ flagship franchise is the one in which it really began to come into its own to take its place as the king of racing games, and I couldn’t agree more. Rarely does a game of any genre excel in every regard to the extent which Forza Motorsport 3 did.
It’s one of those games you can sink hundreds of hours into and still not be sated, such is its brilliance. It is without question one of the best racing games I’ve ever played, with fantastic racing, a phenomenal feature set, hundreds of cars, scores of race tracks, more customization options than anyone knew what to do with and a livery editor that blew anything that ever came before clean off the track, figuratively speaking. Unfortunately, it is not backward compatible with the Xbox One or Series X/S, which in my opinion is quite a conspicuous absence in the backward compatibility library.
(All Xbox 360 Tomb Raider games are backward compatible with Xbox One)
To be perfectly honest, I could never really get into the Tomb Raider games “back in the day,” by which in this case I mean the Ps1 era. Those were the early days of 3D gaming (at least on home consoles) and games back then were often rough around the edges, even ones that were considered AAA titles. If you don’t believe me, try playing one today and you’ll see what I mean. Personally, I could never really get a grasp of the early Tomb Raider games’ convoluted control scheme.
At any rate, when I decided to give the reimagined franchise (at the hands of Square Enix, no less) another go on the Xbox 360, I was pleasantly surprised to find a well polished game that treated me to some rock-solid action-adventure gameplay, with a pretty good story to boot. This game was definitely one of my favorite experiences on the 360. It is backward compatible with Xbox One, though not the Series X/S as of the time of this writing.
Such a brief list could never really do the system justice, but those were just a few of my personal most-lovingly-remembered experiences on the Xbox 360. And there were so many more. What were some of yours?