Whilst compiling my short list, I had a few categories to help me narrow the game selections down. One being how ground breaking they were, did they offer anything new or fresh, did I enjoy them and why? What genre do they fall into? Can I get more than 1 of each genre into the list? Did they have any awesome achievements I enjoyed getting? All of them great problems to have as I picked through the memories of my favourite games that left a positive impression on me. Straight off the bat I scrapped all Kinect games. Yes the Kinect was ground breaking (you didn’t need a wand/dildo to work this puppy!), but the games weren’t all that good. A majority of the sports games were tiresome and repetitive, FIFA with new shirts, Madden with its new whatever and NHL with better fight controls. The one shining light being 2K Sports amazing NBA 2K12. The career mode alone set an extremely high bar on how “be a pro” style games should be done, interviews by potential clubs, designing your own trainers, all-star games, creating your own move set, the joyfulness continues, yet it had to come in at number 6 on my list of top 5.
So here it is, in no particular order, my Top 5 Xbox 360 games. May they still bring joy to those who still love gaming.
#1: Left 4 Dead
This is definitely one game on my list that stayed put. Never once did I think about swapping it for something else or pondered putting the sequel in its place. To call it ground breaking is an understatement, it only went and won game of the year in 2008!
This first person, co-op shooter (single player was fun too, but it excelled in co-op) takes place after a zombie apocalypse, back in a time when zombies were still cool and not infesting the TV, Cinema, Comic Books and any other media I have failed to mention. You take control a survivor, with or without the help of online colleagues. With weapons down to a choice of four, it plunges you straight in at the deep end with its dim lighting and eerily, atmospheric sounds (those who experienced a witch will know what I’m talking about). It also had four other “unusual” zombies to keep you on your toes, “Tank” built like a brick shit house, “Boomer” they throw up on you and make you into a zombie magnet, “Hunter” like a massive zombie man frog on steroids and “smoker” with its long zombie tongue that’ll drag you away from your colleagues and leave you isolated.
It’s loaded with great shocks and jumpy bits, walking one minute down the road and then all of a sudden, hordes of flesh eaters come running towards you at full pelt! This really was the perfect co-op game. Its quirky movie poster introduction to each new level added some great touches and it also had some fantastic achievements, killing a witch with one shot (I got mine by complete fluke after the fucker popped up in front of me and I shit myself whilst conveniently having a loaded shotgun aimed at its head), chinning a hunter in mid jump or even shooting it in mid pounce!
Multiplayer mode gave you the chance to play as 1 of the 4 “special infected” where you got to be a Hunter, Smoker, Boomer or Tank.
The sequel added more fun to the mayhem, but the first game truly was the tits. If you have never played it and still own an Xbox 360, a weekend in with 3 mates should kill a few hours.
#2: Batman Arkham Asylum
Although I thought Batman Arkham City was a better game and one of my favorite games on the console (those who have read my E3 2014 round-up know how excited I am for the new one!). Arkham Asylum just blew my mind as I had never played anything like it. It’s simple to use fighting engine (although a pain in the arse to master), the animation, and the anticipation! The game play and story were everything I love about a Batman story and now it was interactive for me to play with. The one down fall of the game was that I spent too much time in detective mode, but even that didn’t hinder my fun. As my brain tries to rapidly generate all the great things about this title, my fingers struggle to type quick enough, so is the joy that this franchise has brought to me. Single playerdom never felt so good.
Again, it won game of the year (not a recurring theme I promise, but don’t worry Dead or Alive is nowhere to be seen on this list). Visually stunning and a soundtrack worthy of being in one of the three decent batman films (again open to debate), the control mechanism is simple, but unbelievably satisfying, stringing together combos and unlocking upgrades to make your combos even better! Not forgetting one of my favourite achievements in stringing together a 40 hit combo, there was also another combo using all the special abilities too, but I wasn’t that good. It wasn’t a pad snapping rage quitter of an achievement, it was one you would happily attempt to crack time and time again.
So, let me tell you more about this incredible 3rd person action game.
You play Batman (duh) and you start with a lovely bit of cinematic before being thrust deep into holy bat shit when the Joker locks down Arkham Asylum and releases the prisoners. Along the way you will encounter some of the Batman’s most notorious enemies. Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Harley Quinn and of course the Joker himself.
You have to combine gadgets with planning attacks and being stealthy in a world full of traps, riddles and baddies. With lots to do once the main quest is complete, I found this game even more enjoyable on the 2nd play through.
There are challenge modes too, letting you play over snippets of levels facing a variety of henchmen and tasking you with certain method to disposing of them and then showing your times on a global leader board for you to go “how the fuck did they clear that in 23.4 seconds?!” and then I had to spend five more hours trying to get your time under 3 minutes.
This game is loaded with fun and things to discover and characters and stories! Although Arkham City was an outstanding game to follow this, it used a lot of the rules from the existing game to open up the game world, improve the fighting system and tighten up the controls. This game blew my mind and will always be one of those games you were glad you picked up and gave it ago.
#3: Dead Space
I adore survival horror games. The fact that I enjoyed the first Dead Space game, attempting to add another game to the genre was a brave move. Braver than me playing this game with the lighting setting low and a stomach full of gin. I think Dead Space pulled it off perfectly, more so than the Resident Evil games due to the simple fact the Dead Space games weren’t shit.
Ok, maybe that’s slightly unfair. I really enjoyed Res Evil 5 and had many, many a good time on co-op mode and countless play throughs of the story mode, unlocking various upgrades, getting the magnum with unlimited ammo and slaughtering everything in my path! But even with Sheva, arguably the hottest pain in the arse in video games, I opted for Dead Space instead.
Don’t get me wrong, there are flaws in Dead Space too and I shouldn’t be picking an individual game based on its franchise, but Dead Space was just too pant wettingly, edge of your seat-y and not since the early American copy of Silent Hill and Resident Evil had I been so happy to be playing games in the daylight and with other people present. I really got invested in the whole universe of unlikely, struggling “hero” Isaac Clarke, an engineer sent to repair a communications issue on the Ishimura, but his motives are also fueled by cryptic messages he receives from “that special someone” on board.
As you step into the flight suit of Isaac, you get to meet various Necromorphs, who kill off a lot of your chums and leave you alone and isolated. You get to dispatch of these creatures with a variety of weapons that you can upgrade and build to make more powerful (although you can’t do the full upgrades in one play through, but there is a “new game +” feature that allows you to play the game again and carry on the madness), this is an important part of the game as certain weapons offer more useful ways of killing the undead… however that works. The idea being that dismembering the creatures and using their limbs against them is far more effective than shooting the shit out of them as they stagger manically towards you. Although if you play on different difficulties then the supplies, ammo and health become more sparse instantly making the game more deadly, frantic and terrifying. Even with the sequels ability to build better weapons from bits and bobs like an intergalactic and disturbed Neil Buchanan, it’s the originals story and sense of dread around each corner that haunts me still.
The unsettling nature of the world, zero gravity, the highly tense atmospherics of the game where things can kill you from anywhere and at anytime make this one of the best bum clenching experiences I’ve encountered… until The Evil Within is released on the Xbox One (smiley face).
This game is as enjoyable as any I have played on the 360 and deserves to be up there with some of the best. I wonder if anyone doing the PC or PlayStation 3 Top 5’s will have considered Dead Space.
#4: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Where do I start with a game so epic I spent over 100 glorious, real world hours on the fucking expansion packs. I did think about putting Bethesda’s other masterpiece Fallout 3 on the list but I decided against it. This game is just simply too good, I found out about this when having a chat on Xbox Live with my “manly Yorkshire mate” who told me he was making jewellery. This prompted me to mock him as I pictured him sat on the floor with his niece making beaded products. Once it was explained that he needed to get his smithing up to be able to build dragon weapons and dragon armor, my mocking turned quickly to interest and £50 less out of my bank account later, my addiction began.
Having not been familiar with RPG or the Elder Scrolls games, I found the plethora of options available to me at the start quite overwhelming and confusing. After browsing forums to see what species I would be and weighing up the pros and cons, I thought fuck it, I’ve been researching for an hour and not played this epic, I’m going to be a Wood Elf.
I’m going to try my hardest not to waffle on about this game too much as those that have played it know how good it is, those who didn’t like it probably didn’t have the patience for it and those who are undecided, well, you’ll never be an adventurer like me and risk taking an arrow to the knee.
Instead I will just mention some of the things that I loved things such as exploring. The world is incredible and breath-taking and one that you can happily explore and discover all sorts of treasures, side quests and inhabitants, becoming a vampire and a werewolf, creating my own kick ass weaponry and armor, fighting the dragons and giants, dragon shouting people off cliffs, building a crib and then pimping the shit out of it, developing my characters many skills in stealth, pick pocketing, archery, dragon shouts and many, many more categories to level up in and then there is the main quest, do you join the goodies or baddies? Honestly there is just too much to get involved in and too many brilliant things that make this epic of a game easy to get lost in. If you want to just pick up a game and play, this probably isn’t for you, but if you want a world full of character development with endless possibilities in quests and alliances formed on how you speak and interact with the characters, this one is for you. It also helps if you have no friends and are single, both of which I am not… honest!
Now onto the final slot. At the start you got a snifter of what didn’t make the cut, but this is the one where I sit typing then deleting the title, the one where I curse the editor for not making this a top 10, the one where I put Gears of War 2, Battlefield 3, Alan Wake, State of Decay, Forsa 4, Red Dead Redemption, Limbo, Portal 2, Guitar Hero, Halo 4, Mass Effect 2, 1 vs. 100 and Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag into a hat and pull out….
#5: Trials Evolution
That’s right, one of the most simplistic, frustrating and competitive games I have had both the pleasure and displeasure of playing. The beauty of this is that you can use the same tools the creators used to make the game to create your own levels, you can get frustrated at wondering how your friends managed to smash the times on the leader boards by 5 seconds and then revel in the glory of shaving .035 of a second off their best time and then knowing that they’ll eat themselves alive trying their hardest to better your best time. It’s that horrid “just one more game” addiction that you just can’t put down, added to that the games where you can get rewarded by injuring your biker and making him face plant from great heights. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s addictive. Even if you only get a bash on the demo you will want to play more and more.
So there it is. Already I want to change some of my entries, but I have picked these on games I loved, games that changed the way I felt about genres and ultimately games I just loved playing for whatever reason. I would love to hear your views and opinions on this, what would be in your top 5? Feel free to get in touch, either tweet me @DJmattmutton or leave comments below as you will.