The 12 Best Games On Xbox 360

You have an Xbox 360 controller waiting for you in your living room and a console hungry to entertain you.

Sure, you can stream video to it and browse Facebook, too, but you brought this thing into your home for games. Which ones should you dive into? The dozen titles below should scratch your itches for all sorts of experiences. Remember: pace yourself.

Assassin’s Creed II

For the second trip down Desmond Miles’ DNA helix, UbiSoft Montreal introduced Ezio Auditore and gave players more options for mayhem in the urban centres of the Italian Renaissance. You can hire courtesans to distract guards or use mercenaries to do the dirty work for you. The swordplay showed increased flexibility and depth, too, with more weapons and tactics than before. Underneath it all, the game’s virtual Italy sported a more varied, vibrant population than any other free-roaming game so far.

A Good Match for: Fans of serialized fiction. With a conspiracy fetish tying everything all together, the Assassin’s Creed games represent a journey through history and iteration, where you get to see how things were in the real world and where ideas are going in game design. Do follow through and continue Ezio’s story in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed Revelations.

Not for Those Who Want: A harmonious whole. The framing story of Assassin’s Creed is the franchise’s biggest problem. The present-day world that ordinary Desmond Miles walks through just isn’t as lushly imagined as those his hooded predecessors prowled. The pieces of the game don’t sync up in terms of appeal and you’ll start getting involuntarily annoyed when you start to hear Desmond actor Nolan North’s voice again.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Also available on PS3 and PC.

Batman: Arkham City

Rocksteady’s second outing with Batman sharpens two areas where open-world games usually flounder: getting around and beating up bad guys.Arkham City’s combat system perfectly combines fists, feet and gadgets to make Batman feel formidable. The experience of gliding above the rooftops and pouncing onto criminals from on high nails the feeling of being a creature-of-the-night crimefighter superhero.

A Good Match for: Comic-book fans who want to embody the Dark Knight. With plot and voicework by top talents who’ve brought Batman’s world to life, Arkham City‘s creative pedigree enhances its great mechanics.

Not for Those Who Want: The atmosphere of Arkham Asylum. In delivering bigger environments, this Bat-game sacrifices some of the moody atmospherics of its predecessor.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Also available on PS3 and PC.


Regularly cited as one of the best games ever made, Irrational Games’ beloved adventure submerges players in Rapture, an undersea world city torn apart by civil war and rife with the worst behaviours in human nature. The way you wield your character’s supernatural abilities doesn’t just advance the game’s plot but also reveals a little about you as a person.

A Good Match for: College Students. BioShock feels like a new kind of cultural experience, one that you help create as you play. Its use of directed aesthetic and literary reference have also made it the game that’s launched 1,000 thesis papers

Not for Those Who Want: High-octane action. While the gameplay encounters in BioShock are entertaining, there’s a lot of space between them when compared to other first-person games.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Also available on PS3 and PC.

Burnout Paradise

Automotive destruction’s never looked as sexy as it does in Criterion’s hi-speed racing game. You’re tasked with driving against traffic, scraping against civilian cars and shoving competitors into signature crashes called Takedowns. But, Paradise also deserves praise for a seamless integration of multiplayer where dropping into a showdown can be quick as tapping a button.

A Good Match for: Street racing fans. If you’ve ever pulled up to a stoplight and imagined what it’d be like to burn rubber on a wide-open stretch of asphalt — and survive any ensuing mishaps —

Not for Those Who Want: To tune the specs of their rides. It may be Paradise but these aren’t real-world cars. You can’t do much more than swap out paint jobs, so those wanting to make changes to brakes, shock or engines will need to get their grease-monkey fix elsewhere.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Also available on PS3 and PC.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda Softworks’ hit role-playing game does nothing so much as deliver a giant, Tolkien-styled possibility space to its players. The high-altitude climes of Tamriel feel alive with wonder and threat. The ability to customise your warrior outcast with a singular mix of mystical skills and melee mastery feels as broad as Skyrim‘s horizon.

A Good Match for: Dungeon & Dragon players. Adventuring in Skyrim feels like spinning your own epic yarn, as songs of your feats spread digitally from town to town in a gameworld that reacts to your actions. You can spend weeks meandering in its fascinating sidequests, leaving the main story.

Not for Those Who Want: Urgency. The drive to wander and discover overpowers the drive to complete in Skyrim. If you’re the kind of player who wants those two vectors to meet in a meaningful way, you’ll find The Elder Scrolls V a bit frustrating.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Also available on PS3 and PC.

Gears of War 3

Gears 3 fills the marquee spot held by Bungie’s Halo games and with good reason. Epic Games’ scifi shooter threequel represents hardcore shooter nirvana: a tightly-polished campaign that plays great solo or coop and some of the best multiplayer found anywhere. Moreover, the game’s been robustly supported with both campaign and multiplayer DLC designed to deepen an already hearty release.

A Good Match for: Dedicated online shooter fanatics who play every day. The more you play, the more Gears 3 rewards you.

Not for Those Who Want: Deep character development or intriguing story structure. Gears games have always been meat-and-potatoes in terms of plot

Here’s how it looks in action.

Halo: Reach

Bungie created the best goodbye possible with a “final” Halo title that both looks forward and backward in the blockbuster FPS franchise’s history. Pairing up a health system similar to that of the first Halo game with all-new abilities like jetpacks and holographic decoys makes the decade-old series feel simultaneously familiar and fresh.

A Good Match for: Sci-fi fans. To play a Halo game is to be introduced to an expansive fictional universe. Reach places you inside one of the Halo-verse’s pivotal battles and imbues its lead characters and environments with more personality than in previous games.

Not for Those Who Want: Master Chief. The Spartan you control in Halo: Reach isn’t as invulnerable or powerful as the Xbox mascot and the feel of certain weapons gets tweaked when compared to previous games.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Lego Star Wars III

Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars takes place in a big, breakable world that continually generates a singular sense of awe. As the cute, blocky versions of Jedi and Stormtroopers bounce and build their ways through the planets of the Force’s fiction, you’ll see hundreds of in-screen characters coming in conflict as far as the eye can see at times.

A Good Match for: Game-hungry children and the mum or day who wants to play a game with them. Any parent worried about what little Johnny or Jenny’s first playable adventure will be charmed this title’s silent slapstick. You’ll also get to avoid any claims of sibling favoritism, thanks to the fun co-operative options.

Not for Those Who Want: Online play. Sadly, cross-country acquaintances won’t be able to romp through the Anakin/Obi-Wan hijinx together, as shared adventures are limited to same-room play only.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Also available on PS3, Wii and PC.

NBA 2K12

What do you do for an encore after bringing a virtual Michael Jordan back to video games after a decades-long absence? Well, 2K Sports assembled dozens of the greatest b-ball teams throughout hoops history, let players rehash rivalries and traveled back in time to tight-shorts yesteryear. If NBA 2K11 was a love letter to one player, then 2K12 is an ode to the whole sport.

A Good Match for: Atlanta Hawks fans. New York Knick Fans. Minnesota Timberwolves fans. If you’re unlucky enough to live in a city that’s only had fleeting flashes of b-ball star power, the “NBA’s Greatest” mode will let you bask in those glory days and forget how, erm, challenged your hometown team currently is.

Not for Those Who Want: Online pick-and-rolls. Since its launch last year, it’s been a rocky road for people wanting to play NBA 2K12 against each other online. Constant dropped connections and crippling lag have actual competitive match-ups against other humans the stuff of dreams.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Also available on PS3 and PC.

Red Dead Redemption

The most assured work by the makers of the Grand Theft Auto games finds its success by shedding the trappings of the modern-day world and giving players a vast virtual Southwest to roam in search of revenge. When your lonely ambles suddenly get shattered by an ambush or the plea to stop an unjust hanging, it’s a bittersweet adrenaline rush unlike anything else in modern video games. Silence, then gunfire, then more fleeting silence again.

A Good Match for: Admirers of killer endings. The denouement for the turn-of-the-century saga stands as an emotionally powerful finish that can stand amongst the cowboy cinema that inspired it.

Not for Those Who Want: Brevity. Redemption’s plot takes a long amount of playtime to resolve and you’ll often feel like you’re doing busy work in the nooks and crannies of its spaghetti Western gameworld.

Here’s how it looks in action.

Also available on PS3.

Super Street Fighter IV

Capcom’s flagship fighting franchise minted a new paradigm for modern-day martial arts titles, with explosive, slightly distorted personality grafted onto deep, intricate movesets. How you learn to play and how you execute

A Good Match for: Wrestling fans. While games based on the TNA and WWE pro-wrestling promotions do exist, the colour and swagger gets diluted in service of verisimilitude. The cartoonish nationalism and braggadocio of SSFIV provides an irresistible catalyst for gamers everywhere to compete in their own living room championships.

Not for Those Who Want: Gore. For all its superpowered uppercuts and slashes, Super Street Fighter IV‘s a strictly Teen-rated experience. Fighting game fans in search of bones and blood will find the visceral action of Mortal Kombat more to their liking.

Also available on PS3.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War

War is heaven in this toy-centric hybrid. You get standard tower defence mechanics — managing emplacements across a map assaulted by waves of enemies — mixed with the ability to take direct control of G.I. Joe-style 1980s war toys. It’ll take a clever recipe of budget and deployment to win Cold War’s cycles of plastic aggression, but you’ll get hours of fun trying to emerge victorious.

A Good Match for: Board game generals. Those who’ve matched wits in analogue entertainments like Risk should find a happy haven in Signal Studios’ nostalgic battles. Bonus: you don’t have to put these toys away either.

Not for Those Who Want: On-foot virtual soldiering. You’ve got to earn the special moments where you get to wield a Rambo-like avatar or remote-controlled tank on the battlefield and Toy Soldiers is best played in a managerial style that might annoy those who want to single-handedly win wars via one well-loaded machine gun.

Here’s how it looks in action.

NOTE: This list will be updated if and when we discover better games. We will only ever list 12 games, at the most.

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