Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: The best Xbox exclusives
GameCentral readers name their favourite Xbox exclusive games, from Fable to Forza Motorsport.
We’ve already run a Hot Topic on the best PlayStation exclusives, so this week it was the turn of Microsoft and any game that had, at least at some point, been exclusive to the Xbox, Xbox 360, or Xbox One (we would’ve also accepted any Microsoft-published PC exclusives).
You would’ve imagined that Halo and Gears Of War would’ve dominated the lists but for whatever reason – perhaps because people didn’t want to go with the obvious – they got little more than passing mentions, in favour of the likes of Knights Of The Old Republic and Jet Set Radio Future.
Show of the game
This is a bit of a sore subject for me but my favourite Xbox exclusive Alan Wake. I know Remedy has had a bit of crisis of confidence lately, especially after the disappointing Quantum Break, but I loved Alan Wake and would put it in my top five games ever.
Never has a game drawn me in with its story and atmosphere so much, and it is hands the best-looking game of the last generation. Not just in terms of the graphics themselves but the consistent art design which makes everything look spooky and dreamlike from beginning to end.
The reason I say it’s a sore subject is that I think it’s very unlikely we’ll ever see another game in the series again. The original didn’t sell that great and Remedy have tried to get a new game made but eventually gave up. However there is a TV show meant to be coming out that will use ideas intended for the sequel, so that should be something. I’m not convinced it’ll necessarily happen but I’ll always have the original game at least.
In for the long haul
For the longest time Mass Effect 1 was an Xbox 360 game, until after Mass Effect 3 came out, so I always think of the whole series as an Xbox exclusive really. And for the very simple reason that the game saved your data between each game and used it the next, which I always thought was a great idea and has barely been used in any other game – and certainly never as well.
I don’t know if Microsoft purposefully didn’t make it exclusive for the sequels because they knew they’d already caught people with the first one, but it worked like that anyway. [It was probably because EA bought them between Mass Effect 1 and 2 – GC]
It’s funny to think that the Xbox 360 was the worst-selling console of last gen and yet it still felt like the trendsetter. Crazy to think how much they wasted all that goodwill this time round…
Left 4 Xbox
I think up until a few months ago I would’ve said Crackdown for this. But Crackdown 3 was such a huge disappointment it’s kind of retroactively put me off the whole franchise.
I do still love the original game but if we discount that then I’d go for Left 4 Dead 1 and 2. A lot of people forget that they were both Xbox 360 exclusives, I think because they’re more popular on PC, but I played those games to death. I still consider them the best co-op games ever made too and have been very upset there haven’t been any new lately – especially as I only have a PlayStation 4 now.
Hopefully the spiritual sequel Back 4 Blood will be just as good, because everyone deserves to experience the one game that can still make zombies seem fresh and interesting.
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A long time ago…
It really is quite tough trying to remember everything you’ve played over the years but I’m going to go with an oldie but a goldie and say Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic. To this day it’s one of the best Star Wars stories across any format – games, films or books – and the rumours of Darth Revan becoming canon again are testament to that.
Coupled with excellent characters like Malak, Bastila Shan, and the truly awesome HK-47 it’s still a game I go back to from time to time. With the state BioWare are currently in it looks unlikely we’ll see III anytime soon but we can hope. Can you also imagine I and II getting remakes with the same type of love and care as last year’s Shadow Of The Colossus? That would literally make my year!
Wars to end all Wars
It’s not a game I ever hear anyone talking about much, and unfortunately came out just as everyone was getting sick of the franchise, but I absolutely love Halo Wars 2. I lot of people still talk about Command & Conquer and Red Alert but those games have never worked even half as good on consoles as Halo Wars 2.
Sure, the whole Halo universe seems a little bland now but the controls and action are really top-notch for a real-time strategy game, and very accessible. There’s some great multiplayer options too, in terms of the normal play styles and Blitz is a really excellent quick game type that uses collectible cards and really should have caught on and been copied by other people.
Alas, the game seems to have been a flop, so I don’t think there’ll ever be a third one, but I haven’t enjoyed any game more on my Xbox One.
Honour amongst thieves
I don’t know about best exactly, but since I don’t want to be boring and say Halo or Gears Of War, I’m going to go for Sea Of Thieves, which has really changed out of all recognition since launch. Well, maybe not out of all recognition – the combat is still terrible – but there’s lots more to do and it’s not just the same three mission over and over again.
The best thing about it though is the camaraderie and just fun of playing it with other people, which is completely unlike anything else I’ve ever played. That’s what the game has been designed around and it show, and I really like the way they concentrated on making teamwork fun and necessary.
It also seems like a pretty accurate glimpse at the future, in terms of games that are online-only, constantly update, and not something you could ever recreate on your own. I wouldn’t want every game to be like this but I’ve never played anything else like Sea Of Thieves on any other format, and that’s got to be what you look for in an exclusive.
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Own the world
The actual game which made me get the Xbox 360, after confirmation that the console was fixed from the Red Light of Death fiasco was Fable II. In my opinion it was also my favourite and best Xbox exclusive, especially after the many, many hours committed to it.
I know there are a lot of gamers out there with mixed feelings about this series, and with good reason, but I feel Fable II was probably the best of the series. Funnily enough I think GameCentral even gave it an eight out of 10! Though they did feel they gave it a little more than it actually deserved. Either way it was a hit with me.
The reason is actually very simple, it was fun and enjoyable but mostly felt that I was actually evolving my character and the world around them. From humble street beginnings as a homeless child with my older sister to then being able to afford, and then buy, a stonking great castle and to also have a family was very progressive for me. My first night in Bowerstone, after getting there, I remember having to sell all my clothes to actually buy something to eat, just to survive.
I remember not actually dying in the game as I think it had an impact on the character and you’d get some sort of extra bonus or something. Either way I still did not die and explored Albion from one side of the country to the other side and all in-between, including the DLC areas. I also remember becoming a mostly evil character, taxing the hell out of the population and rising the rates of housing and businesses and becoming extremely rich and hated.
I then (when absolutely loaded with financial capital) lowered everything I owned to under the point of acceptable rates, so that all the populace were getting an absolute bargain and I was then loved. I also put a ton of spare cash into a church charity in the Temple of Light situated at Oakfield, which resulted in turning me into a much-loved saint in the world of Albion.
Trying to buy every single building and business out there was also very advantageous when loading up the game again after a day or a week or even a month away from the game. The game calculates the daily amount you’d earn from these places and you’d get the equivalent of that money in thousands or more when you carry on with you same character file.
I definitely, truly owned the world; one set within a fantasy land of fairy tales and legends, with gorgeously designed and artistically pleasing environments. This was a game where hype did not destroy it, as it was also my first experience of this type of game and expectations were, as far as I am concerned, definitely satisfied. A shame really that the series could not get beyond what it originally was and lost its way. Maybe the future will provide another developer a chance to deliver on the promises that were not originally kept in this unique series of games.
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