10 must-play games on the classic Xbox

Microsoft threw their hat into the console war ring on November 15, 2001 with the release of the Xbox. This PC-in-console-form didn’t make as big of a splash as their follow-up would, but it was still a powerhouse of a game console. Sporting Microsoft’s patented Direct-X graphic technology (hence the name), it made video games on the console look just as good as their PC counterparts. Here are the Top 10 games that made the Xbox stand out above the competition. We are going to stick to one game per franchise and only focus on Xbox exclusives – but including games that were also released on PC.

10
Forza Motorsport

PlayStation has Gran Turismo, Nintendo has Mario Cart, and Xbox has Forza. One of the most realistic racing games on the market, Forza Motorsport is a car enthusiast's dream. All of the cars handle differently so you have to tune your ride to make it beat out the competition. It's a series that is still going strong today on the Xbox One and if you're a racing fan, you should definitely try your luck at the original.

9
Ninja Gaiden: Black

This game is hard AF. There is no "Easy Mode," only "Hard" and "I like seeing the Game Over screen." I have yet to beat this game - heck, I've yet to make it past the first few levels - but that still doesn't mean it doesn't deserve to be one of the best original Xbox games out there. If you like a challenge... then go play Battletoads on NES. If you like a game that is near impossible to beat, then play Ninja Gaiden: Black.

8
Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay

A prequel to the film Pitch Black this game has the player controlling Riddick as he escapes from the Butcher Bay prison. A first-person-adventure-stealth-shooter with no HUD and voiced by Mr. Voice So Sexy I Want To Marry It, Vin Diesel as Richard B. Riddick. This game went on to win several awards and was given a remake of sorts on the next generation consoles as Assault on Dark Athena.

7
Panzer Dragoon: Orta

Panzer Dragoon is a series that made its debut on the ill-fated Sega Saturn, but it wasn't until Orta came along on the big green and black box to take this on-rails dragon flying shooter to new heights - no pun intended. Beautiful visuals, a wonderful musical score, and even a port of the Saturn original. If you can get your claws on this game, you won't be disappointed... unless your not a fan of rail shooters, then forget I said anything.

6
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath

The Oddworld series has always been rather... odd, but this entry in the franchise was a step in a new direction. Half adventure game, half FPS, Stranger's Wrath focuses on the titular bounty hunter as he hunts his prey and turns them in for profit, all while using tiny critters as ammo. You explore the world and collect insects, rodents, and other small animals and stuff them into your gun and shoot them at your enemies. Some distract foes, do area of effect damage, or incapacitate them giving Stranger the opportunity to move in closer to finish the job. It was recently given the HD Remaster treatment for PS3 so go out there and collect your bounty!

5
Fable

Oh Peter Molyneux, you promise us the moon but all we get is cheese. Even though we didn't get everything that Peter told us would be in Fable, it was still an enjoyable RPG. Starting out as a boy and becoming a man - be he good or evil - you go on an adventure to free your sister from the forces of evil. Okay, so it's not the most original story, but the many different weapons, quests, and magic powers make up for the lackluster narrative. The sequel may have been the best in the series, but the original still deserves a spot on this list.

4
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

The third installment in The Elder Scrolls saga, Morrowind puts you in the titular home of the Dark Elves. Starting out as a newly freed prisoner, you build your legacy the way you want to. Want to be a Knight? Go for it. Feel like sneaking around as a thief? Do it. Have the urge to set people ablaze with the wave of your hand? You go get 'em, you sadistic nutball. That's the beauty of Morrowind. It's the first free-form RPG on the Xbox. You can go for the main quest line, or join the many different guilds and do side quests for hours on end. Morrowind allows you to immerse yourself in this fantasy world and away from your mundane life. Unless your life is awesome, then bully for you.

3
Jade Empire

BioWare is no stranger to making deep and engaging Action-RPG epics and Jade Empire is no exception. Taking place in a mythical world inspired by ancient China, the player embarks on a journey unlike any other. Jade Empire had a fluid combat system, multiple characters to choose from each with their own unique style, and a vast world to explore. This game is a must play for RPG fans and owners of the original Xbox.

2
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Yet another BioWare triumph on the OG Xbox. KOTOR had a deep story, memorable characters, strategic combat, and a twist worthy of the Star Wars name. The sequel had a better morality system but it was left unfinished before it hit store shelves. The original Knights will always be the best in the series. Now, if we only had KOTOR III - and no, I'm not counting the MMO as a sequel.

1
Halo 2

While Halo: Combat Evolved revolutionized the console FPS, it's successor Halo 2 perfected the formula: better graphics, dual wielding, melee weapons, more multiplayer modes, better weapons, better everything. Even when the Xbox was discontinued, Halo 2 was still sold in stores for years afterwards. While Halo made the Xbox popular, Halo 2 was the game that defined it.

Microsoft's first foray into the console gaming market didn't quite get the traction that Sony's first PlayStation had, but it's graphical prowess, library of exclusives, and eventually its online capabilities made it a household name. I still play my Direct-Xbox and I even use the mammoth Duke controller. No, I'm not compensating for anything. I'm just a size queen.

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  • J.W. Moore

    Editor/Columnist/Retro Game Afficianado

    J.W. has been gaming since he got his first NES on his 5th birthday. Since then, his love of video games has only gotten stronger. An avid collector of video games, he owns everything from the Atari to the Xbox One. With over 1000 console games and just as many PC games, his love for gaming continues to grow.

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