The best original Xbox games of all time - GamesRadar+

232 15/12/2021

Microsoft's first-ever games console came with an impressive library of exclusive games, making picking the best Xbox games a rewarding, but tricky, task. If you want to see the best the original Xbox had to offer, you've come to the right place.

We’ve largely focused on exclusives here, we’ve also included those third-party titles that benefited from the extra power of Microsoft’s first console. Few systems were able to match the sheer grunt of the Xbox and it might be the last time we ever receive a home system that is more capable than the equivalent PCs of the time. Microsoft meant big business in 2001 when it crashed into the home console market, and the following list represents some of its biggest calling cards. Make sure you don’t miss them.

The best Xbox Series X games list might not be that long yet, but the Xbox Series X still has plenty to offer, If you're looking for some more rent games, check out the best Xbox Series X games and all those upcoming Xbox Series X games.

25. Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Indie Built’s early Xbox title may not boast the zaniness of the SSX series, but it certainly makes for a more grounded snowboarding experience. The real beauty of Amped comes from its open-ended gameplay which allows you to carve your own course down each mountain. Exploration is the key to Amped’s success, whether it’s going off-piste to find each level’s hidden snowmen, or seeking out nearby photographers in order to nail that perfect money shot. The series got sillier with each subsequent sequel, meaning snowboarding purists will want to stick with the original.

24. Steel Battalion

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Few Xbox games offer as immersive an experience as this marvelous mech blaster. Shipped alongside a gargantuan 40-button controller, even starting up your Vertical Tank is exciting, as you punch buttons and flip switches to get it up and running. The game itself is just as demanding as its button configurations and it feels almost sim-like at times as you wrestle with the dual-stick controls to ensure your tank stays upright while you come under fire from the game’s ferocious enemy AI. Two sequels exist, but the original remains the best, providing you can pay the high cost of entry.

23. Call Of Cthulhu: Dark Corners Of The Earth

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The Xbox isn’t short of great survival horror games, but this malevolent reimagining of HP Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth is easily one of the best. While your adventure is extremely linear, it’s filled with memorable setpieces - including a frantic chase through a dilapidated hotel - and offers numerous interesting game mechanics including a clever damage system that affects your on-screen avatar in numerous ways depending on where on their body they’ve been injured. The end result is a creepy, unsettling adventure that will stay with you long after you’ve completed it.

22. Forza Motorsport

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft’s answer to Gran Turismo was deemed a triumph back in 2005. Its excellent online options and the realistic physics that were applied to cars as they took increasing amounts of damage during races were complemented by an extensive career mode, over 200 different cars, and a ridiculous amount of customizable options that would satisfy the biggest gearhead. The online side of the game is long dead, but the challenging career mode stands proud and demonstrates the sheer grunt of Microsoft’s capable console.

21. Fable: The Lost Chapters

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Let’s face it, Fable was never going to live up to Peter Molyneux’s lofty claims, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the console’s most engaging adventures. It might be short for an RPG, but the sheer amount of choice offered to the player along with the lived-in nature of the world makes Albion a fantastic place to visit. Fable Anniversary, released on Xbox 360 in 2013 is the definitive version, but The Lost Chapter is what you should seek out if you want to enjoy Molyneux’s ambitious adventure on original hardware.

20. Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

WW2 games are abundantly rife on Xbox, but few are as carefully nuanced or as meticulously crafted as Gearbox Software’s Xbox debut. Rather than placing you in the shoes of a battle-hardened nazi-destroying super-soldier, Gearbox’s game instead asks you to take control of two teams of everyday grunts. It’s an exceptionally strong concept that encourages strategic thinking over all-out assault and camaraderie over selfish heroics, as you seek to solve each level using the four Fs: Find, Fix, Flank, and Finish. Its believable characters and strong narration make it one of the console’s most cerebral shooters.

(Image credit: From Software)

From Software’s bonkers mech game commands a handsome price and won’t work on a PAL machine, but it’s worth making the effort to secure it. There are numerous mech games on the Xbox, but few let you play as America’s president and unleash wanton destruction on the scale seen in From Software’s boisterous shooter. Unlike Steel Battalion, the pace of play is fast and fluid, with a focus on arcade-style thrills and over-the-top pyrotechnics. Mechanically it’s all rather simple, but with over 100 weapons to craft and use, few other Xbox titles offer as much bang for your buck. An HD version exists if you want to save some cash.

18. Jade Empire

(Image credit: Microsoft)

After finding success with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Bioware put all its energy into creating its first original IP for Microsoft’s console. Jade Empire not only refines many of the story-crafting mechanics found in KOTOR, but also makes steps in allowing you to romance characters too, adding an extra layer to what is an already intricately designed RPG. Like KOTOR, it’s filled with interesting characters, has an excellent plot and a solid path system, but builds on those cores by adding real-time combat and choice-driven gameplay. It’s a pity we never received a sequel, as it’s one of the most interesting RPGs on the console.

17. Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath

(Image credit: EA)

Few first-person Xbox shooters are as inventive as Stranger’s Wrath. The switch flipping and frenzied farting of the earlier PlayStation games was replaced with a sprawling 3D world and frantic high-powered action, but the quirky spirit of Abe’s adventures remained, and Stranger’s Wrath featured a similarly dark ecological message, which still resonates today.

When it comes to combat Stranger’s Wrath hits just as hard as its message does, thanks to Stranger’s ability to collect live ammo in the form of various vicious creatures which can be used to electrocute, stun and even obliterate his unfortunate bounties. It’s an utterly bizarre experience that the studio may never top.

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Bethesda’s epic fantasy RPG spoils you for choice, literally. The open-ended nature and sheer size of Bethesda’s game mean you can approach it however you want, whether that’s religiously following the entertaining main story, or ruthlessly pillaging every ramshackle village you come across. Yes it’s not the prettiest of games, and yes its combat feels painfully archaic, but the immense scope of Bethesda’s game means you’ll soon ignore its little niggles and simply enjoy the sheer freedom that it offers you. Seek out the Game Of The Year edition in order to enjoy the full experience.

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