Celebrating 15 years of Xbox with these classic games
From Fable to Halo, we’ve counted down Xbox’s greatest hits.
At the end of the nineties, the games console industry was dominated almost entirely by Sony. The upstart young company behind the Playstation had knocked Nintendo off their perch and put the final nail in Sega’s coffin.
But in 2001, something happened that was to alter the gaming landscape forever. Microsoft, with their billions of dollars of backing, exploded onto the scene with their debut console, the Xbox.
Fifteen years, three consoles and dozens of legendary titles later, it’s safe to say Microsoft succeeded in making one of history’s best-loved games consoles.
And we’re going to celebrate the only way we know how: by reliving some of our favourite classic Xbox titles.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
The complete antithesis to the “shoot everything that f*cking moves” approach adopted in most Call of Duty titles, the first in the long line of Splinter Cell games that hit Xbox in 2002 was the absolute epitome of the stealth video game genre.
Awash with tension, the game’s masterfully-detailed campaign features some terrific voice acting, engrossing missions and a raft of fluidly-animated moves to lay your opponents low. Brilliant stuff.
Project Gotham Racing 2
One of the most entertaining racing games available at the time, PGR2 erased the teething problems associated with its predecessor and established itself as a firm Xbox title.
The progression system, whereby you earn new cars and upgrades, is utterly addictive, and set against the stunning backdrops of many of the world’s biggest cities.
Though it promised the greatest open-ended RPG experience to date, Fable instead offered a fairly standard linear hack-and-slash fantasy game. While this pissed off a lot of people, it was still a perfectly entertaining game.
Its main quest may have been short but it nonetheless provided some truly memorable moments as you dutifully watched your beloved main character grow and develop into a true hero. And if all else failed, you could just spend hours down the tavern! Hurrah!
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic
We’ve lost count of the various Star Wars games that have come and gone, and if we’re honest, most don’t leave the greatest impression. However, with KOTOR, Xbox had a genuine classic on their hands.
The story-line was enthralling, with numerous side quests and a plethora of dialogue options that could unlock more avenues to explore. Plus, there were tonnes of upgrades, never-before-seen trivia and customisable outfits. Simply awesome.
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
For most people, this was where the fascination with Tamriel began. The first in the Elder Scrolls series (after Arena and Daggerfall) to come to the console, Morrowind introduced us to near-limitless RPG brilliance.
The main quest kept players occupied for hours, and there were hundreds of side-quests and plot-lines for you to tackle as you saw fit. Whether you wanted to save the world from Dagoth Ur or just spend your time slaughtering everyone in sight, Morrowind had everything you needed.
With a difficult level practically unparalleled, Ninja Gaiden required you to get good – fast. Its brutally intense gameplay forced you to adapt quickly, but the rewards were tenfold.
It was a masterclass in action-adventure, coupling stunning scenery with fluid character control that was a nod to the developers’ history with combat games. A staple in the Xbox canon.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
There have been calls recently for a remaster of the beloved Rockstar classic, and it’s not hard to see why. At the time, the game area was positively vast and stocked with more than enough features for the player to consume themselves with.
CJ quickly became one of the franchise’s most popular protagonists and to this day plenty of games long for the simple days of racing up and down Grove Street. Sure, it didn’t look pretty, but if you wanted a game in which you could go absolutely mental, this was it.
Halo: Combat Evolved
Released on the same day the original Xbox hit the shelves, this was Microsoft’s secret weapon in an attempt to turn gamers away from Sony. Boy, did it work.
The first instalment in the legendary Halo series, Combat Evolved was a truly stunning game, pitting the iconic Master Chief agianst the combined alien forces of the Covenant. It was easy to master, engrossing to play and features one of the most dramatic plots in gaming history.
With the bar set so high, it was difficult to imagine exactly how Bungie and Microsoft would be able to top Halo: Combat Evolved, but top it they did in even more spectacular fashion.
It tweaked the game-play system with the abilities to dual-wield weapons and hi-hack vehicles, improved the graphics, allowed players to take control of Covenant soldiers and, of course, was the first console game to really define the online gaming experience. Complete mastery.