gaming

The 42 Best Original Xbox Games of All Time

MOBILE 8
Loveleen Kaur / ONE37pm

At one point, the only juggernauts in console gaming were considered to be Sega, Nintendo, and Sony. After Sega decided to bow out of the console hardware race, a shocking new challenger rose up to make their presence felt. Shockingly, that newfound gaming entity ended up being Microsoft.

Their contribution to the world of console gaming came in the form of a massive black box outfitted with a big green "X" icon placed smack dab in the middle of it. That powerful machine is known as the original Xbox.

On November 15, 2001, gamers in the States got the chance to pick up their very own Xbox and get enamored with all the graphical & mechanical upgrades that came with it. Before the ball dropped to ring in the new year, the original Xbox managed to sell 1.5 million units before 2001 came to an end. The Xbox is most known for several things - the first "Duke" controller (which thankfully got altered into a better fitting controller!), the signature atomic green color associated with the box itself, the implementation of online play through the Xbox Live, etc.

Another aspect of the original Xbox that's still looked back on quite fondly is its strong software library. Besides all the first-party heavy hitters that launched on it, there's also a nice lineup of third-party titles that will forever be associated with Microsoft's beloved black and green gaming box.

Join us as we reminisce about 42 of the finest games that were released on the classic Xbox console.

1. ‘Halo: Combat Evolved’

Everyone knows this statement to be nothing but pure fact - if the original Xbox launched without Halo, we probably wouldn't even be talking about that console or playing any of its successors today. Master Chief's introductory first-person shooter guaranteed the financial success and mainstream recognizability of Microsoft's first home console. This killer app of a game started the epic struggle between the iconic Chief and The Covenant, which results in wild gunfights across a bevy of unforgettable stages. Halo's enemy AI is super intelligent, so each skirmish with the game's alien forces felt like a true battle for survival. Major props to the first Halo's infinitely replayable 16-player competitive multiplayer modes, too.

Buy Now, $8.97

2. ‘Halo 2’

Sure, Halo 2's campaign ended up being surprisingly short. Plus that cliffhanger ending was quite the letdown for Master Cheif fans everywhere. But from a gameplay standpoint, this follow-up to the original Xbox's most revered FPS. Halo 2 not only gives players the ability to go gun down some aliens as Master Chief but it also provides plenty of screen & playtime to the newly introduced Arbiter. The game's overall mythos got even deeper and more intriguing thanks to that new playable hero & his crusade against Tartarus & the Prophets. Halo 2's firefights feel just as good as the ones in the first game and its multiplayer suite still provides unlimited hours of entertainment.

Buy Now, $18.99

3. ‘Fable’

Another one of the fastest-selling games on the original Xbox is the action RPG that featured some of the loftier concepts in the genre, Fable. The game's complex combat, its focus on player free will & the game's world changing based on their actions, and the British take on humor all combined to introduce a new IP at its best. There's so much to do and see as players set out to become the beloved savior or feared knave everyone knows far & wide. Fable's spirited journey within the realm of Albion is still worth delving into.

Buy Now, $55.99

4. ‘The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind’

The Elder Scrolls series has and always will enrapture any and everyone due to its bountiful serving of medieval fantasy wonder. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind offers one of the most enriching gameplay experiences within the open-world RPG genre thanks to its wealth of base game content and its post-game expansion (Tribunal and Bloodmoon). The scope of this game is damn near unlimited - the vast expanse of Vvardenfell allows players to go wherever they want, whenever they want, and do whatever they want. The deep character creation system, impactful first-person combat, and overabundance of main campaign/side missions make Morrowind the type of gaming experience that seemingly never ends.

Buy Now, $59.98

5. ‘Ninja Gaiden Black’

The 3D Ninja Gaiden reboot revived Ryu Hayabusa in a major way back in 2004. But the most refined rendition of that fierce action game is its reworked rendition, Ninja Gaiden Black. Due to a ton of people that played it complaining about its harsh difficulty, two new modes were added to lessen & greatly increase its challenge to a certain degree. On top of all that, Ninja Gaiden Black threw in a slew of new foes to cut into a million pieces, a nice array of new threads for Ryu, and the super enjoyable Mission Mode. If you think your hands can keep up with all the fast-paced hacking and slashing in Ninja Gaiden Black, then step right up.

Buy Now, $47.99

6. ‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’

The undisputed king of Star Wars games has to be BioWare's first entry in the Knights of the Old Republic series. This grand prequel to the formation of the Galactic Empire features a cast of memorable characters who embark on an adventure that has one of the strongest storylines in the entirety of the Star Wars canon. Taking on the role of a Jedi who's out to eliminate Darth Malak meant players were subjected to monumental decision-making sequences and exciting round-based battles that feature both lightsaber battles & laser blaster exchanges. There's still so much fun to be had diving into KOTOR and mapping out your road down the light or dark side (that Sith Lord life is so much better!).

Buy Now, $73.99

7. ‘Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords’

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords got extra dark as it entered an age where the Jedi Order has been nearly wiped out of existence by the Sith. As the Exile, players set out to gather the rest of the remaining Jedi in a bid to get back at the Sith that damned their brothers in arms. What's on offer here is refined real-time combat, an amazing storyline that's on par with its predecessor, and a wealth of new protagonists/antagonists that are recognized among Star Wars' finest. Big shout out to Kreia, by the way! Side note - Obsidian Entertainment needs to make another Star Wars RPG at some point.

Buy Now, $87.99

8. ‘Jade Empire’

After completing its commendable work on the first KOTOR, BioWare dropped a game that fully embraced the mystical world of Chinese mythology. And by making proper use of action RPG battle mechanics that focused on your mastery of martial arts and a deep morality system, Jade Empire emerged as one of BioWare's greatest contributions to the original Xbox. This pick on our list gets even more kudos for being one of the most visually pleasing and awe-inspiring games ever released. Jade Empire is well-deserving of a sequel at some point - we know plenty of fans are more than ready to become a powerful Spirit Monk once again.

Buy Now, $21.32

9. ‘Dead or Alive 3’

Team Ninja truly took advantage of the powerful graphics processing hardware housed within the original Xbox. Besides its work on the Ninja Gaiden reboot, the Dead or Alive series got treated very well on Microsoft's big black & green gaming box. Dead or Alive 3 played its part perfectly as a showcase for just how gorgeous the original Xbox's visuals could be when pushed to its very limits. And thankfully, playing this 3D fighter is a ton of fun due to a mix of easy-to-understand controls, dynamic movesets for each character, and environmental scenes that made each fight feel like a blockbuster action sequence.

Buy Now, $103.99

10. ‘The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay’

As a movie experience, Pitch Black fails to truly impress. But the shockingly great game based on it proves to be way more substantial to the cinematic series as a whole. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay brings Vin Diesel's onscreen character Riddick to the forefront in a dark and moody first-person shooter. Escaping the maximum-security prison complex in this game is all about combining brutal melee/ranged combat, masterful stealth, and rewarding exploration to great effect. This licensed game came out during a time when cheaply produced games of its ilk were all the rage - we're so glad Escape From Butcher Bay rose above all that mediocrity.

Buy Now, $39.95

11. ‘Panzer Dragoon Orta’

Sega took quite a liking to the original Xbox. With all the big games it decided to exclusively release on it, the Xbox practically became the Dreamcast 2. One of the games that point to that previous statement having some merit is this one - Panzer Dragoon Orta. This visual/audio tour de force pushes the series forward as it improves upon the on-rails shooting and free camera movement of previous entries. Its difficulty factor is shockingly high, but that level of challenge makes you feel like a world-beater well deserving of praise. Taking to the skies with your destructive dragon and laying waste to all sorts of creatures big & small never grow old in Panzer Dragoon Orta.

Buy Now, $79.99

12. ‘Jet Set Radio Future’

The second Sega published and developed game for the original Xbox that felt like it got ripped from a potential second Dreamcast and brought over to Microsoft's pride & joy is Jet Set Radio Future. The cel-shaded extreme sports/graffiti tagging simulator came back with a sequel that looked even crispier and sounded even funkier than ever before. And as expected, the futuristic vision of Tokyo allowed players to pull off the slickest trick combos and complete a wide range of objectives across a connected hub world. Thank god those restrictive time limits from the first game got left by the wayside for this one.

Buy Now, $41.00

13. ‘Conker: Live & Reloaded’

After Rare got acquired by Microsoft, they got the opportunity to revive the foul-mouthed squirrel that shocked N64 owners back in Conker's Bad Fur Day. Conker: Live & Reloaded offers a massive upgrade to the original game that remasters every single part of it to perfection. This game's multiplayer suite ended up being a pillar of the original rendition of Xbox's online service - the military warfare that took place between online SHC or Tediz members was brutal and incredibly satisfying to play. Conker's gory and hilarious good times from the N64 original got even better here.

Buy Now, $65.98

14. ‘Project Gotham Racing 2’

RIP to development studio Bizarre Creations. Back in the day, it was responsible for giving rise to the Project Gotham Racing series. Before Turn 10 Studios' Forza Motorsport arrived, that aforementioned racing franchise held the crown for top-of-the-line quality on the original Xbox. Project Gotham Racing 2 greatly improved upon everything featured in the first game - gathering "Kudos" points is all about breaking the speed limit, driving as clean as possible, and lapping the competition across several gorgeous locales. Big shout out to this game for giving the gaming world the very first Geometry Wars, too!

Buy Now, $12.99

15. ‘Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory’

Sam Fisher will forever be one of the stealth gaming genre's forefathers. Ubisoft showed him a ton of love back on the original Xbox via several noteworthy games that did right by the legacy of noted author Tom Clancy. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Chaos Theory mastered the series' formula by making its sneaky gameplay the best in its genre. The addition of multiplayer options really gave this game even more life as two secret agents could carefully pick off their targets during specialty co-op missions. Plus the competitive multiplayer "Spy vs. Mercenary" mode from the last game (Pandora Tomorrow) arrived with new gadgets, moves, and mode variations that made it a persistent element of Xbox's online gaming origins.

Buy Now, $68.60

16. ‘Burnout 3: Takedown’

Before the Burnout franchise transported everyone to an open-world "paradise," it stuck to its guns for the third game in the series. What we got with this sequel was top-of-the-line arcade racing mayhem from the talented devs at Criterion. Burnout 3: Takedown presented the best rendition of the series' speed-limit breaking racing and chaotic car crashes. The debuting "Road Rage" mode magnified all the fun times by challenging players to pull off a mandatory amount of Takedowns before their car totals or the allotted time limit. Racing and crashing both still control like a dream in Burnout 3: Takedown.

Buy Now, $29.51

17. ‘OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast’

The Ferrari Testarossa Spider is the official mascot of Sega's Outrun franchise. And it looks even more gorgeous with a nice paint of 3D sheen thrown all over it. OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast is and forever will be a vibe - all you do in this super chill racer is hop into your chosen car and try to travel as far as you can while jamming to some super catchy tunes. We'll always have the time of our lives taking the driver's seat in the Ferrari F430 and making sure we never lost our main lady during "Do Not Lose Your Girlfriend" mode competitions. Side note - it's about damn time Sega got back to bringing OutRun back!

Buy Now, $360.40

18. ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’

Ubisoft realized that The Prince of Persia IP had laid dormant for far too long, which is it decided to completely reboot it. And that new take on the series resulted in a third-person action/adventure game that breathed some life right back into the franchise. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was and still is a worthwhile experience thanks to its free-flowing swordplay and cool usage of time-based powers that played a part in navigating puzzles & parkour. This game feels like an Indiana Jones-like trek through fantastical locales filled with wild enemies to slash and trippy platforming segments to beat.

Buy Now, $44.69

19. ‘Forza Motorsport’

Now's the time for us to reminisce about the other Xbox-branded racer that's still managing to make headlines on the console's successors. The first Forza Motorsport was clearly Turn 10 Studios' take on Polyphony Digital's PlayStation sim racer, Gran Turismo. And after serious gearheads took it for a spin, they were more than pleased with what was presented. The nice range of playable cars, pleasant mix of real-world & fictional tracks, and photorealistic visuals all combined to make a great first impression on Forza Motorsport adopters.

Buy Now, $59.98

20. ‘Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath’

Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath is one of the (appropriately) weirdest games within the extensive original Xbox library. It mashed up third- and first-person viewpoints to provide players with different angles during combat & various expeditions. As the super badass Stranger, players set out to take down a long list of outlaws in order to gather the funds needed to pay for a life-saving procedure. Going the bounty hunter route is presented in a quirky manner here as your killer crossbow comes outfitted with ammo composed of living animals, which means you can pull off explosive kills with all sorts of cute little critters.

Buy Now, $69.00

21. ‘MechAssault’

One of the first games released on the original Xbox to incorporate online play through Xbox Live is mech battler. MechAssault keeps it real simple and concise - hop into your oversized mega bot of choice and get caught up in some of the most explosive battles you've ever been a part of. The game's take on survival mode is cool and all, but it's the online deathmatch/team deathmatch mode variations that produce the most memorable moments. We also had the time of our lives pushing our mechanized squads to victory in capture the flag mode. MechAssault was the best way to bring players back into the overarching BattleTech universe.

Buy Now, $13.99

Honorable Mentions

22. ‘SSX 3’

Buy Now, $103.99

23. ‘Soulcalibur II’

Buy Now, $16.93

24. ‘Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge’

Buy Now, $31.78

25. ‘Doom 3’

Buy Now, $34.99

26. ‘ESPN NFL 2K5’

Buy Now, $18.99

27. ‘Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction’

Buy Now, $99.99

28. ‘Star Wars: Battlefront II’

Buy Now, $47.99

29. ‘TimeSplitters 2’

Buy Now, $29.89

30. ‘Dead or Alive Ultimate’

Buy Now, $25.11

31. ‘Madden NFL 2004’

Buy Now, $22.75

32. ‘Star Wars: Republic Commando’

Buy Now, Price Varies

33. ‘Half-Life 2’

Buy Now, $21.44

34. ‘Grand Theft Auto Double Pack’

Buy Now, $171.11

35. ‘Psychonauts’

Buy Now, $69.81

36. ‘Beyond Good and Evil’

Buy Now, $89.99

37. ‘Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO'

Buy Now, Price Varies

38. ‘Def Jam: Fight for NY’

Buy Now, Price Varies

39. ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3’

Buy Now, $78.85

40. ‘Shenmue II’

Buy Now, $34.99

41. ‘Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes’

Buy Now, $249.27

42. ‘Guilty Gear X2 #Reload’

Buy Now, $17.50
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