Ten years have come and gone since the clunkiest, heaviest, and most unexpectedly-awesome console of all time arrived on store shelves. The Microsoft and their DirectX Box has seen many different shades of emotion from this gamer. First there was unabashed hatred for the machine as I, at the time, was a FLAMING Nintendo fanboy. I had embraced the Playstation and PS2, but Microsoft? Fuck them. Then a couple years passed with the Gamecube seeing minimal good third party games (aside from Resident Evil 4, Eternal Darkness, and maybe two more). The PS2 was killing it in the retail sector, but I was still not beholden to its grasp. Why not try the Xbox, which, at this point was almost three years old. Halo 2 had been released and I still had no idea who the Master Chief really was. I just knew I heard so many good things about the Big Ring’s first two iterations along with games like Splinter Cell. Caution was thrown to the wind and my Xbox purchase was made. Reaction = fucking terrific. Well done, Microsoft.
Weirdly, my favorite thing about the Xbox was the hard drive built in, undoubtedly the reason for the immense heft this console was packing. The first thing I did when I unboxed the, er, Xbox was rip several of my CDs (Hah! People used CDs in those days! Uncanny!) to the hard drive so I could utilize the custom soundtrack feature that so few Microsoft games employed. Even better, though, was the fact that I did not have to save my games to a memory card any more. I don’t know why that mattered to me, but it did; I loved it. Games also moved much faster through load screens with the storage device and the built-in processor.
Needless to say, since I purchased my Xbox in 2004 the needle on my barometer has slowly but surely been shifting to the Microsoft console empire. Nintendo put out some excellent first-party titles for the Gamecube which still gives me happy memories of the console but they went on to slap me and other Big N fanatics in the face with a motion-controlled turd, the Wii. Sony built the PS3 to a price point that no one could afford or wanted to pay for, plus many of their games weren’t worth the time and effort (Lair, I’m looking at you). The Xbox 360 kept rolling with its big brother’s momentum and pushed way ahead of its other two rivals in the console wars. Pound-for-pound, it is hard to defy Microsoft’s quality of excellence since late 2004 when I hopped on-board.
So, in the spirit of this tenth anniversary of Microsoft consoles sitting in our homes, I will now list the ten best games/franchises/miscellaneous that the Big X has introduced to my attention span:
- Halo franchise
- Elder Scrolls III, IV, V (Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim)
- Gears of War franchise
- Mass Effect franchise
- Fallout 3
- The Orange Box (Portal, HL2+, TF2)
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic franchise
- Splinter Cell franchise
- Dead Rising franchise