34 games every Xbox 360 owner must own

From Borderlands to Halo to Mass Effect, GamePro sorts through hundreds of titles to bring you 34 of the best Xbox 360 games

  • From Borderlands to Halo to Mass Effect, GamePro sorts through hundreds of titles to bring you 32 of the best Xbox 360 games that we've seen on the console so far.

  • 32 Red Faction: Guerrilla

    Taking the gameplay of the Red Faction series from its first-person shooter roots to a third person perspective, Red Faction: Guerilla is possibly the first sandbox game to introduce fully destructible environments. We mean fully destructible. As a member of the titular resistance force, your mission to destroy the Earth Defense Force's stranglehold on Mars means smashing a sledgehammer against every building in sight. Thanks to the Geomod 2.0 engine, steel towers and iron monoliths crumble like graham crackers in truly impressive fashion, which only gets better during the 16-player online mode. Add Gears of War-style action with Grand Theft Auto mayhem, and you're looking at one of the best Xbox 360 games around.
  • 31 Brutal Legend

    If we've said it before, we'll say it again: why didn't any of you buy Psychonauts? Luckily, Double Fine Productions and Tim Schafer are a team that absolutely refuses to say die, as their love letter to heavy metal hit gamers like a musical thunderstorm. From the amazing landscapes to the hilarious writing, Brutal Legend shines through and through as a masterpiece among miscreants, especially given the variety and charm of the gameplay. It wasn't enough that this 15-hour romp through the World of Metal was such a unique and memorable adventure, but Brutal Legend raised the bar even higher with star talent like Jack Black, Jennifer Hale, and the undisputed Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne. Rock on, Mister Schafer. We're ready for an encore anytime you are.
  • 30 Guitar Hero 5

    At some point, you've got to wonder, how long will Guitar Hero be around? Judging by the most recent installment of the series, your plastic guitars and drum kits aren't going to be collecting dust anytime soon. Over 85 tracks are in store for the musically-minded gamer, as well as a few tweaks that should've been implemented in the series long ago. Any band member can play any instrument, Career Mode frees up the restrictions on difficulty, and (finally) you're able to play any song, any time you want, right from the beginning. That means if your drum skills can't pass Nirvana on Expert, Guitar Hero 5 will actually let you switch to bass guitar and tone thing down to Hard or Normal. Even better, Xbox 360 gamers have the option of importing their Xbox Live avatar onto the stage, just as an extra bonus. If you're still ready to rock, Guitar Hero 5 is one of the best Xbox 360 games that can carry a tune.
  • 29 Crackdown

    Rarely has a game made you feel so powerful as Crackdown. It flew off the shelves because of the Halo 3 Beta key packaged with it, but it didn't take long for gamers to realize that there was more than one gem inside the box. Every time you level up, you can't help but marvel at your own magnificence, and that's before you can run faster than speeding traffic, leap tall buildings, and drive morphing cars through a living, breathing city. The story might stink, but the sheer joy of Crackdown's sandbox world more than makes up for it. Some would say Crackdown was a better open-world game than even Grand Theft Auto IV, and that's saying a lot.
  • 28 Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2

    It's the best Rainbow Six that's ever existed, bar none. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 sports visuals powered by the Unreal Engine 3, which means the neon lights pop, the slot machines sing, and the characters move with the strength and grace that Team Rainbow always deserved. The controls and cover system are smooth as a bullet casing and completely intuitive. And the co-op game is as polished as the single player experience and twice as thrilling. Accept no substitutes and suffer no fools: Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is one of the best Xbox 360 games you'll see bearing the Tom Clancy title.
  • 27 Dead Rising

    One word: lawnmower. Dead Rising gives you dozens of ways to hack, slash, burn, and smash an endless legion of zombies into bloody oblivion. Then it lets you go outside and grab a lawnmower. As sure as dead corpses will rise and gorge themselves on human flesh, grinding undead bone beneath a happy red snapper just never gets old. And, on the off-chance that it does, the game's hilarious and inventive achievements (i.e. "Raining Zombies: Knock at least 30 zombies aside with a parasol") will keep you grinning all night long.
  • 26 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

    "Massive" isn't a big enough word for the fourth incarnation in the popular Elder Scrolls role-playing series, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. As you traversed the world of Cyrodil, you could truly create a life of your own -- mine caverns, learn trade skills, fight bandits... the scope alone of what's possible in Oblivion is simply astonishing, and this amazing adventure is still unprecedented in both size and scale. If you're looking to get immersed in a deep fantasy, your ticket to a new world is hidden in one of the best Xbox 360 games yet.
  • 25 Shadow Complex

    Shadow Complex has no illusions about its gameplay, with liberally applied amounts of Metroid and Castlevania peppered throughout this impressive DLC title. Layered with a labyrinth of caverns, hidden items galore, and rich graphics powered by the Unreal Engine, Chair Entertainment sought to create the pinnacle 2.5D side-scrolling experience, while throwing in a few healthy doses of shooter action via first and third-person perspective. If you've ever felt restrained by Samus's limited powers in cramped caves, get ready to feel like anything's possible with a grappling hook and a good explosive. In fact, Shadow Complex is worth the price of a full retail disc product, making its value as a downloadable title that much greater.
  • 24 Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2

    Geometry Wars made shoot-em-ups fun again when the Xbox 360 was first released, but its sequel has completely re-defined the genre. Six brilliant gameplay modes, a bevy of multiplayer options, and yes, they even made it look more eye-poppingly gorgeous than before. No, we didn't think it could be done, either. Everyday Shooter and Super Stardust HD are good, but Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is why you were born with opposable thumbs.
  • 23 Burnout Paradise

    It lives by its name. Burnout Paradise has everything a Burnout title should: perfect crashes, slow-mo destruction, more crashes, and much more destruction. But the Paradise City setting is what raises this game a step above the competition. It's a load-free, perfectly seamless world that you can fling yourself across to your heart's content, blowing apart just about everything (including you), and earning loot for yourself all the while. No game taps into the primal desire to see Big Things Go Boom better than this one.
  • 22 Rock Band/Rock Band 2

    Even though picking between the 360 and PS3 versions of Rock Band & Rock Band 2 is pretty much a toss-up, you're still getting one of the best musical experiences around with either version. To put it bluntly, Rock Band just gets better and better, no matter what console you're carrying it on. DLC music, while pricey, is still coming down the pipe at a steady clip, and the treasure trove of available guitars, drum kits, and rocker accessories is something that just never gets old. And if you're still packing those old wired guitar kits along with your Xbox 360 games, there are some spiffy new Stratocaster replicas and Fender Telecasters on the market just waiting for you to get back on tour.
  • 21 Virtua Fighter 5

    Virtua Fighter has been around longer than most fighting game fans can remember, but the innovator of 3D hand-to-hand combat is still pushing the envelope. Following up on the excellent 2003 "Evolution" title, Sega AM2 hit arcades and consoles with one of the sharpest, most technical fighting games to date. Virtua Fighter 5 not only brought back the heavily polished gameplay from past installments, but it also gave the series an insane graphical facelift. On the Xbox 360, the highlights shine and the colors look amazingly rich. And that's nothing to speak of the rebalanced fighting engine, in which a split-second reaction can stop any combo dead in its tracks. If you're looking for worthy opponents outside of your local neighborhood, Xbox 360 owners are in luck, as Virtua Fighter 5 Online also brings to the table a solid online play mode with extra goodies for talented martial artists.
  • 20 Soul Calibur IV

    Much like Ivy Valentine's famous bustline, Soul Calibur has seen some rapid expansions since the series' humble beginnings on the Sega Dreamcast. Almost a decade later, Namco's ground breaking fighter still looks razor sharp, and it keeps adding more and more features that have us salivating for the next big sequel. While Soul Calibur IV's robust character creation system really shows off the graphical strength of next-generation systems, the ability to finally play online really gave this beautiful brawler some solid legs to stand on. Almost no other 3D fighting game looks this good. But don't let the shiny armor and heaving breastplates fool you: Soul Calibur IV is no button-masher, and it's deeper than many gamers give it credit for.
  • 19 UFC 2009 Undisputed

    When a new title comes into the GamePro office and takes over our lunch breaks for months on end, it's got to be something fresh, unique, and action-packed. UFC 2009 Undisputed can be called a reinvention of the fighting game genre, as it closely mimics both the look and feel of a real mixed martial arts brawl. Swinging for the fences will tire out your chosen fighter, bruises and bloody cuts will permanently drain your defenses, and nothing can help you if you're the victim of a well-timed throw or submission hold. Much like the Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 2009 has signaled the start of new fandom in the MMA world. Spend a week with this game, and you'll know why Forrest Griffin, B.J. Penn, and Georges St-Pierre are athletes to be feared.
  • 18 Left 4 Dead 2

    In most survival horror games, zombies are a pesky nuisance at best, and a temporary obstacle at worst. Left 4 Dead 2, featuring gruesome goons like Hunters, Tanks, and Chargers, will reacquaint you with your itchy trigger finger in a hurry. In this co-op first person survival marathon gone mad, the Infected will chase your motley gang of Survivors with all the gusto of Olympic track runners, and having as many players as possible behind the controllers is indubitably the best way to survive. If you missed the previous Left 4 Dead, get ready to experience one of the best story-driven horror series on shelves now. Oh, and trust us, you don't want to startle the Witches.
  • 17 Resident Evil 5

    Capcom's fifth installment in their renowned zombie-slaying franchise may have placed a greater emphasis on action than your traditional "undead creatures lurking in dark alleys" approach to horror, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, is it? We believe the answer is no, especially with the tremendous success of action titles that are dripping with horror imagery like Gears of War. Resident Evil 5 wasn't exactly leaps and bounds different from its predecessor Resident Evil 4, but it did feature a cooperative campaign, a first for the series, that allowed both you and a buddy to fight together against RE5's hulking axe-wielding killers and the rest of its fearsome cast of adversaries.
  • 16 Street Fighter IV

    Capcom had one steep mountain to climb with Street Fighter IV. How could they go back to the style of the industry-changing SFII while retaining the advanced gameplay from the underrated Street Fighter III? Would the series really stay in 2D? Somehow, the development team managed a perfect KO on all counts, as the new look and feel of SFIV showed that the World Warriors were still the baddest group in town. With a large mix of SFII veterans, new challengers and Alpha cameos, the fourth Street Fighter not only got a graphical overhaul, but the classic fireball-throwing action was whipped into shape so that players of all type could throw a good beatdown. Street Fighter IV outdid itself on the charts, and it's also a damn good revival of the 2D fighting scene.
  • 15 Forza Motorsport 3

    It's no understatement that racing simulators are built for only the strictest of car fanatics. That's why Forza Motorsport 3 is the Holy Grail for anyone who spends hours trying to shave seconds off of their best lap times. Packing almost 10 times the graphical power of the series' previous title, Forza Motorsport 3 also breaks the bank with over 400 customizable cars. Four hundred. With the ability to detail every single nut and bolt on your chosen ride, from 1970s Mustangs to the classic 1985 Toyota Sprinter Trueno GT Apex to the newest Mitsubishi Lancers, your personal garage can be anything you want it to be.
  • 14 Dragon Age: Origins

    Dragon Age: Origins may not win any beauty contents, but underneath the game's surface lies one of the best games to ever hit the Xbox 360. BioWare's spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate gives you the free reign to truly choose your own destiny in a dark fantasy adventure that may surprise you with Hollywood-level voice acting and a truly weighty plot. Depending on your actions, party members will thrive under your leadership, abandon you for greener pastures, or fall in/out of love with your custom-created warrior. Even your character's race can play a part, as NPCs will react to your lineage and actions in context with your social status. An epic tale that spans days and days of gameplay, your war against the Darkspawn will immerse you in a massively detailed world that only BioWare could create.
  • 13 Braid

    Why Braid? Because there's never, ever been anything like it. From the moment Braid loads, there's no menu to push through or cutscene to watch. You simply enter a world that exists somewhere between a dream and a painting. It's the Super Mario of the night, a bright and merry and dark and brooding platformer that isn't really a platformer at all. It's just a series of puzzling scenes that leave you awestruck over and over. Once you've beaten it, you might never pick it up again, but while you're playing it, you know it's something special.
  • 12 Dead Space

    Visceral Games pretty much dethroned Capcom's longstanding undead-hunting franchise Resident Evil as the king of the survival-horror genre when they released their blood-curdling masterpiece in terror, Dead Space. Heck, this game wins the crown just based on the gruesome beasties reminiscent of those from John Carpenter's The Thing. It wasn't the fact that Dead Space approached survival-horror in an all-new way -- the game actually borrowed quite a bit from Resident Evil 4 in terms of the way you move around and combat enemies -- no, what made Dead Space so terrifying was the dread-soaked atmosphere, the mood of being alone in space, and the disgusting mutated passengers infesting the mining ship you're stuck on... passengers that only get grosser and more frightening as the game progresses.
  • 11 Fallout 3

    Bethesda's Fallout 3 presented players with a truly unique concept: the ability to play the game more-or-less however they wanted, allowing for the game itself to play out in an almost infinite number of ways. Sure, this was done before with games like Grand Theft Auto, but never on this scale. You can play Fallout 3 conservatively, carrying out sidequests and trying your hardest to make the best decisions possible. Conversely, if you're in a particularly diabolical mood, you can just run around like a maniac, blowing away everyone you come across, be they good or evil, man or animal. Of course, massacring everyone you meet in the game comes with its price, such as receiving negative karma points and ultimately altering the ending of the game. If you own a next-gen console, do yourself a favor a take this gripping Xbox 360 game for a ride.
  • 10 Grand Theft Auto 4

    Like Rock Band, Grand Theft Auto 4's a tossup. If you've got the Xbox 360 build, however, you're a truly lucky gamer. Rockstar Games is still dishing out GTA goodness in the form of episodic content, with great characters and intense new side stories to explore. If you've been itching to get back on Liberty City's streets, try The Lost and Damned or The Ballad of Gay Tony. As if that wasn't enough reason to count this game among the best Xbox 360 games ever, there's always the fact that you can push people in front of trains, saw pedestrians down with helicopter blades, and drive your dinner date off a cliff. Be bad, be wild, and be a menace!
  • 9 The Orange Box

    Talk about bang for the buck: The Orange Box includes five hit games from the FPS gurus at Valve Software, making this a must-have for any shooter fan. Not only do you get the award-winning Half-Life 2 and the follow-ups Episode One and Two, but you also get the butter-smooth online game Team Fortress 2. But the real jewel of this fantastic collection is Portal, a mind-bending puzzler that every gamer should experience at least once. Armed with one of the coolest weapons ever devised in the Portal Gun, you run through a series of deviously designed levels while the omni-present voice of GlaDOS gently coaxes you onward. Filled with delicious humor and addictive gameplay, Portal is worth the purchase price alone but lucky for you, there's four other amazing games to keep you occupied long after you've discovered the secret of the cake (hint: it's a lie).
  • 8 Batman: Arkham Asylum

    No one expected Batman: Arkham Asylum to be this good. In fact, no one expected it to be one of the most impressive and thrilling action games to ever hit the Xbox 360. Thankfully, Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros./DC Comics made the invaluable choice of enlisting help from the best talent possible, including big-ticket names like Paul Dini, Kevin Conroy, Arleen Sorkin, and of course, Mark Hamill. For once, a video game developer got everything right in a Batman game, and Rocksteady may have single handedly saved this series from an eternal cycle of horrible cash-in clunkers. But most rewarding was the fact that The Caped Crusader fought like a demon from Hell, his tools were inventive and intuitive, and the atmosphere of Arkham Island was as demented and dangerous as its inhabitants. Welcome back, Batman.
  • 7 Mass Effect

    It's a magnum opus for the ages, a space opera of galactic proportions. Mass Effect will find you conquering unexplored planets, rescuing hapless innocents, and digging into the lives of a wide and rich cast of characters. It will grant you carte blanche to rediscover a forgotten civilization and save existence from the onslaught of a soulless menace. Plus, you can have hot lesbian sex along the way! Thank the gaming gods that BioWare is working on the rapidly upcoming sequel; we could stay in this universe forever.
  • 6 BioShock

    Generally, gamers relish the ability to kill, maim and obliterate their enemies and obstacles, but BioShock changed the entire experience with solid, inventive gameplay and a new moral compass. This sleeper hit from 2K Games, a studio formerly known for high-profile but moderately successful strings of PC role-playing games (Jade Empire, Civilization IV, Sid Meier's Pirates), sold Xbox 360s and unintentionally became a flagship title for the console with little buildup and a huge amount of positive press. BioShock 2 is on the way, and like the demented Rapturians, we're already foaming at the mouth for another underwater adventure.
  • 5 Borderlands

    Collecting guns and slaying 50-foot tall Rakks is just the tip of the iceberg with Borderlands, one of the most original and unique first-person shooters we've seen in years. As a wandering adventurer on a quest for riches, power, and glory, the journey though the world of Pandora is meant to inspire the greedy treasure hunter deep in every gamer's heart. From the dusty peaks of the Arid Badlands to the wastelands of the Rust Commons, Borderlands has loot under every rock, just waiting to be discovered. Even though you can take the role of the lone wolf, running through a game with a few friends is the best way to play. With each new crew member, you'll encounter bigger enemies, harder missions, and mouthwatering rewards. Borderlands is the pinnacle of co-op gameplay, and the RPG elements alone make it worth multiple playthroughs. Even the best Xbox 360 games have something to learn from Borderlands, and we're eager to see the next frontier.
  • 4 Assassin's Creed 2

    Ubisoft recreated the historic enviroment of 15th century Italy with the same care and attention to detail that Leonardo da Vinci gave to The Last Supper. No matter how well you can build a city, you almost can't do better than Assassin's Creed 2. Taking the stylish and addictive motions of the previous game's protagonist, the near-superhuman Altair, Assassin's Creed 2 went further towards the present with Ezio, the new assassin on the block. Noting both the forwards and backwards steps of the previous title, Ubisoft made sure that Ezio moves in ways that his predecessor never could: wading through waterways, stealing his opponents' weapons, and even flying through the skies with the help of some handy contraptions.
  • 3 Halo 3

    Bungie's incredible series eventually had to come to a conclusion, and Master Chief definitely went out in style. Halo 3 put a gigantic, explosive ribbon on the series that defined both the original Xbox and the Xbox 360, sold millions and millions of copies worldwide, and started a franchise that no other first-person shooter has been able to touch in five years. We still remember the first time we saw the Bubble Shield. Forums lit up like fire when the Recon armor was unveiled to the public. Sometime, you just can't mention Halo without gamers around the world getting excited. Even we couldn't believe that the multiplayer had gotten even better than Halo 2's glorious run, and we had pretty high expectations. Everything was better, and we still couldn't get enough of it. Until the next time we see Bungie's iconic leading man, we won't forget the thrilling last words of Master Chief: "Wake me when you need me."
  • 2 Modern Warfare 2

    Gut-wrenching moments and fast-paced FPS action were the bread and butter of the first Modern Warfare. After taking the Normandy Invasion as far as it could go, Infinity Ward dropped their coveted franchise into the modern era with amazing results. Since then, Modern Warfare 2 has proved to be a more-than-worthy successor to 2007's Game of the Year, upping the ante with an insanely gripping story, multiplayer that rivals the best titles in Xbox 360 history, and enough controversial story-bound decisions to jar any player back into reality, if just for a split second. Even if you never go back to the solo missions after the first time around, playing this Call of Duty online is so deep and incredibly well-polished, you'll have little to no excuse to get tired of Modern Warfare 2.
  • 1 Gears of War 2

    Gears of War 2 is bloody, brutal, and possibly the best action game to hit the Xbox 360 yet. How did we live without Horde Mode? Will there ever be a more badass weapon than the Lancer? When is Gears of War 3 going to come? Until those questions are answered, you can still sit back and revel in an experience that will grab your face and pull you headfirst into the most over-the-top shooter ever made. Taking the role of Marcus Fenix, you and a troop of elite, alien-killing super marines will shoot, punch, stomp, claw, and tear your way through the Earth itself in a jaw-dropping fight against the Locust Horde that infests the planet. Believe us, this game is a marathon of gore and explosions that has no peer, and Gears of War 2 is our top pick among the best Xbox 360 games around. If you own the console, go to the store right now and buy this game. You'll never regret it.

    Wait? Bonus update? Keep going>>>
  • Bonus Update: 1st Equal - Mass Effect 3

    So this is an old list and many stalwarts are on it. But we couldn't just sit here and see Mass Effect 3 not on it. While there was some initial outcry over the endings, this got fixed. It's absolutely brilliant even if you haven't played the first two. One of those games you really need to play at least once in your life.
  • Bonus Update: 1st Equal - Red Dead Redemption

    Flawless is a big word to use for a video game, but RDR has no flaws. It's got everything from action, adventure, exploring, shoot-outs and even a multiplayer mode. It's up there as one of the best games of all time and might actually be THE best game of all time. Worth buying an Xbox 360 for all on its own. Play this once in your life.
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