Notable Releases: Kameo: Elements of Powers, Condemned: Criminal Origins, Perfect Dark Zero, King Kong, Call of Duty 2, Quake 4, Dead or Alive 4, Ridge Racer 6, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, Need for Speed: Most Wanted…The Xbox 360?
OK, so the Xbox 360 only had a little over a month in 2005 to compete with the rest of the entries. The release date of Nov. 22 only allowed for so much room for new releases. As with most console launches, the initial slew of Xbox 360 games didn’t impress so much as they just existed as an appetizer for bigger games to come. The system sellers didn’t land until months later. Needlessly to say, 2005 was not kind to Xbox 360 owners looking for stellar new games to play.
Notable Releases: Saints Row: Gat out of Hell, Battlefield Hardline, Life is Strange, Tales from the Borderlands, Game of Thrones, MGS V: TPP, Black Ops III, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Goat Simulator, Resident Evil: Revelations 2.
The Xbox 360’s decade of existence all leads to this. Sure, 2005 blows 2015 out in terms of unique Xbox 360 games, but are any of them really better than Metal Gear Solid V? Without a doubt, 2015’s library is substantially greater in quantity and quality. Pretty much the big reason why 2015 sits so low on this list is the generational drift toward the Xbox One and lack of exclusives.
Anything new for the Xbox 360 in 2015 was available everywhere else and likely better elsewhere. Xbox 360 owners were lucky games like Rise of the Tomb Raider were playable on 360s. Call of Duty: Black Ops III however, didn’t even have a campaign on the Xbox 360. New 2015 games on the Xbox 360 came at a hefty price.
Notable Releases: Fable Anniversary, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Strider, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, Thief, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Titanfall, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Watch Dogs, Dark Souls II, Murdered: Soul Suspect, Destiny, Forza Horizon 2, Alien: Isolation, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, The Evil Within, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Dragon Age: Inquisition.
While the Xbox One emerged onto the scene late in 2013, the Xbox 360 retained a strong library the following year despite its successor also on the market. Great games such as South Park: The Stick of Truth, Dark Souls II, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel proved the 360 maintained great life. Last-gen games like those were fun and exclusive at the time until 2015 came and re-released them on newer consoles.
As with any transitional periods between console generations, plenty of major games featured last and current gen versions, and 2014 was no exception. However, some major games required multiple discs to play on the Xbox 360. Wolftenstein: The New Order for example required four discs. That’s not exactly ideal, nor is it to play new games on an outdated system.
Notable Releases: Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Tomb Raider: Legend, Final Fantasy XI, Hitman: Blood Money, Gears of War, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, Chromehounds, Prey, Dead Rising, Ninety-Nine Nights, Call of Duty 3, Rainbow Six: Vegas, Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis, Full Auto, Saints Row, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Viva Piñata.
The first full year of the Xbox 360 started off slow until The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion came out on Mar. 20. A lengthy Bethesda RPG to tide Xbox 360 owners for a while did the trick right up to summer. Some hits and some dead zones, but the Xbox 360 gained great ground as the months passed in 2006. By July, solid releases like Chromehounds, Prey, Hitman: Blood Money, and The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II entered the Xbox 360’s library.
This was all well and good, though the other powerhouses of 2006 didn’t start till late October. Ubisoft brought Sam Fisher to the Xbox 360 with Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent before any other console on Oct. 17. Additionally, a spike of quality games in November sparked a couple of franchises that persisted throughout the Xbox 360’s lifespan: Rainbow Six: Vegas, Viva Piñata, Call of Duty 3, and Gears of War. 2006 had plenty to play and enjoy, but some years fared better for Xbox 360 owners.
Notable Releases: Skate 2, The Maw, Street Fighter IV, Resident Evil 5, Shadow Complex, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Red Faction: Guerrilla, Prototype, Ghostbusters, Battlefield 1943, ‘Splosion Man, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Guitar Hero 5, Assassin’s Creed II, The Beatles: Rock Band, Halo 3: ODST, Brutal Legend, Borderlands, Dragon Age: Origins, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Left 4 Dead 2, The Saboteur.
If it wasn’t for the Xbox 360’s exclusives of Shadow Complex, ‘Splosion Man, and Halo 3: ODST, 2009 would be a bit of a bummer for Xbox 360 owners. 2009 stood on the shoulders of great sequels and unsuspecting hits PlayStation 3 owners also enjoyed. Competent-to-great sequels like Assassin’s Creed II, Guitar Hero 5, Skate 2, Resident Evil 5, Modern Warfare 2, and Left 4 Dead 2 were all multi-platform games. Most of the sequels didn’t amaze as well as their predecessors, but they boosted 2009’s library quality considerably.
Where 2009 really shined were the sneaking hits. Games like Red Faction: Guerrilla, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were a few games released in 2009 that surprised many by how good they were. An open-world game about destruction made from a first-person shooter? A brutally cathartic Wolverine game? One of the greatest Batman, no, superhero games ever made? Lest we forget the completely fan-serving music game: The Beatles: Rock Band.
Notable Releases: Burnout Paradise, Fallout 3, Devil May Cry 4, Army of Two, Grand Theft Auto IV, Ninja Gaiden II, Civilization Revolution, Battlefield: Bad Company, Soulcalibur IV, Braid, Tales of Vesperia, N+, Condemned 2: Bloodshot, Fable II, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, Bionic Commando Rearmed, Rock Band 2, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Mega Man 9, Dead Space, Saints Row 2, Far Cry 2, Gears of War 2, Call of Duty: World at War, Left 4 Dead.
Considering 2007’s impressive catalog (more on this later), 2008 had several seismic hits too, but there’s a reason 2007 was better than 2008. Juggernauts like Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, Gears of War 2, Fable II, and Left 4 Dead could not support the rest of the year alone. Still, 2008 made up for it with several solid sequels such as Ninja Gaiden II and Rock Band 2, as well as strong first outings like Dead Space and N+.
Some series found their footing in 2008 like the foundation-building precursors of Dead Space, Saints Row 2, and Far Cry 2. Meanwhile, Capcom produced two ace modern throwbacks to classic NES games with Bionic Commando Rearmed and Mega Man 9. Still, you can’t go wrong with a year that includes Grand Theft Auto and Fallout.
Notable Releases: Mass Effect, Halo 3, The Orange Box, Guitar Hero 3, Assassin’s Creed, Rock Band, Bioshock, Crackdown, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, Guitar Hero II, Project Gotham Racing 4, Dirt, Overlord, The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles (Expansion), TimeShift, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, Forza Motorsport 2, Medal of Honor: Airborne, Blue Dragon, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2.
2007’s games provided a direction for the industry as a whole: the spark of the plastic instrument war between Rock Band and Guitar Hero, the explosion of Call of Duty into the mainstream with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and the now annual franchise of Assassin’s Creed. It was a fresh and exciting year to own an Xbox 360.
A significant portion of those notable releases in 2007 found even more success years later with their sequels. Incredible games like Bioshock, Mass Effect, Portal, Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2: Episode 2, and Halo 3 all made colossal thuds beyond 2007. In addition, Xbox 360 owners had quite an advantage early on. Multi-platform games were not as in sync as it is today. Mass Effect, Bioshock, Dirt, Medal of Honor: Airborne, and The Orange Box were all months or years ahead of their PS3 ports. Greats like those should not be overlooked.
Notable Releases: Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, Mass Effect 3, Far Cry 3, Borderlands 2, Mark of the Ninja, Hitman: Absolution, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Halo 4, Assassin’s Creed III, Forza Horizon, Asura’s Wrath, Dance Central 3, Of Orcs and Men, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Sleeping Dogs, Fez, Darksiders II, I Am Alive, Spec Ops: The Line, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Dust: An Elysian Tail, The Darkness II, Dishonored, Dragon’s Dogma, Skullgirls, Trials Evolution, Quantum Conundrum, Max Payne 3, The Witcher 2, Binary Domain.
2012 had a great list of releases paced nicely across 12 months. What really stood out about 2012 was the amount of superb games outside the shooter genre. The Walking Dead, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, Mark of the Ninja, Fez, Dishonored, Quantum Conundrum, Trials Evolution, and more all flourished in 2012.
Speaking of the Walking Dead, some games involving shooting questioned and challenged your murderous actions. Spec Ops: The Line, Halo 4, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Mass Effect 3, Black Ops II, Dust: An Elysian Tail, and I Am Alive all wanted you to break apart from the norm of simple killing. Of course, quality sequels like Borderlands 2, Max Payne 3, Far Cry 3, and The Darkness II all offered an absurd amount of violence in 2012.
Notable Releases: DmC: Devil May Cry, The Cave, Dead Space 3, Crysis 3, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Runner 2, Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Metro: Last Light, Bioshock Infinite, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Remember Me, State of Decay, Deadpool, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Payday 2, Saints Row IV, Battlefield 4, Charlie Murder, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Lost Planet 3, Rayman Legends, Grand Theft Auto V, Batman: Arkham Origins, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Injustice: Gods Among Us, XCOM: Enemy Within (Expansion).
While 2012 was great, 2013 kicked a little more ass. Right out of the gate in January, DmC: Devil May Cry became an immediate hit. Then February brought other major titles like Crysis 3, Dead Space 3, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Runner 2. Big titles prioritized spring and summer.
Half of the year was over, and we had Bioshock Infinite, State of Decay, Remember Me, Metro: Last Light, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Tomb Raider, and Gears of War: Judgment. That’s insane. To think, Xbox 360 owners were also anticipating Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Grand Theft Auto V, Saints Row IV, Payday 2, and Batman: Arkham Origins in the Fall as well.
Notable Releases: Bayonetta, Halo Reach, Mass Effect 2, Battlefield Bad Company 2, FF XIII, Metro 2033, Alan Wake, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Fallout New Vegas, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Plants vs Zombies, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Dark Void, Bioshock 2, Raskulls, Aliens vs. Predator, Nier, Skate 3, Dance Central, Red Dead Redemption, Blur, Transformers: War for Cybertron, Just Cause 2, Hydro Thunder Hurricane, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Limbo, Singularity, Monday Night Combat, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Dead Rising 2, Fable III, Rock Band 3, Super Meat Boy.
Great exclusives such as Halo Reach, Alan Wake, Fable III, and Dance Central alone could not uphold 2010 as a fantastic year for Xbox 360 owners. Amazing sequels like Just Cause 2, Mass Effect 2, Bioshock 2, and Fallout: New Vegas contributed to 2010’s stellar library, and Activision published quality non-Call of Duty games like Blur, Singularity, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, and Transformers: War for Cybertron.
A big reason why 2010 stands so high on this list is the depth of Xbox Live Arcade releases that year. 2010 was a year characterized by the start of Xbox Live Arcade’s boom. Limbo, Plants vs. Zombies, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Super Meat Boy, and more were the cherries on top of an already fantastic year. 2010 made a massive case to win hands down as the best lineup of Xbox 360 games in a year; however, 2011’s inventory of games could not be beat.
Notable Releases: Dead Space 2, Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, Bulletstorm, Dragon Age II, Crysis 2, Homefront, Mortal Kombat, Portal 2, L.A. Noire, The Gunstringer, Red Faction: Armageddon, Saints Row: The Third, Ms. Splosion Man, Bastion, Catherine, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dead Island, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Dirt 3, El Shaddai, Driver: San Francisco, Dark Souls, Rage, Orcs Must Die!, Gears of War 3, Skylanders, Batman: Arkham City, Battlefield 3, Shadows of the Damned, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, Dance Central 2, Rayman Origins, Sonic Generations, Assassin’s Creed Revelations, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
Good heavens, look at that list! 2011 packed so much quality in one year. Again, a good sign of a healthy year of video games is two massive releases like Portal 2 and Mortal Kombat releasing on the exact same day in April. Or the fact every month of 2011 had a Xbox 360 game worth your time. Go ahead, see what the Xbox 360 had in store releasing in February. Most games on this list are sequels, yes; however, a large segment of them were all sequels/spin-offs that either became the definitive representation of the series or one deserving to share that accreditation.
Old game series received new life like Mortal Kombat, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Sonic Generations, Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, Driver: San Francisco, and Rayman Origins. Then factor in the slate of unique, weird one-offs like Bulletstorm, El Shaddai, Catherine, L.A. Noire, and more. 2011 drowned the gaming public in quality on top of the Xbox 360 exclusives like Gears of War 3 and Halo: CE Anniversary. By far, 2011’s immaculate library was the greatest year for Xbox 360 owners.
What year do you think was best for the Xbox 360?