25 Original Xbox Games You Must Own #5 - #1

Here we are, the top five of the original Xbox games that you need to own, finish off our top 25 list. Care to guess what the coveted #1 spot is? Why guess, read on and find out right now!

Missed our previous lists, catch up here!
Part 1 #25 - #21
Part 2 #20 - #16
Part 3 #15 - #11
Part 4 #10 - #6

5. Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath (EA)

Why are we picking an Oddworld game to be in our top five?  Because it’s not your typical Oddworld game.  Combining the freshness of a first-person shooter with the excitement of a third-person action/Western game, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is amongst the best of the games in the series, just because it’s so startlingly different.  You play a bounty hunter who’s chasing after some unlikely prey, but as you go on each mission, you find there’s something creeping along the story – and then it jumps out at you and turns everything on its ear.  That’s something Oddworld games don’t do very often, but it’s done here with great success, and really draws you in as you fight to the finish.  That alone really makes us appreciate Stranger’s Wrath.

4. Halo 2 (Microsoft)

Halo 2 Xbox Gameplay

Very few sequels could measure up on the Xbox, particularly Dead Or Alive 3 (though it was pretty good) and a few others.  However, Halo 2 followed upon the original with a pure intensity that very few sequels could match.  Master Chief returns in a terrific, new story – one that introduces life after the Halo and a new, engaging threat that could rock the very universe.  Like the first game, Halo 2 features some stunning graphics, along with great gameplay, and more.  The multiplayer was also worth checking out, with easier access than the original and plenty of incentive to keep playing.  There’s a reason the game sold so damn well – it was actually worth the price.

3. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (Rockstar Games)

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Xbox Gameplay

On the PS2, we chose Grand Theft Auto: Vice City as one of the top 25, so we feel it’s only fair to give Carl Johnson his due upon his return to Los Santos.  San Andreas features grittier themes than previous games, along with the ability to modify your character (everyone likes a fat gangster, right?) and create all sorts of chaos across three cities.  Whether it was parachuting from a building or laying waste to enemies from a helicopter, it was a ton of fun.  San Andreas has hours’ worth of stuff to do, and credit Rockstar Games for refining its sandbox-style engine perfectly and keeping us playing.  Kudos to the voiceovers, too.  Samuel L. Jackson really provided some heft here – and he didn’t even talk about snakes.  Imagine that.

2. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (LucasArts)

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

You want to talk about where Bioware really worked its magic?  It wasn’t Jade Empire; it wasn’t Mass Effect (at least, not at that time); no, it was a little something called Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, a rollicking thrill ride of an action/RPG.  One that let you create your character and do whatever you pleased, whether it was for good or evil.  Featuring a story with plenty of twists, hours worth of character interaction, unforgettable battles, and rich presentation details, Knights of the Old Republic immediately became one of the best Star Wars-licensed games ever made.  And it still is today, with fans clamoring for more.  Once The Old Republic is finished, they’ll get it – on PC, anyway.

So what’s number one?  What else?

1. Halo (Microsoft)

Halo Xbox Gameplay

C’mon, this is the game that DEFINED the Xbox experience to begin with.  It’s the game that we picked up at launch alongside the system (not Dead Or Alive 3 – again, good but not great).  It’s the game we played for hours on end, whether we tooled around in a Warthog or simply developed the art of the teabag.  It’s the game that did so much for culture, so much for Bungie, so much for sci-fi development, and so much for first-person shooter development altogether.  It’s a classic in every way, from its legendary gameplay, to its beautiful graphics, to its slowly unfolding story, packed with intrigue.  If you somehow missed it (WHAT?!), don’t worry, as a new enhanced edition is coming to Xbox 360 on November 15, introducing a whole new legion of fans to it, 11 years later.  First, though, you should play the original, if only to see history in the making and realize that this was what the Xbox was all about.  Period.

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Robert Workman
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