The best Xbox 360 games showcase just how many memorable and fantastic titles found a home on Microsoft’s console. To say the Xbox 360 was a huge success is no exaggeration. After first launching in 2005, the console went on to see close 90 million units, with an extensive library of games landing on the machine. Thanks to Mircosoft’s efforts when it comes to backwards compatibility, we can still enjoy many of the best Xbox 360 games on the current-gen Xbox Series X/S.
With the likes of Halo Reach, BioShock, and so much more, there’s no shortage of fantastic games on the 360. So sit back and take a journey back with us as we take you through our pick of the best Xbox 360 games.
30. Dirt 2
Codemasters took lessons from the original Dirt and improved on it, but mainly because it learned so much more from its own Race Driver GRID. Dirt 2 combines the best of both games, dressing up the rewind-enabled, close-fought racing and epic car damage in off-road livery, then taking away the armco and letting the vehicles loose into all-terrain wonder tracks.
The festival presentation may have caused controversy, but its sense of identity makes it stand out from the crowd. The licensed soundtrack is perfectly chosen and makes this feel like the best summer you never had. The bottom line? Dirt 2 still plays superbly, thanks to some of the best handling in any car game, ever. Purists may prefer Dirt 3’s rallying, but the sunshine and sand makes this the superior destination for competitive racing.
29. The Witcher 2: Assassins of King
Geralt of Rivia isn’t a guy you want to mess with. First of all, he’s a genetically altered super mutant who has the skills of a master swordsman, has command over arcane powers, and takes down incredibly dangerous mythical beasties single-handedly. In The Witcher 2, Geralt continues his quest to find answers from his mysterious past – because one day he rose from the dead with amnesia.
The Witcher 2’s plot revolves around Geralt embarking on a mission to prove his innocence for the crime of regicide, and as you progress through the story, every major plot twist is under your control. Should you help the downtrodden elves and dwarves overthrow their human oppressors? Or leave them to their fate and focus on your quest? With a challenging and deep combat system, an enchanting world to explore, and an unforgettable tale, The Witcher 2 is an action-RPG that’s simply unmissable.
28. Fallout 3
Bethesda was already well known for its skill at creating open-world RPGs when the developer picked up the rights to Fallout. The iconic PC series was beloved by its dedicated fanbase, but many had their doubts that Bethesda could modernize the series, let alone reintroduce it to a massive new audience. Yet that’s exactly what it did with Fallout 3.
Capturing all the dark humor, brutal combat, and bleak setting at the series’ core, Fallout 3 remains one of the best examples of the 3D role-playing genre. A big factor in that success is the still-impressive level of choice it offers; whether it’s choosing a simple response to a question or deciding to obliterate an entire town in a nuclear explosion. As long as you have strange companions by your side and a functioning VATS, the post-apocalypse isn’t such a scary place after all.
27. Far Cry 3
The breakout moment for the iconic open-world series, and arguably the most influential Ubisoft game ever made. Before Jason Brody’s tropical sandbox made base takedowns and scaling towers to demist the map video game staples, Far Cry was lost. Changing developers and settings – first it was the one with the Doctor Moreau monsters, then the sequel that gave you malaria – it wasn’t until Far Cry 3 that the series found its voice.
A mechanically brilliant open-world shooter, there’s always a sharp purpose to motivate your murderous Rook Islands acts. Shoot and skin a tiger so you can craft a pack that will let you carry more potions. Earn extra XP by capturing an enemy encampment without raising an alarm, which you can then spend on useful skills, like takedown kills from the water or faster movement while crouched. Every act in Far Cry 3 moves towards giving you more empowering control of your character. There’s a reason every game since 2012 has borrowed at least one aspect or another from this sandbox classic.
How do you like your revenge? Cold-blooded, with merciless executions of those who wronged you? Or warm-hearted, as you dispose of corrupt officials with non-lethal methods? Whichever your preference, Dishonored lets you live out your vengeance fantasies in a fleshed-out steampunk world – one that feels wonderfully lived-in, to the point of extreme dilapidation. Corvo’s supernatural abilities make all the first-person sneaking incredibly liberating, letting you approach and assassinate guards (or avoid them altogether) in almost any way you please. Teleportation knife stabs, sentient swarms of rats, and nimble rooftop parkour are all within your grasp when you’re lurking among the dingy streets and lavish mansions of Dunwall.
25. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
For a game with characters that speak in grunts and non-words, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons manages to express an enormous amount of emotion. It’s a narrative-driven puzzle game where you control two young brothers simultaneously, each assigned to one of the gamepad’s thumbsticks. Their goal? To travel to a faraway land to find a cure for their dying father.
In practice, this often means figuring out how to overcome the various obstacles standing in your path. Puzzles that would be overly simple in any other game become far more complex when you’ve got to manage two different characters at the same time to solve them. But the real treat here is Brothers’ gorgeous, varied environments and its phenomenal tale of family, love and sacrifice. It’s one of those few games that will emotionally shake you to the core.
24. Diablo 3
One of the best things about Diablo 3 on consoles is that carpal tunnel is less of an issue when there’s much less clicky clicky and more button-mashing. The winning formula of loot, loot, and more loot is tweaked so that you’re getting sexier items. No more sifting through the garbage that you happen to pick up by accident because you wanted just the legendary stuff. But the most important thing is that Diablo 3 just feels great as you’re rampaging through dungeons. The transition to a controller may have been a concern initially, but it’s an entirely different experience that you can have offline, and with a friend through local co-op.
23. Borderlands 2
If your three favorite things on the entire planet are guns, toilet humor, and min/maxing RPG stats, then Borderlands 2 is a dream come true. Gearbox Software’s FPS/RPG hybrid is basically Diablo in shooter form. While the first was a great proof of concept, the second had us in stitches for 20+ hours while we shot up bandits and bonerfarts with guns that set living creatures on fire.
The writing here is sure to make you laugh, thanks to the hilarious cast of characters. Claptrap, a returning favorite from the original, is as silly as ever, while the new villain, Handsome Jack, spouts some of the most giggle-worthy lines in the entire game. It also helps that the action is ludicrously addictive, as the dozens of quests not only lead to more laughs, but also huge caches of loot and XP rewards, allowing you the opportunity to further develop your character’s abilities. Best of all, you can play with up to three friends, making Borderlands 2 one hell of a memorable co-op experience.
22. Left 4 Dead 2
Fans were outraged when Valve revealed that Left 4 Dead 2 would release a mere year after the original. And then they played it, and saw how much it improved over the first game, and… yeah. They stopped complaining real fast once they saw how many new weapons, levels, and zombie types there were – this sequel is the real deal.
This co-op masterpiece has you joining with three friends to fight through endless waves of zombies, working together to survive the undead apocalypse. The highlight has to be the campaigns – sure, the original game’s stages were great and all, but they can’t hold a candle to Left 4 Dead 2’s ingenious level design. That stage with the pouring rain, and then you need to go back through it after it’s flooded? Beyond (brain-biting) cool.
She has guns on her feet and her outfit is made of hair: is there really anything else you need to know about Bayonetta? There is? Alright, then let’s talk about how outstanding the gameplay is. The Devil May Cry-inspired combat (“inspired” being another term for “made by the guy who made the original few Devil May Cry games”) is fast and brutal, and the artistic design is inspired. It’s also ludicrous in the best possible way. The game rewards you for combos with outlandish, flashy visuals that are so over-the-top you’ll be grinning from ear to ear. Some battles end with Bayonetta turning her hair into a giant dog and devouring her enemies. Does it make sense? No, not in the slightest. Should you play it anyway? Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.
20. Gears of War 2
Gears of War 2 was a bigger, better, and all-around gorier package than its predecessor, which resulted in a game that was a blast to play with friends cooperatively or even alone. While Gears of War 3 made significant improvements to the multiplayer modes, Gears 2 holds a special place in our hearts because it was our first introduction to Horde mode. Everyone always remembers their first. The story of this much-improved sequel is also easier to emotionally invest in than the original. In a wise narrative move, the focus is shifted to Dominic Santiago as he desperately searches for his wife Maria. When they are finally reunited, the subsequent scene left us stunned… and a bit teary. For a game that centers around big, beefy men, such an attack on the tears ducts was the last thing we were expecting.
19. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Here’s a free tip: Don’t name any of your soldiers in XCOM: Enemy Unknown after people you care about. While that might be your initial inclination upon learning you can name them, it’s a bad idea, and will almost undoubtedly end in tears as you see your friends and family members torn the hell apart by aliens. And yes… it //will/// always feel like it’s your fault. That’s because despite being unrelenting and brutal, Enemy Unknown’s remarkable, strategic gameplay is always fair. If your squad is wiped out it’s your fault for giving them bad orders. If your soldiers fail to do damage it’s your fault for neglecting to upgrade them enough. If the world falls into chaos it’s your fault, which makes for an incredibly satisfying experience.
18. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
If you haven’t been keeping up with the complex (and at this point, incredibly confusing) plot of the Assassin’s Creed series, well, good luck trying to catch up. While other games in the series split the story between Desmond and his respective ancestor, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag gives us exactly what we want: a chance to be a badass assassin pirate plundering the open seas.
It’s true that AC4 makes a better pirate game than an Assassin’s Creed game, but Edward Kenway’s story is one of the most engaging the series has seen yet. You are a pirate captain doing what scurvy pirates do best. You’ll loot and plunder on the open water in your very own upgradeable ship, as you participate in ship-to-ship battles, boarding parties, all the while trying to navigate deadly storms. Of course, there’s also plenty of assassin stuff to do and buildings to climb, but anyone looking for the quintessential pirate experience can’t go wrong with Assassin’s Creed 4.
17. Super Meat Boy
Move over, Mario. This is the most iconic 2D platformer of the past 15 years. Taking the plumber’s pitch-perfect physics to their absolute extremes… actually, scratch that thought. On his best day, Nintendo’s mascot wouldn’t have a hope of clinging to the sort of grafting-defying surfaces Team Meat’s sentient steak regularly traverses with ease.
As hideously brutal as it is unapologetically demanding, a single bite-sized level in Super Meat Boy can devour an entire evening. Sure, most of its stages can be beaten in seconds once you master Meat Boy’s Matrix-esque athletic skills. Yet building up that level of muscle memory – whereby leaping over a series of hacksaws, spike pits, and other viscera-smeared deathtraps in a flurry of 15 second platforming perfection becomes second nature – can take dozens of hours. Once you do master his levels, Meat Boy becomes the video game equivalent of the most succulent ribeye you ever did eat. Y’know, just with a lot more death than goes into ordering your average prime cut at your local steakhouse
Arguably the best Xbox Live Arcade game ever made. Braid is a masterpiece in digital storytelling, one that manages to conceal its narrative genius behind a Mario-esque facade. On the surface, your little suited and booted hero is fiddling with physics and messing with the space-time continuum as he freezes and rewinds time in order to save a girl who’s clearly being studying Prince Peach’s Damsel in Distress 101.
Reach the game’s finale though, after five riveting hours of ingenious puzzle-based platforming, and you’ll soon realize nothing is as it seems. What is at first presented as a simple “the princess is in another castle” rescue mission actually reveals itself to be a tale of stalking and obsession, which remarkably, has thematic ties to the creation of the A-Bomb. Ruminating on the most catastrophic creation of the human race while also being a super fun, ingeniously designed platformer, Braid is a game like no other.
15. Telltale’s The Walking Dead
From a gameplay standpoint, The Walking Dead may appear weak when viewed next to the likes of Street Fighter and Arkham City. Most of the actual action centers around relatively simple puzzles and average QTEs. But if it’s so plain, why do we feel such intense emotions when playing all five episodes of this deceptively simple title? Because the game’s storytelling makes almost every other title seem childish by comparison.
The Walking Dead captures the feeling of the comics brilliantly, taking you through a number of heart-wrenching choices that have no obvious solution. Life-or-death scenarios crop up when you least expect them, and you feel so taxed by them because the writing makes you so heavily invested in your friends’ survival. The game’s continual conversations make you more connected to these fictional NPCs than many living people you know, which makes it that much more painful when you have to choose who dies next. If The Walking Dead can pull that off, who cares if the shooting is shoddy or the puzzles won’t exactly tax your grey matter.
14. Dead Space 2
EA may make its billion dollar bread and butter churning out franchise behemoths like Madden and FIFA, and that’s fine. But every now and then the mega publisher embraces new IPs, with incredible results. While 2008’s Dead Space was a refreshing gamble on a sci-fi Resident Evil, it was the electrifying sequel that definitively disapproved the notion Electronic Arts wasn’t capable of producing genre-pushing, all-time great games.
Dead Space 2 is a masterpiece: it’s just that simple. Very nearly the equal of Resident Evil 4, this nerve-shredding survival horror takes its cues both from Capcom’s Ganados-slaying masterpiece, and Ridley Scott’s Alien. Isaac Clarke’s sequel is perfectly paced, introducing terrifying new monsters and some truly unforgettable setpieces – remember the bit with the eye surgery gone wrong?! The game’s defining legacy? The utterly eerie, Nostromo-aping Sprawl space station. Without that incredible setting and those tightly directed horror sequences, who knows if The Creative Assembly would have ever been inspired to make the brilliant Alien Isolation.
13. Ultra Street Fighter 4
Street Fighter 4 revitalized 2D fighting among mainstream gamers when it debuted in early 2009. It combined traditional techniques with new flourishes like Focus attacks and comeback-enabling Ultras, plus a few zany additions to the roster. Flash forward to Ultra Street Fighter 4, and that roster has ballooned into a cast full of possibilities and wildly unique fighting styles. Whether you like to rush down or turtle, play smart or play dumb, there’s someone in Arcade Edition who you can play to your heart’s content.
And the community-driven options for online play are excellent. From endless battle and team battle to the replay channel that lets you rewatch great fights, there’s a wonderful depth of content designed to keep you engaged, playing, and sharpening your skills till the end of days. With the numerous improvements to Capcom’s formula, excellent netcode, and a truly solid foundation, Ultra Street Fighter 4 is the definitive version of the game.
12. BioShock Infinite
It’s really saying something when a sequel to one of the greatest shooters of all time – which is also blessed with an all-time great beginning – somehow starts with an even better opening. BioShock Infinite may just have the coolest, most unpredictable, goosebump-inducing first 15 minutes in the history of gaming. From rocketing Booker into the skies of the cloud-surfing city of Columbia via lighthouse, to a chilling baptism under the church-like chords of ‘Will the Circle be Unbroken’, it all makes for an incredible first impression. From an impeccable soundtrack to supernatural shootouts that outgun the first BioShock thanks to increased scope and imagination, this thrillride among the clouds is one of the best closing acts to a trilogy there’s ever been in games.
11. Rise of the Tomb Raider
Lara’s greatest game only exists because Crystal Dynamics were clearly copying off Naughty Dog in class. But hey, if you’re going to be a Nathan Drake wannabe, why not be the greatest Uncharted copycat that’s ever been made? And that’s exactly what Rise of the Tomb Raider is: the best Uncharted game Naughty Dog never put its name to. In some respects, the second entry of rebooted Croft’s trilogy is actually better than even Nate at his best. Not only is Rise’s shooting sharper than Uncharted 4, but sandbox-like hub areas and, optional, always intriguing Challenge Tombs, actually give you more agency than any of Nathan Drake’s adventures. This is the best game Lara Croft has ever starred in… and it’s not all that close.
10. Batman: Arkham City
The best superhero game of all time. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Insomniac may have done a terrific job with Spider-Man on PS4, but a generation before, Rocksteady absolutely slayed it with one of the greatest trilogies ever made. And the pick of the Bats bunch? The peerless, hugely ambitious Batman: Arkham City. While the claustrophobic island setting of Arkham Asylum let Rocksteady focus on perfecting Batman’s excellent combo-focused combat, it was only thanks to the stretched out scale of the sequel that the Dark Knight could truly stretch his wings.
Thanks to a brilliant gliding system that makes getting from criminal-kiboshing A to Penguin-pummelling B a ‘never gets old’ pleasure, just the simple act of moving around a substantial chunk of Gotham City real estate ensures Arkham City is a masterpiece. Oh, and that ending. Hot. Damn.
9. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
The most important Call of Duty game of all time is also the one that put the series back on the sales-conquering map. Without it? There would probably be no COD Warzone. It’s strange to think, but back in 2007, Modern Warfare was a bit of an underdog. With the eyes of the gaming world squarely focused on Halo 3, COD 4 came out of seemingly nowhere and instantly reinvigorated the series that people thought of as the slightly tired “World War 2 one”. Modern Warfare changed all perceptions about Call of Duty. Backed by a magnificently mustached Captain Price, an excellent multiplayer mode, and an iconic, drum-tight campaign that riffed on contemporary war films like Behind Enemy Lines, Call of Duty 4 was an instant classic. 15 years later, and it’s still the Call of Duty no other franchise entry can touch.
8. Halo Reach
Bungie’s last Halo game is also by far its best… at least in terms of single-player campaigns. While nothing can beat a good six-player team deathmatch on Halo 3’s Guardian, no other Bungie game before or since touches the quality of Halo Reach’s story mode. With perfect pacing, an ensemble of Spartans who are treated to more of an emotional journey in ten hours than Master Chief has been given in a decade, and a weirdly brilliant dogfighting mission involving spaceships, Reach is the boldest and best Halo.
It also benefits from being the most focused first-person shooter Bungie has ever made. Removing the most irritating parts of Halos 2 and 3 – we’re looking at you, Flood levels – Reach focuses on nothing but joyous shootouts versus the Covenant. Throw in power-ups that actually add to the purity of Halo’s combat, rather than detract from it – damn, is that jetpack good – and there’s no question this is the best single-player Halo ever… that you can also choose to co-op.
7. Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar’s Wild West epic proved that gamers loved cowboys. Before Red Dead Redemption, the medium had barely touched the concept of the Western. Yet in John Marston’s sandbox classic, you’re dealing with a title that has so much poise and class, it’s amazing games never embraced virtual old timey outlaws sooner. There are so many elements that go into making Red Dead Redemption a generational classic. Not only does it have an all-time great main character in John Marston – an essentially decent human being who is trying to make amends for a criminal past – it’s also sincere in a way GTA has never quite had the guts to be. The most famous gaming franchise on the planet does satire more effectively than any other series, sure, but in Red Dead, you’re looking at a rare instance of a Rockstar game being emotionally genuine. And it’s all the better for it.
6. Grand Theft Auto 5
Officially, GTA 5 is the most successful entertainment product of all time. Unofficially? No surprises, it also happens to be one of the best video games ever made. It’s testament to how good the core shooting and driving are that this Los Santos classic still remains so thoroughly replayable on Xbox Series X and PS5 after its recent new-gen remaster. Nine years on after its first release, the cars still handle as well as any motor in Forza Horizon 5, while those shootouts match the best Uncharted can offer. Turns out, there’s a reason the non-GTA Online part of Grand Theft Auto 5 remains such a scintillating all-timer. Fast forward ten years, and we’ll all probably be replaying an equally enjoyable redux of Michael, Franklin, and Trevor’s criminal escapades on PS7/Xbox Series X 3.0.
5. The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
It may be a hideous cliché, but in certain circumstances, size does actually matter. If you’re incredibly focused, you could probably conquer Skyrim in about 10 hours if you just stick to the game’s main quest line. Stay on said line and you’ll watch the credits with a confused look on your face, wondering what all the hubbub is about. But if you don’t get lost in this colossal world, you’re missing the point.
The massive RPG’s main attraction is everything it has to offer on the side. It’s no exaggeration to say that you could spend hundreds of hours adventuring, exploring, crafting, hunting, and dungeon diving. The main story? It’s pretty good, but it’s the story you create as you carve your mark in Skyrim that’s the real victory here. Elder Scrolls V ups the ante for the open-world experience, making a truly gorgeous and ambitious title that’ll keep you busy for a long, long time. Like, seriously, go ahead and cancel all other obligations you have this year. Until the Elder Scrolls 6 comes out, you’re best off spending those hundreds of hours fighting dragons in Skyrim.
What began as a student demo grew into one of the Xbox 360’s most unforgettable games. Whether packaged as part of The Orange Box or on its own, Portal achieves an astoundingly rich atmosphere by combining hilarious, character-rich writing with clever puzzle gameplay. Portal also does all this with so few components that it actually makes many bigger games look bloated by comparison.
The experience begins with the simple concept of traveling between two portals in a locked room, but the developers find so many smart ways to iterate on that core loop. The puzzle action grows unpredictably just as your unseen AI controller slowly transitions from banal directives to biting insults. The writing and action synergy culminates as the straightforward setting gives way to an amazing twist that enriches all that came before it. Portal tells a story in a way that only video games could, and that’s why it (and the Companion Cube) remain in our hearts to this day.
Is there a more captivating setting in video game history than BioShock’s Rapture? Actually, that shouldn’t be a question: it’s a pure statement of fact. Ken Levine’s generation-defining shooter is so beloved precisely because that submerged city is so ‘once in a lifetime’ memorable. Every sodden step you take through its once decadent, now dilapidated halls is testament to the hubris and danger of unchecked human ambition. Oh, and it’s also one hell of a first-person shooter. While that “would you kindly…” third act shocker is one of //the// great video games twists, it’s the moment to moment setpiece staging and inventive combat that truly makes BioShock so great.
Electrify a Big Daddy with your Emperor Palpatine-esque lightning hands before making the ultimate Sophie’s Choice over whether to kill or save his Little Sister. Shoot a bunch of unhinged goons with a shotgun, then stare in awe at the sinking city skyline in front of you. Get discounts on items purely for an excuse to play an all-timer of a minigame. In BioShock, not a single second of your time or attention is wasted.
2. Mass Effect 2
You probably have more of a heartfelt connection with one (or every) member of Commander Shepard’s crew than at least 50 percent of the people you know in real life. That’s because the Mass Effect trilogy tells a captivating story in a fascinating, fully realized universe, where morality, politics, and love between lifeforms are all part of a much grander picture. Mass Effect 2 is the Empire Strikes Back of the series, giving you more of everything you loved from the first game with none of the tonal changes of the third.
Commander Shepard feels like an extension of you, both in the ethical choices she or he makes, and in the enthralling third-person shootouts, where bullets, lasers, and orbs of biotic energy zip every which way. But the crown jewel in this N7 helmet is the cast of unforgettable characters, all of whom have their own personal journey of absolution and self-discovery. Regardless of how you feel about the way the story ends, Mass Effect 2 is the indisputable high point in one of the greatest action RPG series of all time.
1. Dark Souls
Our pick for greatest video game of all time was always going to take the number one spot for best Xbox 360 title, by the mere fact it came out on Microsoft’s iconic console. Dark Souls is the GOAT. Hell, it’s the GOAT of GOATs. A peerless masterpiece, and the soul reason – do or don’t pardon the pun – recent all-time masterpiece Elden Ring exists, this a sensational video game. As compelling as it is brutal, Dark Souls popularized the Soulsborne genre, and our love of it is why some members of GamesRadar are currently on their 27th go of trying to beat Elden Ring’s Starscourge Radahn.
Before From nailed the open-world format, they created a perfectly self-contained, constantly twisted environment in Dark Souls’ Lordran. An ingenious kingdom that constantly contorts back in on itself, it’s the crowning glory of what is widely accepted as the greatest video game there’s ever been.
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