While the ultimate decision on whether Halo 3 lived up to the hype or was a disappointment is still up for debate, gamers cannot own the 360 and not own this game. The Halo series is an institution for the Xbox, and Halo 3 continued that tradition. Graphically, Halo 3 brings lush, vibrant environments in which players can blast through hoards of alien baddies. Although the storyline was convoluted and the single player campaign was short, Halo 3’s multiplayer was brought to a new level in the franchise. Halo 3’s multiplayer features expansive environments, creative multiplayer games, movie replays, and the “Forge” editor that allows gamers to customize their fields of play life never before. Gamers may never find out the identity of Master Chief, but they sure hope he stays around.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
Does infinitely blasting neon shapes sound a bit boring? Not if you are playing XBLA’s Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. In the title, players are endless barraged by green, purple, and red shapes. Geometry Wars first gained popularity in Project Gotham Racing 2 and hit the XBLA with both the retro version and a new graphically enhanced version. The gameplay of Geometry Wars is chaotically beautiful and strangely mesmerizing. When players log more hours playing an arcade game then a full $60 title, it obviously deserves a spot in the Criterion Collection.
Guitar Hero II/III
The Guitar Hero series has experienced soaring popularity since it originally hit consoles. Simple gameplay coupled with many of the best songs in rock’n’roll history make Guitar Hero II/III a joy to rock out to every time. At its core, Guitar Hero is a straightforward timing game, but when the volume is turned up to 11, it is easy to feel like a rock god. New installments in the series continue to add bells and whistles that continue to reinvigorate gameplay. Whether gamers play to see how fast their fingers can fly or to just feel like a rock star, the Guitar Hero series is more addictive than Scott Weiland on a heroin bender.
With Mass Effect, developer Bioware has added another entry on their already impressive resume of RPG titles (See: Jade Empire, KOTOR). Mass Effect is a sci-fi action-RPG that explores the human conscious as much as it explores the depths of the universe. The player is ultimately in control of the morality of their character. Branching dialogue determined by player provides an unparalleled depth of storyline development. Player choices have lasting impacts on the lives of everyone in the game. NPC’s look and feel alive for perhaps the first time in gaming history. This may be the first time during a game where players want to hurry to finish a fight sequence so they can get to the next section of dialogue.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat
Sick of first person WWII shooters? Call of Duty 4 leaps out of the 1940’s and into present day military combat. Although the single player campaign is short, its gameplay is brilliantly paced. The game seamlessly transitions from foot campaigns, to sniping missions, to helicopter combat, and even engaging the enemy from thousands of feet above in a gunship. COD4 is graphically stunning. There are times players will stop mid action to stand in awe of the environments war ravaged beauty. A new ranking system provides a refreshing depth to the multiplayer experience. Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat is a refreshing installment in the series and has effectively set the new standard for first person shooters.
Regardless of genre, these 10 games are must own games for every serious gamer. Ladies and gentleman, this is the Criterion Collection for the Xbox 360 to date.