The Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever! Xbox Edition

This entry is part 14 of 13 in the series Console Lists

It’s Microsoft everyone! Yes, the software company known for games like Ski-Free, Solitaire, and Minesweeper decided that they could do better. Although, Ski Free was pretty great. There was a monster that would come out and eat you if you didn’t go fast enough. Minesweeper was amazing too, now that I think about it. They didn’t invent Solitaire, but you know what? Also great. So why the hell not? Why not make a video game console?

In 1998, Microsoft did just that, and their little experiment made them the biggest American based video game company and one of the biggest in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the original Xbox! (Not the Xbox One of course, because that was Microsoft’s third console…because reasons.)

Anyway…Here’s the Xbox!

Life is Short. Play More.

Life is Short. Play More.

The Microsoft Xbox
Released: 2001
Generation of Home Consoles: Sixth
Graphics: 233 MHz nVidia NV2A
Rating: Solid as all hell.

So as I said, in 1998 a couple of guys at Microsoft got together and decided to see how difficult it would be to hop into the video game business. The thought process was that since they already had a pretty great operating system, it wouldn’t take that much effort to tweak the software a bit and maximize it for video games.

They were correct. It wasn’t hard at all. This was due to the fact that like…a million hardware companies had already done all of the work. Hundreds of companies had spent years and billions of dollars to make sure that their hardware would work with Microsoft software. So the Microsoft guys cracked open a few Dell laptops, (No seriously! That’s where the Xbox started. Dell laptops. Can you imagine?) they cracked them open and threw the bits into a plastic box with a big X on the top. The whole process took three years which is actually incredible considering how little Microsoft spent on consumer hardware development.

As always, Microsoft also did their homework and stuck to the Bill Gates Manual of Business Practices. They looked at the competition, figured out what works, what doesn’t, and how to make all of those things into a better product. (Good artists copy; great artists steal, etc.)

Avast me ‘earties, yo ho!

Memory cards? A thing of the past. Xbox will have a built in hard drive. You people like playing games on the internet? We’re putting an Ethernet port on the back. You like playing with your friends and downloading games? Welcome to Xbox Live. People like team FPS games? Here’s Halo: Combat Evolved available only on Xbox.

Mix all of that with a slick marketing campaign and you have yourself an extremely successful gaming console. Good on you, Xbox. You are the opposite of the 3DO. Xbox very successfully competed with the Gamecube and the Playstation 2 and Microsoft’s been in the video game console business ever since.

That all said, you can have a great console, but it won’t sell unit one unless you have games to play on it, so let’s dive in!

(As always, the list was spit out by my Excel Algorithm which takes into account player review scores, professional review scores, and game sales on a weighted system.)

10. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. 2002. (Bethesda Game Studios)Elder Scrolls
Starting the list, we have ES3M. An open world RPG and when I say open, I mean open. So open in fact that some reviewers thought it was a bit too lacking in focus on the story. I mean. There IS a story. There’s a god named Dagoth Ur who lives in a volcano and wants to take over the world. Should you stop him? Sort of up to you. He’s there to be stopped if you want. Alternatively, you can just sort of run around the incredibly detailed world and do what you please, because who has time for gods who live in volcanoes? Perhaps you want to be a thief and just steal everyone’s stuff. Kind of irrelevant who’s in charge. Empire or weird volcano god, doesn’t matter. You do you.

9. Madden NFL ’05. 2004. (EA)Madden 2005
Dear lord. Is that Ray Lewis on the cover? Well it was only a few years after the murder allegations so that can be forgiven. Ray Lewis is REALLY good at football and really rich, so…I guess it’s ok. Plus he got a fine by the NFL…It wasn’t as big as Tom Brady got for possibly knowing about footballs being slightly deflated despite any actual evidence, but…you know. Madden ’05 was the first in the series to play on Xbox Live and that gave it a HUGE boost in ratings at the time and also quite a bit of nostalgia points for a lot of people. Game play was the same as any other Madden game which at this point had pretty much solved any lingering problems. It’s a shame about the cover art but what can you do.

8. Project Gotham Racing. 2004. (Bizarre Creations)gotham racing
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the very favorite game of Bill Gates! Apparently. (This is according to Wikipedia, so if it’s not accurate you’ll excuse me. If Bill Gates emails me and says, “I never said that,” I’ll change this.) PGR was a racing game where winning races was important but in order to advance in the game, you also had to accomplish various tasks to win which were called “Kudos”. (So, power sliding for X amount of seconds, or X amount of times in a single lap.) The concept is something which would become a major part of gaming not long after in the form of “achievements”. The game featured remarkably realistic locations to race through, fun game play, and now a coveted spot on the Mathematical Top Ten.

7. ESPN NFL 2K5. 2004. (Visual Concepts)NFL 2k5
Wow! Not only are we getting two football games on the list, they’re both from the same year. Crazy! Unfortunately, this would be ESPN’s last hurrah as it was the last year that the company was allowed to use actual NFL teams. EA signed an exclusivity deal with NFL for Madden ’06 onward and it’s possible they did it because of how universally praised this game was. It was released for 20 bucks and it heavily cut into Madden’s sales. (So EA being EA did what they do and killed their competition with business instead of just making a better game the next year.) Ah well. It was a great game and beloved by many.

6. Burnout 3: Takedown. 2004. (Criterion Games)Burnout 3
Burnout was great and weird. You know that expression, “It’s like a bad car accident. It hurts to look, but you just can’t turn away.” Well what if it was super FUN to look and nobody got hurt? You’d have Burnout 3 in a nutshell. The game is ostensibly a racing game but with a focus on destruction of your fellow peers. Or just narrowly not destroying your peers. Near misses or total destruction of them, I guess. There is SOME actual racing you can do, but it wasn’t really the point of this game. The third game in the series had the perfect balance of mayhem, speed, and fun in the rarely seen racing and crashing genre. It was, in a word, mint.

5. Fable. 2004. (Big Blue Box Studios)Fable
More like Big Blue Ball Studios, am I rite everyone? (Author’s note. I’m now sober and editing this. I was drunk when I wrote it, but I’m keeping the ball thing in.) Moving on, Fable is the bees knees. It’s an open world action RPG. Which is what a lot of games are right now, but which not a lot of games were in 2004. (Yes, I’m aware of what’s at number ten on the list.) The game isn’t as sandboxy as Elder scrolls 3, though it still allowed quite a bit of choosing of one’s own adventure. That said the game was a bit more focused with its progression. It also sold a metric TON of units, won a ton of awards, and was one of the fastest selling games on the system.

4. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. 2003. (BioWare)KOTOR
I imagine an initial pitch meeting about a Star Wars game which doesn’t feature AT-AT walkers on Hoth is a tough sell to the Lucas Arts brass. And yet somehow this game which doesn’t feature that nor any single movie character made it through to actual development. But oh man did these guys make something spectacular because of that. In addition to the dressing of Jedi and Sith and space faring, Knights of the Old Republic was an extremely well crafted RPG. You choose from some basic character classes and level up as per usual until you start getting the Jedi stuff. The combat was an extremely well executed upgrade on the active time battle systems which RPG’s used to employ. For fun, you could also choose to be as good or as evil as you’d like, with those choices affecting the story in fairly big ways. This was a LOT of people’s 2004 game of the year and won over 40 awards for everything from game play to story to original characters.

3. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. 2002. (Ubisoft Montreal)Splinter Cell
From the Great White North comes a great little stealth game. In fact it redefined the Stealth Action genre. (According to the tag line on the box art.) To be fair, the box had a point. You play as Sam Fisher, an NSA agent hired for your sweet murder/shadow movement/night vision goggle skills. Use them correctly and you can avoid World War 3! How noble! Notably, the game was freaking gorgeous to look at and actually good enough to win the game some rare mainstream press. Entertainment Weekly was talking about how good it looked. Ubisoft’s experiment in alternative game play was risky but it paid off big. They spawned a HELL of a franchise and deservedly so.

2. Grand Theft Auto 3. 2001. (DMA Design/Rockstar Vienna)GTA 3
Real quick housecleaning. DMA Design eventually became Rockstar North, and Rockstar Vienna is the one that ported the game to Xbox. Cool? Cool. It’s GTA3 Y’all! So Grand Theft Auto and GTA 2 were fine games. Fun, violent, perfectly ok games. And then this…glorious thing…happened as the third installment. A game so drastically different from its predecessors that it may as well have been a different game. Given the violent nature of the game and that car theft and murder were key game play mechanics it had a lot of controversy to go along with its accolades. Killing sprees were a way to effectively earn a better car if you were quick enough and people did just that, much to the chagrin of parents groups everywhere. Steal cars, shoot civilians, win awards. It’s the American way! Great game and almost definitely not the last time it’ll show up on a console list.

So if that’s number 2, what’s number 1? Oh, I’m sure you can figure it out. The one. The only…

1. Halo 2. 2004. (Bungie)

Halo 2
After the first Halo was released, a sequel was inevitable. The game play and story (and sales) were too good not to release a follow up plus this was Microsoft’s adopted but beloved baby. Bungie had a lot of game play mechanics which they wanted to include in the first game, but couldn’t due to time and money and deadlines. Nonplussed, they added all of them and more to the sequel. You play as either Master Chief or the alien Arbiter and you run through a fairly epic sci fi story which picks up about ten minutes after the first game leaves off. What really sold the game though, was the support it received for Xbox Live. This game was the killer app that Microsoft needed and which the world had apparently been desperate for. Fast paced, online multiplayer, first person shooting wasn’t invented here, but it was definitely a turning point for the concept as it suddenly wasn’t just some guys with a lan. It was 8.5 million people all shooting each other up with delight. You personally might like a different game more, but very few arguments will be found to counter it’s position here, and most arguments will be considered null and void from the start. From reception to legacy to sales to game play to everything else, Halo 2 remains, humbly, number 1.

So that’s the Xbox list! Hope you enjoyed! Upset that Battlefront II didn’t make the cut? Shocked that Dead or Alive 3 is nowhere to be found? Let me know in the comments, tweet it at me @whentheicebreak or just relax about the whole thing, dig out your old Xbox and play some games!

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Philippe L.

About Philippe L.

When not out exploring the stars with his good friend Hotblack Desiato, he makes his living here on Earth keeping other people's money safe from the hands of thieves and spinning the occasional yarn. He enjoys beer and coffee very much, but unfortunately he can't eat shellfish or tomatoes.

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