GameCentral readers name their favourite Xbox exclusive games, from Fable to Forza Motorsport.
We’ve already run a Hot Topic on the best PlayStation exclusives, so this week it was the turn of Microsoft and any game that had, at least at some point, been exclusive to the Xbox, Xbox 360, or Xbox One (we would’ve also accepted any Microsoft-published PC exclusives).
You would’ve imagined that Halo and Gears Of War would’ve dominated the lists but for whatever reason – perhaps because people didn’t want to go with the obvious – they got little more than passing mentions, in favour of the likes of Knights Of The Old Republic and Jet Set Radio Future.
Having switched between Xbox and PlayStation over the years I’ve enjoyed quite a few exclusives on both. Whilst PlayStation has clearly ruled with the exclusives for this generation, the best one from Xbox for me has to be Star Wars: Knights Of the Old Republic. One of the best role-playing games of all time and the reason I originally got myself an Xbox, after being a devout PlayStation 1 to 2 user.
It’s characters and narrative were addictive, with a great plot twist, and it was worthy of many playthroughs during my time on the original Xbox. And although the sequel didn’t quite hit the same heights with many (I still loved it) I found that too to be a compelling and enjoyable game, and I’ve always hoped for a remaster of the two to be released. (Has this ever been seriously considered? I know a fan remaster was shut down fairly recently but not seen anything other than that?)
There were others that jumped out to me for Xbox over the years. Gears Of War was always a fun play and I remember being obsessed with Project Gotham Racing 2 for a stretch. I’m sure many will single out games in the Halo franchise too, although they never really gripped me too much. The only recent exclusive for Xbox on this gen was Quantum Break, which I thought was a clever idea but certainly not a blockbuster.
Love reading your stuff guys, keep up the good work!
GC: Thanks. Strangely, there’s never been any talk of a console remaster for Knights Of The Old Republic, even though EA own both BioWare and the Star Wars licence.
Initially I struggled with this Hot Topic because I don’t like Halo or Gears Of War and I find the Forza games a bit boring. Then I remembered Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and the subject under discussion presented its winner.
Geometry Wars is such a fantastic game, it looks beautiful but more importantly it’s a joy to play. This Xbox exclusive is a prime example of game design at its finest. Sort of a hyped-up version of Asteroids, Geometry Wars puts the player in the fight of their lives whilst dazzling them with a hypnotic light show that has to be seen to be believed.
What I especially like about Geometry Wars is the way the gameplay mirrors its title and evolves. New enemies keep appearing, they offer different ways to kill you and all the player can do in response is panic and grin because survival has never been so much fun.
The game’s music is wonderful too. A classic exclusive, worth buying an Xbox for.
There is only one answer: Halo. I was never a massive fan but Xbox wouldn’t exist today if it wasn’t for that single game, which you can’t say about the other formats. As fun as it is I don’t think Crimson Sky would’ve kept them in the game long enough to realise the Xbox 360.
My personal favourite though is actually a true Xbox exclusive that we’ll probably never see again: Jet Set Radio Future. The original was a real classic on Dreamcast and the sequel had a style nothing else in the Xbox’s pretty dour line up could match, and a terrific soundtrack. It was pure joy, a phrase you wouldn’t associate with the Xbox platform even today.
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I think my favourite Xbox exclusive wouldn’t be any of the big hitters like Halo, Gears, or Forza, but actually one of the indie games which was originally an Xbox exclusive but is now available elsewhere, the game Shadow Complex.
After my PlayStation 3 broke I considered replacing it or getting an Xbox 360. I had always been a PlayStation gamer up to that point but most of my friends were on Xbox and I wanted to give Halo a try given its reputation. I had heard about what a great indie game Shadow Complex was though, so I gave it a download and it started a new love for Metroidvania style games, as it was my first one.
I had never played a Metroid or Castlevania game before, so this was the first game of that style and I loved it, as it felt unique to me at the time. The graphics and effects from the Unreal engine also made it quite impressive at the time. I hope that there might be a sequel one day.
Now playing: Yakuza Zero (PS4) and Yoshi’s Crafted World (Switch)
Real driving simulator
For me, the Forza Horizon series has got to stand out as the best Xbox exclusive. Each entry in the series has been not only reviewed well and sold well but has been consistently regarded as an improvement over the previous iteration.
Forza in general now appears to be regarded as the premier driving franchise across any platform, and with the last two releases, Horizon has been regularly cited as a better game than the mainline series. Not just that, but the DLC has also been well received as genuinely new additions, see the Hot Wheels expansion to Horizon 3 as an example of how to do paid DLC properly.
Honourable mention goes to Sunset Overdrive, overlooked by many. Spiderman on the PlayStation 4 is basically built on the back of this game, and you can feel the same DNA across the two. It’s a shame it didn’t sell well so we’re unlikely to get a sequel, when you consider it’s up against the guaranteed cash that a Spider-Man sequel would generate.
The Fable of Peter Molyneux
On the subject of best Xbox exclusives ever, I think the obvious choice is Halo but for me personally I’ve got to go with Fable.
I remember reading an interview with Peter Molyneux where he was showing screenshots and over-hyped the game massively, which was the would reason I bought an Xbox just for that game.
I’d also toss into the mix Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic 1 and 2 as well.
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Past and Future
When I first saw this Hot Topic I felt pretty negative about the subject, but when I had a bit more of a think about a response and I realised that was probably a bit of recency bias and that the Xbox brand actually has a very solid record of exclusives across the first two consoles. I have picked a favourite and a trio of honourable mentions:
I would say Halo definitely deserves a very good word, but that title is in a bit of a GoldenEye 007 situation in that the best thing about it at the time was how innovative it was, and it’s not actually that great to go back to. It really was mind-blowing in its day though.
Tales Of Vesperia is basically the last really good title in that series, which I had loved for years prior, and it was exciting at the time that Microsoft were making a real effort to offer a broader range of genres as part of the Xbox catalogue. The gameplay is all very solid as you would expect, with a much more likeable protagonist than normal and some touching interactions between the party.
I loved the original Fable and played it to death, the combat is so underrated and it’s a shame that was dumbed-down in later iterations. It looked a million dollars at the time as well, the PlayStation 2 just wouldn’t have been able to run it so it really felt like it made owning the console worth it, and the British regional accents were endearing.
My favourite Xbox exclusive is without doubt though Jet Set Radio Future. The controls were superb and it still looks and sounds so distinctive and vibrant, it’s brimming with personality and is basically the antithesis of the relentless parade of grey and brown shooters that pervade the contemporary Xbox catalogue. I hope we get a worthy sequel one day.
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