Eight to Consider: Xbox 360

8-Star Trek Legacy

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I wish I knew what it was that drove me to play Star Trek Legacy in the first place. I’m not, by any stretch of the term, a Star Trek fan. Considering when I played, I was likely just looking for something to punch up my gamerscore. Legacy ended hooking far longer than I was ever anticipating.

I’ll be damned if I can remember any minutia of it, but I do remember having a surprising amount of fun with. I was pretty impressed that Mad Doc Software (which, as Rockstar New England, would go on to work on another game on my list) went through the trouble of getting all the actors whose characters appeared in the game to lend their voices to the game. To be fair, the only three I knew were William Shatner, Avery Brooks (from Babylon 5…I mean Deep Space Nine), and Patrick Stewart, but it was obvious, even to someone as ignorant to the Star Trek mythos as I am,  a lot of love and attention to detail went into this title.

The game has you in control of a small fleet, up to four, of Federation ships. As the timeline goes on, you gain access to more advanced ships, a nice nod to the in-game march of time and technology. The controls are surprisingly simple considering you’re controlling ships that aren’t exactly nimble. From what I’ve read, the 360 was the lead development platform and had the controls specifically set to work with its controller. That led to a rather cumbersome control scheme for the PC port.

If you can find it, Legacy is worth a go round, even if you’re not a Trek fan. So much so that I went out and purchased a copy to play again. May the Force be with you or whatever.

7-Battlefield: Bad Company 2

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You know how much I love shooters. I’m awesome at them. Straight busting headshots with no iron sights, yo.

Yeah, so how the hell did B:BC2 end up on this list? The humorous dialogue in the campaign kept the story from getting too much like a Michael Bay-meets-Tom Clancy collaboration that so many other FPS’s are guilty of. The solid gunplay, the IV drip of unlocks in multiplayer, and the large-but-not-too-large maps that allowed me to stay alive for more than a second before getting killed kept me coming back for months on end.

Having ANY twitch-based shooter on any list of mine aside from a “couldn’t give two shits about” should lend some credence to just how fun (and fair) Bad Company 2 is.

6-Bully: Scholarship Edition

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I’ve never been a fan of the GTA series. I’d start playing, get bored, enter some codes in, blow shit up for five minutes, and move on to something else. So when Bully was originally released on the Playstation 2, I didn’t give it much of a chance. Played one Rockstar game, played every Rockstar game.

Only not so much.

After some nudging from my brother-in-law, I gave Bully a chance when it was put on the 360 a few years later. I figured I could get some achievements out of it, if nothing else. I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

The unrelatable, “trying too hard” tale telling of the GTA series was pushed aside for something most of us grew up with in one form another: trying to fit in. The bittersweet tale of Jimmy dealing with a home situation that’s only hinted at, but is made obvious to not be a happy one, leads to some poor choices on his part. The surprise that Jimmy isn’t the “bully” alluded to in the title leads to interesting situations as you play through the school year.

There are mini-games, situations that only occur during certain times of the year, wardrobe items to collect, and girls (and even guys) to woo. The world is more compact and the storytelling is more streamlined, helping the game never feel too big and overwhelming. Bully really is the whole package.

5-Eternal Sonata

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Until I started playing Ni No Kuni a few days ago, Eternal Sonata was one of prettiest looking games of this generation. The vibrant art style really gave those that jumped into a higher end HDTV something to show off. But a game can’t live on its graphics alone (although Donkey Kong Country kinda did), so is Eternal Sonata worth more than just a showpiece piece of software?

If you’re expecting a great story to be told, let’s keep in mind that you’re playing through what is essentially Chopin’s fever dream just before he dies. Character names all have some sort of musical tie in. The overall story is almost so heavy-handed and anime-cliché ridden, it makes it tough to swallow at times. If you can look beyond the cheese, there’s an incredibly fun battle system that keeps evolving as the game goes on. As it becomes more involved and complicated, the potential damage you can inflict goes up with it, making you feel like a total badass when you find the best combination of characters for your style.

Sure, the story makes a trip to the dentist almost assured, but Eternal Sonata is a fun and gorgeous game that should be given a chance if you prefer your RPG combat to be a bit more swift and engaging.

4-Dragon Age: Origins

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I wasn’t initially too excited about Dragon Age. I was fairly certain my brain was at capacity for remembering fictional universes. As it always seems to turn out with games and peer pressure, I caved. I popped it in about a year after its release and came out 150 hours later with no recollection of Star Wars.

The multitude of races and class combinations made customization quite deep. And with each race having its own origin (“origin”, get it?) story, you can start off a new character to see how certain characters react to you based on your race, gender, and class. There’s a ton of replayability in Dragon Age, and when you’re creating a new universe that you want players to become invested in, giving them reasons to keep coming back time and time again is a good move.

Sure it was fairly ugly, but that played well into the dark tale being told. I can’t imagine that a vibrant art direction would lend itself well to the feeling the game’s narrative conveyed.

3-XCOM: Enemy Unknown

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Somehow, someway, XCOM: Enemy Unknown beat Mass Effect 3 as my favorite game of 2012. None of the soldiers you take into battle have a story, but you become so attached to the ones that survive that you might find yourself reloading a save file to give them a chance to survive.

There’s a very specific way to play the game if you want to be successful, but finding those choices won’t guarantee victory. As your squad gains new armor, weapons, and tools, you also gain confidence as your fights against the aliens start to go more smoothly. Then the aliens throw some new shit at you and you get your squad nearly wiped out.

XCOM: Enemy Unkown is a game risks. Every choice you make could have some serious ramifications that screw you further down the road. Your resources are limited and the clock is ticking. Good luck, Commander.

2-Deus Ex: Human Revolution

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I named Deus Ex: Human Revolution my favorite 360 game of 2011. There was something special about it for me. Want to go apeshit and just murder everything and everyone? Done. Want to go stealthy and not kill a single person? Done. Something in the middle? Done.

Any game that draws to mind comparisons to Metal Gear Solid but doesn’t require an encyclopedia of references to comprehend is okay with me.

1-Rainbow Six Vegas 2

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Remember when I said I wasn’t good at shooters a few entries back? Yeah, well, this was the one exception to that. This is possibly the only non-RPG that sucked up well over one hundred hours. Sure the story is kind of cheesy, but if you’re playing a shooter, no matter how tactical, for the story, you’re doing it wrong.

Plenty of loadout options, plenty of multiplayer modes, a fun co-op mode, and being able to put your face on your character with the Xbox camera (has to come in use for something, right?) and I was playing this for nearly a year before it finally went out regular rotation. R6V2 might not be the greatest game available for the Xbox 360, but it remains one of my favorites even five years since its release.

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