XBOX is 15 years old today, which it celebrated by dying its hair and refusing to wash a pan. To mark the occasion, Zatu rotates its head 180 like a stressed owlet and takes a look back at the best original XBOX games.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003)
Bioware’s Star Wars RPG still holds up today. Set thousands of years before the events of A New Hope, KOTOR has players take on the role of a mysterious character aboard a Republic vessel under attack by the sith.
The combat system is unique, and would see a reprise years later in Dragon Age: Origins. Seeing an enemy freezes time, allowing players to queue up a series of actions like shiv, grenade, and peg it.
Character variety meant you could tackle the various challenges as several types of jedi, or, if you wanted to ill-advisedly try and kill a sith with a big gun, you could dope yourself out of your gourd and gun down the final boss at the speed of sound.
Jade Empire (2005)
Another (great) original XBOX RPG, Jade Empire has its roots in the Chinese wuxia genre. Players take on the role of an orphan whose master, Li, is captured. They set out on a quest to find him in the Imperial City.
Morality is divided into the Way of the Open Palm and the Way of the Closed Fist, neither of which are ways to discipline your children.
Though similarly story-rich to KOTOR, Jade Empire’s real-time combat made it a faster paced, more button-mashy experience.
An innovative platformer that sadly didn’t do too well at the time of release. Players take on the role of Raz, a trainee psychonaut, as he (literally) navigates the tormented minds of different characters in an attempt to help them deal with past traumas. The game combines a Tim Burton-esque visual style with the writing talents of Tim Schafer and Erik Wolpaw.
In December of 2015, over ten years after its original release, a sequel was finally announced.
Timesplitters 2 (2002)
Timesplitters 2 decided that stories are for squares, and instead constructed a game out of a series of pop-culture parodies set across multiple time periods.
The different levels cast players as a 60s hippy, a built space marine, a British explorer and a robot thing in a hoodie, none of whom walk into a bar. The level design, art style and humour complement each other perfectly, though it’s less a game that doesn’t know the word ‘subtle’ and more one that systematically tears it out of every edition of every dictionary in history before torching the resulting paper in a bonfire the size of Greece.
Yet another original XBOX RPG, This one has a slightly controversial place in gaming history for introducing gamers to the insane overpromises for which Lionhead founder Peter Molyneux has since become infamous.
What it does, and what the series continued to do, is inject humour into the RPG, a genre which typically involves very serious stories about serious things happening that put serious people in serious jeopardy. Fable was much more innocent than that, and that’s its charm.
Keep your eyes unhealthily fixated on our blog page for more XBOX-related gubbins.
UPDATE: This product is no longer available to purchase from Zatu Games. All information above including prices were correct at the time of publishing but may not be accurate in present day.