Xbox 360: The Best of 2007
2006 was a great year for the Xbox 360. We saw tons of great games -- Oblivion, Gears of War, and Dead Rising just to name a few -- Xbox Live Arcade showed signs of maturity, Xbox Live grew by leaps and bounds, and overall 360 sales are closing in on the 10 million mark. Yes, it was a good time to be a gamer if you had a 360. What about the future? What does 2007 hold for the Xbox 360? Read on and join the discussion.
Let's just dismiss the elephant in the room right away. Halo 3, love it or hate it, is easily the biggest game that the Xbox 360 has going for it. People are already paying obscene amounts of money for the Legendary edition, and the game doesn't even have a release date yet. Halo 3 will no doubt be a graphical showpiece when it hits next year, and will more than likely become the defacto bullet point for all of Microsoft's talking heads. With a sixty second commercial receiving insane amounts of attention and a multiplayer beta arriving in the spring, the hype is only just beginning. Let's put it this way, if you're sick of Halo 3 already, you're going to hate 2007. The rest of us,however, will soak it all up with glee.
Launching next month, Lost Planet looks to continue the financial success that began with Capcom's Dead Rising. Two polished and fun demos have already appeared on Live -- one of them six months prior to the game's release -- to much fanfare from 360 users. The multiplayer demo even clawed its way onto the Live top ten more than once. Set on a chilling ice planet, Lost Planet brings giant bugs, mechs, and visceral combat (including some very interesting grenades). With beautiful graphics and slick production values, it promises to be one of 2007's first big titles.
Xbox Live Arcade
Rounding out 2006, we began to see Xbox Live Arcade show signs of real maturity. We were assaulted with several fun and original games like RoboBlitz and Assault Heroes. It took nearly a year to see games of this caliber hit the service, and now that we've had a taste, we want more. 2007's Arcade line up looks stellar with original titles like Castle Crashers, Worms HD, War World and the uber-trippy Space Giraffe. Throw in a few classics like Double Dragon, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night(!) and Xbox Live Arcade may end up costing you more than retail games.
Say what you will about turn-based RPGs, but they are a genre severely lacking on the Xbox 360. Many players revel in the simple joys of fighting the good fight and watching a story unfold. As turn-based RPGs go, it looks like Blue Dragon is one of the best in recent memory. The brainchild of Hironobu Sakaguchi and Akira Toriyama, Blue Dragon is an RPG fans dream. After all, they created Chrono Trigger (you know, that game your RPG loving friends won't shut up about). Expect some nice RPG lovin' when Blue Dragon gets the English treatment next year.
If we're going to talk about RPGs, then we have to talk about Mass Effect. From Bioware, the creators of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire, Mass Effect hopes to change how we think about role playing games. Gone are turn-based rules and awkward dialogue trees. Replacing them is a dynamic and real time combat engine and an emotional prompt-based dialogue system. Players will explore the entire galaxy, all of it beautifully rendered at near cinematic quality. Keep your eyes peeled: given Bioware's track record, Mass Effect could be "game of the year" material.
Real Time Worlds' Crackdown isn't exactly the first thing you think of when considering the best upcoming titles on Xbox 360. That said, Crackdown might just have "hit" written all over it. Coming from David Jones, the creator of Grand Theft Auto, Crackdown looks to give sandbox games a much needed kick in the pants. Putting action at the forefront and dropping players in a massive world, Crackdown promises to be a brutally good time either alone or with a friend on Xbox Live. Some are quick to dismiss Crackdown because of its unconventional graphical style, but those that have actually played it agree that it's a lot of fun. You can bet that we'll be first in line to try the demo out when it releases next month. Oh, and if you haven't thought about pre-ordering this yet, you might want to think again.
This one might just be a fanboy pipe dream -- no release date has been announced -- but Project Offset could turn the gaming world on its head when it debuts. Featuring a brand new graphics engine that rivals -- and possibly surpasses -- the likes of Unreal Engine 3, Project Offset oozes with potential. All of the trailers thus far have been positively gorgeous, and the idea of a team based FPS in a fantasy setting is just too delectable to contemplate.
Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
We love hating on Electronic Arts as much as the next blog, but we have to commend them for attempting to make real time strategy games bearable on consoles. Battle for Middle Earth II was a decent start, but we're hoping EA puts the screws to the C&C3 team and delivers the new standard in console real time strategy (if not, we'll have to rely on Halo Wars). It doesn't hurt that the game is looking particularly sharp, either.
Virtua Fighter 5
The revelation that VF5 would hit the 360 is big -- a fact of which we're sure Microsoft is aware. Virtua Fighter's depth and required dedication rivals that of a religion. It's the kind of game that gives some people (especially Japanese fans) enough reason to buy a console. The series as a whole represents a fighting game technician's dream. Put simply, there is no better technical fighter on the market. Now, if someone at SEGA would wake up and slap some online play onto it, we could die happy.
You knew this one would be in here somewhere. From Ubisoft, Assassin's Creed was one of the first games that screamed "new gen." It was the kind of thing that you just wouldn't see on the original Xbox. Promising an intriguing plot, amazing acrobatics, and innovative crowd dynamics, Assassin's Creed is already one of the most talked about titles of 2007. After a long -- though somewhat transparent -- tit-for-tat regarding the title's 360 status, Assassin's Creed is shaping up to be a great 360 title. Better than the PS3 version according to some.
This list represents only a handful of the goodness that 2007 should bring to 360 owners. There are so many potential blockbusters out there that we really can't list them all. Too Human, Unreal Tournament 2007, the Half-Life 2 mega pack, Alan Wake, Guitar Hero II, Shadowrun, BioShock, and plenty of others. Not only that, but we never know what kind of extra functionality might come next for our 360. We could see almost anything when the spring and fall updates hit. All in all, 2007 looks like a banner year. What are you looking forward to the most? What did we miss?