The Forgotten Greats
Brilliant then, a bargain now!
For sheer junk food pleasure, few games this generation quite match Crackdown, which took the sandbox spirit of Grand Theft Auto III and added mounds more mayhem. Why it’s worth straying for: From throwing trucks at your foes, to leaping from skyscraper to skyscraper, Crackdown delivers murderous superhero-style fun in spades.
With up to 800 zombies on screen at once, it’s the definitive depiction of a zombie apocalypse in gaming. Until Dead Rising 2, that is. Why it’s worth straying for: Run over 45 zombies with a lawn mower. Snip 15 zombie limbs off with garden shears. Drink a meatball smoothie. Kick a football into a zombie’s face. All in five minutes of play.
No blood, no boobs, no bullets; just a bunch of rutting rainbow-coloured papier-mache creatures. Viva Pinata’s cute factor belies deep strategy and resource management. Why it’s worth straying for: There isn’t much family-friendly fare in the same vein as The Sims or Animal Crossing on the PS3 or 360, but Viva Pinata fills the gap nicely.
The work of father of Final Fantasy Hironobu Sakaguchi and Dragon Ball Z artist Akira Toriyama, Blue Dragon is one of the few JRPGs that remain exclusive to the 360. Why it’s worth straying for: Next to Fallout and Fable, Blue Dragon is a proper old-school RPG, updated with next-gen bells and whistles, making it something of a curio.
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
Developers Rare took the brave decision to transform their flagship platformer series into a quirky vehicle construction workshop and racer. Weirdly, it worked. Why it’s worth straying for: Sure, the game helps you with what vehicles to create, but the most fun is found when you let the mad mechanic inside you run wild.
The Online Experience: Xbox Live
Despite the free services of its competitors, Xbox Live operates on a two-tiered payment system. As a free Silver member, you have access to a limited number of features, such as free downloadable demos (available a week after release to Gold members) and limited voice chat. Once you’ve paid your $50/£40 for a year’s Gold membership (or far less, if you go the dodgy website route), however, you can access multiplayer – the meat of the service. Though you cannot browse the web over Live, plans are afoot to integrate Facebook, Twitter, Last.fm and pay-per-view Sky TV.
The Top 5 Xbox Live Arcade Downloadables
A heavy homage to SNES classic Super Metroid, Shadow Complex beat all previous XBLA sales records. With good reason: its 2.5D gameplay is a joy.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Alright, so it’s not an original Live Arcade creation, but the fact you can download one of the greatest games ever for just over a fiver is remarkable.
Harkening back to the days of the side-scrolling beat-’em-up, Castle Crashers is a marvel of hand-drawn visuals and medieval four-player mayhem.
The very definition of a great downloadable title: physics-based platformer ‘Splosion Man is silly, innovative and a real blast to play.
After a hard day’s Halo 3 and CoD4, there’s no better way to relax than with Doom. No snipers. No airstrikes. Just you, a shotgun and 985 demons. Bliss.
We debunk fanboy myths about the 360
“Yur 3-SUX-T iz az loud az a vacuum cleaner!!!2!!”
The facts: Sure, the Xbox 360 is loud, but not significantly more so than a PS3. And like the Red Ring of Death, consoles produced more recently have somewhat eliminated the problem, reportedly thanks to the larger heat sink Microsoft have installed in it.
“Red Ring of Death! LOLZ!”
The facts: Depending on who you believe, the 360’s failure rate is somewhere between Microsoft’s official 3% and the whopping 60% described by a recent magazine poll. However, that’s just for consoles bought in the first two years of production. Microsoft claims to have eliminated the problem in newer consoles.