14th Nov 2007
Can you believe how much our little boy has grown? The years have just flown by. It seems just yesterday that Xbox Live was taking its fledgling stumbles into the online console gaming world, but half a decade of additions and refinemenents later, Microsoft’s community has grown into a nigh-legendary and highly influential modern institution of videogaming. There’s no doubt that cake, lemonade and spurious vomiting are to be had later, but for now Microsoft is doing a few other things to celebrate the community’s birthday on November 15th.
From the big day until November 17th, Xbox Live Arcade game Carcassonne will be available for free download, but the really interesting news is Microsoft’s new Live service, Xbox Originals. Arriving as part of the December 4th dashboard update, it will offer up (you guessed it) titles released on the original Xbox for download. The early lineup is understandably limited, but there are a few gems amongst its seven-strong rosta.
Halo | Microsoft | 2001
While not the final word in FPS some would tell you it is, Halo refined (and possibly de fined) the mechanics of the genre for consoles, launched the Xbox empire, and began a rabid fandom which still shakes Xbox Live in the days of the game’s second sequel. Where Goldeneye broke the ground, Halo built the path, ensuring a long and healthy life on consoles for a genre long thought the property of the PC.
It might not be as pretty as its latest descendant, or be the orgiastic festival of multiplayer customisation that that game is, but Halo is the one that started it all. If you do want to finish the fight, then you’ve got to make sure you start it properly.
Psychonauts | Majesco | 2005
There are certain kinds of games that we don’t get that often any more, and as such, good examples of them become all the more welcome when they do appear. Psychonauts is one of those games.
In an era when the once-dominant platform game is undeservedly far less prolific than it used to be, to find one with the imagination, style, humour and gameplay of Psychonauts almost feels like a blessing from on high. It plays like a dream, is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny (As should be expected from the guy who wrote Monkey Island), and has the most delightfully twisted art design since Earthworm Jim. It was tragically negected upon it’s original release. Put that right now that you've got a second chance.
Burnout 3: Takedown | EA | 2004
Burnout has always been great. This we all know. But it wasn’t until the seminal part 3 that the series really found its voice and began to sing. Essentially a loving tribute to the art of the car crash, Burnout 3 is a scarily exhilerating experience, throwing all respect for racing etiquette, the rules of the road, and good old fashioned care for personal safety out of the window, and replacing them with takedown after takedown and hundreds of tonnes of twisted metal porn.