30. Fallout 3
Bethesda was already well known for its skill at creating open-world RPGs when the developer picked up the rights to Fallout. The iconic PC series was beloved by its dedicated fan base, but many had their doubts that Bethesda could modernize the series, let alone reintroduce it to a massive new audience. But that's exactly what it did with Fallout 3.
Capturing all the dark humor, brutal combat, and bleak setting at Fallout's core, Fallout 3 remains one of the best examples of the role-playing genre. A big factor in that success is the still-impressive level of choice it offers, whether it's choosing a simple response to a question or deciding to obliterate an entire town in a nuclear explosion. As long as we have our strange companions and a functioning VATS, the post-apocalypse isn't such a scary place after all.
29. DIRT 2
Codemasters learned from the original Dirt and improved on it, but mainly because it learned so much more from its own Race Driver GRID. Dirt 2 combines the best of both games, dressing up the rewind-enabled, close-fought racing and epic car damage in off-road livery, taking away the armco and letting the vehicles loose into all-terrain wondertracks.
The festival presentation may have caused controversy, but its sense of identity makes it stand out from the crown even now. The licensed soundtrack is perfectly chosen and makes this feel like the best summer you never had. But the bottom line is that it still plays superbly, thanks to some of the best handling in any car game, ever. Purists may prefer Dirt 3's rallying, but the sunshine and sand makes this the superior destination for competitive racing.
How do you like your revenge? Cold-blooded, with mercilessly executions of those who wronged you? Or warmhearted, as you dispose of corrupt officials with non-lethal methods? Whichever your preference, Dishonored lets you live out your vengeance fantasies in a fleshed-out steampunk world - one that feels wonderfully lived-in, to the point of extreme dilapidation.
Corvo's supernatural abilities make all the first-person sneaking incredibly liberating, letting you approach and assassinate guards (or avoid them altogether) in almost any way you please. Teleportation knife stabs, sentient swarms of rats, and nimble rooftop parkour are all within your grasp when you're lurking among the dingy streets and lavish mansions of Dishonored.
27. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
For a game with characters that speak in grunts and nonwords, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons sure manages to express an ungodly amount of emotion. It's a narrative-driven puzzle game where you control two young brothers simultaneously, each assigned to one of the gamepad's thumbsticks. Their goal? To travel to a faraway land and find a cure for their dying father.
In practice, this often means figuring out how to overcome the various obstacles standing in your path. Puzzles that would be overly simple in any other game become far more complex when you've got to manage two different characters at the same time to solve them. But the real treat here is Brothers' gorgeous, varied environments and its phenomenal tale of family love and sacrifice. It's one of those few games that will shake you to the core.
26. Diablo 3
One of the best things about Diablo 3 on consoles is that carpal tunnel is less of an issue when there's much less clicky clicky and more button-mashing. The winning formula of loot, loot, and more loot is tweaked so that you're getting sexier items. No more sifting through the garbage that you happen to pick up by accident because you wanted just the legendary stuff.
But the most important thing is that Diablo 3 just feels great as you're rampaging through dungeons. The transition to a controller may have been a concern initially, but it's an entirely different experience that you can have offline--and with a friend through local co-op!
25. Borderlands 2
If your three favorite things on the entire planet are guns, toilet humor, and min/maxing RPG stats, then Borderlands 2 is a dream come true. Gearbox Software's FPS/RPG hybrid is basically Diablo in shooter form. While the first was a great proof of concept, the second had us in stitches for 20+ hours while we shot up bandits and bonerfarts with guns that set living creatures on fire.
The writing here is sure to make you laugh, thanks to the hilarious cast of characters. Claptrap, a returning favorite from the original, is as silly as ever, while the new villain, Handsome Jack, spouts some of the most giggle-worthy lines in the entire game. It also helps that the action is addictive and fun, as the dozens of quests not only lead to more laughs, but also huge caches of loot and XP rewards, allowing you the opportunity to further develop your character's abilities. Best of all, you can play with up to three friends, making Borderlands 2 one hell of a memorable co-op experience.
Oh, Jonathan Blow... you genius, pretentious, genius rotter, you. The release of Braid did as much for the indie gaming scene as it did for its auteur creator, at once elevating Blow to the pantheon of solitary designers and establishing a precedent for tightly compacted, meaningful game experiences on consoles.
Braid's brilliance is manifold. It's a beautiful game, no doubt, with a watercolor aesthetic and subdued soundtrack that complement its clever time-manipulation mechanic. And that mechanic easily carried the game's mind-bending puzzles. There will be a point while playing Braid where you think to yourself, "God damn, I'm dumb." Likely it'll happen every level, and the game is all the more gratifying because of it.
23. Dragon Age: Origins
There was a time when everyone assumed Dragon Age: Origins had died a quiet death, caught up and swallowed whole by some preproduction morass. And who could blame them, given that the game was first announced in 2004 and went quiet until EA's purchase of BioWare in 2007. But death was not the destiny of this great RPG.
When Dragon Age did make it to market, in 2009, it signalled BioWare's return to the upper echelon of western RPG development. It had engaging combat and excessive gore, sure, but what made Origins stand out was a distinctly BioWare touch: a ranging, epic story. Choice played a real role in the original Dragon Age, and you were pushed to form complex relationships with the game's large cast.
She has guns on her feet and her outfit is made of hair; is there really anything else you need to know about Bayonetta? There is? Oh, well, then we can talk about how the gameplay is absolutely outstanding. The Devil May Cry-inspired combat ("inspired" being another term for "made by the guy who made the original few Devil May Cry games") is fast and brutal, and the artistic design is inspired.
It's also insane. Like, totally nuts--the game rewards you for combos with outlandish, flashy visuals that are so over-the-top you'll be grinning from ear to ear. Some battles end with Bayonetta turning her hair into a giant dog and devouring her enemies. Does it make sense? No, not in the slightest. Should you play it anyway? Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.
21. Super Meat Boy
The pitch-perfect Mario physics get taken to their absolute extremes in Super Meat Boy. Actually, scratch that--Nintendo's plumber mascot could never cling to walls with a bloody splat, or control his mid-air trajectory with the same quick precision as a frenzied seamstress threading needles like her life depended on it. No other game in existence delivers a more fun--or challenging--experience where you play as a cube of hamburger.
Sure, SMB's later levels may make you quiver with anxiety or curse at airhorn-like decibels, but overcoming them provides nothing short of elation. It's oh-so tough but always fair, and watching your failed attempts after finishing a level is one of the most cathartic moments of any hardcore 2D platformer.
Click 'Next Page' to see titles 20-11 in our countdown of the best Xbox 360 games.