The games that shaped a generation: Xbox

14. Mercenaries
Pandemic Studios | LucasArts | 2005

Roam a war torn wilderness bagging big money bounties, busting Commie balls and causing death, dust-clouds and destruction on a massive scale

What made it so great?
At times, hiking across - or flying over - Mercenaries' huge battle-scorched landscape was a strangely bleak and depressing experience. Pandemic successfully captured the deathly joyless atmosphere that must, we imagine, suffocate the air in times of war.

Thankfully, the developer also captured the magical, chimney-stack wonder of blowing buildings up and watching them fall down, providing the player with a Richter scale-shattering array of heavy weapons and air strikes to play with. Laser guided death has never been so devastatingly fun.

Get ready to play
Ignore the lazy "GTA in a war zone" tag that Mercenaries is often given. Sure, there is some passing resemblance to Rockstar's much copied template, but this blows the lid off the sand-box with a much more gritty, gloomy attitude.

Been there, done that?
Nowhere near as debris obsessed as Mercenaries, sci-fi first-person shooter Red Faction II can still decimate the odd building and blow holes in masonry when it chooses.