The Xbox roared onto the scene in 2001 and captured the video game world by storm. While Nintendo and Sony (and Sega) ruled the 1990s, the Xbox proved when it arrived that Microsoft had a strong plan to take over their share of the gaming world.
With their main titles in the Halo and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series, Xbox soon developed a strong core of loyalists. These fans soon turned their back on Sony and Nintendo over the next two decades. Xbox also produced the best live online gaming experience of any console, and that pushed them even further into dominance in one vital sector of the gaming world. With a ton of titles relying on that live experience, here is a look at the best Xbox titles based on Metacritic scores.
10 GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS (93)
To understand how great the original Xbox was, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was one of the top-selling video games of all-time. Even a decade after its release, it was still topping the bestseller lists. However, even with the immense popularity of the game, it is the only one in the franchise to make this list and down at 10th best.
The story sees a former gang member return home after his mother's murder. He arrives and tries to reunite with his family and his old gang, while dealing with rival gangs and corrupt cops, all leading to the revelation of why his mother died. Reviews called the game a masterpiece, taking what worked in the first two GTA games and combining them into one near-perfect game.
9 TOM CLANCY'S SPLINTER CELL (93)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell may not have reached the dizzying heights of Metal Gear, but it's a much-beloved stealth series that fans can't get enough of. In this opening game in the series, the U.S. sets up the Third Echelon division, which they send in to find out why two CIA officers disappeared.
Splinter Cell offers a new twist on the action genre, with players expected to work in the dark and use stealth over all-out attacks. Reviews praised the game's realistic scenarios and environments and the creative storytelling within this world of espionage.
8 TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER 3 (93)
Every game console, from PlayStation to Nintendo to Xbox has at least one version of a Tony Hawk's Pro Skater game on it. The best Xbox version of this game is Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, which hit in 2002. This version has 12 of the top skaters in history, including Tony Hawk himself, that players can choose from to perform tricks.
According to Metacritic reviews, this is the definitive version of the skateboarding game. The career mode also unlocks a bonus level, and the multiplayer is still one of the best in the game. It is massive when it comes to environments and the range of tricks to pull off and perform.
7 TOM CLANCY'S SPLINTER CELL PANDORA TOMORROW (93)
The second release in the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series was Pandora Tomorrow. This hit stores two years after the first game in the series, adding some difficulty in the fact that the AI in the game adjusted to the skill level of the players, instead of just creating more realistic threats.
The new threat in Pandora Tomorrow has a terrorist cell threatening to release a smallpox virus through biological warfare. It is up to the players to head in and take them out before it is too late. Reviews praised the multiplayer system of the game and praised it as a more refined version of the original release.
6 STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC (94)
When it comes to multiplayer games on the Xbox, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remains one of the most beloved to owners of the popular console. The story takes place in the Star Wars universe, 4,000 years before the Galactic Empire forms. The player is a Jedi who has to travel to various planets to battle Darth Malak.
This game is an RPG and reviews on Metacritic praise its battle system, which is a perfect mix between turn-based and real-time battles (possibly the best of its kind). There are also large environments to explore, with hours of fun to be had for anyone who wants to get lost in this world.
5 BURNOUT 3: TAKEDOWN (94)
The Xbox version of a racing game that was set up to compete with PlayStation's Gran Turismo is the Burnout series. Instead of the realistic racing from Gran Turismo, the Burnout series is all about arcade-style racing action with boosts, risky driving, and crazy tracks.
The ideas behind Burnout 3 is to cause as much damage as possible as the driver speeds through everything from busy intersections to dark tunnels, taking out rival cars and trying to finish first. There is even a crash mode that rewards players for causing the biggest pileups possible in the game.
4 TOM CLANCY'S SPLINTER CELL CHAOS THEORY (94)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory was the third release of the popular series and, as with the last game in the series, improved on what came before. This game went very dark. Sam Fisher would torture people for information in the first two games. This game allows him to kill people, and that caused this installment to receive the franchise's first M-rating.
The reviews say that the most significant improvement to this franchise is that there are now multiple ways to solve a mission, instead of just one method. These include the use of "ultraviolence." The big selling point of the series is using brain over just pure brawn and fighting skills.
3 NINJA GAIDEN BLACK (94)
Ninja Gaiden Black was a special treat for fans of the original Ninja Gaiden, as it combined that game with its two Hurricane Packs in a complete reworking. This version added in some new enemies, including doppelgangers that can imitate Ryu. Gamers just coming on board got a treat, as the game included an easy difficulty level for those who considered the original game too difficult.
Reviews on Metacritic praised the fact that this brought back the popular original with bonus games and new missions. It also praises the better camera system and adds that the original arcade version was even included as a bonus on a release sold at a budget price.
2 HALO 2 (95)
It should come as no surprise that the top two games on the Xbox were both from the franchise that sold people on switching to Xbox to begin with. Nothing was bigger on the Xbox system than Halo, a multiplayer game that sold the Xbox Live all by itself. Halo 2 was considered the second-best Xbox game ever, and the second-best Halo game on the console.
Genetically enhanced supersoldier Master Chief has to stop The Covenant from destroying all humankind. This game has more vehicles, weapons, and environments than the original game. Reviews on Metacritic said that no other first-person shooter can ever touch Halo when it comes to design and entertainment.
1 HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED (97)
The highest-rated game on the original Xbox console is a Halo game, which is no shock at all considering its immense popularity. Halo: Combat Evolved hit in 2001 and was the game that introduced the world to Master Chief and the world of the 26th Century.
While the later games added weapons and environments to make the entire experience bigger, the first release still sits atop the world of Xbox games. Many critics on Metacritic called Halo the best video game of all-time and the best first-person shooter ever created. This game sits at the top of Xbox games based on Metacritic. It could sit near the top of any game list, regardless of console.