The 10 Best Original Xbox Games

Did your favorite Xbox game make the cut?

Xbox Console

Evan Amos / Wikimedia Commons 

The original Xbox released in 2001 in North America and was Microsoft's first foray into the video game console market. It sold over 1.5 million units by the end of that year because of the popularity of Halo: Combat Evolved. But, this isn't the only great game to launch on Xbox. Here are our picks for the console's 10 best titles.

Microsoft discontinued online play for original Xbox consoles and titles in the Xbox Live service in 2010.

01
of 10

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Screenshot of an animated fight with lasers.

 LucasArts

What We Like

  • Well-written plot.

  • Characters are customizable.

  • Turn-based combat system.

  • Engrossing music.

What We Don't Like

  • Outdated visuals.

  • Frustrating mini-games.

  • Item collecting can get boring.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is not only the best game on Xbox, but it's also one of the best role-playing games on any system. The pseudo-real-time turn-based gameplay flows at a pace that keeps you in the action,​ so you feel like you're in control rather than just watching things unfold. Couple this great gameplay with the Star Wars universe, and you have an exceptional game.

02
of 10

Halo 2

Screenshot of a person holding two guns in a war.

 Bungie

What We Like

  • Highly replayable.

  • Fun online multiplayer.

  • Excellent artificial intelligence.

  • Ability to hijack vehicles.

What We Don't Like

  • Not much of a storyline.

  • Fairly short campaign.

  • Skill elements have been removed.

Halo 2 sees Master Chief and Cortana return to Earth to battle the alien Covenant and save humanity. While it only took baby steps to further the first-person shooter genre — rather than the giant leap forward the hype had us believe — it's still a great game and one of the best titles on the Xbox. Great controls, great graphics, amazing multiplayer, and a fun single-player mode all add up to an appealing package.

03
of 10

Jet Set Radio Future

Screenshot from Jet Set Radio Future with robots on roller skates.

Sega

What We Like

  • Impressive graphics.

  • Exciting action.

  • Great music.

What We Don't Like

  • Lacks challenge.

  • Somewhat slow gameplay.

  • Difficult controls.

Sega's Jet Set Radio Future doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. It's the sequel to the somewhat popular Dreamcast game Jet Set Radio, but it takes everything its predecessor did and multiplies it by 10 on the fun scale. Skating around huge urban environments and graffito-tagging everything in sight is great fun, and Jet Set Radio Future does it with amazing cel-shaded graphics and a great style. The music is also simply outstanding.

04
of 10

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Screenshot of a man in military fatigue standing in a dark room.

Ubisoft

What We Like

  • Well-done graphics.

  • Lots of stealth opportunities.

  • Great theme music.

What We Don't Like

  • Not the greatest storyline.

  • Mission monologues are boring.

  • Too easy in normal mode.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is an amazing game because the developer and publisher Ubisoft listened to fan complaints about the first Splinter Cell and created a sequel that is 100% better. Killing too many people or setting off an alarm is no longer an automatic game over. You are rewarded for your use of stealth, but it's not a requirement, which makes the game more accessible and fun.

05
of 10

Sid Meier's Pirates!

Screenshot of two man fighting with swards.

2K

What We Like

  • Interesting simulated economy.

  • Strong combat mechanics.

  • Large number of ship types.

What We Don't Like

  • Game includes a few bugs.

  • Slow screen loading times.

  • Expensive for what you get.

Sid Meier's Pirates is a go-anywhere, do-anything game that gives you the entire Caribbean to play around in. You’ll ransack towns, dig up buried treasure, battle enemy ships, and much more in this classic pirate simulator. The game is incredibly well-paced and amazingly addictive. Sid Meier's Pirates is highly recommended.

06
of 10

Psychonauts

Animated creature in the middle of two

Double Fine Productions

What We Like

  • Easy to learn.

  • Well-written dialogue.

  • Very humorous game.

What We Don't Like

  • Very short game.

  • Not much replay value.

  • Not the greatest graphics.

Double Fine Productions' Psychonauts was in development for seemingly forever, but the long wait was definitely worth it. This is one of the best platformer games ever. Combine great gameplay with an amazing visual style, great voice work, a well-written story, and an unrivaled sense of humor, and you have one of the best games on the Xbox.

07
of 10

Forza Motorsport

Screenshot of a sports car driving on the road.

Microsoft

What We Like

  • Features the coolest cars.

  • Great attention to detail.

  • Tremendous sound effects.

What We Don't Like

  • Annoying microtransactions.

  • Nothing unique or new.

  • Limited event customizing.

Forza Motorsport stands as one of the best racing games on Xbox, if not the best, and it definitely deserves a spot on this list. Incredibly deep customization combines with gorgeous graphics and sharp simulation-style gameplay to create a racing experience unlike anything else on the console.

08
of 10

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Screenshot of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Rockstar Games 

What We Like

  • Movie-style action.

  • Lots to do between the three cities.

  • Very exciting missions.

What We Don't Like

  • Story is somewhat linear.

  • Training system can be frustrating.

  • Cooperative gameplay is very limited.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas tells the story of Carl Johnson, who returns to his hometown after five years to find his mother murdered, his family falling apart, and his friends heading toward disaster. To save the people he cares about, he has to take control of the streets. This classic action-adventure game is huge, fun, and wonderful. It will keep you busy for hundreds of hours. Its “M” rating means it definitely isn't for little kids. But for big kids, San Andreas is a must-own Xbox title.

09
of 10

Ninja Gaiden Black

Screenshot of Ninja Gaiden Black in a room with a sward.

Tecmo

What We Like

  • Fantastic action.

  • Intense combat.

  • Creative fighting combos.

What We Don't Like

  • Very linear story mode.

  • Can't choose easy mode from the start.

  • Somewhat of a learning curve.

Ninja Gaiden Black is an updated version of 2004’s amazing Ninja Gaiden. It includes everything from the original game, along with a ton of new features and options. For fans of the first game and newcomers to Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Gaiden Black is an amazing game that deserves a spot in any Xbox owner’s collection.

10
of 10

Half-Life 2

Screenshot of an animated woman and a robot.

Valve 

What We Like

  • Impressive visuals.

  • Excellent sound effects and music.

  • Realistic lighting conveys time.

What We Don't Like

  • Pushes the limits of system resources.

  • Open-ended plot can be frustrating.

  • Artificial intelligence can be unpredictable.

Half-Life 2 made the transition from PC to Xbox mostly intact, and the result is one of the best gaming experiences on the system. It includes none of the great multiplayer modes of the PC version, which is disappointing, but the single-player campaign is among the very best you’ll ever play.