The 10 Best Original Xbox Games

Did your favorite Xbox game make the cut?

Released in North America in 2001, the original Xbox was Microsoft's first foray into the video game console market. It sold over 1.5 million units by the end of that year thanks to the popularity of games Halo: Combat Evolved, but there are plenty of other great titles that still stand the test of time. Here are our picks for the best original Xbox games.

Some of these games are available for Xbox One through the Xbox Network service. Microsoft discontinued support for online play and the Xbox Network for original Xbox consoles in 2010.

of 10

Best Platformer: Psychonauts

Raz in Psychonauts for Xbox

Double Fine Productions

What We Like
  • Intuitive controls.

  • Well-written dialogue.

  • Lots of humor.

What We Don't Like
  • Very short.

  • Not much replay value.

  • Mediocre graphics.

Psychonauts was in development for a long time, but the wait was definitely worth it. On top of classic platforming action, Psychonauts boasts an interesting visual style and a well-written story complemented by great voice work and an unrivaled sense of humor. While not particularly long or challenging, Psychonauts is always fun to pick up and play.

of 10

Best Skateboarding Game: Jet Set Radio Future

Robots on roller skates in Jet Set Radio Future for Xbox.


What We Like
  • Unique graphical style.

  • Exciting action.

  • Upbeat music.

What We Don't Like
  • Not very challenging.

  • Clumsy controls.

Sega's Jet Set Radio Future is the sequel to the Dreamcast game Jet Set Radio, and it takes everything good about its predecessor and cranks it up to 11. Skating around huge urban environments and graffiti-tagging everything in sight is great fun, and the cel-shaded graphics combined with the exhilarating soundtrack give Jet Set Radio Future a unique style that sets it apart from the dozens of other skateboarding games of the era.

of 10

Best Stealth Game: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

A man in military fatigue in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory for Xbox


What We Like
  • Intricate level designs.

  • Strategic stealth-based combat.

  • Atmospheric musical score.

What We Don't Like
  • Weak storyline.

  • Mission monologues get boring.

  • Normal mode is too easy.

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. Players are rewarded for using stealth, but it's not a requirement, which makes the game more accessible and fun.

of 10

Best Simulator Game: Sid Meier's Pirates!

Two pirates sword fighting in Sid Meier's Pirates! for Xbox.

2K Games

What We Like
  • Intriguing virtual economy.

  • Choose from dozens of of ship types.

  • Fun combat mechanics.

What We Don't Like
  • Slow load times.

  • Expensive expansions.

  • Includes a few bugs.

Sid Meier's Pirates! is a go-anywhere, do-anything game that gives you free reign over the entire Caribbean sea. You’ll ransack towns, dig up buried treasure, battle enemy ships, and much more in this classic simulator. The game is well-paced and amazingly addictive, so if you like The Sims and Civilization series, definitely give Pirates! a chance.

of 10

Best Racing Game: Forza Motorsport

A sports car driving on the road in Forza Motorsport for Xbox.


What We Like
  • Race in real-life sports vehicles.

  • Excellent attention to detail.

  • Realistic sound effects.

What We Don't Like
  • Annoying microtransactions.

  • Limited event customization options.

Forza Motorsport for Xbox stands as one of the best racing games of its generation. The gameplay is nothing new or innovative, but the realistic graphics and deep customization system allows sports car lovers to feel like they're really behind the wheel of their dream ride. If Mario Kart is too childish for you tastes, Forza Motorsport will quench your thirst for speed.

of 10

Best GTA Game: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

A man rides a motorcycle in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for Xbox

Rockstar Games 

What We Like
  • Movie-style action.

  • Lots to do between the three cities.

  • Exciting missions.

What We Don't Like
  • Story is somewhat linear.

  • Training system can be frustrating.

  • Cooperative gameplay is very limited.

The Grand Theft Auto series is so expansive that it deserves its own category. GTA: 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 friendships heading toward disaster. To save the people he cares about, he has to take control of the streets. Due to graphic violence, GTA definitely isn't for little kids, but it'll keep older players busy for hundreds of hours.

of 10

Best Remake: Ninja Gaiden Black

Ryu in Ninja Gaiden Black for Xbox


What We Like
  • Fast-paced action.

  • Intense combat.

  • Creative fighting combos.

What We Don't Like
  • Steep learning curve.

  • Easy mode isn't available from the start.

  • Very linear story mode.

Ninja Gaiden Black is an updated version of 2004’s Ninja Gaiden, which was based on the NES classic of the same name. It includes everything from the original game along with a ton of new features. Be warned: The Ninja Gaiden games are known for their relentless difficulty. If you die enough times, you'll unlock easy mode, so don't give up even if you get slaughtered in the first level.

of 10

Best FPS: Half-Life 2

A woman talks to a robot in Half-Life 2 for Xbox


What We Like
  • Stunning visuals.

  • Immersive sound effects and music.

  • Multiple multiplayer modes.

What We Don't Like
  • Pushes the limits of system resources.

  • Unpredictable AI.

Half-Life 2 made the transition from PC to Xbox mostly intact, and the result is one of the best FPS experiences on the system. It includes none of the great multiplayer modes of the PC version, but the single-player campaign is among the very best you’ll ever play, and the open-ended story adds significant replay value.

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Best Multiplayer: Halo 2

Halo 2 for Xbox


What We Like
  • Highly replayable.

  • Fun online multiplayer.

  • Smart 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 slightly deviates from the standard first-person shooter formula, it's still one of the best titles on the Xbox. While single-player mode is fun, multiplayer mode is where Halo 2 really shines. Responsive controls, impressive graphics, and lots of cool explosions all add up to an appealing package.

of 10

Best RPG: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Ligthsaber duel in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for Xbox


What We Like
  • Well-written plot.

  • Customizable characters.

  • Innovative turn-based combat system.

  • Epic soundtrack.

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 role-playing game on Xbox, but it's also one of the best RPGs on any system. The turn-based combat flows at a pace that keeps you in engrossed in the action,​ so you feel like you're really in control rather than just watching the story unfold. Couple this great gameplay with the Star Wars universe, and you have an exceptional Xbox title.

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