The 10 Best Xbox 360 Action Games

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

'Batman: Arkham Asylum' at gamestop.com

"Has a well written (and original) plot, featuring your favorite Batman villains."

'Red Dead Redemption' at Amazon

"Take the open world sandbox of GTA and put it in the Wild West, and that pretty much describes "Red Dead Redemption.""

'Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance' at gamestop.com

"The exhilarating pace of combat will test your reflexes, as will the odd camera angles."

'Sleeping Dogs' at store.steampowered.com

"Has an excellent cast of English and Chinese voice actors."

'Prince of Persia' at Amazon

"Gorgeous combat sequences and intricate level designs make for a great gaming experience."

'Lollipop Chainsaw' at gamestop.com

"The game's fun (zombie-centric) themes and high score mentality will keep you coming back for me."

'Afro Samurai' at Amazon

"One of the most underappreciated gems of this lineup, with a visual style that stays true to the TV show."

'Grand Theft Auto V' at Walmart

"A successful response to the letdown that was GTAIV, with three new playable characters."

'Tomb Raider' at gamestop.com

"With great graphics, a cool story, and fantastic gameplay with some breathtaking set-pieces, a blast from start to finish."

'Saint's Row: The Third' at gamestop.com

"One of the best pure goof off games of the generation."

Our Top Picks

'Batman: Arkham Asylum'

Batman Arkham Asylum

evaldasmix

What We Like
  • Well written original plot featuring your favorite Batman villains.

  • Tons of unlockables and optional challenges extend the main story.

What We Don't Like
  • The default screen settings are pretty dark, so you might need to adjust them.

  • Much more linear than its sequels.

"Batman: Arkham Asylum" is the best. There, we said it. The smaller scale (compared to the full city in the following 3 games) provided much better, tighter, and smarter level design that made Arkham Asylum a joy to explore instead of a chore. The gameplay certainly got better and more polished as the series went along, but we'll take superior level and puzzle design and a better story here than fancier combat any day. Arkham Asylum is still the best.

'Red Dead Redemption'

Red Dead Redemption

BagoGames/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

What We Like
  • A captivating story driven by strong characters.

  • Stunningly realistic sound design.

What We Don't Like
  • Stiff controls take time getting used to.

  • Some simulation elements are tedious.

Take the open world sandbox of GTA and put it in the Wild West, and that pretty much describes "Red Dead Redemption." RDR gives you the full old west experience from herding cattle to hunting wildlife and even shootouts at high noon. It looks and sounds fantastic, too. The middle section (Mexico) pretty much sucks, but the rest of the game is awesome.

'Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance'

Metal Gear

 BagoGames/Flirckr (CC BY 2.0)

What We Like
  • The exhilarating pace of combat will test your reflexes.

  • Energetic soundtrack matches the action-packed gameplay.

What We Don't Like
  • Odd camera angles occasionally hinder the action.

  • The plot is pretty unoriginal.

"Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance" takes the Metal Gear series in a fantastic fast-paced new direction, and thanks to a great presentation, awesome music, and genuinely fun and satisfying gameplay it stands as one of the best action games on Xbox 360. It has boss fights, and crazy combos, and a talking robot dog, and a crazy politician at the center of it all that will leave your mouth agape at the awesomeness at the same time you're shaking your head in disbelief at how nuts it is. Metal Gear Rising is highly recommended.

'Sleeping Dogs'

Sleeping Dogs

 Joshua Livingston/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

What We Like
  • Excellent cast of English and Chinese voice actors.

  • Diverse missions keep things from feeling too predictable.

What We Don't Like
  • The graphics look pretty rough by today's standards.

  • Cutscenes feel poorly integrated into the action.

"Grand Theft Auto" clones have to do something special to stand out. They either have to go totally nuts, like the Saints Row series, or they have to change enough to make them unique like "Sleeping Dogs." "Sleeping Dogs" takes place in Hong Kong, which makes it unique already, but trades gunfights for fist fights and brutal hand to hand combat all while telling an awesome story. Don't miss it.

'Prince of Persia'

Prince of Persia

 xploitme/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

What We Like
  • Creative and intricate level designs.

  • Gorgeous combat sequences.

What We Don't Like
  • The titular prince is somewhat lacking in charm.

  • Might be more fun to watch than it is to play.

"Prince of Persia" 2008 has a bit of a bad reputation for being too easy (you literally can't die) or having bland combat, but disliking it for those reasons is like missing seeing the forest through the trees. It is absolutely beautiful to look at, has an amazing soundtrack, and offers the best platforming and puzzles in the entire POP franchise. Games are ultimately judged on how all of the pieces come together, and even with some rough spots, "Prince of Persia" 2008 is still one of the best games on Xbox 360.

'Lollipop Chainsaw'

Lollipop Chainsaw

 BagoGames/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

What We Like
  • Bright visuals create a comic book-like atmosphere.

  • Exciting boss battles.

What We Don't Like
  • Humor might be too crude for some gamers.

  • Mowing down zombies eventually gets repetitive.

Zombies. Cheerleaders. Chainsaws. Humor. Great soundtrack. "Lollipop Chainsaw" has it all. The gameplay is fun and satisfying and actually gets better as you play and unlock new moves, and the high score mentality of the game as a whole will keep you coming back for more. The presentation is also very nice with lots of little touches that will make zombie fans very happy. We loved it.

'Afro Samurai'

Afro Samurai

iMorpheus/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) 

What We Like
  • Samuel L. Jackson's voice acting is predictably hilarious.

  • Visual style stays true to the TV show.

What We Don't Like
  • Annoying camera angles make platforming difficult.

  • Awesome visuals can be dragged down by lag.

"Afro Samurai" is one of the truly underappreciated gems of the Xbox 360 lineup. It looks and sounds amazing and has an incredible hip-hop soundtrack, but it also plays really, really well. It is bloody and gory and stylish and just cool as heck. Definitely check it out.

'Grand Theft Auto V'

Grand Theft Auto V

 BagoGames/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

What We Like
  • A big, beautiful world to explore and cause mayhem in.

  • Clever writing features genuinely witty dialogue.

What We Don't Like
  • First-person driving perspective is a little awkward.

  • No DLC to extend story mode.

After "GTAIV" was a bit of a letdown, Rockstar needed to come back in a big way with "Grand Theft Auto V," and they definitely succeeded. "GTAV" brings back all of the fun stuff to the series but also innovates with three distinct playable characters, a huge open world that is fun to explore, and tons of stuff to do. And you don't have to constantly answer calls from your cousin asking you to go bowling, so it is already miles better than "GTAIV." Toss in great online play, and "Grand Theft Auto V" is a must-play for any Xbox 360 action fan.

'Tomb Raider'

Tomb Raider

BagoGames/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

What We Like
  • Story adds layers of depth to the Lara Croft character.

  • Excellent pacing with a mix of puzzles, quiet moments, and loud action sequences.

What We Don't Like
  • The action starts off a little slow.

  • Multiplayer mode feels like it was added as an afterthought.

The latest reboot of the "Tomb Raider" franchise was right on the money and it stands as one of the best Xbox 360 games of 2013. With great graphics, a cool story, and fantastic gameplay with some breathtaking set-pieces, "Tomb Raider" 2013 is a blast from start to finish. Some will complain that there isn't much actual tomb raiding going on in this one, but it is an origin story to establish this new version of Lara Croft, so the raiding of tombs came later.

'Saint's Row: The Third'

Saints Row: The Third

 Joshua Livingston/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

What We Like
  • Ultimate freedom in character customization.

  • Multiplayer co-op is easy to set up and makes missions more manageable.

What We Don't Like
  • Plagued by occasional glitches.

  • Wacky story missions are fun but lack narrative cohesion.

"Saint's Row: The Third" is an open world sandbox game that throws out all of the rules. It doesn't have a super serious story. It doesn't have realistic physics. It just gives you a ton of vehicles and weapons and stupid stuff to do, and lets you play however you want. "Saint's Row: The Third" is one of the best pure goof off games of the generation. "Saints Row IV" is also good (you get to be POTUS and have superpowers!) but re-using the same map at 3 hurts it a little.