The Xbox (also known as Original Xbox) is one of the most popular consoles, being the main rival for the PlayStation 2.
With so many exclusive titles such as the HALO series, Ninja Gaiden series, and other series, Xbox surely got its own niche.
For those of you who played this remarkable console in the past (or maybe still playing it), I bet you want to know the best original Xbox games of all time.
Some of you will probably remember (or even still own) some of the games mentioned on this list.
#100. Tony Hawk’s Underground
This 2003 title from Neversoft Entertainment and Activision brought Tony Hawk’s trademark arcade-inspired skateboarding gameplay that features an interesting skater career narrative and a heavy dose of customization options.
As the fifth game in the Tony Hawk series, you have to try out a few things here and there.
But, really, if you’re a series that counts one of the highest rated critical titles ever on its roster, you probably don’t want to change too much.
Tony Hawk’s Underground keeps that skating you know and love from the previous games but with a really cool focus on customization and playing the game your way.
A boy orphaned by bandits, you are then set upon a quest to become the land’s greatest hero—or its worst villain ever.
The choice is yours and choice is central to this game set in the medieval European-inspired realm of Albion.
How you interact with the in-game world determines the narrative and what options are available to you.
Big Blue Box and Lionhead Studios made Fable their own when the game debuted in 2004 and, as far as action RPGs go, Fable is a testament to the Xbox’s willingness to experiment and its graphical prowess.
An immensely engaging game, Fable would start a series that built upon the basic mechanics that are part life sim, part RPG.
Any of the games are a recommended title but, if you want something a little more focused and simple, the first game is the way to go.
#98. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon
Microsoft Game Studios and Red Storm Entertainment teamed up for this 2002 stealth action shooter featuring a renewed Russia that seeks to dominate the former Soviet states and reforge them into a new union.
As the Ghosts are sent into the Baltic countries ahead of an anticipated Russian invasion, the stakes are extremely high as the future of world peace hangs in the balance.
Easily the brand name when it comes to tactical shooters, the first game more or less established Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon as the series to watch.
The first iteration might be an interesting history lesson, but modern gamers might find it a little dated.
Nonetheless, we get a solid game with excellent gameplay and a storyline that is way more pertinent now than it was back in 2002.
#97. Deus Ex: Invisible War
In a world dominated by technology you have to thread the invisible line between man and machines, the haves and the have nots.
You find yourself in the shoes of Alex D as the world is remade by corporations bent on domination.
At the center of it all, a conspiracy that involves Alex and could change everything he knows.
A role-playing game with action and stealth elements, 2003’s Deus Ex: Invisible War from Ion Storm and Eidos Interactive uses a mixture of game’s systems to focus on a narrative that is interspersed throughout the action.
A must-play title for fans of RPGs and action games alike, Deus Ex: Invisible War is an interesting chapter in the long running series.
#96. Colin McRae Rally 04
The first game to bear the official World Rally Championship moniker, Colin McRae Rally 04 features four different classes of cars including 4WD, 2WD, Group B and Bonus type.
Customization options and vehicle selection take center stage as the rally racing gameplay you have come to expect is more refined yet still in line with previous games.
If you’re familiar with the Colin McRae Rally series, then 04 is an especially cool installment because it has the official endorsement of the World Rally Championship as well as a collector’s element when it comes to the sheer amount of vehicles on offer.
A really fun arcade-style rally racing game, Colin McRae Rally 04 is one of those games that sucks you in and drains away hours of your life.
Simulation elements are interesting without bogging you down in minutiae while the overall package is a true batch of fun.
#95. FIFA 07 Soccer
With 27 leagues on offer in FIFA 07 Soccer, the game is like a time capsule of football back in the 2000s with an improved physics engine and game match stats that would appease even the pickiest numbers nerd.
FIFA 07 Soccer is when the series started moving online in a big way and it shows in the gameplay today.
These online features are now dated and obsolete but the rest of the game is pretty robust and thrilling even by today’s standards.
The selection of leagues is impressive, but starts to feel like a bunch of cookie cutter copies after a while.
If you’re looking for a budget FIFA, 07 isn’t a bad game.
#94. Indigo Prophecy
Lucas Kane just killed a man in a diner restroom and he has no idea why.
Rather than turn himself in, he decides to try to continue with life until his conscience makes it impossible.
After visiting a medium and learning more about what happened—and that he might not be responsible after all—Lucas Kane begins a journey to unravel just what happened that night.
An amazing psychological thriller of a video game, Indigo Prophecy combines the supernatural with a detective procedural for a video game that anticipates titles like Alan Wake.
This title has held up well given its serious subject matter, masterful presentation, and involved storyline.
#93. NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup
Probably one of the biggest changes in NASCAR video games, the 2005 Chase for the Cup integrated the league’s new points system as well as bringing on non-traditional NASCAR events such as the Busch Series and the Rolex Sports Car Series.
The game also had an acclaimed “Fight to the Top” mode which was basically a career mode where you could take your very own driver from obscure racer to NASCAR legend.
This game is an inflection point for the series, and, as such, might be a contentious title for many gamers.
People who remember the old points system might prefer the older NASCAR games.
It’s that simple.
The points change was a hugely controversial thing at the time and it’s no different in the video game.
The extra modes and cars are cool but, if you’re buying a NASCAR game, you want NASCAR.
That’s not really what you get here if you played the titles prior to this but, for anyone who has played the modern games, this won’t be that much of a chance.
#92. World Series Baseball
Featuring Jason Giambi on its cover, World Series Baseball (also known as World Series Baseball 2K2) is a successor to the classic Genesis series and was developed by Blueshift in collaboration with Sega for a 2002 release.
Heavily focused on the simulation aspect of a sports game, World Series Baseball features a ton of game modes including Play Now, Season, Franchise, and Create-A-Player as well as obsolete online modes.
World Series Baseball reminds us of what a powerhouse Sega was in the sports game genre back in the 1990s and early 2000s.
A competent, robust sim game, World Series Baseball is largely what you make of it.
You can go hard with the simulation elements or you can keep it light and use it as a pickup-and-play title at your leisure.
#91. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne
A continuation of the noir-inspired saga that began with the first game, Max Payne 2 stars the title hero who finds himself back in the saddle at the police department as a detective.
It isn’t long until he is called back into action and unravels an initial mystery revolving around an old friend targeted by a group of hitmen and a woman once thought dead.
Everything that Rockstar Vienna did right in the first game they polish to a perfection in 2003’s Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.
The game that made bullet time a thing, Max Payne 2 largely works because it is an action game that doesn’t put a premium on accuracy and simulation but rather on style and presentation.
#90. Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition
Rockstar made a racing game and it was phenomenal.
While everyone else was going for hard simulation, Midnight Club 3 drove hard for arcade flash and style.
Realistic physics and gameplay are not the order of the day as you make your way through San Diego, Atlanta and Detroit in a variety of cars and even motorcycles.
This game does everything right when it comes to arcade racing and that’s what makes it pretty close to perfect.
Not only that, but you get a roaring soundtrack and enough gameplay modes and customization options to keep you gaming for hours on end.
#89. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
Taking place five years after the first game, The Sith Lords follows the tale of The Exile who is a Jedi Knight kicked out for reasons that become clearer to the player as the story moves forward.
Ultimately, the mystery as to why you were exiled is revealed as well as why you have to assemble the Galaxy’s remaining Jedi—and fast.
The magic is back and it is better than ever in this sequel that does everything right—not just for a Star Wars game but also a role-playing title in general.
Obsidian Entertainment (the same people behind Fallout: New Vegas, among others) works wonders in this 2004 LucasArts release.
#88. LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
LEGO games are known for their effortless combination of the iconic toys with some sort of major media property, but the combo of that plus Star Wars makes it irresistible to fans and others.
Following the story outlined in the original trilogy, this game is Episode 5 in terms of narrative which means that it takes inspiration from the events in The Empire Strikes Back.
Traveller’s Tales and Lucas Arts team up for this 2006 action adventure game that combines simple yet solid mechanics in a title that does both the film and gaming world justice.
While most people have some exposure to the tale in one way or another, Traveller’s Tales does a great job of making this iteration unique enough to warrant a playthrough even if you already know where it is going.
#87. Max Payne
The game that started it all, Max Payne is a noir crime thriller mystery tale that puts you in the shoes of a cop who has seen too many hard nights in a city that is the same.
Narratively, it is what you would expect from Rockstar Games but with a mature bent to it that makes it standout among the company’s titles.
A dark, moving tale, Max Payne is about redemption or how it is impossible to achieve.
The game that made bullet time a thing in third-person action games, Max Payne is a 2001 masterpiece that takes its story structure from another era.
If you like the Golden Age cinema from Hollywood then you will be well acquainted with this tale of shadows, crime, and murder.
#86. JSRF: Jet Set Radio Future
A future version of Tokyo is your playground and you and your gang of “rudies” have to mark as much territory as possible—while also making sure your rivals’ territory is as small as possible.
How do you do this?
With graffiti, of course, which you spray on surfaces as you skate and grind all across the brightly colored metropolis.
Arcade action with modern graphics and super tight controls, Jet Set Radio Future is the best of old and new Sega and it is no mystery as to why this (along with Crazy Taxi) is considered one of the best games on the Dreamcast and then other systems such as the Xbox.
If you like arcade gameplay, look no further.
#85. ESPN NBA Basketball
Also known as NBA 2K4, another collaboration from Sega and Visual Concepts in this 2003 basketball title that has both elements of an arcade game as well as a hardcore simulation aspect to it.
The sim elements are more pronounced in this game as we move closer and closer to the dominance of the next generation systems like the Xbox 360.
A great throwback if you’re looking for a quick play, ESPN NBA Basketball is probably best used as an arcade-style game now rather than a sim given its outdated stats and obsolete online modes.
#84. Colin McRae Rally 3
Featuring a bevy of cars from the 2002 World Rally Championship, Codemasters’ 2003 version of the famed Colin McRae Rally series continues the excellent dirt racing the series is known for having.
An insanely fun game that has aged incredibly well, Colin McRae Rally 3 is ideal for people who liked the old Micro Machines and rally racing games of yore.
It is addictive, fun, and wild. Can’t recommend it enough.
#83. Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction
An early open-world action adventure title that puts you in command of your own mercenary company, Mercenaries balances simulation with destruction as you both build up your forces and strategically tear down your enemies.
There are five factions in the game, each with their own interests somewhat based in real world politics, and a ton of different guns and weapons to choose from in the game.
As an open-world game, you can play this title however you want to do.
This flexibility both makes it incredibly accessible and modern at the same time.
In fact, you’ll be shocked at just how much fun you’ll have with Mercenaries.
It is a little rough around the edges given how common open-world games are now but it is nonetheless a roaring good time.
#82. Dead or Alive 3
Dead of Alive returns for a third installment of the quick-reflex combo 3D fighting game.
Created by the same people behind the modern iterations of Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive 3 follows a vague storyline but mainly relies upon an iconic cast of characters—especially its female fighters—to maintain continuity between titles.
This is such an amazingly good fighting game that it is unfortunate that the sometimes gratuitous presentation of the female combatants overshadows the rest.
A fast paced game that requires precise combos and movements, Team Ninja’s fighter, like their adventure games, is tough as nails to master but fun as heck all the same.
#81. ESPN NHL 2K5
So you want to run a hockey team?
At least, that’s an option here in this ice hockey sports sim from Kush Games and Sega.
Manage every aspect of your rising franchise or simply hit the rink and play a match—the choices are all yours.
Aside from dated rosters and janky gameplay here and there, ESPN NHL 2K5 is an amazingly solid sports game that offers such deep, extensive simulation options when it comes to managing your hockey team that you’ll wonder if it really came out way back in 2004.
#80. ESPN College Hoops 2K5
A relic of an era when you could play college sports games, ESPN College Hoops 2K5 is a solid title that takes your favorites rosters from the biggest schools in the United States and lets you decide who to take to the top.
Totally worth it—especially since we can’t really get college basketball games anymore.
This makes any and all titles released previously special additions to any library.
#79. NHL 2002
EA Sports’ definitive hockey title, NHL 2002 offers solid sports gaming action and a range of simulation options that gives you access to new venues of the NHL from a gameplay perspective.
Hockey games are a lot of fun, and NHL 2002 is no different from the rest.
As EA’s name brand hockey game, it has all of the flash and polish you would expect with very little filler material.
#78. FIFA Soccer 2003
The addition of a Club Championship mode chances FIFA Soccer 2003 into a different title as the sim elements become more and more prominent in this, the seventh 3D version of the storied football franchise.
There aren’t many FIFA games that aren’t worth your time and this one isn’t one of them.
FIFA Soccer 2003 feels as modern now as it did back then and it makes us ask why we can’t have titles like this on smartphones, at a minimum.
#77. Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones
This alternative timeline game puts the Prince of Persia in a time where the sands of time were not released from the hourglass which means that once vanquished enemies are still alive and an entirely new situation faces our hero.
As a linear adventure game, 2005’s Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones from Ubisoft is a great game for fans of the genre as well as action games in general.
While the original game was known for its frustrating difficulty, The Two Thrones is surprisingly easy to grasp but tough to master.
#76. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005
A golf sim that doesn’t plunge you into the needless details of the sport but keeps it focused on the meat and potatoes of the sport’s gameplay in a video game format.
Play a quick round or embark on a career—the choice is yours in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005.
If you remember the Hot Shots Golf series then you might be familiar with what is going on here—except for everything is on a more serious note.
Perfect for gamers that like either/or, Tiger Woods is a great arcade golf game or sports sim depending on what you are looking for in a title.
#75. Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict
In the story mode, players assume the role of Anubis as he attempts to and enters the Ascension Rights tournament when his lover Selket joins.
In the game’s multiplayer mode, the story is you versus the other players in one of the world’s best arena shooters ever made.
Epic Games has been doing arena shooters for a while now and the Unreal series is where it all started.
Any real fan of first-person shooters already knows about Unreal Championship 2 but, for the rest of us, let’s just see it doesn’t get any more definitive than this game.
#74. Championship Manager Season: 02/03
It doesn’t get any realer than the Championship Manager series from Eidos and Sports Interactive and, like football, will provide any almost endless array of frustrations and rewards the more gamers play it.
If you are into hardcore simulations, then you can’t get a better game than Championship Manager Season 02/03.
That said, it is tough as nails and pretty unforgiving.
You might want to read a guide online before starting your first game.
#73. Far Cry Instincts
Far Cry titles are known for pushing the envelope when it comes to graphics and this is no exception though the game had to be trimmed down to work on the Xbox.
Far Cry Instincts puts you in command of Jack Dalton, a dishonorably discharged military man on his way to Jacutan on a contract.
Things start to go sideways as soon as he gets to the tropical island and you’re set out on a quest to figure out why you are involved to start.
Ubisoft Montreal did a great job of fitting a massive title on to a console port that it is worth noting.
That said, this game is way more linear than most Far Cry games, even for 2005.
Still, it is an absolutely gripping first-person shooter and the additional multiplayer modes added to the Xbox edition make it worth a look.
#72. SSX Tricky
EA Sports showed the world that it could do arcade-style sports games with 2001’s SSX Tricky, a snowboarding title that brought flash and pizazz to an unexpected niche of the winter games.
Likened to Tony Hawk on the snow, SSX Tricky is a classic sports title on Xbox.
SSX Tricky is one of the few series out there that has maintained a consistent level of quality from the beginning.
If you want to see where it all started, this is the game for you.
While some of the later games got more and more complex in terms of gameplay and otherwise, SSX Tricky keeps it focused and streamlined which, in some ways, is a superior experience.
#71. Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
An updated version of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for multiple platforms, 2002’s Substance added some additional gameplay modes and graphical updates but otherwise left the narrative the same.
A massive accident happens offshore of Manhattan and Solid Snake and team are tasked with unraveling just what is going on and who is behind it.
The additional boss modes make this game a must-play for fans of the series but might make it of marginal value for people who have already played Sons of Liberty.
If you have not played Metal Gear Solid 2 then you should definitely play this version as there are some more gameplay options after you complete it as well as some updates here and there that make it a more modern experience.
MotoGP is the simulation you’ve been waiting for if you ride motorcycles or aspire to do so.
Based upon Grand Prix Motorcycle racing, MotoGP is a fast paced and thrilling racer unlike any other.
Probably one of the best realistic motorcycle racing games ever released, MotoGP is a must for fans of the genre and of motorcycles.
It is largely what you make of it though we have to say this isn’t an arcade motorcycle game like Road Rash or Hang On.
It is grounded in realism but it does a great job of making it all fun at the same time.
#69. NHL 2K3
Treyarch and Sega work together to bring the most realistic hockey game the world had seen in 2002 with a full league roster and tons of gameplay modes to boot.
Again, older sports games are what you make of them.
NHL 2K3, however, is a pretty solid choice if you want to play something from the day that isn’t “dated.”
Plus, Treyarch did a great job at making sure there was plenty of content for you to tackle so there’s a lot of replay value here.
#68. NBA 2K2
Pick-up-and-play or up for an entire season?
Whatever mode you choose, NBA 2K2 has you covered.
Relive the best moments of a career, make executive decisions for your franchise, or play a customized season that is as long—or short—as you like.
Tons of options, great season mode, and an even better sim portion make NBA 2K2 a really awesome game to pick up even now.
Set in the BattleTech universe, MechAssault takes a page from the classic PC titles Mech Warrior and puts you in the role of a pilot of a massive mech that has to do battle with others using their own mechs.
It is a vehicular simulation that puts combat as the focus and it uses mild arcade elements in its gameplay to keep it addictive.
As a member of the mercenary gang the Wolf’s Dragoons, you have to battle other groups as larger forces vie for total control.
The days of the massive arcade sim cabinets are long gone, but that doesn’t mean we have to settle for less when it comes to gameplay.
MechAssault is everything you’d want in a mech combat game without all of the role-playing game elements that could bog it down.
If you like simulation and vehicular combat games, MechAssault needs a spot in your library.
#66. MVP Baseball 2005
Still considered one of the 100 best games of all time by IGN, MVP Baseball 2005 cuts no corners and features the entire MLB team lineup as well as their rosters circa 2005.
This game has earned its plaudits and you will quickly agree that it is easily one of the best baseball games ever developed.
Is it good by today’s standards?
Yes, very much so, and we recommend that any fan of baseball games give it a play as soon as possible.
#65. Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath
You assume the role of The Stranger, a bounty hunter on a quest to earn enough “moolah” to fund a life-saving operation.
Ultimately, The Stranger gets caught up in local political factions and in-fighting, discovering himself at a moral crossroads as far as both his job and mission are concerned.
The bounty system is really cool in this game but what makes it really stand out mechanically is the “live ammunition” conceit that uses animals and insects as the ammo for your weapon.
It’s a weird, quirky way of handling the weapons system that makes the game oddly compelling.
As far as the story goes, it is a pretty weird yet interesting romp that should have you engaged and definitely does a good job of tying everything together.
#64. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
The modern era of The Elder Scrolls begins with this game as Morrowind takes you from being a nameless prisoner on a ship to an adventurer of legend and renown.
From feuding clans and gods to exotic locales, Morrowind is what you make of it and has an absolutely mind-boggling amount of content.
A touchstone for many TES fans, Morrowind is Bethesda Softworks first attempt at a massive role-playing game in first-person 3D as they are known for today.
This 2002 title on the Xbox really showed off the system’s power as Morrowind itself was only playable on most high-powered PCs of the time.
There’s not a lot to say in the negative column other than all of the conveniences and lifestyle adjustments made in subsequent TES games are not here.
This is a way more old school affair.
#63. Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Remix
Rockstar’s remixed version of Midnight Club 3 includes more of everything and is the definitive edition of the game.
Arcade action and graphics that continue to impress are just two factors in DUB Edition Remix’s favor.
The addition of extra stuff to a game that was already close to perfect is the third factor and it is enough to put this game over the top.
#62. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004
The first to feature the Game Face option where players could create their own athlete, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 is a full-fledged golf simulation with a slew of gameplay offerings.
The Tiger Woods series is always solid and that’s no different with this title.
The Game Feature feature is weird, but creating your own athlete is immediately addicting and will make you more involved than ever before with your in-game career.
#61. ESPN NHL Hockey
A single game or an entire season of hockey—the choice is yours in this fully featured NHL-licensed hockey title from Kush Games and Sega.
Pretty definitive for 2003 and not bad by today’s standards, ESPN NHL Hockey is a treasure of a game and engaging enough for modern gamers.
#60. MotoGP 2
Everything good about the first game returns in the definitive Grand Prix motorcycle racing game.
It’s still an awesome game and the updates and additions over the first title make it worth owning and playing through—multiple times.
#59. Project Gotham Racing
The game that started the now-classic series, Project Gotham Racing is a mixture of the simulation of Gran Turismo and the arcade antics of Midnight Club.
Definitely worth a playthrough if you are a fan of the series and great racing games.
Graphically, it is one of the more beautiful titles on the Xbox and this helps it blend in with the titles of today.
Outside of that, it is firing on all cylinders in the gameplay and control department.
#58. Midnight Club II
The Midnight Club continues with the second game in Rockstar San Diego’s killer racing franchise.
If there is one genre that the Xbox killed it at, it was racing games and Midnight Club II is just another edition in that collection.
#57. Doom 3
This isn’t the PC game from the 1990s brought to the Xbox but rather the flashlight-heavy reimagining of Doom from Vicarious Visions and Activision.
A dark, moody game that tries its best—and does a great job—or recreating the “scares” of the original, this title is largely a reboot without being a reboot while its gameplay is unique enough in the Doom pantheon to merit mention.
Think of it as a sequel to DOOM 64 more than anything else.
A definite recommend for fans of first-person shooters, Doom 3 tries to do some different things with the tried-and-true formula established in the 1990s and it largely succeeds.
You can see the influence of genres like survival horror in this title and, if you’re more into the scary, dark version of Doom than you are the in-your-face action iteration, this game will make you happy.
#56. NCAA Football 06
The NCAA college football season from 2005 but in your hands.
Change history and lead your favorite collegiate team from the beginning of the season to the national championship.
You can even compete for trophies like the Heisman, among others.
College sports games basically don’t exist anymore so the classics we do have will last a lot longer than most sports games would.
That said, NCAA Football 06 is a great game without the college branding and does a great job of balancing hardcore and casual elements.
#55. NBA Street V3
A different take on the basketball genre, NBA Street V3 continues the street ball conceit of the previous games with optimization improvements and more gameplay modes.
If you want a different variety of basketball then NBA Street V3 is for you.
It handles differently from other basketball sports games and that’s a good thing.
It will probably take you by surprise because you will find yourself playing by the rules while there are no real rules.
#54. RalliSport Challenge
29 cars from Mitsubishi and Suzuki, among others, lead the charge in this definitive rally racing game.
RalliSport is a crazy fast game that lets you play casually or hardcore.
There are a ton of options in terms of gameplay mode but what gamers might really appreciate is just how different each car feels and how much it changes the game to use a different car.
#53. Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack
Halo 2 had big shoes to fill and it did a great job of doing so.
The key to this was a rock-solid multiplayer experience that offered gamers hours upon hours of fun in competitive arenas that were not only masterfully designed but iconically memorable.
The multiplayer map pack that followed the release of the game helped kick an already solid mode into high gear.
An essential set of maps for Halo 2, the Multiplayer Map Pack was the first indication many gamers had that online and multiplayer was where the series’ future was.
An amazingly compelling multiplayer title even now, Halo 2 is one of the best games ever not just on Xbox.
#52. Top Spin
Pam Development and Microsoft Game Studios bring you this 2003 tennis game that brings the court to your home and is great for fans and newcomers to the sport alike.
Tennis games are few and far between, and Top Spin doesn’t really have much competition when it comes to genre-leading titles.
Nonetheless, it easily claims the crown and is one of the best tennis games you’ll find for the Xbox’s generation of systems.
#51. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3
Involving Nazis and modern day global affairs, Rainbow Six 3 competes with the Metal Gear Solid series in the action, tactical shooter realm.
From the gripping yarn that reads like it was taken directly from a Tom Clancy novel to the strategic, challenging gameplay, Rainbow Six 3 is a modern classic by every meaning of the phrase.
#50. NCAA Football 07
This college-sports themed football title features all of the NCAA schools and the theme of “Turn the Tide” which gives prominence to performance while on the home field.
Some might call it a home field advantage, but EA Sports points to a more ephemeral, spiritual element in that the hype of the crowd combined with the adrenaline of “winning” is crucial to success in college sports.
You can’t get college sports games anymore so, if you want to play the best of the best, look no further than the classics in EA Sports’ storied NCAA Football series.
#49. TimeSplitters 2
Free Radical Design’s 2002 first-person shooter video game that challenges players to complete objectives in various settings while also fending off enemies.
It is a direct sequel to TimeSplitters and, like the previous game, consists of different levels (10 in total) set across various time periods in history.
A crystal is collected at the end of each level which ends the stage.
Players can choose to play in solo modes or cooperatively with friends.
Additionally, there are three difficulty settings per stage which has a range of effects on everything from enemies to adding objectives to each level.
Time travel games rarely work but TimeSplitters 2 is that rare title that does.
A cult classic even now, TimeSplitters 2 really shows how the Xbox was more than a few notches above its competition in terms of graphical power.
#48. Fight Night Round 2
One of the few modern games to feature Punch Out’s Little Mac outside of a Nintendo game, Fight Night Round 2 is a pretty realistic boxing game that gives you a range of playmode options.
Start your boxing career off or just play and one-on-one match, Fight Night Round 2 is ready to go the mat with you.
This 2005 title still shines today as it not only offers a really great boxing game but a ton of content to keep you engaged for hours on end.
#47. World Soccer Winning Eleven 9
Featuring the Premier League (among others), World Soccer Winning Eleven 9 returns with just as many customization options as previous games if not a little bit more robust and bug free.
Relatively arcade inspired compared to the more staid FIFA franchise, World Soccer Winning Eleven 9 is a great alternative.
What makes the soccer titles from Konami stand out from those in the FIFA line is the amount of player customization options available.
This game is no different and is really a no-brainer for people that like making their own teams, leagues, and scenarios.
#46. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003
Most notable for its inclusion of the “Tiger Challenge” feature, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 is a great golf simulation game that can be adjusted to make it a pick-up-and-play arcade style title if the user desires.
The “Tiger Challenge” might keep you playing for a while, but it is the timeless gameplay that will keep you coming back.
Pretty much every game released in this franchise is great and the 2003 edition is no different.
The “Tiger Challenge” feature is really cool because it lets you play against legends of the green from past and present.
#45. NCAA Football 2005
This game is the first to explore the concept of the “Home Field Advantage” concept in that the place of play can impact a team’s performance.
Included in the game is a “top 25” hardest stadiums to play in and the general stats associated with this mechanic do have a positive or negative effect on your team depending on where they are.
The beginnings of the home field concept, NCAA Football 2005 is perfect for gamers that want something a little more down to earth than the Madden franchise.
We recommend it to any college football fan that misses the old video games.
#44. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30
A first-person shooter from Gearbox Software and Ubisoft that seeks to recreate historical battles, specifically the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) of the 101st Airborne Division which was a part of the D-Day Invasion.
Part of a television special of the same name that was shown on the History Channel, Brothers in Arms is a two to three-man squad based tactical FPS that simulates the real ups and downs of the campaign that the 502nd endured.
Fans of World War II-era first-person games should definitely give this game a check.
It not only adheres to actual history but it’s a really good game as well.
Unlike Call of Duty or Medal of Honor, Brothers in Arms really puts a premium on historical reenactment.
From that standpoint, it is a great game for history buffs and people who love realistic simulations.
#43. RalliSport Challenge 2
This car continues the racing greatness of its predecessor as well as implementing a cockpit cam and the ability to switch to another car at any time.
More arcade than simulation game, RalliSport Challenge 2 is one of those rare games that even non-racing fans can enjoy.
Rally racing is one of those racing games that pretty much appeals to everyone and RalliSport Challenge 2 is some of the best there is on the Xbox.
#42. Burnout 2: Point of Impact
The last Burnout title from original publisher Acclaim, Burnout 2 has the interesting “Crash” mechanic that makes your car gains points for dealing damage to opponents’ vehicles.
The interesting combination of racing and destruction derby makes this last effort from Acclaim a really interesting and foundational one for the series.
#41. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay
Starbreeze Studios’ first-person shooter and tactical stealth masterpiece that is a rare example of a video game being better than the movie franchise it is premised upon, Escape from Butcher Bay is also notable for being a title that truly pushes the Xbox’s graphics card.
Structured like an objective-based FPS but with a huge dose of narrative to outline everything, Escape from Butcher Bay shows its cinematic heritage through and through.
Another game that makes you feel like you’re playing a movie, Escape from Butcher Bay is a great game from almost every standpoint and really shows off the graphic prowess of the Xbox.
#40. Beyond Good & Evil
Ubisoft’s action-adventure game about a vast, global alien conspiracy that you and your friends have to fight, Beyond Good & Evil effortlessly combines action and puzzle-solving mechanics the tell a story that is at turns compelling and humorous.
Though it has the veneer of an open-world game, Beyond Good & Evil is a linear tale that drives the player to its destination with relative flash and a heady dose of martial arts action.
Beyond Good & Evil is perfect for that gamer that wants puzzles a little more complex than those found in Super Mario titles but gameplay that is just as fun and tight.
#39. Madden NFL 2002
This game featured a range of customization options up to and including the “2002 Expansion Draft” which would allow players to create their own team but would put the Seattle Seahawks into the NFC as a result.
A great throwback title, we can’t really see anything that Madden 2002 does over modern installments that would make it worth checking out.
#38. MVP Baseball 2004
Sporting extensive refinements to the “Dynasty mode” as well as overall improvements over the first game, MVP Baseball 2003, MVP Baseball 2004 is noted for being comprehensively representative of its era in baseball.
A really solid baseball game even now, MVP Baseball 2004 is nonetheless indicative of its era and lacks many of the refinements of some of the online-connected sports games out now.
#37. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 is most well known to fans for implementing a complete overhaul of the career mode which transformed it into something more similar to the free skate mode.
This means that objectives were no longer time limited and that gamers could take a more open-ended approach to their pro skating career.
What’s not to love about Tony Hawk?
This fourth game takes everything that the previous two games did really well and improves upon it immensely.
We recommend it for the career mode as it, by itself, is more than enough of a game to tackle.
#36. NCAA Football 2003
Most notable for its introduction of season trophies—something that would closely mirror the later “achievements” system implements on the Xbox 360—NCAA Football 2003 is a compelling title for those collegiate fans that cannot get this type of game now.
Aside from the trophies system, the main appeal of NCAA games is that they simply aren’t made anymore.
You can relive the glory days of the franchise—and make your own way through a college football season—but don’t expect anything modern about this title.
#35. NBA Street Vol. 2
An unconventional basketball title that adheres to street rules, there are multiple gameplay modes as well as the inclusion of then-current NBA players as well as legendary players from the past.
Want a little bit more grit and street style action in your basketball game?
NBA Street Vol. 2 has you covered and there are few out there that can compete with its unique style.
#34. World Series Baseball 2K3
The last to carry the World Series Baseball name, 2K3’s edition is a pretty decent swansong in that it features both sports and team management simulation elements.
A great game for its time, World Series Baseball 2K3 does seem dated by modern standards.
Even so, its franchise options are pretty fun and there is a kind of RPG aspect to everything that makes it an interesting time capsule of a game.
#33. Madden NFL 2004
One of the biggest editions to Madden 2004 is the owner mode that gives a player complete control over the franchise.
You hire coaches, fire them, direct recruitment, and otherwise run a football team from top to bottom.
Outside of this, there is also a new training camp mode that occurs in the preseason.
Really robust simulation elements help this title age gracefully and should provide a fun game for fans of the genre.
#32. Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge
An action-arcade flight simulator with a World War I aviation-inspired aesthetic, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge has a great single-player campaign and maintained an interested multiplayer, online component during its run.
As an arcade-style flight game, physics do not take center stage here and, instead, we get intense combat action and Hollywood-esque stunts.
Everything about this game is unique.
Few titles really do the World War I era of aviation well and this game doesn’t strive for simulation or accuracy.
But what you do get is an arcade-inspired game without competition.
#31. ESPN NFL Football
Premised on a new “play calling system” that makes play executions a snap (pun intended), ESPN NFL Football is a worthy competitor to the Madden crown and emphasizes quick, arcade-style action over EA’s simulation-inspired games.
An interesting look at the football game genre, ESPN NFL Football is most appropriate for people who are tired of the Madden formula and want something different.
#30. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent
Ubisoft’s 2006 action-adventure stealth game from Tom Clancy’s storied Splinter Cell franchise, Double Agent follows Sam Fisher as he journeys from Shanghai to Kinshasa in this globe-spanning epic of high-stakes spying and espionage.
Another awesome story and game from Tom Clancy’s legendary series, Double Agent is another game that is a must-play for fans but might surprise some newcomers with its quality and awesome gameplay.
#29. Jade Empire
BioWare’s action role-playing epic that draws heavy inspiration (in terms of mechanics) from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire is an East Asian-influenced saga that uses a detailed, heady narrative and extremely high production values to rival the best yarns of Hollywood.
This game is a gem and everything about it evokes the best of Chinese cinema and mythology.
From its awesomely addictive, unique combat system to its epic saga, Jade Empire is one of those titles that DESERVES a sequel.
#28. Madden NFL 2005
Notable for being the first game to include Xbox Live as part of the package, this is no longer a major selling point today.
Nonetheless, as a piece of history, they don’t get more monumental than Madden NFL 2005.
Though the online mode won’t work now, the game is still a solid football sim even now.
Really, this game is not interesting for any reason other than as a piece of history.
Little did we know how much online would change the Madden franchise and it all started with this game.
#27. Madden NFL 2003
The first game to feature the mini camp mode, EA Trax, and John Madden alongside Al Michaels as commentators, Madden NFL 2003 seems like a fossil given how integral online modes are to sports games today.
Interesting as a photo album of NFL rosters past but probably not the most interesting game for people who are accustomed to having online modes and the like.
#26. NFL 2K3
An amazingly fun arcade-style football game that is markedly different than the EA titles, NFL 2K3 is a great quick-play game.
The rosters might be dated and there’s no online mode to speak of now but the core bones of the game remain as good as ever.
These older sports games have a built-in shelf life of less than a year so it’s no surprise that this isn’t the most compelling option almost a decade and a half later.
Still, as a budget football game, it is hard to beat.
#25. Half-Life 2
Following the events at the Black Mesa Research Facility, Gordon Freeman faces an all-out invasion of Earth and is quite outmanned to say the least.
Told from a first-person perspective and incorporating complex puzzle solving game mechanics with its gravity gun, Half-Life 2 also attempted to change the public’s perception of what a FPS could be.
A moody, gripping sci-fi epic with dystopian and even Lovecraftian elements, Half-Life 2 is a first-person shooter second and a timeless tale first and foremost.
One playthrough of this game will tell you all you need to know about why people are absolutely obsessed with Valve’s dystopian sci-fi horror.
In any list of the best games ever made for any system ever, Half-Life 2 will invariably appear somewhere on that roster.
#24. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind – Game of the Year Edition
The Elder Scrolls series is renowned for its legendary RPG gameplay, and, in many ways, modern titles like Oblivion and Skyrim owe their might to Morrowind—the first title in the series to catapult it into 3D with a detailed world that lived and breathed just like you.
Naturally, you get a slew of character customization options that make sure each playthrough is unique and fresh.
From its epic quest to its seemingly endless side content, Morrowind is dauntingly large and timelessly classic.
Morrowind might be old school when it comes to its bones but it is a solid game with all of the beginnings of the modern Elder Scrolls games right here.
What modern TES players might notice about Morrowind that sets it apart from modern titles is that it really doesn’t hold your hand at all.
The world is vast, the expanses are huge and detailed, and you will easily get lost but that’s kind of the point.
#23. SSX 3
Another triple-A effort from the folks over at EA Canada, SSX 3 adds new graphics, an improved tricks system, and a robust single-player mode that breathes new life into the series.
Post this on top of a package with a stellar OST and graphics that are still sharp even now and you’ve got a great sports title.
Sports games that tend towards the “extreme” sports category all owe a debt of gratitude to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
Another series is the SSX series.
This game is solid from beginning to end and is just as good today as it was back then.
#22. Burnout Revenge
Vehicular combat and racing in rush hour traffic?
Those are just some of the things you can do in Burnout Revenge, one of the best titles in the arcade racing genre on the Xbox.
Criterion Games really outdid themselves with this installment which threads the needle between arcade goodness and console flash and pizzazz.
Another game that has aged incredibly well, Burnout Revenge is a classic racer that not only plays excellent today but is shockingly better than a lot of the offerings out there right now.
#21. World Soccer Winning Eleven 8 International
KCET’s premier soccer gaming franchise gives FIFA a run for its money by diving head first into customization and options galore.
Some gamers prefer the more open-ended structure of the Konami games as opposed to the EA titles and, if you find yourself among them, then World Soccer Winning Eleven 8 International is the game for you.
Sneaking away from home to join a summer camp for people with psychic powers, our hero’s quest to become a “psychonaut” is central to this sci-fi tale set in a fully realized world that’s brimming with character.
Double Fine Productions shines in this 3D action platformer that is regarded as a cult classic in many circles.
A shockingly good game, Psychonauts is at turns the best action platformer you’ve ever played and the most compelling movie you’ve ever watched—or played.
#19. Panzer Dragoon Orta
A rail shooter set in the world of the series born on the Sega Saturn, Panzer Dragoon Orta is an epic tale of a man and his dragon as they fight off an evil empire bent on domination.
A return to form, Panzer Dragoon Orta is more like the original title than the legendary RPG one-off that is still talked about to this day.
Everything you loved about the Saturn games but with a fresh, detailed coat of paint that brings it into the modern era without losing any of its charms in the process.
A combination of rail shooter and classic arcade action game, Panzer Dragoon Orta is a swift reminder of the forces that Sega brings to bear when it develops new video game IP.
#18. ESPN NFL 2K5
The last of Sega’s NFL 2K franchise before EA ripped it away from them permanently with an exclusivity agreement with the NFL, NFL 2K5 is not only remembered for being the last but also the best.
Previous issues are all ironed out and the simulation and arcade elements are balanced in perfect measure.
Again, another great title from Sega that offers gamers something different than the standard EA game.
ESPN NFL 2K5 may be the last but it is a worthy end to a franchise that should still be making games.
#17. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
Following up the most critically acclaimed video game of all time isn’t easy, but Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 manages to pull off the trick.
Though the career mode is time limited and objective oriented, the freestyle mode is where most players will find themselves gaming as it is pretty much up to you as to how to play it.
A great follow up to a legendary game, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 iterates on the tricks system and makes them somewhat easier to do while also keeping the graphics and soundtrack top notch—as expected.
#16. NCAA Football 2004
This title has the EA Sports Bio feature that ties in with other games of this era.
In addition to that, it has the rosters from NCAA college football teams from 2004.
A pretty straightforward, basic football sim, NCAA Football 2004 wins point for simplicity and addictive game mechanics.
Probably the definitive college football game, NCAA Football 2004 is great to just pick up and go or sit down and churn through a season of games.
#15. SoulCalibur II
The genre defining game gets a sequel on Xbox as the Dreamcast classic loses none of its panache and flare while delivering more of everything that weapons-based fighting game fans want.
Don’t expect realism here—you’ll only get arcade fighting action at its very finest.
A game that has both accessibility and mastery as two of its key features is walking a tightrope that few games master.
SoulCalibur II is both great for new players as well as veterans and it is a strikingly beautiful game even now.
More important than that, however, is that the core gameplay holds up in surprising ways.
You’ll not have had this much fun with a game this old ever—we can promise you that much.
#14. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Follow CJ as he works his way up from small time gangster to big name player in a Grand Theft Auto title that encompasses a huge geographic area that approximates southern California.
Engage in your typical GTA action such as looting, driving, and conspiring with a colorful cast of characters that will help CJ—or impede—his progress to the top.
Probably the most feature-filled GTA ever made, San Andreas’ only fault is that it will make you wonder what happened to Rockstar and why all of this is hidden behind the GTA Online wall now.
#13. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow
Sam Fisher journeys to the newly independent republic of East Timor in Ubisoft Shanghai’s high-stakes spy thriller that melds terrorism and pseudo-real world politics for a gripping yarn that is all underpinned by compelling stealth action-adventure gameplay.
The only reason you’d play older Splinter Cell games is because you’re obsessed with the lore and the world of the game.
And you should be, because it’s pretty good stuff.
Pandora Tomorrow is no different and should be on any fan’s must-play list.
#12. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
Sam Fisher is caught in a conflict between the former Soviet republic of Georgia and global powers as he seeks to save the day while also resolve a personal conflict at the same time.
High-stakes and high-testosterone, the Splinter Cell series always brings the best of Hollywood action films to the video game console.
Splinter Cell is all about complex geopolitics and addictive gameplay and it all starts with this game.
#11. Ninja Gaiden
A reformulation of the classic 8-bit series, Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox is an action-adventure spectacular that emphasizes intense, button-mashing action and a level of mechanical mastery that will remind you of the original trilogy.
The rebirth of the series didn’t leave one classic aspect behind: Difficulty like you wouldn’t believe.
Don’t worry, it’s all worth it.
From its detailed and twisting story to its absolutely perfect control scheme, Ninja Gaiden is a worthy successor to the original series.
#10. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
This 2003 reimagining of the classic PC series transforms an intense platformer into a compelling action adventure game with a gripping story and really cool fighting mechanics.
The Sands of Time introduced the “time rewind” mechanic that combines bullet time with a “rewind” feature on what you did in the game for a new twist on the classic’s formula.
#9. Forza Motorsport
Forza Motorsport is gunning for the crown that Gran Turismo wears and the battle started with this 2005 game.
Effortlessly combining arcade style and flash with a simulation’s need to keep things realistic, Forza Motorsport is an utterly gorgeous game with triple-A gameplay to match.
#8. Burnout 3: Takedown
The boost mechanic is still here as well as the incentive to crash your opponent to advance your own car ahead.
All in all, Burnout 3 marries the mechanics of Twisted Metal type of game with a serious rally racer.
#7. Project Gotham Racing 2
A game that marries driving skill, points, and speed, Project Gotham Racing 2 is similar to the metered racers of the arcade while also somewhat similar to the more simulation-heavy games that are popular now.
A totally recommended for fans of racing games and otherwise.
Project Gotham Racing 2 is just a great game.
What is most unique about it is a points system and the kudos metered-racing experience.
Rather than milking you of your every last quarter, Project Gotham Racing 2 turns that old arcade mechanic into a core gameplay element that continually gives you an incentive to improve.
After all, you won’t go any further without enough “kudos” from the crowd.
#6. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Tensions between Japan, China, North Korea, and South Korea reach a boiling point as Japan starts to rebuild its military capabilities and other problems emerge.
This 2005 action-adventure game starring Sam Fisher spans the globe, like most, and sheds more light on the background and inner life of the main character himself.
#5. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
A saga that takes place in a time way before the original trilogy, Knights of the Old Republic centers on the timeless struggle between the Jedi and the Sith with you and your own customized character at the heart of the action.
Taking place so many years before the events in the movies gives the gamer the added benefit of learning more about the Star Wars world and lore.
You’ll get exposed to parts of the canon you never knew about before and you’ll gain a deeper appreciation of just how detailed Star Wars history can be.
#4. Halo 2
The sequel to the game that catapulted the Xbox into the collective conscience, everything about this title is on point and absolutely class leading.
From the robust multiplayer to the engrossing single-player campaign, Halo 2 doesn’t rest on its laurels in any respect.
An improvement over the original game in almost every single way, Halo 2’s single-player and multiplayer modes are still viable today.
An example of perfect multiplayer and why Xbox included the four controller ports in its design, Halo 2 generated almost as many fond memories as it did print money when it was released.
#3. Grand Theft Auto Double Pack
Is there anything better than two triple-A games for the price of one?
That’s what you get with this bundle of Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto Vice City.
Not only does it offer hundreds of hours of fun but the Xbox experience is considered the definitive version of this generation.
#2. Ninja Gaiden Black
It is rare that a game gets a remake and revamp within years of release but 2005’s Ninja Gaiden Black takes the first game and its extra content and combines it into one game.
It is just as tough as you would expect and it doesn’t hold back.
The core story is the same but the addition of the extra content makes this more than worth it.
#1. Halo: Combat Evolved
Originally a game that a revived Apple under Steve Jobs was considering putting on its Macintosh computers, the company instead sold Bungie to Microsoft who decided to make the Halo IP their marquee franchise for the new system.
The rest is history.
Perhaps one of the definitive space epics in video games alongside DOOM, Halo: Combat Evolved is one of the most finely honed, well-crafted games made on any system ever.
Easily one of the best games of this entire console generation, the original Halo is still great today though the multiplayer is a veterans-only affair and the single-player campaign is really the only reason to pick this up today.
If you’re not aware, the multiplayer basically drills down to whether or not you can pull off a headshot with the pistol and, outside of that, the other weapons aren’t really viable.
Are your favorite games on the list? Leave a comment below!
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Determining which original Xbox game is the best is (definitely) a never ending topic, but it’s fun!