Xbox 360 Games That Need to be Backwards Compatible

Xbox 360 LogoMicrosoft announced this week that in the next update coming to the Xbox One, Xbox 360 titles that are part of the backwards compatibility feature will be able to be purchased from the Xbox Live Store right on the Xbox One. They’ve been good about making the Games with Gold games be backwards compatible, but there’s always been that one little barrier that might be keeping people from picking them up – you needed to either still log on the 360 to “buy” them, or go on to the Marketplace on to do the same. Hopefully bringing the 360’s marketplace to the Xbox One will open up a whole bunch of classics from the last generation to make the backwards compatible leap. So with that in mind, I thought I’d pick out a couple 360 games that really need to be brought into the backwards compatible program – if for no reason other than new gamers really should play them.

BioShock CoverWe’ll start with the BioShock series. I’ve seen a couple rumors floating around that there are plans to bring them forward in an HD/Definitive Edition Collection, similar to what 2K did with Borderlands. Assuming that doesn’t come to fruition, the three games should at least come forward as backwards compatibility titles. The first game is arguably one of the best story driven shooters of all time, and is in my personal top five for the entire 360’s library. There’s a lot of depth in the combat with the Plasmid system, bringing in a little RPG flavor to a shooter with a ton of character, and one of the most intriguing settings in modern gaming with Rapture. The sequel was a little bit of a stumble – I wouldn’t call it a step back, but it wasn’t the step forward that maybe it should have been. There are some really cool innovations – playing as a prototype Big Daddy was awesome, and being able to wield a Plasmid and weapon at the same time made combat a little more fluid. Where I think the biggest misstep was with BioShock 2 was the addition of multiplayer, which felt a little forced to me. Luckily, BioShock Infinite brought the series back to really solid ground, even when the game wasn’t set on particularly solid ground. It took the ideas that the first game presented, married it with the updated action from the second, and then ran with them. I’d love to see that HD collection happen, but if not, these games really need to be available through backwards compatibility.

Another game on my personal top 1o list is Dead Space – the first game is still one of the best examples of survival horror, using a pretty standard sci-fi setting and cranking the terror up through immersive storytelling and unique enemy interaction. When we think survival horror, we think zombies – that’s just the nature of the beast thanks mainly to Resident Evil. With Dead Space, the tried and true zombie killing approach was turned on its head – the game punishes you for shooting the Necromorphs in the head. The most base instinct of any gun-based combat actually is the wrong answer – beheading them makes them much more dangerous; instead the game, using in-world assets (messages sprawled on the walls in blood) to tell you to shoot their limbs. The sequels got a little away from the real sensation of claustrophobia that the Ishimora had in the first game, opting for an increasing focus on combat. As much as I prefer to see full series available on backwards compatibility, the first Dead Space really needs to come forward.

Dragon Age OriginsI have three more groups of games that I want to talk about today. Each is relevant to the current gaming market in different ways, and each is cemented in that conversation of “best of the generation.” We’ll start with the Dragon Age games. I actually just reinstalled Dragon Age: Inquisition to my Xbox One, since it was cleared when my box died back in October. BioWare is one of my favorite developers – their characters and stories are consistently some of the best in gaming across the board. They’ve proven that they can craft engaging stories, with characters that feel real, in worlds that feel lived in; and still have the gameplay to keep players invested in RPGs that can easily creep up into that 60 hour range. Dragon Age takes that idea and brings in the classic Dungeons and Dragons mechanics to the combat. BioWare used that same d20 system in their first third-person RPG, Knights of the Old Republic. Dragon Age just brought that d20 system back to high fantasy, and makes sure to have a story in place that makes sense and is engaging. Since the third game did so well on the current-gen consoles, it really just makes sense to bring the first two games to backward compatibility. There’s not a huge amount of connection, outside of certain characters and story/world elements linking the third game to the first two, so new players might not have the same background with the Lore.

Sticking with BioWare, their other main franchise is another that’s in my top five: Mass Effect. I’ve talked in the past about how much I want an HD collection of the Shepard trilogy on the current-gen consoles, if for no reason other than to tide me over until Mass Effect Andromeda. Baring that, those three games really should be available to play through the backwards compatibility on Xbox One. They’re a more balanced blend of RPG and shooter mechanics, mainly because of the realtime combat, and use of a third-person cover system. With these kind of genre blended games becoming much more common, I think bringing an example of not only one of the earliest blended shooter/RPGs, but still one of the best of those games. Shepard’s story is both grand and intimate, the themes that lie underneath this huge space sci-fi epic are decidedly human. It is one of the first modern games I can remember to put a big emphasis on player choices and decisions. The idea of Paragon and Renegade playthroughs, character interactions that put actual value on your responses, and an ending that, in theory, is driven by player choice all were super innovative nine years ago. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who either missed the series because they were too young, or because they weren’t into RPGs or whatever other reasons you can think of – bringing them to backwards compatibility means that a new generation of players could sit down and play through one of the best trilogies of games ever. Since the first game is on the list, I don’t know why the other two haven’t been added yet.

SkyrimFinally, one last set of games – Bethesda’s RPGs. Fallout 3 is already available – it came with Fallout 4 – but their other three RPGs: Fallout New VegasElder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim all haven’t made the leap yet. With Fallout 4 starting its DLC season shortly, the time might be a little crunched, but I definitely think that they really belong on the list. New Vegas added in a lot more RPG depth to the characters, and Hardcore mode is a totally unique way of playing Bethesda RPGs. The Elder Scrolls games were the RPGs, especially Oblivion that started me getting into more traditional and deeper RPGs as opposed to Pokemon and Final Fantasy. With Elder Scrolls Online on the current-gen consoles, I think it makes sense to try and put at least Skyrim on that backwards list, if it isn’t already. I know that studios are starting to really pull away from the last generation – and that’s been something I’ve wanted to see from developers for about a year now – but there are still games from last-gen that I think can exist with the backwards compatibility. I don’t know how much effort it takes to put them on that list of games that is backwards compatible, but if I were Microsoft, I know that I would really be trying to get Skyrim on there.

Weekly News Recap – Week of February 23, 2015

There were a couple news pieces that are worth mentioning this week. So let’s just get right down to it.

In a pretty big ruling this week, the FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality. While it might not immediately relate to games, it does have a lot of bearing on the future of the web. Essentially, service providers won’t be able to provide different quality of service based on deals. This helps keep the web free, and keeps the power in the consumers hands. This keeps providers like Time Warner from determining web traffic. The immediate gaming world impact isn’t super apparent, but it’s definitely there.

BioShock Infinite

This week Xbox announced the upcoming Games with Gold for March. This might be the best month of free games they’ve had in a long time. On the Xbox One we’ll get Rayman Legends; and on the Xbox 360, we get both Tomb Raider and BioShock: Infinite. If you haven’t picked up either 360 title, somehow, you really owe it to yourself to pick them up. They are both fantastic games. And on top of that, Xbox also announced that in April they will offer double the amount of free games. They haven’t announced exactly which games, but that does open up a good chance for some more great games.

Mortal Kombat X

This week on the Netherrealm livestream they showed off the return of Brutalities. The big thing that I’m looking forward to is that Brutalities don’t require huge strings of button inputs. That said though, they definitely aren’t any less brutal than the old ones. It looks like a lot of them are based around special moves, which makes them easier to put into combos. They also said that there is going to be over 100 different Brutalities. Mortal Kombat X is shaping up to be a pretty damn awesome game for April.

What Makes a Limited Edition Worth Getting?

Every year when we get to the fall release window, and the developers flood the market with awesome games, I always go through the same song and dance. Of the games I plan on grabbing, which ones do I want to upgrade to the special editions/limited editions/collectors editions. Publishers keep coming with different names for them, but the basic premise is always the same – charge more money for a version of the game with a couple extra stuff to go along with it. What always strikes me is the variety of items that publishers put in the collections. Some editions are no-brainers, others make me scratch my head a little bit. So today I want to take a quick look at what I think really makes a limited edition worth picking over the regular edition.

Destiny Ghost Edition

First thing – I still think that even in this day and age, a special edition should be a physical copy. As an industry we’ve really started the push toward digital distribution across the board. I might be a little old-school about this, but to me, the actual physical media and packaging is just as important to the overall experience. To that effect, I think that the limited editions should spruce up the actual casing too. I have always been a sucker for a nice looking steelbook case for my games. Beyond that, the more physical extras that publishers include with the packaging, the more likely I am to think of getting it. My favorite physical stuff I’ve gotten came from the Fallout: New Vegas and BioShock: Infinite limited editions – Fallout came with a really cool deck of cards and poker chips from each of the in game casinos; BioShock came with a nice print of the Devil’s Touch Vigor, and a awesome key chain of the Murder of Crows Vigor. But ultimately, little physical things like this don’t really sell me on the limited edition.

Advanced Warfare Pro Edition

The most important part of any limited edition is what digital content comes with the game. This is where the actual kind of game can dictate what they pair with the game. In general, I think the most important addition, regardless of style of game, is the Season Pass. Most games’ life spans these days tends to be at least a year with DLC, so adding in a Season Pass to ensure that the players get access to the DLC as soon as it comes out, and it’s included in the initial purchase price. Usually I find that the price increase is pretty much in line with adding in the Season Pass price to the game. I think that’s fine, since when that’s the case, the extra physical stuff is just that – extra. Often times, developers also include extra digital stuff as well, most often it’s cosmetic items, but as a player that enjoys customization, I’m totally fine with it.

Assassin's Creed Unity Limited Edition

So with that in mind, I was looking at the special editions for this fall – Destiny has two tiers, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare does as well and Assassin’s Creed: Unity only has the one collectors edition. Both Destiny editions have the same content – a smattering of nice cosmetic physical bonuses, plus a steelbook case and the Season Pass – but the higher level comes with a physical model of the in game Ghost. The problem with the difference to me is that the Ghost is apparently worth $50 extra. I don’t mind big physical models like that, but it always depends on the prices they assign them – Skyrim and Halo: Reach both had that problem for me. Awesome looking statues, but really expensive on top the normal price. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare comes with the typical CoD fare – in game digital cosmetic content, along with a bonus multiplayer map. That’s the basic $80 version – what annoys me this year is that to get the Season Pass, which is a big selling point for Call of Duty, you would need to go for the $120 version. Normally I’m fine with a $40 boost for a Season Pass – that’s probably pretty much what it would cost separate; but in this case, that’s a $40 boost from a special edition that already comes with bonus stuff that I don’t know is worth the initial $20 upgrade from the regular edition. Assassin’s Creed: Unity only is releasing one version – a $130 limited edition with a real strong physical collection of gear, plus two extra missions. Since it’s a primarily campaign driven game, there really isn’t quite as much need for a Season Pass, so I think I probably would go for it, were I caught up on the series.

Wrapping up December – And 2013

Well we’ve reached the end of our journey through 2013, and I cannot wait to get through this week and hit 2014 in stride. Gaming-wise, I felt that 2013 was a bit of a slower year than the last two had been, but I think that’s mainly because so much time and effort was put into the console launches, which we will see the main payoff really start next year. Of course, that’s not to say that there weren’t stand-out games this year. I’ll hit my picks for this year’s best, but first I want to quickly talk about some crappy maps to round out my December project.

I’ll begin with the first map that jumps to my mind – Chiron TL-34 from Halo: Combat Evolved. Even now, over 10 years after I first played the game, I really don’t know the layout of the map. The fact that the main way to move about the level is through teleporters or grenade jumping results in confusing gameplay.

Chiron TL-34 Map

Next I want to hit pretty much the biggest shooter in the last ten years – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. In general most of the maps work pretty well, but there are a few spots here and there, that, coupled with the way some of the perks function, turn the game into a nightmare. For me, that’s really evident on Derail – even in Domination, people are able to camp in the middle building. Combine that with One Man Army, Danger Close or Commando, pushing teams out of there can be a really tough course of action.

One more map I’m not really high on – Operation Metro from Battlefield 3. In and of itself, it’s not a terrible map, my big issue with it, is that it goes against the Battlefield format – no vehicles, close quarters, limited paths to take and doesn’t really work with the huge player number. That’s really why I think it’s not a great map – it’s fighting against the identity of the game it’s in. And with that, that wraps up my thoughts on Multiplayer maps in the most popular shooters today – it was a fun little project that I think fits with the season, since lots of people probably got one of these games for the Holidays.

Operation Metro Map

One last little bit of business for 2013 still though – the best of the year. This year was a lot easier for me to pick a winner out of the pack than last year was. Last year I was torn between Dishonored, Mass Effect 3 and Borderlands 2. This year, it’s a bit more cut and dry which games I am looking at – Grand Theft Auto V and BioShock Infinite. Personally it wasn’t that difficult though – for me, GTA just didn’t hold my attention as long as I would hope – the story is totally fine, the game itself looks amazing and plays great; GTA Online has a ton of potential to really elongate the lifespan, but still has some growing issues. Now, Infinite is a smaller scale game – no multiplayer, nothing really outside of the main campaign (Outside of DLC) – but that campaign is amazing. Easily the best story experience I had all year, in a setting that feels unique and alive and has tons of little details that breath life into the world and characters; and a story that had twists and turns a plenty. For me, it was going to be Infinite’s award to lose, and GTA just didn’t really do it for me this year.

BioShock Infinite

So there’s 2013 – a little bit of a pause after the craziness that 2011 and 2012 were, and a great table setter for a huge year next year. 2014 will be the first true “Next-Gen” year, where we’ll get to see games like Destiny, Titanfall, Elder Scrolls Online, Watch Dogs, and Dying Light push the boundaries of what we know games can be and do. I’m pumped to see what the industry has for us, and can’t wait to see what surprises lie in store. Here’s to 2014.