Five really cool, underappreciated games for the Xbox 360
The Xbox One hits stores this week: Playstation fans got their new hardware last week; you can go to the Xbox One launch party Thursday night at the Park Meadows Microsoft store. And that means the trusty Xbox 360 is in its twilight -- although it ain't over quite yet. In fact, iif history is any guide, the next year will actually see some of the system's best games released before the hardware finally fades away for good. And since people are still buying the system -- 166,000 Xbox 360s were sold in October, according to NPD data -- those people are going to be looking for some games to play. The 360's blockbuster franchises are well-known -- Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War and so on -- but a layer or two deeper, the system has a reserve of some really cool, underappreciated games. In honor of those new Xbox 360 owners, as well as the longtime fans looking to squeeze a few more months of greatness out of the old system, we've rounded up five of these games, in a variety of categories, to keep you happily entertained with your "outdated" hardware.
5) Puzzle Quest
Part old-school RPG, part puzzle game and all addictive, Puzzle Quest is one of the best games you've (probably) never heard of. It made a small splash upon its release, but never broke through to mainstream acclaim, despite (or because of) its innovative fusion of disparate elements. In typical role-playing game style, you create a character that's good in fighting, magic or one of several other areas, then use them to complete a quest. The combat is all resolved via an addictive block-matching game, much like Bejeweled, and as you go on you get special tools that allow you to defeat ever more involved puzzles. It's easy to learn and deeply involving, despite relatively simple graphics. Plus, it's just $10 and you can buy it without leaving the couch.
4) Earth Defense Force 2017
When aliens come to Earth and unleash giant ants, giant spiders and killer robots, only the Earth Defense Force can save the planet! If that sounds a lot like a shitty Japanese B-movie, that's because Earth Defense Force 2017 is precisely a shitty Japanese B-movie in video-game form. The animations are stiff, the graphics are somehow great and miserable at the same time, and the game boils down to the endless slaughter of plastic-looking bugs and robots as you destroy cities that look like toy train sets. That's what makes it awesome, though. It's like a playable kaiju movie! For a while, it was damn near impossible to get, but now it's available as a $15 download for your B-movie gaming needs. Word is, a proper sequel is on the way, too. (Skip Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, an inferior sequel made by a different developer.)