The Top Five Games For Your Xbox 360

Last week, at the request of a coworker, I wrote about the five games to get if you own a Playstation 3. This week I’m tackling the Xbox 360. A few things to note before we begin:

-This list is for non-gamers or casual “I buy one game a year” gamers. I’m going for quality as well accessibility. If you’re a gamer, try to remember how daunting a controller can be to someone that’s never held one. Also, remember that the general video game rule sets and boundaries that are near instinct for you are still foreign to those that don’t play games often.

-All games are exclusive to the platform, meaning you can only get them on 360. I caught some flak from the Giant Bomb forums for including Portal 2 on my last list, so I won’t be doing that again. Next week I’ll do a list for multiplatform titles.

-I did not include any Kinect games, because every Kinect game is exclusive, also I wanted to have a list that does not require additional hardware.

Now on to the list:

Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

Boasting a fantastic art style and a playground-like atmosphere, Nuts and Bolts is a great way to ease into playing games on an Xbox 360. You play as a silly bear and bird duo in a series of events and mini-games that have you building crazy vehicles. You can use the blue prints the game provides, or build your own boat-plane-car-buggy using parts you find in the environment.

Complexity: This game is very approachable. There’s a fair bit of guidance early on, but also tons of room to experiment once you’re comfortable. There is a bit of self-referential humor and goofy callbacks to other games, but being in on those doesn’t exactly make the game better.

Also see: Viva Piñata

Forza 4

In my Playstation list I avoided listing Gran Turismo in the racing genre because of its complexity. Forza is the Xbox 360 equivalent, but I think it’s a little more accessible. There are a number of modes and guides you can turn on that ease you into the simulation racing experience. If you like fast cars, and you’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to drive them, Forza 4 is for you.

Complexity: As a simulation game, Forza can have a steep learning curve. I suggest turning on every assistive option the game has available. It’s a great way to get comfortable with the handling before stepping up to the pure racing experience.

Also see: Burnout Paradise

Halo: ODST

There are three Halo games on the 360 (soon to be four), but I think this one might be the most enjoyable for a newcomer. It’s got a self-contained story and an interesting structure that bounces between moody scenes of solitude and adrenaline pumping flashbacks. You’ll come across some fun characters and shoot at some crazy aliens.

Complexity: Halo: ODST is a first person shooter, a genre that some new gamers find disorienting at first. Bump down the difficulty and take it slow. Once you get the controls down it’s just a matter of putting your cursor over a bad guy and pulling the trigger.

Also see: Halo Reach

Alan Wake

If you like Stephen King books or eerie shows like Twin Peaks or The Twilight Zone, you’ll love Alan Wake. It stars a famous writer struggling to break free of his writer’s block. While on vacation with his wife in a sleepy mountain town he blacks out and comes to in the forest, where pages of his unwritten manuscript are scattered about. The pages cast Wake as the protagonist in his own story, often foreshadowing events soon to happen. This creepy, atmospheric game is broken into episodic chunks, complete with “previously on Alan Wake” bumpers—it’s perfect for casual, once a night play.

Complexity: The weird flashlight focused gunplay can be challenging at first, but the game doesn’t change much in terms of new mechanics, so once you have it down, you’re good to go. Just kick back and enjoy the crazy story.

Also see: Bioshock

Fable 2

The Fable series might be the most approachable RPGs around. You don’t have to worry about deep menus, complex leveling systems or long dialog segments. It’s easy to jump right in and start questing, casting spells and slashing goblins alongside your trusty dog. That’s not to say the game is a cakewalk either. There’s plenty of challenge for those that go digging, and there’s even a surprisingly fun real estate component. The cheeky British humor and vibrant art style make Fable an easy choice for an introduction to the RPG genre.

Complexity: The gameplay in Fable is simple and satisfying. The combat controls are tied to a couple of buttons—just mash away and cool stuff happens. You’ll rarely get lost or overwhelmed thanks to a gold sparkly “go this way” quest trail and your computer controlled canine companion.

Also see: Fable 3