We’re in the last few breaths of the Xbox 360 and frankly, it’s making us quite nostalgic. We’ve played pretty much every game that’s been released on the console and there have been some real gems. The thing is that a lot of the games that were the most memorable weren’t in the super-franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Call Of Duty or Batman. Some of our favourite games didn’t sell well at all on the Xbox 360; for various reasons they were largely ignored. The following list contains games from throughout the Xbox 360’s lifespan that have sold less than half a million copies on the platform. With an estimated 80 million Xbox 360 consoles sold worldwide that means that less than one per cent of 360 owners bought the game. Not everything in this list is a classic, but for the budget prices you’ll be able to pick them up at, they all have something to offer.
Game Type: Action RPG | Est. Sales: 0.26 million | Our score: 6/10 | Price range: £5 – £20
Why you should play it: Nier was a tough game to pin down and explain when it came out and it’s not gotten any easier in the intervening years. Part action brawler, part RPG, part Zelda imitator, and part puzzle game, it’s an adventure that ticks a lot of boxes. The real-time combat is about as varied as any third-person action game and the occasional switch to top-down and side scrolling sections in dungeons keeps it feeling fresh. If the combo suits your tastes it will be an instant favourite.
Spec Ops: The Line
Game Type: Third-person shooter | Est. Sales: 0.35 million | Our score: 7/10 | Price range: £5 – £10
Why you should play it: The worst thing we can say about Spec Ops is that it’s short, which is to say it’s often so good we would have liked a few more hours of it. Starting as a pretty typical military shooter, The Line evolves into an intense character study punctuated by great action, aggressive AI and some very smartly designed levels that make great use of the sands of Dubai and destructibility. As new areas open up it becomes a stunning looking game too, delivering spectacle and a lot more to think about than most gung ho fair.
Game Type: Third-person horror | Est. Sales: 0.24 million | Our score: 8/10 | Price range: £8 – £18
Why you should play it: There’s something fundamentally a little broken about Deadly Premonition, but if surreal humour, dark murder mysteries and David Lynch mean anything to you, it will manage to claw its way into your brain in an oddly satisfying way. This is perhaps one for those who enjoy watching bad movies and playing Superman Returns ‘just to find out’. But actually, there’s some excellent stuff in here that promises great things for Swery65’s next game, D4 on Xbox One.
FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage
Game Type: Action racer | Est. Sales: 0.09 million | Our score: 8/10 | Price range: £6 – £15
Why you should play it: Criminally under-appreciated on release, FlatOut is the game that Burnout fans who didn’t like the open-world stuff should have turned to. It’s a game that rewards aggressive, ambitious driving with nitro and stunning crashes, packed full of content with dozens of cars, lots of tracks and loads of fun mini-games. It’s insane fun and absolutely worth a go.
Metro: Last Light
Game Type: FPS | Est. Sales: 0.27 million | Our score: 8/10 | Price range: £12 – £15
Why you should play it: A little like playing Fallout 3 with all the humour and RPG stuff stripped out, that description alone actually tells us a little about why this game didn’t quite catch on, but the Metro games are among the best shooters on Xbox 360. They’re measured and quietly unsettling at times, punctuated by moments of frenzied survival as twisted creatures hunt you down. It’s about as close to a Half-Life game as anyone has got on Xbox 360 (other than Valve of course) and absolutely needs to be played.
50 Cent: Blood On The Sand
Game Type: Third-person shooter | Est. Sales: 0.2 million | Our score: 7/10 | Price range: £5 – £15
Why you should play it: This should have been an awful game, but in spite of our better judgement, Blood On The Sand made us love it. Surprisingly, it was just a really good third-person shooter with smart level design and visceral combat and then had enough humour to feel like one big in-joke. If you’ve been playing the new South Park game, then this will likely be right up your street too.
Game Type: Hack-‘n’-slash | Est. Sales: 0.42 million | Our score: 8/10 | Price range: £8 – £15
Why you should play it: There may not be much that’s new to Lollipop Chainsaw, but its bright colours, intense button-mashing combat and dark humour combine to make it a genuinely funny and addictive action game. The art style makes it stand out from just about everything that’s been released this generation and yet it embraces a similar grindhouse style as Shadows Of The Damned.
Game Type: Third-person brawler | Est. Sales: 0.18 million | Our score: 7/10 | Price range: £12 – £20
Why you should play it: Part interactive anime, part brawler, part mythological Japanese tale and part sci-fi, there’s a lot going on in this game, but it has some great ideas. The 20-minute episode structure, for instance, gives it a great sense of progression and encourages a dip-in, dip-out approach to playing it. Anything more than a spoonful of its insane story, QTEs and ridiculous melee combat could throw you off. It’s also a great looking game, embracing an animation style that sometimes spins into something more illustrative. Beautiful, intense and ludicrous.
Resonance Of Fate
Game Type: Tri-attack RPG | Est. Sales: 0.31 million | Our score: 7/10 | Price range: £7 – £15
Why you should play it: It kind of went up against Final Fantasy XIII and got lost in the noise, but the ingenious new combat mechanics of Resonance called the tri-attack Battle system deserve a second look. With emphasis placed on strategy, movement, weapon customisation and timing, its mixture of turn-based and marginally dynamic combat is incredibly refreshing. The story, characters and world may not be up to much, but just keep coming back for the fights. All the magic happens with a gun in your hands and an enemy to shoot.
Game Type: Third-person shooter | Est. Sales: 0.38 million | Our score: 8/10 | Price range: £5 – £10
Why you should play it: Some developers put out classic game after classic game and simply never get their just deserts. While Platinum’s output has been consistently excellent from Bayonetta onwards, its sales have for some reason never been great. Vanquish’s high-paced combat and really solid third-person mechanics make it a classic in the field, likely to inspire many imitators this gen. If you want a Gears Of War with a little more zip both in its story and its shooting then you need to play this game.
BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger
Game Type: Beat-‘em-up | Est. Sales: 0.34 million | Our score: 8/10 | Price range: £5 – £20
Why you should play it: Where Arc System’s Battle Fantasia was peculiar and quaint, BlazBlue is the true successor to Guilty Gear with its polished, graphics, branching story modes and gorgeously designed characters. This is a purist’s fighter that rewards hours of practice with incredible combo possibilities and some excellent online competition.
You can read about a whole bunch more under-appreciated Xbox 360 games in our full feature in X-ONE issue 110, available to download from Greatdigitalmags.com