Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven (XBOX)
Action 28 January 2004
A 3D action game that takes the players to the 1930’s USA, the time when criminal underground flourished. The game was created by Czech developer Illusion Softworks, mainly known for the highly acclaimed tactical shooter Hidden & Dangerous. The story focuses on a rookie gangster named Tommy, who takes his first steps on the path of criminal life by doing jobs for an influential mafia family. Gameplay comes down to exploration of a virtual city and completing a string of story missions, featuring many subplots. While playing, you will engage in street shootouts, bank heists, car pursuits, and assassinations. The creators did their best to recreate the evocative atmosphere of the USA in the 1930s, and implemented weapons and cars from that period. Insanity 2 game engine made it possible to generate interactive, bustling city with road traffic and changing seasons.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (XBOX)
Action 07 June 2005
The seventh installment in the controversial Grand Theft Auto series – one of the most popular game franchises in history that brought Rockstar Games company international fame. The series has been letting the player start as a petty criminal and work his way to the top of the criminal underground. This next part of the series is the biggest one so far, featuring world – the State of San Andreas – almost three times larger than Vice City. Among many innovations, there are several thing worthy of mention: improved AI of civilians, option to recruit gang members, increased number of interactive buildings, hunger factor, swimming, and new means of transportation (e.g. bicycles). On top of that, there game features numerous extra activities, highlighting the sandbox character of gameplay. The game features the atmosphere of the 1990s, apparent in both the graphics and the soundtrack available via the numerous in-game radio stations.
Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005) (XBOX)
Action 31 October 2005
The second installment of the multiplayer shooter series developed by Pandemic Studios. Once again, the players can participate in spectacular battles, where the forces of the Galactic Empire clash with the Rebel Alliance. The multiplayer mode allows up to 60 players to fight on one of 12 different planets, in the interstellar space and aboard massive space cruisers. Apart from standard infantry units, the battlefields are full of a variety of war machines – from X-wings and TIE Fighters to Star Destroyers and YT-1300 freight vessels. At some point during the playthrough, one can face the legendary Jedi Knights and the Sith Lords. Interestingly enough, players who prefer a more individual experience can also find something for themselves in this game, since Star Wars Battlefront II offers a number of non-linear missions with a well-written backstory.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (XBOX)
Action 04 November 2003
A new installment in the bestselling series of action games. The game expands the ideas introduced in the third entry in the franchise, released in 2001. The game was developed by the authors of the previous installments who, after having been bought by the American giant, were transformed into Rockstar North. The game takes place in the 80's in a completely new metropolis called Vice City. The player becomes Tommy Vercetti, who was sent by his boss to establish a foothold in the city while taking care of the local gangs and corrupted police. The game has similar mechanics to its predecessor and focuses mostly on completing various non-linear story missions. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City added some new features, such as the possibility to use motorcycles and helicopters. The graphics, inspired by aesthetics of the 80's, were greatly improved as well. During the game, the player is accompanied by a varied soundtrack broadcast by several different radio stations.
Half-Life 2 (XBOX)
Action 15 November 2005
A sequel to the Valve Software's best-selling game that set new standards for the FPS genre back in 1998. Half-Life 2 is set several years after the events of the first game. Once again, the player assumes the role of Gordon Freeman – a doctor of physics who used to work in Black Mesa Labs, where an unfortunate incident opened a portal for alien life forms to invade the Earth. This time, the story takes us into a fictional City 17 and its immediate vicinity. The protagonist now works for a secret government organization. His mission is to repel the invaders from another dimension, in which he is aided by Alyx Vance – a young women fighting as a part of human resistance. The sequel introduces a technological revolution, employing the Valve’s proprietary game engine called Source. Its main advantage is excellent physics simulation, letting players destroy almost any element of environment and use various objects as covers or even weapons.
Doom 3 (XBOX)
Action 03 April 2005
The third installment of the legendary FPS series by id Software which set new standards in the genre’s development back in the mid-90s. The action takes place in a secret research facility of the UAC corporation on Mars, where the protagonist, an ex-marine whom we control, begins his service. Shortly thereafter, strange things begin to happen: the lab comes under attack, the communications with the HQ are severed, and the people we encounter turn into bloodthirsty monsters. It turns out that a space-time portal was opened as a result of an experiment, which led to a demon incursion that we have to repel. Compared to its predecessors from the past decade, Doom 3 offers not only fast-paced and incredibly bloody action but also quite extensive plot as well as a number of horror elements. The game also features high-quality graphics.
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (XBOX)
Action 18 November 2003
This installment of the Jedi Knight video game series has been developed by Raven Software. The action of the game takes place 6 years after the events shown in the previous Jedi Knight game. The player gets the opportunity to become a student at the Jedi Academy led by Luke Skywalker and Kyle Katarn on Yavin IV. What is interesting, upon starting the game the player has to create his or her own character by choosing the race, sex, clothing and physical appearance. It is also up to the player to construct his or her own lightsaber, which immediately becomes the character’s primary weapon. This however, does not eliminate the opportunity to utilize in combat elements of more conventional arsenal, like blaster pistols and rifles. Despite the fact that the missions’ objectives do not deviate so much from the previous Jedi Knight installments, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy distinguishes itself from its predecessors through a non-linear campaign (player can complete missions at any order). On our adventure, we get to visit places like Tatooine or Hoth, and, simultaneously, acquire and develop numerous skills representing the light or the dark side of the Force. The path the player chooses not only does affect the last few quests, but it also has a significant impact on the ending of the game.
Call of Duty 3 (XBOX)
Action 07 November 2006
The third main installment in the popular FPS series, Call of Duty. It is also the first game in the franchise (not counting the console spin-offs) that in the end was not released on PCs. In contrast to the previous installments, this time the game was developed by Treyarch – the authors of the console version of Call of Duty 2. The plot of the game once again takes place on various fronts of World War II. This time one can play as American, British, Canadian, and Polish soldiers. The game mechanics remained almost unchanged in comparison to the previous games. However, there are several novelties. The developers implemented parachute drops and gave complete control over vehicles and boats to the player. Interactions with the surrounding were greatly improved. Overall realism has been improved – bullets behave different depending on what type of material they hit. Multiplayer mode was enhanced as well – now players can play in different roles and communicate using special commands.
Medal of Honor: Airborne (XBOX)
After a series of spin-off productions released for the 6th-generation consoles, the popular FPS franchise comes back in a full-fledged multiplayer installment. In accordance with the title, the events of the World War II are observed through the eyes of Boyd Travers, a paratrooper of the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division. The game offers six campaigns that take place between years 1943 and 1945 in Sicily, Normandy, Netherlands, and Germany, and the choice of the drop point determines our next move to some extent. The developers naturally didn't forget about faithfully recreating weapons of the World War II period, which can be customized by addition of extra grip, different magazines, etc. Contrary to its predecessors, Airborne is powered by Unreal Engine 3 which translates into better graphics, animation, and facial expressions. The above is complemented by an extensive cooperative gameplay for up to 12 players.
Pirates of the Caribbean (XBOX)
Action 01 July 2003
An action-adventure game with RPG features. It is based on Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Except for the title and the presence of some common motives (most of all the Black Pearl ship), the game has little in common with the movie. It was at first developed as sequel to Sea Dogs, another similar game created by studio Akella, but the popularity of the movie caused the change of the title. In the game the player assumes the role of an independent ship captain who is caught in the middle of a conflict between 17th century sea empires: England and France. The protagonist must gather a crew and complete a series of mission for the selected empire. As time passes, the protagonist gathers experience, becomes a better captain and warrior. Sea battles, including artillery combat, boarding, and sword fighting are an important part of the game.
Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (XBOX)
Action 25 November 2003
A continuation of the extremely successful action game from 2001. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne is once again developed by the Finnish developer Remedy Entertainment with the help from the publisher Take-Two Interactive. The action takes place one year after events of the first installment. Max Payne is back in NYPD. Unfortunately, the dark past still haunts him – the life of the hero is threatened by Mona – a beautiful killer, who steals his heart. There are not many changes in gameplay – it still combines elements of a third-person perspective shooter and an adventure game. Once again the developers implemented Bullet Time mechanics, offering new movement possibilities (like the thrilling bullet dodging).
Hitman: Blood Money (XBOX)
Action 26 May 2006
The fourth installment in a popular game series about Agent 47, the perfect assassin, completing various contracts for the ICA organization. When its members are being meticulously eliminated and 47 loses contact with his superior, Diana Burnwood, he reaches the conclusion that he will become the next target. In order to save his skin 47 decides to stop the man behind the killings, Alexander Cayn, and his terrorist organization called the Franchise. When it comes to gameplay Hitman: Blood Money retains the core mechanics of the series, offering expansive missions whose objectives can be completed in many different ways. To do this we can use a wide arsenal of weapons, spearheaded by the silent and deadly fiber wire. The variety of moves and actions the protagonist can perform is greater than before, and the game offers a simple economy system. The money you earn lets you buy new deadly tools for your arsenal, weapon upgrades, and useful gadgets.
Halo 2 (XBOX)
Action 08 November 2004
A sequel to bestselling shooter franchise from Bungie Software, which debuted 2001 as one of the launching titles of the Xbox console. We meet old friends from the first Halo, such as Master Chief or Cortana, who now try to protect the cradle of humanity against the assault of aggressive Covenant forces. The game reuses the best features of its predecessor while taking players to a completely new environment, filled with even more interesting and complex locations. The arsenal has been expanded along with list of available vehicles, and the capabilities of enemy artificial intelligence have been significantly improved. Also, the second Halo introduces environmental destruction, resulting in an even more realistic world and forcing players to use various tactics. Multiplayer options have been expanded with the addition of new game modes.
Painkiller: Hell Wars (XBOX)
Action 25 July 2006
Fast-paced first-person shooter developed by Polish studio People Can Fly. In Painkiller the player assumes the role of Daniel Garner, who upon dying has been assigned to stop hellish forces led by Lucifer himself. The story told in the game is linear and the campaign is split into five chapters, each one consisting of several levels. Gameplay is based on fighting hordes of enemies – all sorts of creatures coming right from hell as well as even powerful bosses. Fortunately, the protagonist is not defenseless against those enemies – in combat he uses a whole arsenal of inventive weapons, starting with classic shotguns and rocket launchers to the famous Stakegun or the so-called Shuriken-do Gun. Painkiller is characterized by high-quality graphics and realistic physics simulated by Havok 2.
Halo: Combat Evolved (XBOX)
Action 15 November 2001
Halo: Combat Evolved is a futuristic FPP/TPP shooter that was a launch title of the Xbox console and became Microsoft's first system seller. It was developed by Bungie Software, a studio previously known for the Myth series. The game tells the story of a conflict between humans and aliens that are bent on annihilating our kind. We play as a genetically modified soldier and a member of an elite military unit that was established in order to defeat the alien threat. We will visit many various areas, like forests, swamps, meadows, and alien bases. Halo: Combat Evolved uses an advanced game engine with realistic physic that allows us to use all elements of the game's environment as covers. The game comes with a multiplayer mode that can be played online or on split-screen.
Grand Theft Auto III (XBOX)
Action 04 November 2003
Another installment in the controversial series of action games started in 1997. Grand Theft Auto III was developed by the authors of the original game, the DMA Design studio, this time under the wings of Rockstar. The third entry revolutionized the series by unleashing the players into an open, fully three-dimensional world brimming with virtual life. This was possible thanks to the RenderWare technology. The game takes place in Liberty City, a virtual adaptation of New York. The main protagonist is a young man named Claude who dreams about becoming the boss of the underworld and taking revenge on people who almost sent him to prison. The story of the game is non-linear and develops as the player completes dozens of assignments from various mafia bosses. A large arsenal of weapons can be useful in completing these tasks. The game also contains dozens of vehicles which – similarly as in the previous installments of the series – can be used with no limitations.
Max Payne (XBOX)
Action 11 December 2001
Max Payne is a third-person perspective action game developed by the Finnish studio Remedy Entertainment. The protagonist is an undercover DEA agent whose task is to locate the source of Valkyr - a deadly new drug. Personally, Max is also seeking revenge against the murderers of his family. He falls victim to a conspiracy and gets accused of killing his supervisor. The creators were inspired by the crime stories from the 1940s and 1950s, Pulp novels, and the movie, The Matrix. The gameplay focuses on very dynamic sequences of spectacular shootings. An innovative gameplay mechanism is the bullet-time effect which allows the player to slow down the passage of time for a short while in order to perform quick movements, such as jumps or dodges.
Hitman: Contracts (XBOX)
Action 20 April 2004
The third installment in a popular stealth action game series, in which you play as the mysterious assassin known as Agent 47. Story-wise, Hitman: Contracts is made up of a series of flashback missions, beginning in a Parisian hotel, where the protagonist gets into after having been shot in the stomach during one of his missions. Heavily wounded, the protagonist is plagued by visions of his past contracts. Some of them are brand new missions and not related to one another, while some are more or less redesigned missions from the first Hitman game. Game mechanics employ the same well-proven gameplay formula from the previous installments in the series. Each of the 12 long missions features several objectives that can be completed in many different ways. Moreover, the game is darker and more brutal than its predecessors thanks to an interesting story and some audiovisual tricks.