Shenmue II (XBOX)
RPG 28 October 2002
A direct sequel to the first installment in the series of adventures of Ryo Hazuki, a martial artist who arrives in Hong-Kong to find the murderers of his father. The game, developed by an in-house studio belonging to Sega, allows you to explore several large districts of the Pearl of the Orient, including the Aberdeen Harbor, Wanchai, and Kowloon. Shenmue II utilizes the third person's perspective; the gameplay consists of exploring detailed locations, talking to NPCs and completing quests for them, and fighting encountered enemies using a number of hand-to-hand combat techniques. The protagonist also has to earn his living, for example by working in the docks. Additionally the day-night cycle makes some events happen only at a given time. The production features pleasant visuals, visually based on the first installment.
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.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (XBOX)
RPG 06 June 2002
The third installment in a legendary action RPG series developed by Bethesda since 1994. The story once again takes the player to the realm of Tamriel, this time to the east, to the Morrowind province. The player assumes the role of a prisoner released from imprisonment by the Emperor and given a secret mission. As it turns out, the protagonist may be the reincarnation of the legendary, treacherously murdered hero by the name of Nerevar, and his mission is to stop the reemerging evil that his previous self had once defeated. The player can chooses from ten available races and twenty-one character classes - thanks to the game's flexible character progression system the character development is influenced mainly by the player's preferred gameplay style. The player can freely choose which quests to complete and when. The game's fully 3D visuals are a big step forward in comparison to the previous installments in the franchise. Additionally, a special editor allows the player to modify the game world to a very large degree.
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.
Fable: The Lost Chapters (XBOX)
RPG 18 October 2005
An expanded version of Fable, the 2004’s bestselling, Xbox-exclusive RPG by Lionhead Studios. The action once again takes us to the fantasy land of Albion, where the protagonist seeks revenge on those who assaulted Oakenfold, his home village. In the game, we complete subsequent story quests and observe how the main character evolves from a defenseless child to one of the biggest heroes of Albion. The gameplay is supplemented by the constant necessity to make moral choices that influence the appearance and alignment of the protagonist as well as the way the NPCs react to his presence. Compared to the Xbox original, Fable: The Lost Chapters introduces numerous new elements to the gameplay – the most important one is the extended story line, including an additional chapter taking place after the game's finale. Moreover, the game offers new missions and locations as well as previously unavailable items and spells.
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.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords (XBOX)
RPG 06 December 2004
The second installment of the bestselling RPG set in the popular Star Wars universe. Contrary to its predecessor created by BioWare, it was developed by Obsidian Entertainment. The sequel’s plot starts 5 years after the events of the first part and tells a completely different story, focusing on entirely new characters. This time around, we assume the role of the last Jedi knight, whose task is to rebuild the dissolved Jedi Order and restore peace and order in the galaxy. Starting out, we possess practically no abilities. While playing, we gradually regain our powers and lost skills. Gameplay mechanics are virtually unchanged — the developed introduced just a few minor enhancements. Apart from new powers and character classes, the game allows us to use two different weapon configurations and significantly expands our crafting and customization possibilities.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (XBOX)
RPG 16 July 2003
A third person RPG title set in the Star Wars universe, one of the world’s most famous science fiction franchises. The game was created by BioWare Studios, mainly known for the legendary series Baldur’s Gate. The story of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is set 4,000 years before the events of the film saga, during the so-called Old Republic period. You take lead of a party of heroes representing three different races and several classes, and make your mark on the age-long conflict between Jedi knights and the Sith. The game invites you to visit 8 diverse worlds – some of them known from the films and a couple of brand new ones. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic features real-time combat with active pause, letting you adjust your tactics on the fly. As befits an RPG, you get to use a large arsenal of weapons and supernatural artifacts. Moreover, characters can be developed in multiple ways. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic constantly puts you up against choices between the dark and light side of the Force – these decisions will impact the way the story unfolds.
Indigo Prophecy (XBOX)
Adventure 16 September 2005
Featuring paranormal mystery/thriller esthetics, a third-person action-adventure game by Quantic Dream studio. The plot of Indigo Prophecy – perhaps better known as Fahrenheit - is set in New York City in year 2009. The city is witness to a series of inexplicably violent acts of murder committed by seemingly ordinary, lawful citizens. The action is presented from the point of view of two separate characters. One of them is Lucas Kane who experiences the mysterious event first hand as he kills a complete stranger in a restaurant's restroom. Haunted by strange visions, he decides to find out what is really happening. The other character is Lieutenant Carla Valenti who, along with her life partner Sergeant Tyler Miles, investigates the case. In the course of the game we will visit various locations, speak to other characters, and fight. What is characteristic for Indigo Prophecy is the dark, shrouded in mystery plot and the opportunity to solve the puzzle while playing either as the hunter, or the hunted.
Jade Empire (XBOX)
RPG 12 April 2005
An action RPG developed by the creators of the Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights series. Initially, it was released solely for Xbox, then its expanded edition came out for the popular PC platform. The story of Jade Empire takes place in a fantasy world based on Chinese mythology. In the game, we assume the role of one of six characters — all of them students of a famous martial arts teacher called Master Li — that have to hone their skills under the supervision of their mentor in order to become true legends. The story is non-linear and is distinguished by the mechanism of making constant choices between good and evil, therefore each interaction with the environment, each conversation with an NPC, and even a fight influences the further plot progress and our character’s development path. The game offers fully 3D graphics with third-person perspective view and a real-time combat system that requires combining individual strikes into complex sequences.
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.
RPG 13 September 2004
A fantasy action RPG developed by Lionhead Studios, the creators of Black & White, led by an industry legend, Peter Molyneux. In the game, we assume the role of a young boy whose father was killed and mother and sister abducted when their village was raided by bandits. Saved by a man named Maze, the protagonist is brought up in the Heroes’ Guild to eventually become a full-fledged hero and take revenge on those responsible for the massacre. In Fable, our task is to complete story quests, the integral part of which is real-time combat with the use of magic and melee weapons. The game’s hallmark is a unique character development system: the protagonist not only gains experience and improves the three basic skill trees but also ages. His appearance and alignment can also change, as the game constantly faces us with the necessity of choosing between good and evil.
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.
Spider-Man 2: The Game (XBOX)
Action 28 June 2004
The second entry in the series of third-person perspective action games about Spider-Man. The plot of the game is based on the movie under the same title. The player assumes the role of Peter Parker, a boy who gained spider superpowers during an accident in a laboratory. His main antagonist is Otto Octavius (in the criminal underworld known as Doctor Octopus), a scientist equipped with mechanical arms controlled by his brainwaves. Depending on the platform, the game has completely different mechanics and was developed by different studios. The main console version offers a fully three-dimensional open world with advanced physics and takes place in a faithfully recreated virtual version of Manhattan. Other versions have simplified mechanics that use features of side-scrolling action games and platform games.
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.
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.
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.
Adventure 19 April 2005
An adventure game with strong action and platform game traits. It was developed by Double Fine Productions. The player assumes the role of a boy named Razputin. His dream is to become a member of the titular Psychonauts, a squad that is maintaining peace in the world. After sneaking up into one of the training camps, the protagonist discovers that the cadets are disappearing in an unknown way. Razputin, accompanied by his faithful friends, tries to discover this mystery. In Psychonauts the action is presented by using a third-person perspective. The game features more than a dozen of varied levels – most of them take place inside the human minds. During the game Raz must face various enemies and solve some more or less complicated traps and avoid many dangers. Luckily, the boy is able to jump, swim, climb and even sneak up. He has also paranormal skills like telekinesis, levitation and invisibility. The game features nice looking graphics. Similarly to previous games of this developer, the title is filled with humor.
Just Cause (XBOX)
Action 22 September 2006
A third-person action game developed by the Swedish Avalanche studio (Just Cause is their first AAA project). The game takes players to an exotic South American island called San Esperito, which covers the area of over 1200 square miles. One assumes the role of Rico Rodriguez - a CIA agent tasked with overthrowing the corrupt usurpatory government and investigate whether the island holds any weapons of mass destruction. Players get at their disposal an open world waiting for them to explore with no limitations. To do this, one can utilize cars, boats, choppers, airplanes, and even parachute. On his mission, Rico encounters factions fighting for power over the island - one can gain their trust by completing special missions assigned by a given faction. In total, the story campaign comprises 20 main missions and a number of side missions that can be completed in any order. A player can use a wide arsenal featuring 25 kinds of weapons and multiple pieces of gear - from standard pistols to rocket launchers.
Ninja Gaiden (XBOX)
Action 02 March 2004
A remake of Ninja Gaiden — a popular arcade action game, very successful on arcade machines as well as on most major gaming platforms during the late 80s and early 90s — developed with Xbox in mind. In the game, we assume the role of the eponymous warrior named Ryu who seeks revenge on the mysterious organization called Vigoor Empire and its leader, the man responsible for murdering the protagonist’s clan and stealing the magical sword Ryuken. Fighting subsequent hordes of enemies is, as you could expect, the key gameplay element, although the Xbox version, in contrast to the original, offers fully 3D graphics with dynamic camera. The game also comes with a larger arsenal of melee weapons as well as a simple progression system, which allows us to learn new techniques and upgrade our armaments.
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).