Must-plays for nostalgic gamers
By Lauren Kelly, Graphics Manager
Gaming has progressed incredibly quickly over the last two generations. Graphics have never been better, and the ability for developers to update and patch their games allows for fresh content and bug fixes. However, this all comes at a price. In exchange for better graphics and high frames per second, offline multiplayer has been largely sacrificed outside of indie games and replaced by online only. The new ability for games to get additional content online means gamers are forced to either pay tons of money for DLC or miss out on new missions and characters. While I love my PS4, all of this makes me nostalgic for my original Xbox. There’s nothing quite like getting together with three of your friends and sitting down with four controllers and a split screen, or diving into an RPG with all the content already on the disc. While new systems are still incredibly expensive and controllers will run you $60 a piece, you can pick up an Xbox for $40 and extra controllers for around $10 each—including the famously massive Duke. Since memory is built in on the Xbox, you don’t even have to spend anything on memory cards. So, if you want to go for it, here are some of my favourite games for solo and multiplayer play—and most can be bought for under $10.
Knights of the Old Republic (2003)
Easily one of my favourite games of all time, KotOR delivers a refreshing Star Wars tale that still stands up well today. Set 4,000 years before the movies, the game allows you to make a character and follow your own path on the Light or Dark Side. With amazing storytelling and a great cast of party members, this game is a must for Star Wars or BioWare fans. KotOR 2 is also available for Xbox, but the game was rushed out and is missing content. If you want to play it after this one, play on PC with the Sith Lords Restored Content Mod.
Fable: The Lost Chapters (2004)
Fable takes place in the medieval land of Albion, and you have a large level of interactibility with the world around you and a wide array of quests to go on. You have full control over your fighting style, spells, and alignment. To me, the most interesting element in the game is the world around the character. You can marry townsfolk of any gender and buy houses to inhabit with them. Everything affects your appearance, from your attributes to your alignment to the amount of food you eat. It’s an incredibly customizable experience, and if you’re a fan of The Elder Scrolls or medieval fantasy settings with a light tone, you’ll love this game.
The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind (2002)
I’ve never played Morrowind. However, I have seen enough discussion to know that this is a fantastic and much-loved game. One of the main selling points of Morrowind is that it doesn’t hold your hand. There is no fast travel, there are no quest markers; if you want to go on a quest, you need to remember what you’re told and journey there yourself. The world therefore feels more real, resulting in a far more immersive experience. If you have the time to appreciate the journey instead of rushing to the destination, Morrowind is the game for you.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
San Andreas’ story, where you play as CJ, a former gang member returning home, is fantastic. Los Santos’ depth in its setting and the endless buildings you can enter makes the world feel real. Still, the true joy for me was the cheat codes. You can make cars fly, spawn any vehicle at the drop of a hat, and take off straight into the air. You can turn the world to chaos—especially entertaining when you activate “cars float when hit” mode. You can do anything with the cheats in this game, making it a true sandbox adventure. Whether you play it for the story or the sandbox, it’s an amazing game.
Indigo Prophecy (2005)
In Indigo Prophecy, you play as Lucas Cage, an IT guy-turned-possessed murderer who has to cover his tracks and discover who or what possessed him. In an interesting twist, you also play as the two cops on his trail. As you play cat-and-mouse with yourself, you slowly uncover the truth. As one of the earliest iterations of the “interactive movie” genre, the game’s playstyle and story really drew me in. The first stage of the game is its most innovative, and it’s known for its rushed ending, but as a whole it’s very entertaining—for better and for worse.
Jet Set Radio Future (2002)
Another game I have unfortunately yet to play, but one too iconic to ignore. With one of the most striking art styles in gaming and an incredibly eclectic soundtrack, Jet Set Radio set itself apart from its competition. Set in a futuristic Tokyo, you play as a gang of rocket-powered in-line skaters who need to tag over rival gang’s tags and fight back against an oppressive government, which is out to take the public’s freedom of expression. There’s also a head-to-head multiplayer mode for those looking to test out their skating skills against their friends’. If you love dystopian settings and interesting art, look out for this one.
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect (2005)
TimeSplitters is by far my favourite shooter series, due to its customizability and utter disinterest in taking itself too seriously. There are 150 playable characters in Future Perfect, including a wide cast of humans, the infamous monkeys, and a whole pile of weirdos. With 19 multiplayer modes, fully customizable weapon load out, up to 10 bots per match, and a frenetic soundtrack, no match in this game will be the same. The very funny story-mode is also co-op, so when you’re in the mood for something a little different you can fire it up. There’s also a deep single-player challenge mode and a map-maker. If you like fun shooters, you should definitely buy it.
Freedom Fighters (2003)
Freedom Fighters is a military shooter with an interesting conceit. In the multiplayer there are two teams, Americans and Soviets, and up to four players can split themselves among them. You work against the other team to capture bunkers, and each bunker comes with soldiers who you can recruit to work with you to a maximum of eight and control with orders such as follow, attack, and defend. For example, a soldier defending at a bunker will use the turrets to shoot enemy soldiers, and soldiers following you will attack by your side. The depth of tactics make this a wholly unique competitive experience.
Star Wars: Battlefront (2004)
The name of this classic shooter has of course been co-opted for a much-maligned game, but luckily the original still holds up. In it, two players are members of opposing factions, dependent on which of the 16 maps you choose. You play as one of five classes and act as part of a large army working to steal the enemy’s bases, and the first team to hold them all wins. The levels have various vehicles you can pilot, and Jedis even help you out. The game will bring you and your friend hours of fun, especially if you’re both Star Wars fans.
Halo 2 (2004)
It’s sometimes tough to choose a single game out of a series to recommend, but that is not the case with Halo. Halo 2 introduces the Covenant as a playable species, and why wouldn’t you play as them? You can also fully customize your characters’ colours, allowing you to blend in or be fabulous. The levels are varied, although my favourites are tragically stuck on the separate disc Multiplayer Map Pack, but there’s always Zanzibar with its hamster wheel. Halo 2 is a must-play and an exclusive. With a two-player campaign and four-player arcade, there’s enough multiplayer content to keep you busy for a long time.
Midnight Club 2 (2003)
Have you ever wanted to jump the Louvre, or soar through Tokyo alleys? This is the racer for you. The three maps—Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo—are fully open-world and filled with landmarks and jumps. You can choose to free-roam or compete in one of the many races, but no matter what you choose, each city is spectacular to drive through. You can unlock cars as you play the game or use a cheat code to get them all immediately (do that). Grab a friend and enjoy the views and amazing soundtrack as you race and total each other’s cars. It’s great!
Test Drive: Eve of Destruction (2004)
This hilarious multiplayer game is exactly what it sounds like. The game’s many competition modes are all held in an arena and driven with a very different selection of vehicles than other racers, including hearses and school buses—my personal favourite. Some of the game’s 23 modes are the Figure-8 Jump, Gauntlet, Destruction Derby, Suicide, and Soccer (take that, Rocket League). Wrecking your friends’ cars is hilarious, and the games are quick and dirty. Each of you choose a nickname and vehicle to start the “Eve.” Similar to Mario Kart, each Eve includes multiple matches, and the person with the most points at the end wins!
Dead or Alive Ultimate (2004)
A remastered compilation of Dead or Alive and Dead or Alive 2, this game is great for 3D fighter fans. There is a wide variety of characters to choose from, including the infamously large-breasted female characters. Levels are destructible and large, including fall damage. Fighting styles are meant to reflect real life styles, and the gameplay itself is fluid and graceful. Another bonus is the ability to unlock up to 20 costumes for characters through the game’s single player Arcade Mode, which you would have to pay a few bucks each for in Dead or Alive 5. Ignore its reputation and take DoA for a spin.
Fuzion Frenzy (2001)
The ultimate Xbox party game, Fuzion Frenzy contains six playable characters and 45 mini-games, all with its trademark bright colours and futuristic visuals. There are two game modes, allowing you to choose your own experience. Tournament mode is structured, with multiple minigames being chosen randomly, and players bet the points they win in the final Fuzion Frenzy stage. In Mini-Game Frenzy, players choose the games they want to play, and wins are still tallied for bragging rights. The large variety of mini-games allows something for every kind of gamer, making it a necessary game to have on hand for parties and get togethers with experienced and new players alike.