This week's Xbox Sale has a large number of Xbox 360 backwards compatible titles on offer, so the TA news team has drawn on their experience to offer you their choice picks from a fantastic generation of games. It seems we here at TA — aside from Luke, who generally has some hidden gem to show you all — spent most of our time on the Xbox 360 shooting things, so expect a number of "shootybangs" to be featured below...
Kes — Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops: The Line is fantastic… haunting, but fantastic. It was published by 2K and developed by Yager, and whoever is responsible for the game title deserves to be dropped straight into the rising deserts of Dubai. The game presents itself as a traditional third-person military shooter — imagine Ghost Recon and you are in the ballpark. It feels like a Tom Clancy title too, with your buff military man Captain Martin Walker trotting his squadron from sandy skyscrapers and various combat scenarios. He has been tasked with getting to the bottom of why an almost post-apocalypse Dubai is infested with terrorists. As you begin traversing the gorgeous and imaginative linear levels — remember those? — you will be faced with tricky combat scenarios (especially on the higher difficulties) that introduce a punchy combat system. This is traditional third-person shooting done well. There is a good variety, and thanks to the smart dystopian level design, you will be fitting inside penthouses and onto a sand dune outside the window, or negotiating a highway of abandoned vehicles while trying to open up angles on your mysterious enemy.
The thematic presentation here is exceptional. I’m talking about a top S-tier level game of the Xbox 360 generation, here. Jager has used every trope in the military-sim book to ease you in and make you think you are playing a quirky third-person shooter, but then uses all those preconceived notions to sneak in an unbelievably good anti-war narrative. As you get further into the game, you will start feeling like your world is falling apart in twisting, turning series of events that are mature in theme, but not precocious and in your face like some want-to-be games (see: Modern Warfare 2019). This is a fantastic game, it really is. From what I hear, while sales started off poor, it has maintained some really solid numbers on PC since the 2012 launch, perhaps speaking to the cult following Spec Ops has garnered over the years. This was always on top of my “games I want to see remade” lists, and that still holds true now. But, in light of that probably not happening, pick it up for the absolute pennies it is on offer for!
Spec Ops: The Line
(Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB) It’s been 6 months since Dubai was wiped off the map by a cataclysmic sandstorm. Thousands of lives were lost, including those of American soldiers sent to evacuate the city. Today, the city lies buried under sand, the world’s most opulent ruin.
Luke — Asura’s Wrath
I'm a sucker for over-the-top action games, and it doesn't get much more over-the-top than having bosses hundreds of times the size of a planet to contend with. Asura’s Wrath is almost more interactive anime than game, faithful to the format almost to a fault and replete with credits sequences, next episode previews, insane action and characters, and all the rest. If you don't like QTEs then you can probably stop reading now, as they're abundant in this unsung gem. Regular action sequences are, despite this being a Capcom-published title, more Dynasty Warriors than Devil May Cry, but picking on the small fry isn't really the point here — it's merely an excuse for Asura to let his rage build and, once he hits breaking point, unleash something absolutely ridiculous to escalate the action, which the game never seems to run out of ways to do, somehow. Boss fights here are quite the spectacle, let me tell you.
Developer CyberConnect2 was a decade into making solid Naruto games by the time Asura's Wrath arrived, and steeped in anime influence as it is, that experience both with flashy combat and the broader subject matter comes to the fore in incredible style here. The team even went on to make a couple of damn good JoJo's Bizarre Adventure games in the following years, which I refuse to believe is a coincidence. In fact, I'm interested to give Asura's Wrath another spin now I'm actually up to speed with JoJo as I think that'll be a really interesting lens through which to see the game anew. Heck, I only just found out it was backwards compatible, which is great news. I already have the disc so will bust it out soon, but if you don't, I recommend grabbing it now for a few bucks... you won't play anything else quite like it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some ORA!s and MUDA!s to shout at my TV...
Over-the-top action and daring cutscenes blend together for a brand new type of action game! Faced with insurmountable odds, Asura must call upon his rage and annihilate his foes with his newfound overwhelming power if he hopes to survive. Experience for yourself this groundbreaking action game that is unlike anything you've ever seen before!
Sean — Far Cry 2
I would argue the case for Fight Night Champion, but seeing as it has three discontinued achievements, I imagine making that suggestion would go down about as well as Mike Tyson’s loss against Buster Douglas in the 90s. Instead, I’m gonna sing the praises of one of the best Far Cry games out there, Far Cry 2. I’ll be honest with you, dear reader; my memory of the game is a little hazy — it’s been over 11 years since I last picked it up, so my thoughts could be clouded by nostalgia, but I honestly had so much fun with Far Cry 2. Set in a fictional country in East Africa that’s engulfed in a civil war, you play as a mercenary who has the mission of killing a weapons dealer. At the time, it was one of the best shooters you could buy, with its large open world that you could traverse by car, boat, and by air in a hand glider. I remember being so immersed in the world — there was always a sense of danger with enemies constantly patrolling up and down various roads, and because of this, the game had this weird, lonely atmosphere that I have only experienced in a few games since. Sure, some will argue that Far Cry 2 is pretty basic when it comes to story and actual things to actually do in its world, but there was something about the game’s intriguing setting and atmosphere that really kept me hooked. The gunplay was also excellent, the AI challenging (sometimes a bit ruthless), and the vehicles were fun to drive. For just $6, you’re getting a lot of game here, though it does seem to have a love-it-or-hate-it reputation. The achievements are also no walk in the park either, so bear that in mind if you haven’t already started it.
Far Cry® 2
Far Cry® 2 is a true open-world FPS where every decision you make affects the outcome of the game. The first sequel to the award-winning franchise takes you to one of the most beautiful and hostile environments in the world - AFRICA. You are a gun for hire, trapped in a war-torn African state, stricken with malaria and forced to make deals with corrupt warlords. Your mission is to hunt down and kill The Jackal. This evil arms dealer has been perpetuating this conflict for years, wreaking havoc …
Tom — TimeSplitters 2
TimeSplitters 2 could easily be described as my childhood in a nutshell, due primarily to the absolutely ridiculous number of hours I spent playing it with my brother. We would play it almost every day, booting up the OG Xbox to get our daily dose of fast-paced split-screen action, and to this day I'll happily say that it was time well spent. TimeSplitters 2 follows the story of two space marines (no, not the big blue dudes) that have to travel through time and space to stop an alien race from ruining history. You travel to various different time periods, running and gunning your way through the linear levels to collect time crystals. The game's characters are absolutely wild, and it's an entertaining experience from beginning to end. Right now, you can pick it up with 75% lopped off the price, so £2.09/$2.49/€2.49, which makes it a very easy recommendation for me to make!
TimeSplitters 2 is an adrenalised race through time to save man's future from the grasp of a hideous alien race. In control of a space marine who has infiltrated their ship on the edge of space and time, leap into periods of past and future history, track down and eliminate the TimeSplitters and their diabolical attempts to enslave humankind!
Are any of these games filling you with nostalgia, or is there something else you'd like to add to your museum of games? Let us know in the comments!