Welcome to Xbox Classics Revisited. In this new series we aim to take a look back at the previous three generations—the original Xbox, the Xbox 360, and the Xbox One—of Xbox games. These mini-retrospectives serve as a tribute to some of the best gaming that Xbox has given us over the last 20+ years.
For those who were lucky enough to have been there for all of it, read on and savor the nostalgia. For those Xbox fans too young to remember Maude Flanders or Pepsi Twist: get ready to meet your Xbox gaming backlog.
Splinter Cell (Xbox)
November 2002 (Ubisoft)
When Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell released in 2002 as an Xbox exclusive, it helped to redefine the stealth genre (just as the box art promises) and ushered in one of the biggest franchises of the decade. It also introduced gamers to the steely-voiced Sam Fisher and his arsenal of gadgetry, which is the stuff of a tech-geek’s fantasies: sticky shockers, thermal vision goggles, and more.
Originally developed as a James Bond-style Metal Gear Solid Killer, the game got ported over to other platforms the following year to make waves all over again, with one reviewer quipping (of the game’s use of light and dark, and sound), “If this game were any more realistic, you’d have to hold in your farts.”
The Xbox version of Splinter Cell enjoys a 93 rating on Metacritic to this day.
Dishonored (Xbox 360, Xbox One)
October 2012 (Bethesda)
Dishonored is a first-person stealth-action game. As such, it breaks the genre mold. It also offers more player freedom than is sometimes seen in stealth games, and at almost every turn the player has an array of choices at his disposal as to how to proceed.
Set in Dunwall—a dark-Victorian London analog—Dishonored puts players in the figurative shoes of a royal bodyguard-turned assassin by the name of Corvo Attano. Corvo has at his disposal an wide range of weapons, gadgetry, and supernatural powers. These latter include the ability to slow time to a crawl, or summon plague rats.
Dishonored has been widely praised for its storytelling, and its level design has been called some of the best in all of gaming.
A Plague Tale: Innocence (Xbox One)
May 2019 (Focus Home Interactive)
A Plague Tale: Innocence combines stealth gameplay with puzzle solving, survival-horror elements and, not leastwise, exquisite narrative to create one of the most memorable games of recent years.
The game is set in 14th century Aquitaine (a historical region of France), during the Hundred Year’s War and the Black Plague. In the vein of games like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and The Last of Us, A Plague Tale Innocence strives to be a narrative-driven experience, and the team really went to great lengths to get the player invested in the game’s characters. The voice actors for Amicia and Hugo also took part in the writing by suggesting changes to the dialogue.
All this attention to storytelling detail garnered the game many accolades for its narrative design and made it an indisputable modern classic. A sequel titled A Plague Tale: Requiem is set to land on Xbox Game Pass in October 2022.
So what are your favorite Xbox classics? Do you have any special memories from the games featured here? Share them in the comments below.