The Best Xbox 360 RPGs Available Right Now
After last week's look at the Best PS3 RPGs Available Right Now, it's about time we did the same for Microsoft's console, which has seen a good number of console exclusive RPGs in its lifetime so far as well as a number of fantastic multiplatform titles.
Before we even begin with the list, the most interesting thing here is the ratio of Western to Japanese - opposite here to what it was on the PS3. Clearly the Xbox 360 has done a good job as establishing itself as a go-to machine for Western-made RPGs, as despite having a number of high quality Japanese titles on the machine including Tales of Vesperia, The Last Remnant and Star Ocean: The Last Hope, only one JRPG made it onto this list, muscled out by the Western competition.
We started out with a list of just over 15 titles, and whittled it down to a top 5. But first, here are the near misses - two titles that only just missed a place on the list.
The Near Misses
There were a number of notable titles that were squeezed out of a place on this list. Chief amongst them was the newly released Dragon Age: Origins. Dragon Age is a fantastic title on the Xbox 360 and PS3, but is far superior - especially in terms of controls - on the PC - and as such was deprived a place on this list. It's definitely worth picking up if you've played everything else on this list though - and definitely worth a look on the PC.
Our second Near Miss comes in the form of Namco's Tales of Vesperia. While it doesn't quite live up to the fantastic Tales of Symphonia, Vesperia is a fantastic example of a Japanese RPG that is moving to improve the genre, and well worth your time - it just wasn't top 5 material.
The Very Best Xbox 360 RPGs
5. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion/Fallout 3 [RPGSite Score: 90% & 91%]
It has to be said that while we only chose Oblivion in the PS3 article, both these titles are absolutely superb - and so this time, we decided to throw them both in together. Bethesda's RPGs are easy to group together as they share the same engine, similar graphical styles and gameplay basics, but in truth, Fallout and Oblivion couldn't be more different.
Both games place an emphasis on choice in a huge, open world, but the way you'll be fighting through them - with a sword or a gun, with Fallout's VATS system or a real time - are hugely different and satisfying and fun to play in both cases.
Both games have gigantic worlds and huge amounts of Downloadable Expansions to keep you busy for even longer - and both now have cheaper Game of the Year versions which include the DLC for free. You can pick up Oblivion here and Fallout here.
4. Borderlands [RPGSite Score: 86%]
Borderlands is the second and last multi-console title on our list, and also, like Oblivion, featured on our top PS3 RPG list. With millions of guns on offer and addictive, Diablo-like loot hoarding, Borderlands is perfect for someone looking for a game that has that 'one more quest' ding moment every time you complete something that keeps you playing for hours.
Add this to the awesome co-operative mode that is bound to give you a reason to actually use that Xbox Live Gold Account you're paying for and pretty graphics that mash the cartoony and realistic together and Borderlands is one attractive package. It's a great evolution of the RPG formula, combining first-person action with leveling up and skill trees.
You can check our review for more detailed information, but all you really need to know about this sleeper hit is this: It's pretty, it's lengthy, and it's fun. Most important of all, it's well worth a purchase. Pick it up here.
3. Lost Odyssey [RPGSite Score: 86%]
Lost Odyssey received a lot of bad press when it first came out - it was seen as Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi playing it safe and releasing a largely traditional RPG in an age when the genre is diversifying - but that's why we at RPGSite loved it - it plays like many of the classics. What Final Fantasy XIII would've been had Sakaguchi stayed at Square Enix, Lost Odyssey is a four-disc epic with gameplay systems straight out of the PS1 era of FF.
It's not all old, though - there's a twist on gameplay thanks to the addition of immortal characters, and while the story plays out via traditional cutscenes extra depth is added via wonderfully written dreams, animated with simple sound effects and animations as sound appears on the screens - and many of the sad, sad stories are surprisingly moving.
Don't expect anything that'll blow your mind by being different, but if you enjoy traditional Japanese RPGs and want an engaging story with some old-school gameplay - all in high definition - Lost Odyssey is a pretty safe bet. Consider it a love letter to the RPGs of old. Grab it here.
2. Fable II [RPGSite Score: 92%]
The original Fable burned a lot of people, with Peter Molyneux's grand promises of trees that grow alongside the player and an engaging, emotional world falling flat in what turned out to be a fun but fairly standard Action RPG. Fable II did a lot to repair Molyneux's relationship with Lionhead's fans, as it actually went on to fulfill many of the promises the original title failed to deliver on.
Pairing you with a pet dog who acts as a guide through your journey, Fable II is a linear but massively enjoyable Action-RPG romp with simplistic combat that allows you to switch between guns, magic and blade quickly and easily to string together cool-looking combos. Despite the storyline being linear, Albion has much to explore and do on the side.
Gameplay aside, Fable II is all about choice and is one of few RPGs that will actually make you think about moral decisions - it's a game that knows that there is a grey area between good and evil and challenges you think about how you'd react rather than what 'path' you want to take through the story. Pick it up here.
1. Mass Effect [RPGSite Score: 92%]
While Dragon Age showed up in the near misses, it wouldn't be right if the RPG experts at Bioware didn't have a place in this list, and Xbox 360's top RPG spot definitely belongs to the space faring RPG Mass Effect. With Bioware's mantra of choice and epic storytelling taking center stage, Mass Effect is incredibly customizable with a great number of outcomes to the story, where party members or major supporting characters can be killed or ignored entirely.
In combat, Mass Effect mixes throws the third person shooter and RPG genres into a blender, and the result is generally fast-paced gunplay governed by RPG statistics. For those not used to action, it can be paused at any time to issue orders to your usually AI-controlled allies. There's quite a bit of depth and multiple combat classes to play through with.
Best of all, game saves from Mass Effect will transfer over to the sequel in January, so all those hard choices you make will roll into the second title in the series. RPG fans must play this game - but make your choices carefully! Make the right choice and choose to buy it now if you don't own it already. You should also Preorder the Second.
The Very Best Xbox 360 Time Warp
1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Bioware come knocking at the best RPG door again with this offering for the original Xbox which is backwards compatible on all hard-drive equipped Xbox 360s. Set in the Star Wars universe 4000 years before the movies, the time frame allowed Bioware unprecedented artistic license with the familiar locales of the Star Wars universe without having to worry about canon or contradicting the movies.
The result is a Star Wars game that is free of the baggage many licensed games have to deal with, taking all the best bits of Star Wars - specifically blasting things and slicing things with a lightsaber - and allowing you to play them in an Action RPG setting. The gameplay is fun, the storyline has one of the best-executed twists in gaming history, and the game is widely considered the best Star Wars title ever released.
Star Wars: KOTOR is definitely the spiritual father of Mass Effect, which allowed Bioware to take their ideas into darker, more mature themed areas than the Star Wars universe, so if you want to learn about the birth of that series - or just play an awesome RPG - KOTOR is a sound bet.
That's it for our list of top Xbox 360 RPGs you can grab right now. You can check out our Xbox 360 RPG Portal for more on RPGs for the Xbox 360 if you're still not satisfied, but our firm recommendation is you play not one but all of the games on this list - they're all superb experiences.
Stick with us on RPGSite for more in our series on the Best RPGs Available Right Now. You can keep updated on RPG news and Articles via our RSS Feed and Twitter - and let us know what you think of our 360 picks in the comments!