It's interesting how the consoles have treated RPGs. Back in the old days, Playstation and Playstation 2 were definite RPG titans, boasting a seemingly limitless number of titles in the genre. Then, an interesting thing happened around 2007 - 2009. The Xbox 360 - which, if you may remember, the original Xbox was more of an action-oriented console - somehow took over the reigns of the RPG kingdom. With most of the big-name spring and summer RPGs on the Xbox 360 already released, I countdown my top ten favorite role-playing games on the system. See the first five below:
10. Fable 3
The original Fable was one of my favorite games on the original Xbox, a game that managed to fit smooth action-combat with an interesting story, adaptive character development, and that wonderfully quirky sense of humor the series has boasted since its inception. While the combat seems to have become overly simplified and the stories seem to have weakened progressively in each game, Fable 3 at least fixed the multiplayer issues from its predecessor.
9. The Last Remnant
Featuring a unique take on tactical combat in RPGs, the Last Remnant was not well-received by most professional critics during its original release. A slew of graphical and technical problems marred an otherwise interesting story and innovative fight system. Some of the graphical problems were solved by installing the game to your 360 harddrive, but texture pop-in and framerate slowdowns were still commonplace. Add to this, the fact that the game actually punishes you when you "level up" made this game a difficult one to enjoy. And yet, somehow I'm still playing through it now.
8. Eternal Sonata
A stereotypical action-RPG, except the story incorporated the life and music of Frederic Chopin. Eternal Sonata also boasted some of the best cel-shaded graphics and art design on the system at the time of its release. The game captured a sort of musical charm that fans of classical music no doubt enjoyed; all the characters besides chopin were named after some aspect of music, including such oddities as "Allegretto" and "Polka."
7. Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Another JRPG, The Last Hope featured an intense, action-packed and fun-driven real-time combat system which was both fluid and addicting. The only things that dragged the game down was the obtuse storyline and the painful character designs. Seriously, your characters looked like a moving collection of porcelain dolls, which I'm sorry, but no. Just no. No.
6. Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Marvel Ultimate Alliance was a great culmination of the technology and engine that drove the first two X-Men Legend Action-RPG games. MUA featured a large cast of playable and recognizable characters from the Marvel Universe, all of whom had their classic powers and costumes available for use. The story was competent, and the graphics and sound were just fine. Plus points for being able to telekinetically throw your enemies off ledges. Too bad the sequel to this great game oversimplified the character development options.
Check back tomorrow for my top-five Xbox 360 RPGs!