XboxThere’s a general opinion that the Xbox isn’t retro and that it just has versions of newer games with shitter graphics. These opinions are wrong.
Yes the Xbox has spawned some successful franchises, including Halo, Fable and Forza Motorsport, but you can also make the argument that it’s one of the last truly creative consoles.

Microsoft was on a mission with the Xbox, a mission to prove that it had the flair, money and know how to compete with Sony and Nintendo. The console certainly didn’t have the best of starts, including a serious price cut shortly after launch, but it also solidified online gaming in a way that the Dreamcast hinted at, but never fully delivered.

HaloI’ve fond memories of playing games like Ghost Recon, Unreal Championship and Project Gotham Racing 2 online. There’s something strangely gratifying about playing games on a console, knowing that you’re all on an even keel. Online PC gaming could feel very unfair at the time and the Xbox levelled the playing field.

Yes there are a lot of first-person shooters and racing games available for the system (hardly surprising when you consider it’s the console equivalent of an American Cadillac), but there are also a lot of exciting gems to be discovered. You’ll never experience a game like Steel Battalion on any other console, while releases such as Phantom Dust, Stranger’s Wrath and Panzer Dragoon Orta would make any Xbox owner happy with their purchase. Oh and speaking of Sega, it released some absolute gems on Microsoft’s console, including Gun Valkyrie, Crazy Taxi 3, The House Of The Dead 3 and the aforementioned Orta. In many ways it actually felt like the Dreamcast 2, with a library consisting of genuine crowd chasers but inventive, quirky stuff as well.

gun valkyrieAnd let’s not forget Microsoft’s excellent sports library, which consisted of some genuinely fantastic games that covered everything from tennis, to American football and golf. I can still remember the rage when I realised the games were being stopped to make way for EA’s own sports games.

The Xbox lacked the sheer diversity of the PS2 and you can easily make the argument that many of its in-house exclusives couldn’t match the might of Nintendo’s releases, but in many ways it didn’t matter, not when you could gawp at the grass in Halo or play satisfying multiplayer games, either online or locally.

The Xbox currently exists in a weird sort of limbo, with many gamers seemingly unsure of whether they should consider it a retro console or not. To those still sitting on your fence, I’d say it’s time to open your eyes, because it would be a pity if nothing more than complete stubbornness is stopping you from enjoying such an interesting console. Oh and you can currently pick up many of its games for peanuts, making it the perfect time to discover Microsoft’s forgotten console.

To be completely honest with you, I didn’t care at all about NFL 2K when I bought it. I wasn’t really into American football and the last videogame version I’d played was Madden NFL 94 on the Mega Drive, but the seller threw the disc and manual in as a freebie with the copy of NBA 2K I actually wanted. At the time, I was running a Dreamcast website so any extra review fodder wasn’t to be sniffed at, but I didn’t see myself playing it much beyond that. Of course I am a spectacular fool, and had no idea that the game was excellent and had been very highly regarded the US press.

It was a bit of a struggle to get used to it, as the way plays are selected with the analogue stick is a bit funky and I wasn’t familiar with the rules beyond “you’ve got four goes to move the ball ten yards.” Thankfully the game starts you out on Rookie difficulty, which lets you get into the fun of the game – big meaty dudes, fully decked out in body armour, smashing into each other like shoppers fighting over the last big TV on Black Friday. Boy, do they ever hit hard too. You’ll see arms wrapped around heads, players dragged down by the ankles and even full body slams, and plenty of other similarly impactful tackles.

It was exactly that sense of brutality that made the game a hit with my friends, too. Playing together on the same team, we eventually figured out that you can’t just clobber a receiver (that’s called “pass interference,” folks) and managed to develop a respectable level of co-operation that allowed us to win games. We did have to pick the Broncos to do it though, and I was later informed by some American football-playing housemates that this was tantamount to cheating. Still, we had so much fun with it that I actually ended up spending way more time with NFL 2K than I ever did NBA 2K, making it a powerful argument for giving every game a chance.