After a splashy announcement at E3, backwards compatibility is finally coming to the Xbox One on November 12, and Microsoft has unveiled the full slate of 104 games that will make up the first batch of new (old) titles available on the platform. The list – which you can peruse over here – includes favorites like Mass Effect 1, Assassin’s Creed II, Fallout 3, and a suite of four Gears of War titles, with other hits like Bioshock and Halo: Reach slated for future release. The list cuts across all genres and all eras of gaming, making for a fascinating snapshot of the medium.
At Dork Shelf, we believe that gaming has an amazing history that deserves to be shared, so we’re thrilled to see so many classic games coming to a modern console. But with 104 options it can be tough to know where to start, so here are five games that will soon be available for the Xbox One that absolutely deserve your attention:
Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark were both included in the Rare Replay collection that was released earlier this year, and since that collection also includes 28 other games you should probably pick that up if you have any interest in either title. If for whatever reason you’re morally opposed to the idea of a bargain, Banjo-Kazooie is still worth your time. One of Rare’s many N64 classics, the game stands as a rival to Mario 64 and demonstrates how much fun a 3D platformer can be when done right.
Beyond Good and Evil HD
While most video game protagonists are some combination of thug or soldier, Beyond Good and Evil’s Jade is a constructive member of society, running an orphanage and holding down a job as a photojournalist that still allows for plenty of excitement as she works to expose a massive government conspiracy. Beyond Good and Evil is the rare action game that doesn’t rely solely on violence to generate tension, incorporating stealth and combat with elements of Pokemon Snap to build a colorful fantasy world filled with characters (and struggles) that you could actually relate to.
That’s why the game remains a cult favorite and a critical darling, even if that hasn’t been enough to convince Ubisoft to move forward with a sequel. People are still talking Beyond Good and Evil twelve years after its debut, and we absolutely recommend playing it if you want to join the conversation.
Doom, Doom II, and Wolfenstein 3D
We’re grouping these together because it’s impossible to separate one from the others. In any case, these really shouldn’t need any explanation. Doom, Doom II, and Wolfenstein 3D built the foundation for the modern first person shooter, and the design ideas on display deserve to be studied by fans and developers alike. You’ll get more mileage out of these than you will from Call of Duty: Black Ops 1 when it inevitably hits the Xbox One somewhere down the line.
Mirror’s Edge is not a perfect game. The story is generic, the combat is frustrating, and the way forward is often wildly unclear, which is a problem considering the game is so linear. Yet despite those flaws, there’s still nothing else quite like the rush you get when Mirror’s Edge picks up a little speed. The first-person parkour makes for some of the most thrilling movement in any video game, and with a sequel on the horizon – one that seems to address all of the problems we just mentioned – there’s never been a better time to catch up with the original.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
After conquering television and Broadway, Trey Parker and Matt Stone turned their attentions to gaming with South Park: The Stick of Truth, and the result was vastly more entertaining than other RPGs with more somber ambitious. Taking full advantage of South Park’s, um, distinctive brand of humor (there’s an entire level set in an abortion clinic and another inside man’s colon), what’s truly surprising is how well the game holds up mechanically. Lean, smooth, and highly polished, The Stick of Truth offered a refreshing take on tired RPG conventions and delivered an epic adventure that rarely subjected players to the grind and busywork that has become a defining characteristic of the genre.
Of course, if you’ve never been a fan of South Park you’ll probably have little patience for the game, and even for fans some of the humor hits and some if it doesn’t. Either way, the result is certainly memorable, making The Stick of Truth one of the most engaging RPGs of its generation.
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