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Luke
01 Feb, 2008

Xbox Originals Reviews A - Z

360 Feature | We look at every game available in the Xbox Originals range and deliver a verdict.
Last December Microsoft introduced the Xbox Originals range to augment their online content. For 1200 points gamers can download a selection of full original Xbox games, the launch list is rather slim but will hopefully expand over the next few years.

We have decided to keep a set of reviews of the Xbox Originals range to help you determine whether the titles are worth downloading or not. 1200 points equates to about $20 Australian so we want to make sure you get value for you cash. For each review we've reported on the possible emulation issues (as the Xbox 360 is emulating the original Xbox console), delivered a short synopsis of the titles in question, and provided links to PALGN's reviews if applicable. Our review scale can be found below.

QUICKLINKS:
Xbox Live Arcade Reviews A - N | Xbox Live Arcade Reviews O - Z | Xbox Originals A - Z

Our Xbox Originals ratings system

We've given every game a 'buy' rating of 'Yes', 'Maybe', or 'No'

Yes means this is a very high quality game, and we have no problem recommending it to anyone as long as they like the genre.

Maybe means we think the game is good, but not necessarily for everyone. If you know the game or like the sound of the description, go for it

No means that we don't recommend the title at all.

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Games listed in alphabetical order

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Black
Price: 1200 points | PALGN Review (7.5)
Emulation Issues: There are some minor lighting issues with non-player characters.
Game Size:
  

Black is a first person shooter from the developers of the Burnout series, Criterion Games. The first person shooter was rather enjoyable when it was released, but hasn't aged all that well. The short single player mode and lack of multiplayer means most players will be left feeling rather unsatisfied with Black. One of the most redeeming features of the game is the fact that even now it looks absolutely beautiful.

Worth buying? Maybe

Burnout 3: Takedown
Price: 1200 points | PALGN Review (9.0)
Emulation Issues: Very minor performance drops in multiplayer mode.
Game Size:
  

Arcade racing was revolutionised when Burnout 3 was released on store shelves in 2004. With a fantastic sense of speed and a revised crash mode Burnout 3 is stil one of the best arcade racing games ever released. If you didn't pick this game up when it was first released then do yourself a favour and buy it now, it's well worth it.

Worth buying? Yes

Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex
Price: 1200 points
Emulation Issues: None to report.
Game Size: 985MB
  

The Wrath of Cortex was the first Crash game that wasn't developed by Naughty Dog, who have since gone on to bigger and better things. Traveller's Tales didn't take too many risks, so the game feels quite similar to its predecessors, but without that intangible Naughty Dog touch. It average six years ago and now it feels even more dated. Not worth your time or money.

Worth buying? No

Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge
Price: 1200 points
Emulation Issues: Minor flickering at the top of the screen that happens infrequently. The 'Press A to Continue' message is missing when the host player leaves a multiplayer game. Additional content within the game (such as demos & trailers) are not supported and selecting those options may result in crashing the game (requiring a restart of the console)
Game Size: 4.1GB

  

Crimson Skies was originally packed with an Xbox live subscription in many countries so was quite popular, but it's also one of the best combat flight games out there. One of the highlights is the multiplayer support and while the online community for the game has died down a little it's still a lot of fun even in split screen. Anyone who enjoys combat flight games should definitely give this a look if they don't already have the original disc.

Worth buying? Yes

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Price: 1200 points
Emulation Issues: Player can get caught in geometry after loading level 8. Blurry lines may appear at VGA resolution 848X480
Game Size: 2.78 GB

  

Released towards the end of the Xbox life-cycle, Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is an action-adventure game that was very popular with critics and has a cult following nowadays. For those that missed out, it's definitely worth the mere 1200 points to download it today. Graphically impressive for its time as well as having a very unique and interesting narrative, the game is still a lot of fun to play today. If you're not into heavy storylines and lots of conversational elements, it may not be your cup of tea - but we personally think it's a great experience and is great value given the asking price.

Worth buying? Yes

Fable
Price: 1200 points | PALGN Review (8.5)
Emulation Issues: Some random bursts of audio static, some minor texture issues, and a short hang up when removing tattoos. Additional content within the game (such as demos & trailers) are not supported and selecting those options may result in crashing the game (requiring a restart of the console)
Game Size: 3.2GB
  

It is sad that most of our main memories of Fable are the disappointments with the game, which was far from what we were expecting but still actually a pretty solid RPG. However, the superior Lost Chapters game was released just a year later, so why Microsoft decided not to put this version up is something we are still a little bit confused about. It is likely Lost Chapters will end up on the service eventually, so if you can wait then you are better off waiting for the better game, but if you cannot wait to play Fable (again?) then there is a solid RPG experience to be had.

Worth buying? Maybe

Fahrenheit
Price: 1200 points | PALGN Review (8.5)
Emulation Issues: None to report.
Game Size: 3.1GB

  

Fahrenheit is an action adventure game where every decision made affects the storyline. During development the 'game' was labeled an interactive film, and with fantastic voice-work and some great camera cuts it is very easy to get immersed. We ended our review with a statement that still stands true today 'Fahrenheit is one of the most beautiful, immersive and artistic games you could ever wish for. There’s no reason in the world why any self-respecting gamer wouldn’t want to have this game in their collection.'

Worth buying? Yes

Fuzion Frenzy
Price: 1200 points
Emulation Issues: There are some minor frame rate issues. Additional content within the game (such as demos & trailers) are not supported and selecting those options may result in crashing the game (requiring a restart of the console)
Game Size: 1.9GB
  

Fuzion Frenzy may have been a launch title for the first Xbox but it still stands up pretty well today. The game is far better than its sequel and with a severe lack of party games on the Xbox 360 anyone who is after a multiplayer bash could do worse then pick up Fuzion Frenzy. It's not brilliant, but with very slim competition in the party genre the game wins by default

Worth buying? Maybe

Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows
Price: 1200 points
Emulation Issues: None to report.
Game Size: 1.9GB

  

When it was originally released, Seven Sorrows was the Gauntlet that went online for the first time, and featured the same multiplayer hack and slash style of gameplay that we've become accustomed to over the years. You know what you're getting with this game just from the title; the gameplay is shallow but features a lot of cool spells that you can play around with, bucketloads of enemies coming at you at all times, crazy button-mashing fun with a friend and an over-the-top storyline that will probably make little to no sense. It's all in good fun though, and any fan of the Gauntlet franchise will feel right at home with this one. If you're not a Gauntlet fan though, well... probably best you don't risk the points or the space on your hard drive.

Worth buying? Maybe

Halo
Price: 1200 points | PALGN Review (8.5)
Emulation Issues: Microsoft advises there are some minor occasional frame rate issues, we noticed they happened quite frequently.
Game Size: 2.3GB

  

Go back and relive the fight with the Covenant in the original classic. Playing the first installment of Master Chief's franchise proves just as thrilling as did on the Xbox, whether it be in single or multi-player mode. If you missed out on the game when it was first released, then here is your chance to catch up with one of the most hyped games ever. Although there a few frame rate issues and no new Achievements, downloading Halo will assure you that the legendary first-person shooter is always available at your fingertips.

Worth buying? Yes

Metal Arms: Glitch in the System
Price: 1200 points
Emulation Issues: None to report.
Game Size: 1.61 GB

  

Saving the planet from an evil race of robots may not be the most original concept you've ever heard of, but at least Metal Arms makes it a whole lot of fun. You play as Glitch and in an effort to take down General Corrosive and his followers, you get to shoot them all - a lot. As well as your basic action elements, you can also sneak up behind your enemies and hack them so that you can literally take control of them. It's quite cool and the game is over-the-top enough that there is a lot of crazy fun to be had here. There's also offline multiplayer so that you can shoot at your friends. Glitch in the System is worthy of a download if you have some spare points; the game is much deeper than it looks and has a comical side that is also rather entertaining. If you didn't get a chance to play this when it was first released, now may be a good time to give it a proper look.

Worth buying? Yes

Psychonauts
Price: 1200 points | PALGN Review (8.0)
Emulation Issues: HDMI 720p is not supported for PAL users. Running the game in 720p over HDMI will result in the game locking up for PAL users. If you are using HDMI output, set the resolution to 1080i or 1080p (anything but 720p)
Game Size: 5.3GB
  

Psychonauts is a platform game developed by Double Fine Productions, a company founded by Tim Schafer, the man behind Grim Fandango and the first two Monkey Island. In Psychonauts the player takes control of Raz, a new arrival at a training camp for Psychonauts, an elite special agents who use their psychic powers to combat psycho-terrorism. It's not one of Schafer's best but is still extremely enjoyable and one of the best platformers released in recent years.

Worth buying? Yes

Sid Meier's Pirates!
Price: 1200 points
Emulation Issues: None to report.
Game Size: 985MB
  

Sid Meier's Pirates is a strategy title, the franchise has been around for years and the Xbox version keeps things relatively similar to the previous titles, except with added multiplayer. The game is still a lot of fun to this day and is a game that most strategy fans will be very happy with.

Worth buying? Yes

Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without A Pulse
Price: 1200 points | PALGN Review (6.0)
Emulation Issues: Minor audio stuttering during final credits. Minor performance drops during co-operative play. No video for Pal-60. Title must be played on Pal-50.
Game Size: 1.9GB

  

Stubbs the Zombie is a game that allows you to literally play on the 'evil' side for a change, as a brain-eating zombie with a cool mafia hat. Interestingly enough, the story is spun so that the zombies are actually the good guys in a roundabout sort of way, but as silly as the narrative is, the game is all about the comedy and the crazy zombie powers that you'll get to use, such as removing your hand and then going on walkabout with it, before using it to literally take control of enemies, allowing you to infiltrate from within or attack from a different angle. You'll also get to eat brains, which is just cool. While the game may not have been critically viewed with the highest regard initially, it's not terrible, and can be a whole lot of fun; especially when playing cooperatively with a friend.

Worth buying? Maybe

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Price: 1200 points | PALGN Review: 9.0
Emulation Issues: Light sources can sometimes be seen through textures and player avatar (Minor).
Game Size: 5.39 GB

  

Given that the Splinter Cell series began its success on the original Xbox, we figured it was only a matter of time until one of the games made it onto the Xbox Originals service. With Double Agent already available on the Xbox 360 and Conviction on the way, many people will be glad to know that Chaos Theory is probably the best Splinter Cell game to bridge the gap between the two releases. Many would call it the best Splinter Cell game to date, and with all the refinements included in this third installment, they may be right. If you've been living under a rock, Sam Fisher is back and he's got some more terrorists to stop (of course), and you'll have to be as stealthily as possible. It's combination of stealth and action holds up well today, and our only warning here is that it's over 5GB in size, which is more than a quarter of your average Xbox 360 HDD. If you can afford the space however, we think 1200 points is a pretty good deal to get your stealth on.

Worth buying? Yes

We will be updating this article at the start of every month with all the new releases on the Xbox Originals service, so keep checking back regularly for our latest recommendations.

This article features contributions from Luke Mitchell and Anthony Capone.

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17 Comments
6 years ago
For anyone wondering, coming soon will be PlayStation Classics (Monday) & PlayStation Network Reviews (Tuesday).
6 years ago
Keep up the good work Luke theses are really handy imo.
6 years ago
Nice roundup, I pretty much agree with all of your conclusions there. I was 'wtf'ing a bit when I saw Fable as 'maybe', but I hadn't realised that Fable on XBL was not the Lost Chapters re-release icon_eek.gif

Very stupid I think..
6 years ago
The points system is deceptive marketing, convoluting the perceived financial cost of downloads over Xbox Live. In virtual form none of the aformentioned titles are worth $20, but 1200 points? Who knows.
6 years ago
Itachi wrote
Keep up the good work Luke theses are really handy imo.
agreed, appreciated. icon_smile.gif
6 years ago
Of course for $20 you could buy any of these second hand on disc, except for Psychonauts, that you need to search for and pay a bit more. But at least you get the manuals and all that. Actually that's something your review doesn't mention, how do they handle the manuals? is there a onscreen version of them?
6 years ago
so, I'm using a monitor with the 360's vga cable and no BC games run on it from disc, will these versions run on it?


EDIT: this is proving to be very difficult to find out an answer for this
6 years ago
Fetidchimp wrote
so, I'm using a monitor with the 360's vga cable and no BC games run on it from disc, will these versions run on it?


EDIT: this is proving to be very difficult to find out an answer for this
I was thinking the same thing, M$ was very unhelpful when questioned, help please PALGN?
6 years ago
Another (not so hidden) cost is the space that it takes up on your HDD. After a few downloads you'll be in need of a HDD upgrade.

3-4G is a lot on a machine that only gives you 13G to start with.
6 years ago
Gutsman Heavy wrote
Fetidchimp wrote
so, I'm using a monitor with the 360's vga cable and no BC games run on it from disc, will these versions run on it?


EDIT: this is proving to be very difficult to find out an answer for this
I was thinking the same thing, M$ was very unhelpful when questioned, help please PALGN?
indeed, i still don't know the answer to this.
6 years ago
I take it you've set your output to PAL-60 like so:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/914378
6 years ago
nah no good, if the game wont support pal-60 we are screwed (Halo, Psychonauts icon_sad.gif ) I would like PALGN to list if its VGA compatible, it would be a huge help, PWEASE!
6 years ago
Wrath of cortex should of really been a maybe.
6 years ago
Psychonauts may not be Tim Schafer's best, but when his best is Grim Fandango that's not surprising, and it's IMO easily the best game out of the bunch.
6 years ago
Gutsman Heavy wrote
nah no good, if the game wont support pal-60 we are screwed (Halo, Psychonauts icon_sad.gif ) I would like PALGN to list if its VGA compatible, it would be a huge help, PWEASE!
does this help?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Xbox_games_compatible_with_Xbox_360#List_of_compatible_titles

At least it states ones that are definitely PAL-60
6 years ago
No game that i have tried as BC has worked off the disc through the vga cable.
including :
PGR1 - pal60
PGR2 - pal60
Kingdom Under Fire
Halo
GTA San Andreas

I just want to play Crimson Skies again, but obviously not going to get it before i know for sure, think i'll go through and try every resolution and see what happens tonight
6 years ago
I just got a 3rd party 360 VGA cable yesterday and tried on a resolution 1280x1080

I just tried Crimson Skies and Panzer Dragoon Orta from disc and they seemed OK.

FYI it's connected to a Viewsonic CRT monitor
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