Immersive Xbox environments
November 1, 2009 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Gamers: I am an Xbox newbie. Please recommend first-person games with excellently-achieved immersive environments.

I'm new to first-person gaming (recreational, playing on Normal, enjoying exploration of well-realized scenarios rather than merely cut-throat battling and dying constantly - but some fighting is OK). I have just acquired an Xbox 360, and already I am loving GTA4, Arkham Asylum, Halo 3. When these are exhausted, what else will I enjoy? Which older releases should I now get on the cheap?
posted by Hugobaron to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (31 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I know people are going to say Fallout-3 and let me go on the record to say I think the game is seriously overrated.
posted by H. Roark at 11:02 AM on November 1, 2009

I will go on the record and say that Fallout 3 is fucking awesome and you should get it + the expansion packs.
posted by cmonkey at 11:05 AM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]

Oh, and Dead Space is pretty cool, too.
posted by cmonkey at 11:06 AM on November 1, 2009

Oblivion (3rd person, but immersive world)
posted by Diddly at 11:12 AM on November 1, 2009

Bioshock is probably your best bet from your description.
Mirror's Edge is a first-person platformer that I found extremely immersive, but it's a hit or miss with players.
Fallout 3 and Oblivion are both great for huge, well-realized, explorable worlds.
posted by Durhey at 11:12 AM on November 1, 2009

Incidentally, the ones I suggested are all first-person games.
Dead Space is a 3rd-person perspective.
2 of the games mentioned in the OP are 3rd-person as well.
Do you mean literally first-person games, or simply action-adventure in general?
posted by Durhey at 11:14 AM on November 1, 2009

Mirror's Edge
Mass Effect
Assassin's Creed

Dragon Age when it comes out in March (I've been waiting for this for literally years...)
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:18 AM on November 1, 2009

Seconding Bioshock. There is no better game out there for story. And of course you're going to want to play Portal. I'm loving the heck out of Badlands, but there's an awful lot of shooty shoot in it.
posted by The Bellman at 11:19 AM on November 1, 2009

Dragon Age when it comes out in March

Isn't it out already? Amazon claims they shipped mine on Friday.
posted by Justinian at 11:20 AM on November 1, 2009

nthing Bioshock. Very immersive and atmospheric, and you can crank the difficulty down if you're not into absurdly difficult shooting challenges. Plus you can probably get it cheap now.
posted by pts at 11:22 AM on November 1, 2009

Yes, sorry, I see now I meant first and third person: games where you move with the character - either first-person or 'over the shoulder' second person, with or without the ability to control the camera viewpoint. The games I currently have seem to offer a combination of all of these at points in the gameplay. I'm interested in virtual 3D environments to explore. Thanks for all the suggestions so far.
posted by Hugobaron at 11:27 AM on November 1, 2009

Dragon Age is out on Tuesday! Sadly, thanks to Goozex I already have a huge backlog of new games, so it'll likely be March by the time I get around to it.

Fallout 3 and Oblivion are the ones that always get mentioned in threads like this, and for good reason. If you want a gigantic world to explore at your own pace, and create the character and story you want, there's really nothing out there to beat them. I've heard nice things about Fable 2, although I'm on the other side of the console war so I can't really speak to it personally.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:27 AM on November 1, 2009

(someone above mentioned Oblivion as third person. That and Fallout 3 are actually first person view, although they do have options to play 3rd person if you choose.)
posted by yellowbinder at 11:29 AM on November 1, 2009

I will definitely agree with Bioshock, Mirror's Edge, Assassin's Creed, Fallout, and Dead Space. All are must-play games.

Bioshock's art deco underwater atmosphere is breathtaking, as is Dead Space's zero-g and vacuum environments.

I've been playing Borderlands and like it too, though it involves probably more shooting than you'd like.

Sounds like you might like platformers. You might want to try out Prince of Persia and Tomb Raider. The Saints Row series is fun take on the open-world sandbox that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Mass Effect is a sandboxish lite-shooter with a great environment and story line. Kind of like Oblivion/Fallout in space.

I'm playing the XBLA (arcade) game Shadow Complex which is great if you're a fan of Metroid or Castlevania.

If you're into skateboarding, then Skate and Skate 2 are great environments.

The Darkness has a very good storyline and voice acting, and the environment is very dark and cool, a very noir NYC and flashback sequences to WWI. Definitely one of the most underrated sleepers out there.

Chronicles of Riddick, Assault on Dark Athena is similar in play and setting to The Darkness, and is made by the same people.

Far Cry 2 has got a cool environment, set in tribal Africa, where a tenuous cease-fire is in place in a war-torn region. You can set fire to the dry grass to distract and kill enemies.

Red Faction Guerrilla has got destructible environments and a cool setting.
posted by sonicbloom at 11:34 AM on November 1, 2009

Nthing Dead Space. Tried it on a lark, but it's got really really well done controls and environments.

My favorite thing about it, push a button and it draws a line on the floor for you to follow. No more getting lost, no more needing to look up a walkthrough just to figure out where to go. It's one of the best innovations in gaming that I've seen and doesn't decrease the difficulty or make it a cakewalk or anything.

Wasn't that into Bioshock, just got Fallout.
posted by Brainy at 11:37 AM on November 1, 2009

@sonicbloom - thank you for that. What does 'sandbox' mean in this context??
posted by Hugobaron at 11:39 AM on November 1, 2009

- Dragon Age is out on November 3rd, and it looks like it'll be amazing.
- The first Assassin's Creed wasn't too bad, but quite repetitive. The sequel, out in a few weeks, looks really good.
- I really loved Fallout 3, and I think the Game of the Year edition just came out with all the expansions bundled with it.
- If you like war shooters, Call of Duty Modern Warfare has a great single player campaign. It's quite short, though, so if you aren't interested in the multiplayer (which is great), I'd just rent it. The sequel is due out in a couple of weeks as well.
posted by Relic at 11:42 AM on November 1, 2009

sandbox: (from wikipedia) In a game with a sandbox mode, a player may turn off or ignore game objectives, or have unlimited access to items.This can open up possibilities that were not intended by the game designer. A sandbox mode is an option in otherwise goal-oriented games and should be distinguished from open-ended games with no objectives such as SimCity.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 12:27 PM on November 1, 2009

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare stands out as one of the best action games I've played, and on "easy" the focus is on the theatrics. The voice acting is good. The set-pieces are fun. The diversity of environments and the challenges are interesting. There are some cool story events.

I would also recommend "Braid," but only if you're a more patient person (my brother hated it.) It was one of the few games I've played where I sat there for hours trying to finish a level and didn't get frustrated. It is rewarding to finish that game.

And in terms of a fully-realized world, Mass Effect is long, tedious at times, but worth the patience to get through.

And sandbox just means "open world" where you can do what you want outside of the game's quests/missions/story.
posted by Khazk at 12:27 PM on November 1, 2009

also, fallout 3 is awesome. I thought that the combat in oblivion was needlessly hard, but exploring the world was great.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 12:28 PM on November 1, 2009

Condemned 1 & 2
posted by rbf1138 at 1:04 PM on November 1, 2009

A fun (but flawed) game that is often overlooked: Just Cause. It's an open-world game about fomenting revolution in a tropical nation and though the missions are repetitive the game offers a fun mechanic involving a handheld grappling gun and infinitely respawning parachute that allow you to perform crazy stunts like driving cars off cliffs, leaping out, deploying your parachute, and landing on a boat cruising the water below. Or you can shoot the grappling gun from your motorcycle, hit a car ahead, and use the momentum to fill your chute, lifting you above the targeted car, which you can then attack while soaring above it. Very fun game. They're making Just Cause II and it looks destructo-licious.

Another game that I enjoyed despite its flaws was Far Cry 2. The problems with this game are too many to list; suffice it to say that they took an amazingly detailed open-world shooter and crippled it with head-scrathingly stupid design decisions. Not worth buying, but well worth renting.

And nthing Oblivion. I think I've probably spent close to two hundred hours roaming around in that game and I still enjoy it. The way monsters level up with you is frustrating and illogical (why is this bandit wearing armor that costs more than a house? Why does this lowly goblin suddenly have eighty gazillion hit points?) but for an open-world, go-anywhere, do-anything experience, it can't be beat.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:15 PM on November 1, 2009

Definitely suggesting Far Cry 2 as well; play it like this guy, too. Incredibly thrilling experience.
posted by Miyomei at 2:06 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Portal is greatness.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 2:45 PM on November 1, 2009

Flawed but fun, and one of the only FPS-style sandbox games I ever got into: Crackdown.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:43 PM on November 1, 2009

My two redundant cents (I don't have an Xbox, but I've played these games on PC):

- Bioshock: Ohhhhh baby yes. Pretty freaky.

- Fallout 3: Not as immersive as it could have been, since the RPG elements are frequently at odds with anything approaching realism. Nice environments (the Wasteland especially is wondrous to behold) but they're rather repetitive. Still, a very enjoyable game. Warning: Major timesuck.

- The Orange Box: You can probably get this for cheap, and it's one of the best gaming values out there because there are basically three and a half games here. You get the entire Half-Life 2 saga to date (probably the best FPS series out there, even if five years later the graphics are a bit dated) plus the highly-regarded Portal, which you shouldn't let anyone tell you about, just play it. You also get Team Fortress 2, but that isn't the sort of thing you're going for.

- Assassin's Creed: Third-person, and repetitive gameplay, but holy carp are the medieval cities (Jerusalem, Damascus, and Acre) amazing. And because of the parkour-style climbing mechanics, if you can see it, you can probably climb up to it.

Also, the definition ThaBombShelterSmith quoted isn't really relevant to the term "sandbox" in this context. "Sandbox"y games are ones with generally open environments where the player is allowed to pick and choose objectives as he pleases, and usually there is more than one way to achieve these objectives. The canonical example of a sandbox game is the Grand Theft Auto series, which popularized the genre. Fallout 3 is pretty sandboxy, as is Assassin's Creed (albeit with a dearth of actual objectives, unfortunately). It's kind of a buzzword in the games industry for the last 5 years or so.
posted by neckro23 at 6:44 PM on November 1, 2009

Black can be run as a back compatible title or downloaded via Live. It's run and gun to an almost reductive extreme, but the atmosphere, level design and guns that are all HUGE SHOOTY NOISE WEAPONS OF GOD mark it out as something special. There's a review here, plus a retrospective here, but you only need to know one thing really: it has the best explosions of any video game ever.
posted by permafrost at 4:26 AM on November 2, 2009

The Orange Box:

Came in to say this. Also Prototype and/or the older game Crackdown (both are similar to GTA 4 only with the addition of super powers). All three are older and can be had for ~$20 each at a used game store.
posted by anti social order at 7:01 AM on November 2, 2009

Uncharted 1 and 2, but nth nth nthing Oblivion
posted by assasinatdbeauty at 7:27 AM on November 2, 2009

Agreeing with the above- you need Fallout 3, Bioshock, and Portal. Well-realized, immersive, fun, not so hard that you'll be frustrated, and they reward exploration. I hated first person games with a bitter passion until I got Fallout 3. (Hint: Play the Operation: Anchorage expansion early on; it's very linear but you get the Chinese Stealth Armor from it, and the Chinese Stealth Armor is MADE OF WIN.)
posted by oblique red at 9:04 AM on November 2, 2009

Borderlands is a ton of fun; I've been playing it a lot this past weekend. Stylistically, it's the best game I've ever played. Story-wise, it could do a lot better, but the world is cool.

Half Life 2 and the following games are still my favorite games of all time, but they're pretty linear, so whether they fit your description depends on how much exploring you want to do.

Saints Row 2 is another sandbox shooter, very GTA-like, that I've heard good things about but have never played.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:03 AM on November 2, 2009

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