Xbox for Xmas
December 26, 2003 8:50 PM   Subscribe

My kids just got an X-box for Christmas. I know nothing about this thing and am not familiar with console games since the PS1. Any ideas about what games are worth buying (cheap is always good, we live in the woods so peer pressure isn't a concern) for a role playing twelve-year old and a fighting fool nine-year old?
posted by cedar to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
My initial reaction is to recommend Dead or Alive 3, one of the most beautiful fighting games ever released. It's also part of Xbox's Platinum Hits series, so you should be able to find it for $20 pretty easily ($15 or so if it's on sale). As with a lot of video games, the attributes of the female characters are fairly exaggerated. Unfortunately, it's rated T for Teen, too, so you may not want to give this to a child of nine.

It's kind of odd, though... I'm looking at the listing of Xbox titles on Amazon, and the vast majority are rated either T for Teen (recommended for ages 13 or older) or M for Mature (recommended for ages 17 or older). I guess that's to be expected now that the average age of a video game player is 29.

My other recommendations:

For video game bargains, check out Cheap Ass Gamer and VGtalk.

For reviews, I like GameSpy.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:30 PM on December 26, 2003

I have been playing Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.
posted by xyzzy at 9:37 PM on December 26, 2003

I got one too! Well, I bought it for my fiancee's kids but when they're not here it's all mine.

I bought The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind for $20 and so far I'l liking it. I also signed up for Gamefly, like Netflix put for games!
posted by Mick at 10:43 PM on December 26, 2003

Burnout 2. The crash mode will have 'em giggling for hours.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:11 AM on December 27, 2003

Fighting games: Dead or Alive 3 is a very good game, but equally, if beat-em-ups are the order of the day then Soul Calibur II and Rocky are excellent titles. Make DOA3 your first choice here, though.

RPGs/Adventures is the genre where the XBox suffers, alas. Just recently, though, came Star Wars: Knights of the Old republic. RPG to the extreme, this game comes from the makers of Baldurs Gate (*the* role-play computer game) and Neverwinter Nights, so don't be fooled by the fact that most Star Wars games stink. This really is the business. If your kids *really* hate Star Wars, though, (not that you need to like Star Wars to like this game, but I suppose it might be a barrier), then Shenmue II is the only decent alternative I can think of in this area.

Other suggestions: Halo is the defining console First Person Shooter and, although not in either of the categories you're really interested in, no XBox collection should go without (unless they've already played this to death at friends' houses). Racing games-wise Burnout 2, as recommended above is as exciting as it gets, although MotoGP2: URT is probably the finest motorcycle racer ever made. By all accounts, though, Project Gotham 2 shows every sign of being the racer of choice - I haven't read a review I would trust, though (and I'm yet to find anywhere on the internet that I'd cite in my stead.) Project Gotham 2 supports X-Box Live (online play), too, which can only be a good thing. If you fancied a sports title or two at any stage then Tony Hawk's 3, Madden NFL 2003, Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball (bikini alert, though) and Amped (snowboarding) are all superb. Personally, though, I'd also recommend the frenetics of Jet Set Radio Future and, by the sounds of it, Prince of Persia (although I can't personally vouch for the latter, either). RPG/Adventure-wise, keep an eye out for Broken Sword III, too...

It sounds to me very much like Dead or Alive 3 and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic should be your first purchases, though.
posted by nthdegx at 12:45 AM on December 27, 2003

Return of the King is a fun game, and not too difficult. Halo sucks, it just gets rated for being a FPS thats possible to play on a console without crying at the bad controls, and Goldeneye on the N64 got there years ago. I haven't played KOTOR but I hear good things about it - all I can add is that Baldurs Gate is a very fun game, but also very, very long - I certainly didn't have the attention span to finish it. I imagine KOTOR is similar.

On the "adult" front is Tony Hawks Underground - its a skateboarding game, but has RPG elements. Then of course there is the GTA Double Pack. Grand Theft Auto is notorious for corrupting poor little kiddies minds, but its one of the best games of the past few years. Get it for yourself if nothing else ;) then let the 12 year old play it if you think its suitable.
posted by Orange Goblin at 3:03 AM on December 27, 2003

Prince of Persia was my favorite xmas present this year. I loved the original so much, and remember thinking how fluid and beautiful the graphics were...heh. This new version is tons of fun so far. My 12 yr son keeps trying to kick me out of his bedroom, where the Xbox is. So he can play. Highly recommended. Lots of cool fights.

As far as cheap goes, if you live near one of those trade/swap places, you're in luck. I live within 5 miles of about 8 of them, but you said you live in the sticks, so maybe or They both have used vid games, ebay probably does as well.
posted by iconomy at 5:24 AM on December 27, 2003

Also - if you live anywhere near a Blockbuster - they sell "freedom passes" - I think the first month is 14.95 and then 19.95 a month afterwards. With the pass, you can rent any video game and keep it for as long as you like - months, if necessary. Then you bring it back whenever and switch it out for another one - never a late fee or a phone call. It's a great way to test out games before you buy them, and saves buying all those 50.00 games that can be beat in a week. You can cancel it whenever.
posted by iconomy at 7:13 AM on December 27, 2003

eBay prices on used titles vary widely; sometimes a new title like Tony Hawk Underground can sell for close to the new price when you factor in shipping.

I've found the best prices on used games are at the local Blockbuster, especially when they are running their periodic specials like "25% off all preowned" or "buy two, get one free." Right now, they have preowned Soul Calibur II for Xbox at $29.99. If you go this route, bear in mind the games have been rented to several people, and there may be some scratching or wear on the disks, but there is a 30 day guarantee so you can just return it if it doesn't work. I've bought dozens of games there and only ever had to return one.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:55 AM on December 27, 2003

I didn't read the other ones so apologies for this if it's a repeat.

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic sounds like something he'd really enjoy.

Also, I completely recommend . It's a site that aggregates ratings for games, so it's really good for finding out information about games. Run their sort for best average Xbox rankings.

Oh, I don't know if you're inclined or interested, but one of my friends mod chipped his xbox and won't shut up about how cool it is.
posted by rudyfink at 9:55 AM on December 27, 2003

Thanks all. It's looking like Prince of Persia, Star Wars Knights and Dead or Alive 3 for starters. That should keep the little darlings amused for awhile -- a good two, three hours at the least.
posted by cedar at 10:09 AM on December 27, 2003

Top 10 XBox games at GameRankings:

1. Halo: Combat Evolved
2. Grand Theft Auto Double Pack
3. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
4. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
5. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
6. Project Gotham Racing 2
7. Soul Calibur II
8. SSX 3
9. Panzer Dragoon Orta
10. World Series Baseball 2K3

So given the RPG and Fighting brief, I'd say KotoR, and SCII. Personally speaking, KotoR is great fun, although PoP is my personal fave from that list.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:52 PM on December 27, 2003

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