8/10 review published 8th October 2004. By Kieron Gillen.
"We're very much in Journey over Destination territory," said Kieron, dancing around his idiom with gay abandon (and, if you look back, attempting to abandon a gay husband, who he picked up on a whim). Fable's sequel is likely to be billed as one of the Xbox 360 games of 2008, but in the meantime there's little to stop you going back and enjoying what Lionhead and Big Blue Box accomplished three years ago: not a truly non-linear action role-player, but a game where curious players could take a lot more from the world than merely hit-points and mana.
Although its inclusion in the Xbox Originals line-up was originally mooted, Fahrenheit seemed to have missed day one to judge by Microsoft's pre-launch press materials. As it turned out - and as we rather belatedly discovered when we went home and downloaded the dashboard update ourselves - it is indeed available, and that's good news. A heavily story-driven adventure game with action elements, it's almost rhythm-response in places, and slightly torturous mechanics rubbed a few people up the wrong way at the time of its release. We adored it though, delighting in its unorthodox camerawork and story-telling techniques, and among the Originals it stands out as one of the best suited to its new price point. If you didn't play it the first time, it's well worth considering.
Crash Bandicoot: Wrath of Cortex
Released for Xbox way back in April 2002, Wrath of Cortex struggled to recapture the form that made the very first Crash Bandicoot game so good (and it still is pretty moreish, amazingly), but that didn't stop it selling bundles, because nothing ever stops Crash selling in huge quantities. Whether it's worth ten of your Internet pounds today is debateable, but you don't need us to tell you that.
8/10 review published 22nd February 2006. By Kristan Reed.
Criterion may be best known for its smash-'em-up racing games (Burnout 3: Takedown, of course, is already on Xbox Originals), but in 2006 it tried something else: a first-person shooter with the bare-bones, high-intensity attitude of the developer's racing franchise, modelling the impact and outcome of every bullet with the attention to detail that bent wing-mirrors and crumpled bonnets on the road. The result was Black, an almost ceaseless onslaught of projectile death. Its visual impact has diminished slightly since we first saw it (back then it was quite staggering), but the underlying gameplay is still worth experiencing.
Ninja Gaiden Black
9/10 review published 16th March, 2004. By Tom Bramwell.
Rightly regarded as one of the best games on the original Xbox (and one of the hardest), Ninja Gaiden is a third-person hackandslash with a deep, complex battle system and incredibly shiny graphics, based around Ryu Hayabusa out of Dead Or Alive. Whatever you thought about Tecmo's beat-'em-up series, this is worth a look; an unrelentingly violent, grandiose collision of thoughtful mechanics and spectacular scale. Ninja Gaiden Black, the remixed follow-up released here, introduced Mission Mode (score-attack vignettes), the two Hurricane Pack download releases (new moves, more difficulty settings - high and low - and new enemies like explosive bats). Being able to say you've finished Ninja Gaiden Black is serious gamer credibility.
Sid Meier's Pirates!
7/10 review published 2nd August, 2005. By Tom Bramwell.
The "Sid Meier" bit could be misleading; this isn't the epic, turn-based empire-building of Civ nor the slow and steady economics of Railroads, but rather pirate's-life simulation where you set out to avenge the deaths of your family by drinking, bootlegging and mini-gaming it up and down the Spanish Main. Button-matching and reaction time tests dictate your success or failure in the games of love, life, and sword-fighting, while ship-to-ship combat is a top-down cannon battle with silky rigging graphics and the very real danger of losing that ship you've spent ages acquiring. You can lose yourself for days getting washed up on its silly shores, providing you can put up with the repetition.
For more on the Xbox Originals, check out the official website.