Over the past few years, the Xbox 360 has been the RPG console of choice. This year, the genre took a steeper turn toward multiplatform releases, so fewer exclusive titles were available. Despite that, many RPGamers still keep Microsoft's system as their RPG console of choice, even when given other options. So even without a lot of 360-only titles, we were able to pick our favorite RPGs for the system from among everything available.
Dragon Age: Origins is a PC game in concept, so it speaks volumes to BioWare's talent that the company was able to adapt the game so well to the Xbox 360. While lacking the functionality of the PC release, Dragon Age was still able to cram all of the key elements into this release. The end result is not just merely playable, but very impressive. This is a true role-playing experience from beginning to end with one of the most enjoyable casts of characters in some time. Character customization is very deep here and the sheer number of options available for dialogue is staggering. There are few cut and dry moral choices in Dragon Age as everything feels like a shade of gray. Party members will either love you or hate you depending on how you behave, so be prepared to make some tough calls. Despite what the detractors say, Dragon Age: Origins is a solid game, regardless of the console limitations. This is the best RPG for the Xbox 360 in 2009.
In 2007, Mass Effect combined the combat of a tactical shooter with the choice-oriented storytelling of a complex WRPG. This year, developer GearBox reversed the process, creating Borderlands: a run-and-gun shooter combined with the loot-gathering, experience-grinding, class-oriented gameplay of a dungeon crawler. And the result was addictively good fun. Great visuals, ridiculously over the top dialogue, "bazillions of guns," and fast and satisfyingly bloody combat all make Borderlands a perfect blend of the two genres.
MagnaCarta 2 might be one of the best game this year that no one played. A game that sounds like it will be a cliché story turns into a special experience. The combat system is unique, exciting, and involves more than pressing the same button over and over to achieve victory. It has solid visuals that put it on the same level as many flagship RPGs. Despite Namco Bandai showing that this game is different than the preceding title, which was not well received, most gamers are still hesitant to give the series another try. Maybe it would’ve had a chance with a different name. As it stands, it is still one of the best JRPGs for the Xbox 360.
by Michael Cunningham, Adriaan den Ouden, Mikel Tidwell