7 Awesome Xbox Live Games to Play Before the Xbox One Release

I download a lot of video games. It's a hobby.

1. Toy Soldiers: Cold War

This game set out to capture the feeling of being a kid with a box of toy soldiers. While I don't remember the 80s myself, this game makes me wish I did. The simple fun of blowing away legions of commies with a one-liner-spewing toy commando is apparently just as fun as an adult as it was as a kid.

Behind the over-the-top antics of the (not so) Cold War backdrop is a solid tower defense game. Place turrets along the enemy's path to your toy box to win, and take direct control of the turrets to earn multipliers and power-ups.

2. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Let's get the 80s nostalgia all out of the way right now. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a great stand-alone expansion to the hit game Far Cry 3, except set in a crazy alternate 2007 straight out of an 80s action flick.

After playing through this game, I felt the immediate need to rewatch Predator. While the boss fight is a bit anticlimactic, the entire experience is so much fun that it more than makes up for it. When you consider that the story is backed by the Far Cry 3 gameplay experience, Blood Dragon is really the whole package. For a low-price downloadable game, this is as good as a shooter gets.

3. Trials Evolution

The best downloadable racing game on the Xbox is a two-dimensional motorcycle game that mixes lightning-fast reflexes and puzzle problem-solving.

While maybe the most frustrating game on the list, it is also the most addicting. The button to reset to the last checkpoint was almost too easy to use, leading to hours trying to land the perfect landing. The learning curve is pretty much perfect, but builds up to impossible difficulties toward the end.  Let's just say that this game can keep you busy for a long time.

4. Limbo

Three years old now, Limbo is an oldie but a goodie. If you haven't experienced it yet, it is an unforgettable minimalist story about a boy on a dark journey.

Limbo mixes excellent art direction, a pervasive macabre atmosphere, and some of the best light puzzling and platforming on the Xbox 360. This was one of the best games of 2010, which was particularly impressive for a downloadable indie title. Limbo is a must-have for any current-generation game library.

5. Mark of the Ninja

Mark of the Ninja manages to be one of the greatest stealth action games out there, and all with only two dimensions and a basic use of light and dark. Elements of choice, both in story and gameplay style, work really well. Whether you want to be a silent hunter, isolating and assassinating enemies one by one, or an invisible master infiltrator, coming and going without a trace, this game has options for you.

My preferred style involved stalking down enemies and terrifying their allies into panicking, making them easy to slip past. And there were loadouts specifically perfect for that style. I usually don't have the patience for hardcore stealth games, but this one paced perfectly.

6. Orcs Must Die!

I cannot imagine a better-executed tower defense / action game hybrid. This game has also been out for a little while now (2011), but again, no downloaded game library is complete without it. Carefully orchestrated traps must be paired with quick thinking, fast reactions, and some good hacking and slashing. I rarely see a game pair high-level strategy with low-brow humor and action so well.

For those of you who game on PCs, there is a sequel out there you should check out too. But this is as good as it gets on the Xbox Arcade.

7. The Walking Dead

Receiving near-universal acclaim last year, The Walking Dead was a glorious return of classic adventure gaming, but with a social twist. Timed dialogue segments offered as much or more tension than the zombies, and the puzzles were just the right difficulty not to become frustrating or distracting from the top-notch story.

A new expansion to this game actually just came out a few weeks ago, so make sure to pick this title up and blow through all of the original episodes before the sequel is released!

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John Ford

I am a recent graduate from the University of Maryland, starting my career in Newark, Delaware for Discover Financial Services. I am interested in marketing, customer service, gaming, and world politics.

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