In the realm of gaming, Xbox WW2 games are sometimes held in a higher regard than those found on the Playstation 3. Many players are concerned about aliasing, framerate stutter, and other issues that are sometimes found in Playstation 3 games. However, when playing the game on the Xbox 360, these issues seem to disappear. Whatever the case may be, WW2 games are generally more well-received on the Xbox 360, which makes narrowing down a list of the top five Xbox war games a bit trickier. Nonetheless, I’ve compiled what I believe are the most formidable titles for the console.
5. Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway
The Brothers in Arms series has always delivered when it comes to historical accuracy. The game draws on the experiences from the 502nd Parachute Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division, who fought in major French locations in World War II. However, this game takes players away from the successes of Allies into one of their most catastrophic failures: Operation Market Garden, which took place in Holland and was the last significant Nazi victory during the war. Players take control of Staff Sergeant Matt Baker and his accounts are detailed throughout flashbacks, cinematic features, and indeed the game itself.
In the realm of first person shooters, there are few titles that can compare to the cerebral nature of Brothers in Arms. Its methodical approach to progressing through campaigns is thoughtful and players who simply “run and gun” won’t be too successful in this game. Instead, players will have to be mindful of the cover that’s available to them and be prepared to make use of it. They’ll also have to command teams of allies, who serve Baker and do his bidding. Unfortunately, teammates aren’t known to respond accurately to Baker in this title and will often fall victim to the Nazis, which leaves players in quite a vulnerable spot.
The game is passable in terms of its visuals. Players of the game often find that there are elements of pixelation throughout, which can be distracting. Some of the most gory elements also appear to be quite “cartoon-like” as well. Nonetheless, the overall graphical experience is acceptable in terms of what the Xbox 360 is capable of handling.
Brother in Arms: Hell’s Highway meets the needs of a key niche in the WW2 genre: historical accuracy. It is generally well-executed and provides a solid gameplay experience despite a few niggling issues with the AI and visuals. Is it the best WW2 game for the Xbox 360? Not by a long shot. Is it worth a look? Absolutely.
IGN Score: 7.6
Personal Score: 8.0
Age Advisory: Mature (North America)
Release Date: October 07, 2008 (North America)
4. Medal of Honor: Airborne
Making another appearance in the top WW2 game lists is Medal of Honor: Airborne. Like its Playstation 3 counterpart, it is simply one of the best options when it comes to a WW2 gaming experience on a console and breathes a much needed life into a tired genre. Instead of the typical “A to B” approach that most first person shooters use, players assume the role of a paratrooper from the US 82nd Airborne Division and parachute into every mission, which are spread across key European locations. Players simply free fall into every mission and are given the freedom to choose where they’d like to start. This greatly adjusts the difficulty level of the game, but players shouldn’t get too comfortable with the idea because enemies are known to respawn at regular intervals. This prevents players from parachuting onto a key vantage point, sniping enemies, and taking objectives without any sort of resistance.
The visuals of the game are on-par with the Playstation 3 release, but a slight edge is given to the Xbox 360 version. There is a greater sense of fluidity in this release. Some players found that the initial parachute drop caused framerate stutter on the Playstation 3, but this isn’t apparent on the Xbox 360. Otherwise, the visuals are excellent and EA clearly covered all of its bases as even the menu system has had some attention paid to it.
It’s hard to find fault with this game. Players being able to choose their own starting points is hard to resist given that it can make the game as easy or as difficult as players would like it to be. Where it does perhaps lack is its predictable AI responses: vehicles follow obvious courses and adversaries respond “as they’d be expected to”. However, this minor fault is easily overlooked given the unique approach EA has taken with the game.
IGN Score: 7.9
Personal Score: 8.0
Age Advisory: Teen (North America), 16+ (Europe)
Release Date: September 04, 2007 (North America), September 07, 2007 (Europe)
3. IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey is perhaps better described as a flight simulator than an action game, but does so with a near flawless execution that it deserves a mention as one of the best World War II games available for the Xbox 360. The game allows players to take control of some of the most recognizable airplanes on both sides of the battle and engage in basic reconstructions of aerial situations. The Battle of Stalingrad is one of the most hotly featured campaigns in the game, but it isn’t truly recognizable from up in the skies. Players who choose to fly below the clouds will be greeted with breathtaking visuals and support from ground troops, but will equally be engaged by enemy troops, too.
The developers pulled out all the stops to recreate the airplanes featured in the game with near precision accuracy. Spitfires are particularly detailed and have accurate hit counters, which allow players to see where they’re taken damage or delivered damage if opposing one of these planes. However, the game is let down by its text indicators. With over one hundred planes in the skies, a smaller screen can quickly become clustered with the “serial numbers” of the planes, which are shown for both allies and enemies.
Despite this, Birds of Prey gives players an almost arcade-like experience that’s rarely seen in video games today. It would certainly be worth a prospective purchase should players find themselves interested in aerial combat rather than traditional land-based warfare.
IGN Score: 8.4
Personal Score: 8.5
Age Advisory: Teen (North America), 7+ (Europe)
Release Date: September 08, 2009 (North America), September 04, 2009 (Europe)
2. Battlestations Midway
Battlestations Midway is one of those interesting games that are difficult to pigeon hole into just one genre. There’s too much action for it to be a strategy game, and there’s too much strategical thought necessary for it to be a pure action game. This relatively high learning curve game provides endless hours of enjoyment for those who want a more involved, mindful video game. It is set in the Pacific Theater of Operations and begins with the Attack on Pearl Harbor. In a very similar vein to a real-time strategy game, players take control of a naval fleet and air force, but are also given the option to get behind the wheel of these vehicles and pilot for themselves; all while their commands unfold around them.
Visually, Battlestations Midway isn’t the most impressive game. It certainly makes use of the hardware available to the Xbox 360, but some palettes appear washed out and occasionally grainy. The cinematic scenes are particularly well-shot, but there simply aren’t enough of them for it to be a redeeming quality in this department.
Despite this minor flaw, Battlestations Midway deserves its spot as the runner-up to the best Xbox 360 WW2 game. It stands out as one of the most methodical game available on any modern console and isn’t just another “spray and pray” type first person shooter. It’s definitely worth picking up!
IGN Score: 8.5
Personal Score: 9.0
Age Advisory: Teen (North America), 12+ (Europe)
Release Date: January 30, 2007 (World)
1. Call of Duty 2
The Call of Duty series has been a mainstay in the first person shooter genre for years. While it’s shifted over to the “Modern Warfare” series in in its most recent releases, its earlier titles still provide players with a fierce intensity combined with a historical background set in World War II. Like other WW2 games, Stalingrad is the main focus of this title, but it also includes campaigns from France. Overall, this action-packed shooter is one of the most chaotic experiences on the Xbox 360 console to date.
Call of Duty 2 was developed alongside the PC version, which means no visual element or special effect was spared from being included in the Xbox 360 version. 1080p HD television sets play this game incredibly well when connected to the console with a HDMI cable, but lower HD settings also provide a stunning visual experience. Smoke grenades were interestingly given quite a bit of attention. When clouded, players will not be able to tell where they are and won’t be able to discern ally from enemy. This means players have mere seconds to choose whether or not they eliminate a nearby friend or foe.
Even as one of the more aged games for the Xbox 360, Call of Duty 2 is still the name to beat in the Xbox WW2 game genre. It is a flawless game backed by intense firefights and an in-depth story: just what players expect from this type of game.
IGN Score: 9.0
Personal Score: 9.5
Age Advisory: Teen (North America), 16+ (Europe)
Release Date: November 22, 2005 (North America), December 02, 2005 (Europe)