After spending most of the ’90s out of the game, America once again became a major contender in the console war with the launch of the original Xbox in 2001. Even though it was the first gaming console to be released. Microsoft, the success of iconic titles such as Halo and early online support for multiplayer and shopping took Xbox to high popularity levels.
Despite the prosperity and the great choice of games, horror was still a rare genre on this console. But, there are some top Xbox horror games out there that even now are worth checking out.
As the first horror title released by Ubisoft, Scared is an interesting survival horror third-person shooter released in 2005 that is often wrongly called a Resident Evil 4 clone. Although the two games are very similar, The cold fear was released only a few months later Resident Evil 4, which means the similarities are likely an unlucky coincidence. The player controls a member of the United States Coast Guard named Tom Hansen who explores a large Russian ship after members of the Russian Mafia and CIA officers aboard the ship are transformed into zombie-like creatures.
Despite the similarities with Resident Evil 4 who made this game a more obscure horror title, the game has its own unique aspects, like the boat swaying realistically from side to side and the detailed physics engine. Additionally, the cheesy story can keep players entertained throughout even though the gameplay is boring at times.
Released in 2004, Obscure is a survival horror where the player controls six different teenagers who find themselves trapped in their high school at night as they search for their missing friend. While trying to find a way out, the characters gradually discover that the school principal and nurse are using a rare plant spore that turns humans into monsters.
While the plot is cheesy and some of the game mechanics don’t quite work, it has some intriguing ideas, like players controlling the characters in teams of two, where players can continue the game even if some of the characters die, and swap and combine inventory items between characters. Plus, the mediocre story is always fun to experience.
Before action-horror games like Resident Evil 4, FEAR, and Dead space helped popularize the sub-genre, the 2004 horror shooter Suffering a pioneer in the hitherto unexplored field of games. In this game, players control an amnesiac prisoner named Torque who is on death row for supposedly killing his wife and children. But, while in a large maximum-security prison on an island, the place is overrun with supernatural creatures and Torque must fight to get out of it.
Depending on the player’s moral choices, the characters will interact with Torque differently and the end of the game will be changed. At the time, this unique feature and the interesting monster designs led to the game’s success and its eventual sequel.
7 The thing
Based on the 1982 film and endorsed by the director himself, The thing is a 2002 survivor horror third-person shooter in which the player controls a member of the United States Special Forces, Captain Blake, as he leads his small team to the Antarctic outpost after the events of the film. Exploring the place to figure out what had happened, the team ends up having to fight strange creatures while worrying about the Thing.
What makes this game unique is that the player has to communicate with his teammates to get them to perform various tasks, and their cooperation is linked to the trust they place in the player. In addition, any of the teammates can be infected with the Thing.
6 Doom 3
Created as a restart of the Loss series, Doom 3 is a 2004 survival horror first-person shooter where the player controls a Space Marine that explores a scientific research center on Mars after a teleportation experiment creates a portal to hell. The Space Marine must now fight hordes of demons in order to prevent Hell from leaving Mars and threatening Earth.
While the graphics were revolutionary at the time and the story was the most developed, there were some slowdowns on the Xbox version due to technological advancements. The gameplay is extremely similar to the previous one Loss games, which has been a hit or miss with the players.
5 Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Based on the short story from HP Lovecraft Shadows over Innsmouth and other related Cthulhu myths, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a stealth survival horror game from 2005 where the main character, a private investigator named Jack Walters, goes to investigate the strange town of Innsmouth. But, soon after arriving, he begins to encounter fish and other scary things as he struggles to stay alive.
Even though the game contains a lot of bugs and the gameplay is mostly linear, this title is notable for representing the health of the main character by directly affecting gameplay, audio, and visuals rather than just having a health bar and mental health onscreen. Besides the annoying enemy AI, the game is enjoyable enough for a game.
4 Castlevania: Curse of Darkness
Taking place three years later Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness is a 2005 3D action-adventure that continues the Metroidvania style of this later era. The player controls a former servant of Dracula named Hector who returns to Dracula’s castle in order to seek revenge. Issac, Dracula’s servant whom Hector wants to fight, killed Rosaly, Hector’s wife, because he believed Dracula had lost to Trevor Belmont because of Hector’s betrayal, and now Issac is trying to bring Dracula back to the life.
Since the player does not control a Belmont, Hector cannot use standard weapons like the whip. Instead, Hector has a wide range of other possible weapons and, since he is a “Devil Forgemaster”, he can create “Innocent Devils” to aid him on his journey. In addition to the excellent soundtrack, these varied game options make up for boring environments.
3 Fatal Frame Special Edition
Although the first Fatal frame was originally released on the PS2 in 2001, an extended port, Fatal Frame Special Edition, released for Xbox in 2002. Both games follow Miku Hinasaki as he travels to the Haunted Himuro Mansion to find out what happened to Mafuyu, his missing brother. While exploring the building, she ends up having to fight various ghosts using the Camera Obscura.
This port has a few extra features that make it the top version. With updated graphics, more ghosts, and a new ‘Fatal’ difficulty setting, this game is a must-have for new players trying to get into the franchise.
2 Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams
End of 2001, Silent Hill 2, which was originally released on the PS2 and is considered by some to be the best game in the series, had an upgraded port released for the Xbox titled Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams. Silent Hill 2 is a survival horror game that follows a young man named James Sunderland who somehow receives a letter from his recently deceased wife, Mary, telling him to meet her in the small town of Silent Hill. As James explores the spooky city and battles monsters, he meets several strange characters, such as a woman named Maria who looks like his deceased wife, on his journey to find Mary.
Along with the general improvements to graphics and gameplay, this port also includes an additional storyline called Born of a wish which takes place before James visits the city and the player controls Maria instead. While fans are divided as to whether this is a good edition or not, it’s still something players should experience for themselves.
1 Fatal Frame II: Director’s Crimson Butterfly’s Cut
After Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly was released in 2003 for the PS2, an improved port called Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly Director’s Cup released for Xbox in 2004. The original game follows twin sisters Mio and Mayu who are targeted by the spirits of an abandoned village as sacrifices for an ancient ritual.
In this port, the game has better graphics, better sound, and a few more costumes. Additionally, the port allows players to play the entire game in first person, and there is now a store that players can use to purchase equipment for the Camera Obscura.
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