Stuff's Best Games Ever: The 25 best Xbox games of all time

Find out which games made our list across Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One

We know what you're probably thinking: "It's all shooters, right?"

No, it's not. OK, there are several shooters on our list of the best Xbox games across all three generations, and perhaps an excessive number of them near the top of the list, but it's not all shooters. The Xbox built that reputation for housing the world's best console blasters over time, and deservedly so, but there's so much more in the console line's 16-year history that deserves celebrating.

From the fledgling original Xbox to the industry-leading Xbox 360 and current Xbox One, Microsoft's had a wild run in the console world – and we've had a lot of fun along the way. Here's a look at our 25 favourite Xbox exclusives from across the years, including games that began first on one of Microsoft's consoles.

25) Dance Central (360, 2010)

Remember the beleaguered Kinect? Microsoft's motion-sensing device was kind of fun on Xbox 360, and kind of useless on Xbox One – but Dance Central was always there as one of the lone standout experiences.

Created by the same brilliant, music-loving minds as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, Dance Central uses the Kinect to observe your stylin' dance moves as you groove along to hit songs. It worked well, was honestly a blast, and deserves to be remembered even as the Kinect is forgotten.

24) Halo: Reach (360, 2010)

Halo: Reach is the first of many series entries on this list – surprise! – and Bungie's final entry elevated the shooter favourite to new heights with larger-scale environments, a new cast of characters, and even jetpacks in the mix. While the story and dialogue didn't always hit the mark, the campaign was frequently exhilarating while the multiplayer mode offered an insane amount of online fun. It was a suitably entertaining send-off for the series' original creator, who then went off and did Destiny.

23) Killer Instinct (XB1, 2013)

"ULTRA COMBO" - two of the most satisfying words in fighting games, right behind "Hadoken" and "Fatality". Killer Instinct has always been a riot to play, but this modern interpretation is a world beyond the arcade and Nintendo console originals, with a roster that's fit to burst and some absolutely stunning effects that fill the screen with particles whenever you land a special move.

Microsoft resurrected the series at just the right time, too: it gave the Xbox One a complex, combo-heavy fighter that could compete with Street Fighter V, which Sony had nabbed as a PS4 exclusive.

22) Project Gotham Racing (Xbox, 2001)

Everyone remembers Halo: Combat Evolved from the original Xbox launch, and with obviously good reason – but Project Gotham Racing also deserved your early screen time. Bizarre Creations' racer offered up sporty rides and rewarded style, awarding you Kudos for impressive driving maneuvers and race progress. Over time, the Forza series more or less replaced it in the Xbox stable, but the original PGR was a must-have for early owners of the massive console.

21) Shadow Complex (360, 2009)

Shadow Complex lacked the atmosphere and compelling lead of Super Metroid, but this Xbox Live Arcade gem was nearly as strong when it came to exploring an ever-expanding game world and ultimately feeling like a total badass.

Like its clear inspiration, Shadow Complex found you searching for weapon and armor upgrades throughout a cavernous underground facility, and became all the more exhilarating as it went. And the addition of free aiming and other modern tweaks really elevated the end result.