Microsoft are saying that anywhere up to 40 games could be released for the Xbox 360 during its launch period, but which of those will make or break the console's launch? We choose our ten most important Xbox 360 launch games.

10: Kameo: Elements of Power


With Rare's output of late being less frequent than quality game releases in August, it's a little surprising that they'll have two games among the 360's launch titles. Kameo started life on the GameCube, before moving to the Xbox and then the Xbox 360, so given its extended development, we can only hope Rare have crafted an action, platforming masterpiece. Of course, shifting platforms could have had a detrimental effect on the game's quality, but impressions from E3 were positive.

Why should I be interested?

  • Nothing else like it at launch
  • A game for all ages
  • Hundreds of characters on screen at once

Chance of a day-one release: 90%

9: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion


A launch line-up needs some variety, and when that comes in the form of the latest game in a hugely successful RPG franchise, that is no bad thing. While Morrowind proved that an in-depth PC RPG could work on a console, it had a few problems running on the relatively underpowered Xbox. Oblivion should have no such problems, with the 360 hopefully being more than capable of powering a game to match the PC version. If you want a launch game that you'll be playing into 2006, this could well be it.

Why should I be interested?

  • First-person RPG with stunning visuals
  • An epic adventure
  • Bethseda have a history of excellence

Chance of day-one release: 60%

8: Ridge Racer 6


Some people have been downplaying the importance of Ridge Racer on the Xbox 360, but there is no denying that its announcement at the Xbox Games Summit in Japan was very important. Not only is Ridge Racer a hugely popular franchise, but it also shows strong support from Namco, one of the biggest Japanese videogame publishers. A proper arcade-style Ridge Racer game, with next-gen visuals and competitive online play is very exciting indeed. The fact that Ridge Racer at launch is usually associated with PlayStation isn't bad either.

Why should I be interested?

  • It's Ridge Racer
  • Online play for the first time in the franchise's history
  • Thrilling gameplay

Chance of day-one release: 75%

7: N3: Ninety-Nine Nights


Strong support from Japanese developers is something that Microsoft is keen to improve for its new console. One of the early games to arrive out of its push for more support will be Q Entertainment's N3:Ninety-Nine Nights. The game will feature huge battles between hundreds of on-screen characters, stunning special effects and devastatingly powerful magic. As with most Xbox 360 titles, there is still a lot left to learn about N3: Ninety-Nine Nights, but what we've seen looks very good indeed.

Why should I be interested?

  • Huge battles
  • Q Entertainment is yet to make a poor game
  • Take down hundreds of enemies at once

Chance of day-one release: 60%

6: Dead or Alive 4


Hardcore fighting-game fans laugh at Dead or Alive, but for everyone else the series has always been a visually stunning and accessible fighter. Dead or Alive 4 is likely to follow the same formula and throw next-gen visuals into the mix. Team Ninja's experience with Dead or Alive Ultimate should also help them create an even better online gaming experience, building on the arcade experience in the living room that Ultimate did so well. Dead or Alive has also been one of the only Xbox games to sell well in Japan, and the importance of Dead or Alive 4 in the Japanese launch line-up can't be underestimated.

Why should I be interested?

  • It's the only fighter revealed for the console
  • Doesn't require hardcore skills to enjoy
  • Will undoubtedly look stunning

Chance of day-one release: 100%

5: Call of Duty 2


While internet forums are full of talk about Microsoft's big three (Perfect Dark, Kameo and PGR3), Activision's Call of Duty 2 could be one of the most impressive early releases for the 360. PC ports may be looked upon badly by some console snobs, but when they look this good, no one should be complaining. The original PC game won many game of the year awards, and Call of Duty 2 looks to be an even more intense and thrilling World War 2 FPS. Perhaps the most sure-fire quality game out of the entire launch line-up.

Why should I be interested?

  • Intense gameplay
  • The smoke looks stunning
  • The original was brilliant

Chance of day-one release: 95%

4: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter


Ubisoft rarely release a poor game these days and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter has looked like one of the most impressive Xbox 360 games since a snippet of footage was shown on the MTV unveiling of the console. We've been teased with the same footage for months now, but that has been enough to make this one of the most wanted launch games amongst gamers. The promise of the same Ghost Recon gameplay, combined with high-tech weapons and gadgets is very exciting.

Why should I be interested?

  • Ghost Recon 2 on the Xbox was superb
  • The explosions look brilliant
  • Squad-based shooters are big this year

Chance of day-one release: 90%

3: Project Gotham Racing 3


Project Gotham Racing 2 spearheaded the evolution of Xbox Live into what everyone believed it could be when the service originally launched. The series has made a name for itself by sitting in-between the all out thrills of Ridge Racer and the simulation of Forza Motorsport. PGR3 looks to have some stunning visuals, improved Xbox Live features and a track editor that could allow mean new courses are being designed for the game years after its release. This will probably be the most feature packed Xbox Live game on the 360 for many months.

Why should I be interested?

  • PGR1 and 2 were both great racing games
  • Released footage looks great
  • Even more Xbox Live features than PGR2

Chance of day-one release: 100%

2: Madden NFL 06


I'll admit that I'm as interested in a next-gen Madden as I am in a next-gen chess game, but it's obvious that EA's juggernaut of a sports game will have a big hand in the early success of the Xbox 360. EA have a strong line-up of games for the 360 this year, but Madden is their big-gun that could give the console immediate success in the US. If American Football fans want a next-gen fix, an Xbox 360 will be their only option for many months.

Why should I be interested?

  • Most successful sports franchise ever
  • There won't be another American Football game on the 360 for some time
  • Teaser videos look impressive

Chance of day-one release: 95%

1: Perfect Dark Zero


This is Rare's first proper follow-up to a franchise that was created on the Nintendo 64, with their games since then being remakes or original IP. With no Halo to spearhead the Xbox 360 at launch, Microsoft has a lot riding on the back of their only first-party FPS. It's worrying then that so little has been seen of the game, with its MTV showing possibly doing more harm than good. E3 impressions were more positive, but with no media for the game buying public to see, does the average Joe even know what Perfect Dark is?

Why should I be interested?

  • 50 players online
  • Rare don't make ugly games
  • Would Microsoft back a loser?

Chance of a day-one release: 100%

Those are our top ten most important Xbox 360 launch games, but there are a few others that could also sell a few consoles before Christmas.

Saint's Row: While the next-gen GTA is still under wraps, Saint's Row from THQ could fill the gap.

Condemned: SEGA and Monolith's first-person action game looks to blend forensics with psychotic killers.

Frame City Killer: Playing a hit-man in a sprawling city could be great fun. Namco's second big Xbox 360 title.

Other EA Sports titles: With Tiger Woods, FIFA and NBA Live joining Madden, EA have the next-gen sports gaming market sorted.

Final Fantasy XI: A supposed mass beta test at the launch of the console could put this into many people's homes. Not all that exciting by itself, but there's more to come from Square-Enix.

Full Auto: Many people's Xbox 360 game of E3. The fast racing combined with explosive action should make this one of the most enjoyable launch titles.

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