BEST X EN­HANCED GOLDEN OLDIES

Our favourite Xbox One X patched ti­tles, span­ning two gen­er­a­tions

XBox: The Official Magazine - - OXM INVESTIGATES -

This was by no means an easy list to put to­gether. Thanks to Mi­crosoft’s ex­haus­tive em­u­la­tion ef­forts, there are dozens of games from past gen­er­a­tions you can now play in Ul­tra HD. We’ve nar­rowed it down to our favourite eight ti­tles, en­com­pass­ing greats from both the orig­i­nal Xbox and Xbox 360. Was it hard leav­ing out patched 4K ver­sions of Por­tal 2 and Panzer Dra­goon

Orta? Damn straight. But the fol­low­ing group of var­ied, now su­perbly sharp, clas­sics all strike a great bal­ance be­tween of­fer­ing unique ex­pe­ri­ences, and re­ally mak­ing the most out of Xbox One X’s su­perb back­com­pat fea­tures. Get ready for 4K cow­boys, and one su­per sweary squir­rel.

08 Conker: Live & Reloaded

Fol­low­ing the fre­quently drunken, ex­ple­tive-filled frol­ics of a sauced-up squir­rel, Conker: Live & Reloaded’s mad­cap ac­tion is as eclec­tic as it is filthy. Hurl toi­let rolls into the gap­ing jaw of an almighty singing poo; em­bark on a gory beach in­va­sion ode to Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan; help an amorous bee se­duce a sen­tient flower – don’t ask. The 16x res­o­lu­tion boost over the orig­i­nal Xbox ti­tle un­sur­pris­ingly ben­e­fits the game’s su­perb char­ac­ter mod­els hugely. Conker’s bushy tail and furry face look lovely in 1920p, and the raw power of the Xbox One X en­sures vel­vety smooth 60fps per­for­mance. A rude riot.

07 The El­der Scrolls 3: Mor­rowind

This was al­ways vis­ually drab: even a res­o­lu­tion boost to 1920p can only do so much to make all those brown en­vi­ron­ments look ap­peal­ing. Thank­fully, there’s more to Xbox One X back­wards-com­pat­i­bil­ity than a mere pixel up­grade. On the first Xbox, Bethesda’s fan­tasy RPG was a jit­tery mess. Thanks to the beefy 12GB of RAM Mi­crosoft’s su­per­charged con­sole boasts, Mor­rowind now runs at a rel­a­tively sta­ble 60fps, whereas Bill’s first box could barely hit half that fram­er­ate. One of the main sell­ing points of the X’s back-com­pat fea­tures is mak­ing older games less of a has­sle to play, a box this newly smooth RPG more than ticks.

06 SSX 3

This open-ended ex­treme sports treat boasts amaz­ing am­bi­ence, a dis­gust­ingly hummable sound­track and three mo­men­tous peaks to carve up. SSX 3’ s freeride mode makes it a more re­lax­ing ex­pe­ri­ence than its trick­ob­sessed pre­de­ces­sors, and ca­reen­ing down a moun­tain, ca­su­ally col­lect­ing snow crys­tals, is the def­i­ni­tion of orig­i­nal Xbox chill. And SSX 3 has a widescreen mode, mean­ing it will fill ev­ery inch of your 4K dis­play. The Xbox One X patch de­liv­ers a crys­tal clear ex­pe­ri­ence that makes us sorry ex­treme sports ti­tles have died a death on Xbox One. Sorry Steep: you’re no SSX 3.

05 Mir­ror’s Edge

There’s very lit­tle out there in the Xbox space that’s quite like Mir­ror’s Edge. The game’s ur­gent first-per­son park­our controls el­e­gantly, and the op­tion to go through the en­tire cam­paign without once fir­ing a gun is re­fresh­ing in the cur­rent blaster-ob­sessed cli­mate. The Xbox One X en­hance­ments also serve DICE’s unique plat­former bet­ter than most up­graded 360 ti­tles. With the ap­pro­pri­ate X patch run­ning, the un­clut­tered aes­thetic that de­fines the look of Faith’s boldly min­i­mal­ist world re­ally im­press on a 4K TV. Thanks to the sparse art style, those orig­i­nal 720p tex­tures don’t grate as much as you’d ex­pect in Ul­tra HD.

04 Halo 3

Un­til the Mas­ter Chief Col­lec­tion gets a 4K patch, the most strik­ing way to re­play Halo 3 is to run the 360 ver­sion on Xbox One X. Whether you look out that slightly scratched 11-year-old disc or down­load a dig­i­tal copy, Chief’s tril­ogy-capper runs at 2160p on the X. Com­pare this to the 1080p up­scal­ing job seen in the MCC, and the em­u­lated 360 ver­sion is sig­nif­i­cantly sharper – it also sup­ports HDR. Sure, it’s a slight bum­mer we’re locked to 30fps, but see­ing big John in 4K is a Covenant-crip­pling plea­sure. This is no an­ti­quated nos­tal­gia act: for our money, Halo 3 serves up a far more com­pelling cam­paign than Halo 5.

03 Gears Of War 3

It’s as­ton­ish­ing how good this 2011 game looks with Xbox One X en­hance­ments in place. Such were the bud­gets Epic Games was work­ing with, Gears 3 vis­ually out­guns many 2018 games. Un­like its two pre­de­ces­sors, the ma­jor­ity of cutscenes are de­liv­ered in-en­gine, mean­ing far fewer cut­aways to grubby 720p pre-ren­dered videos. Play the first level and that boss fight on a de­cent 4K TV, and you’ll be floored. It may not be quite as crit­i­cally ac­claimed as Gears 2, yet this se­quel is still well-paced, while also boast­ing the se­ries’ best script.

02 Crack­down

With the bump to a full 2160p, Crack­down is in­stantly re­vi­talised as an ul­tra at­trac­tive 4K open world. The game’s park­our play­ground holds up ad­mirably,and the Xbox One X patch smooths out the orig­i­nal 360 ad­ven­ture’s per­for­mance dips, too. Now when you send a grenade hurtling into large groups of goons, the fram­er­ate no longer dips into the 20fps range, in­stead hold­ing firm at 30fps. The X’s em­u­la­tor also al­lows for the ad­di­tion of 16x an­iso­tropic fil­ter­ing, which re­sults in clearer ground tex­tures.

01 Red Dead Re­demp­tion

Per­haps the great­est open world game ever is now playable in pin-sharp 4K, and hooboy if that doesn’t make our eyes elated. We’ll prob­a­bly never get a re­mas­ter of John Marston’s scin­til­lat­ing Wild West saga, but thanks to this spring’s Xbox One X patch, 4K TV own­ers no longer need one. Such is the strength of Rock­star San Diego’s orig­i­nal art as­sets, play­ing the game from a 360 disc at 2160p looks won­der­ful. With the 9x res­o­lu­tion boost, you can feel the baking heat of those prairies around Ar­madillo like never be­fore, while the stars that pep­per the night sky sud­denly pierce the dark­ness more vi­brantly than be­fore. Even without the 4K em­u­la­tion, Red Dead Re­demp­tion re­mains an undis­puted mas­ter­piece. The Amer­i­can Frontier mes­merises and those shootouts still crackle, while no other game cap­tures a sense of time and place quite like this Old West won­der. You need 4K Mr Marston in your life pronto.

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