Home

 › 

Articles

 › 

The Absolute Best Xbox Sandbox Games of All Time

front of original xbox game console

The Absolute Best Xbox Sandbox Games of All Time

Seemingly, many people overlooked the original Xbox. Despite selling millions of units, you are far more likely to know someone who gamed on a PlayStation 2 than an Xbox. Although the two consoles received many of the same games, the Xbox often offered a better experience, thanks in part to having more power. This power made massive sandbox and open-world games possible. The original Xbox has some of the best sandbox games, even today. Although the graphics and even some of the gameplay are notoriously outdated, the stories and maps still offer tons of value. Best of all, most Xbox games are available for very low prices, and some are even on Xbox’s GamePass service. With that said, here are our picks for the best Xbox sandbox games to date.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

The front cover of the Grand theft auto: San Andreas Xbox sandbox games
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, an exciting, action-packed, massive open world is waiting for you to explore.

San Andreas is easily one of the most recognizable Xbox sandbox games from the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Although it wasn’t the first to use a third-person point of view, it did correct some of the problems found in past games. This left players exploring a massive open world where nearly anything that you could think of was possible.

The downside, of course, is that the game drew a lot of criticism for some of its more risque attributes. San Andreas follows many of the same themes as the Grand Theft Auto games that came before and after it. But what sets this one apart is its unique characters and setting. In particular, you play as CJ, who returns home to San Andreas only to get sucked back into a life of crime.

Much of the gameplay includes shootouts and car chases. The game’s missions have a nice variety, and the story is well-done. But what really makes this a sandbox game is just how much there is to see and do. You can complete the story missions, but there are also sidequests that you can complete whenever you feel like it.

The physics in the game are really lacking compared to today. But the cartoony action harkens back to a time when games didn’t need to be as realistic. Even though the world is large and very populated, it lacks detail compared to modern Grand Theft Auto games. But it still offers plenty of enjoyment, especially for those who fondly remember playing.

Best Open World
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - Xbox (Renewed)
$36.99
  • Third person point of view
  • Massive open world set in San Andreas (includes three cities)
  • Exciting action gameplay (includes shooting and driving)
  • Take part in a large variety of quests, both main and sidequests
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 11:41 pm GMT

The Simpsons: Hit & Run

The front cover of the Simpsons: Hit and Run Xbox sandbox games
The Simpsons: Hit and Run. It’s all about the car chases.

The Simpsons TV show is practically a household name, mainly because it has been on the air for so long. But back in the early 2000s, there were several Simpsons video games. Unfortunately, The Simpsons haven’t received a proper video game in over a decade, but many fans still flock to Hit & Run and for good reason. Regardless, you don’t have to be a fan of the show to enjoy this hilarious Xbox sandbox game.

However, if you enjoy the animated TV show, then there is plenty to keep your attention. The game was pretty popular when it came out and many who were too young to play Grand Theft Auto still remember this game fondly. It actually took many aspects from the Grand Theft Auto games, such as driving and police chases, but toned them down to a level that more people could play.

Hit & Run lets you play as Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Apu. Specific levels only allowed certain characters. The gameplay includes a lot of driving around and collecting objects, along with racing and even some destruction. Although the missions can get slightly repetitive over time, the detailed worlds, side missions and collectibles are still plenty of fun. Similarly, the graphics still look pretty good despite their age.

Best Comedy
Simpsons: Hit and Run - Xbox
$58.48
  • Based on the Simpsons TV show
  • Animated graphics hold up well over time
  • Play as Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Apu
  • Drive around, race, and destroy the game world at will
  • Find and gather all the collectables
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/07/2024 08:05 am GMT

True Crime: Streets of LA

The front cover of the True Crime: Streets of LA Xbox sandbox games
True Crime: Streets of LA. You can finally be the star detective in your own TV crime show.

Streets of LA is the first game in the True Crime series, which only includes it and Streets of NY. Despite many of the console limitations of the time, True Crime managed a unique recreation of Los Angeles on very underpowered consoles. In addition, it remained competitive in a genre that was dominated by the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

You play as an LAPD detective who is trying to avenge his father’s death after being murdered. Much of the story is cliche, to put it mildly. You can just about expect what will happen next because the game plays out like a TV crime show. Gameplay follows many other open-world games in which you drive around, solve crimes, and fight people. Of course, there’s also the occasional shoot-out.

One of the best features of the game is its map, which faithfully recreates many streets and landmarks throughout Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the game developers didn’t pack the map with tons to do, but you can help stop crime, and there are a few other diversions. The gameplay can also get slightly repetitive, but there are some unique aspects of the story. For instance, there are different paths that you can take, resulting in different outcomes.

Best Recreation of Los Angeles
True Crime: Streets of LA - Xbox
$3.00
  • Be part of your own TV crime show
  • Open world featuring Los Angeles
  • Exciting action, including driving, solving crimes and, fighting (and shooting)
  • Multiple endings depending on your choices
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 11:46 pm GMT

Spider-Man 2

The front cover of the Spider-Man 2 Xbox sandbox games
Spider-Man 2, experience New York from a new perspective as you fluidly swing through the streets.

Before Insomniac’s smash hit Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4, many people fondly remembered Spider-Man 2 from 2004 as the best Xbox sandbox game to feature the web-slinging superhero. Despite the limitations of its time, Spider-Man 2 brought the streets of New York into your home, letting you swing through as a friendly neighborhood Spiderman.

The first Spiderman game for the Xbox was fairly good, but Spider-Man 2 perfected it in nearly every way possible. For its time, New York City looked amazing, and the fluid motions of Spiderman swinging through the city are equally impressive. As the name implies, it is actually based on the second movie, and it is one of the few movie tie-in games that was rather excellent.

What makes Spider-Man 2 stand apart from other games is that you get to explore a full city without ever driving around or pulling out a weapon. There’s something truly unique about spiderman’s abilities to navigate and take down bad guys. It also follows the movie pretty closely as you battle Doc-ock and several other foes, as well as navigate Spiderman’s complicated relationships.

Best Movie Tie-In
SPIDERMAN 2 (XBOX) (Renewed)
$44.00
  • Features web swinging freely through the streets of New York
  • Based on the second Spiderman movie
  • Take down bad guys (including bosses like Doc-ock)
  • Experience rich relationships
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 11:46 pm GMT

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

The front cover of the Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time Xbox sandbox games
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Take control of time itself in your quest to save the world.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time may not look like much today. But when it came out in 2003, it was unlike anything else. The action and movements were truly remarkable. Not to mention it captured an era in time that very few other games tried to recreate. In the game, you play as the Prince of Persia, as the title suggests, who is trying to correct a mistake that he made.

Along the way, you meet the Princess who you team up with on your quest. However, she’s one of the few examples from this era of a sidekick who actually helps. Around this time, many games saw you teaming up with in-game characters, but it was more of a nuisance than a help. The princess adds a unique dynamic and dialogue as you make your way through puzzles and explore the world.

Speaking of gameplay, you have plenty of abilities and weapons, but you don’t have munitions or guns because the developers set the game in an older time period. While combat is fun, most of the gameplay centers around puzzle-solving as you make your way through unique areas. Once you start playing, you’ll probably notice some similarities to another franchise. That’s because this is the predecessor to Assassin’s Creed.

Best Puzzler
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Xbox)
$5.12
  • Exciting action including fighting with both weapons and abilities
  • Team up with the Princess
  • Control time itself
  • Explore ancient Persia (fantasy version)
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/07/2024 08:05 am GMT

Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction

The front cover of the Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction Xbox sandbox games
HULK SMASH! Now you can too in Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.

The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is a superhero game that you shouldn’t pass up. It is completely different from the Spider-Man game mentioned above and instead forges its own path. The creators of The Simpsons: Hit & Run actually also developed Ultimate Destruction. In addition, the game follows the comic books rather than the Hulk movie from the same time.

When you think of a game with the Hulk, the one thing that should come to mind is smashing stuff. Ultimate Destruction certainly lets you do that in a 3D world that is filled with plenty to see and destroy. But the gameplay is much more than Rampage-style destruction. It also adds plenty of special abilities that let Hulk’s true power shine.

Ultimate Destruction has structured missions, but they mostly focus on various types of combat and destruction. The main missions are linear, but you can stop and play side missions at any point in the game. Similarly, you can keep playing once the story ends. Unfortunately, the graphics are lackluster, even for the Xbox, but don’t let that stop you because this is still the best game to feature the Hulk to date.

Best Superhero
Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (Xbox)
$19.09
  • Large open world for you to rampage through
  • The game environment is fully interactable and fully destroyable. SMASH to your heart's content.
  • Based on the Incredible Hulk comic books.
  • Enter full sandbox mode once you complete the story.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2024 01:54 pm GMT

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

The front cover of The Elder scrolls 3: Morrowind Xbox sandbox games
The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind lets you create a unique new you for your exciting adventure into a massive open world.

Before there was the hit game Skyrim, many considered The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind to be the best game in the franchise. To this day, many love the game despite its age. Regardless, if you are a fan of The Elder Scrolls series, it’s still certainly worth picking up. The game starts with an in-depth character creator, which is far more advanced than nearly any other Xbox game.

Beyond just changing characters’ looks, there are a number the unique attributes to choose from. Everything in the game is based on the choices you make, which provides a very personal experience. The main character is also in a constant inner battle between good and evil, which makes your decisions even harder.

Set in a mythical world, Morrowind has an absolutely massive map that really defines it as one of the best sandbox games ever made. While there is a main plot, you will more than likely get caught up in performing quests and random tasks throughout the world. The gameplay itself consists of exploring and battles, but there is so much content that you really need to set aside dozens, if not hundreds, of hours to do everything.

Best Personalized Experience
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Game of the Year Edition) - Xbox
$6.55
  • In-depth character creation allows you to choose amongst numerous attributes
  • Choice driven gameplay for multiple unique playthroughs
  • Massive open world
  • An abundance of quests including main quests, side quests and various random tasks
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/07/2024 08:00 am GMT
  1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - Xbox (Renewed)
    $36.99
    • Third person point of view
    • Massive open world set in San Andreas (includes three cities)
    • Exciting action gameplay (includes shooting and driving)
    • Take part in a large variety of quests, both main and sidequests
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/08/2024 11:41 pm GMT
  2. Simpsons: Hit and Run - Xbox
    $58.48
    • Based on the Simpsons TV show
    • Animated graphics hold up well over time
    • Play as Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Apu
    • Drive around, race, and destroy the game world at will
    • Find and gather all the collectables
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/07/2024 08:05 am GMT
  3. True Crime: Streets of LA - Xbox
    $3.00
    • Be part of your own TV crime show
    • Open world featuring Los Angeles
    • Exciting action, including driving, solving crimes and, fighting (and shooting)
    • Multiple endings depending on your choices
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/08/2024 11:46 pm GMT
  4. SPIDERMAN 2 (XBOX) (Renewed)
    $44.00
    • Features web swinging freely through the streets of New York
    • Based on the second Spiderman movie
    • Take down bad guys (including bosses like Doc-ock)
    • Experience rich relationships
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/08/2024 11:46 pm GMT
  5. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Xbox)
    $5.12
    • Exciting action including fighting with both weapons and abilities
    • Team up with the Princess
    • Control time itself
    • Explore ancient Persia (fantasy version)
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/07/2024 08:05 am GMT
  6. Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (Xbox)
    $19.09
    • Large open world for you to rampage through
    • The game environment is fully interactable and fully destroyable. SMASH to your heart's content.
    • Based on the Incredible Hulk comic books.
    • Enter full sandbox mode once you complete the story.
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/08/2024 01:54 pm GMT
  7. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Game of the Year Edition) - Xbox
    $6.55
    • In-depth character creation allows you to choose amongst numerous attributes
    • Choice driven gameplay for multiple unique playthroughs
    • Massive open world
    • An abundance of quests including main quests, side quests and various random tasks
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/07/2024 08:00 am GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Did the Xbox use memory cards?

Sort of; the Xbox did, in fact, accept memory cards that were inserted into a controller rather than the console. However, most people did not use them because the console had a hard drive that you could store save data on.

How can you play Xbox games today?

Some original Xbox games are backward compatible with the Series X, so you can insert those games into the console and play them. There are also Xbox games available on GamePass. Games that don’t work with those methods may be supported by backward compatibility on the Xbox 360, but some games only ever worked on the original Xbox.

Could the Xbox play DVDs?

Yes, but you needed to purchase a remote and sensor that was plugged into one of the controller ports.

Did the Xbox support online multiplayer?

Yes, the Xbox supported online and local multiplayer for select games. However, internet speed limitations at the time kept many people from using the online service.

Why were there so few sandbox games before the Xbox?

The Xbox, PlayStation 2, and GameCube came at a turning point in the video game industry, where technology was rapidly advancing. Sandbox games were rare before these consoles came out simply because of hardware limitations. Even many of the sandbox games that came out on Xbox suffered from problems with loading the vast open-worlds.

To top