Fighting games have made a tremendous comeback in the Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3 generation after somewhat falling out of favor during the PS2 generation. With both 2D and 3D fighters, oldschool and newschool mechanics, new IPs and classic franchises, and gameplay that accomodates both hardcore fighting game vets as well as newbies, the Xbox 360 has a ton of great fighting games. We share our picks for the ten best right here. This list is in no particular order, just 10 great games.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the MvC3 title Capcom should have released in the first place. It is more balanced, has a lot more features, and a more rounded character roster that we have come to expect from the series than the vanilla MvC3 offered mere months earlier. Bitterness over the release mess aside, however, Ultimate MvC3 is clearly one of the best fighters on Xbox 360. With deliciously deep and satisfying combat that keeps the hardcore fans coming back, but accessible enough for anyone to pick up a controller and pull off some amazing looking moves, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is easy to recommend to just about anyone.
2. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (XBLA)
Two Marvel vs. Capcom titles on this list? You bet! Marvel vs. Capcom 2 plays fairly differently from UMvC3 and has a larger, much better overall roster of characters to choose from. The XBLA version is a little bare bones, since you don't have to unlock characters or any of that fun stuff from the other MvC2 home versions, but as a multiplayer title it is hard to beat Marvel vs. Capcom 2 for sheer insanity and fun. And we even genuinely like the seemingly out of place menu music. "I wanna take you for a ride ....".
The defining fighter of the Xbox 360 / PS3 generation, Street Fighter IV, now technically in its fourth form (vanilla, Super, Arcade Edition, Arcade Edition 2012 update), was the first time in a long time that Capcom actually managed to take a beloved older series and successfully update it without ruining something in the process. Street Fighter IV still plays like Street Fighter of old, but with a lot of nifty new moves and techniques under the surface that make it truly stand out. It is by far our favorite Street Fighter, which is saying a lot considering how much we love SF2 and SF3.
The home release of Tekken 6 was kind of a disaster. Thankfully, Namco Bandai learned a few things since then and the home version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 turned out pretty amazing. Tons of characters. Tons of modes. Neat customization options. Great multiplayer. And, most importantly, really, really, really fun tag team focused gameplay.
We're huge fans of developer Arc System Works' Guilty Gear fighters. Not so much the BlazBlue series (note we haven't reviewed any of them, but we have played them). But, for us anyway, Arc returned to the form we loved with Persona 4 Arena. Even if you don't know anything about Persona 4, P4A just looks so great, and plays so incredibly well that it is easy to jump in to and have a great time. It is quite a bit simpler, mechanically, than BlazBlue, so it is easy to pick up and play, but it also offers a lot of extra depth and techniques that are really fun and rewarding to use once you get it all figured out. It is positively slap in the face Japanese and anime inspired, however, so if you aren't into it you might want to skip it. For anyone else, Persona 4 Arena is a great fighter.
6. Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown (XBLA)
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is the Virtua Fighter series truly reaching its full potential. The series started off as a simpler, faster, button mashy game but morphed into a hardcore technical fighter with VF4, got even deeper with VF5 (which we loved), and finally reaches a climax (for now) of a perfect blend of gameplay balance, character roster, and presentation with VF5: Final Showdown. It has to be said that Virtua Fighter 5 isn't for everyone, if you aren't patient enough to really study and learn how to play well you will struggle, particularly online against skilled opponents, but once you learn how to play it the right way it is one of the most satisfying fighters you'll ever play.
THQ's final UFC game (the license is with EA now) was also by far the best. It has the most features, the biggest roster (including PRIDE fighters of yesteryear), the best presentation, and easily the best gameplay. Unlike the other fighters on this list, UFC is actually real and the fighting is 100% realistic. Anything a fighter can do in real life UFC is replicated in the game. That makes the learning curve to actually take advantage of everything a little steep, but when you find a fighter you like, with a style you like, it is crazy fun. It is also very unpredictable since one strike could potentially end a fight, and different styles match up in unique ways, which gives the game a lot of replay value since very fight will be different. The best thing about UFC 3? Submissions actually work, which is something the two previous UFC games totally missed the mark on.
It was tough to choose between Soul Calibur IV or V, but we had to go with V due to its risky roster refresh (loads of new faces) and addition of Critical Edge comeback moves. Soul Calibur V also turns the speed up several notches compared to past games in the series, but still retains the high/medium/low dance of blocks and dodges and counters that has made the series such a hit over the years. It also doesn't hurt that Soul Calibur V is probably the best looking game graphically on this list.
Despite being such a long running series, it wasn't until the ninth entry was released in 2011 that Mortal Kombat actually featured semi-respectable fighting gameplay. The previous games were just blood and gore and Fatality (and other -alities) showcases with shallow gameplay. MK9 had actual good fighting mechanics to go with the gore. Along with the great multiplayer we expect from all of the games on this list, MK9 also has a fantastic story campaign that really sets it apart from most other fighting games. Check out the Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition so you can get all of the DLC.
10. Anarchy Reigns
Not a traditional fighter like the rest of this list, but Anarchy Reigns has all of the qualifications. Combos. Juggles. Lots of characters with unique moves. Seems like a fighter to me. With up to 16 players fighting it out in free-for-all matches (among many other match types), it is one of the craziest multiplayer games on Xbox 360. But like all good fighters, it has that perfect balance of accessibility for new players along with a lot of depth and top tier techniques that reward experienced players. Anarchy Reigns is a totally unique experience on Xbox 360, and well worth checking out.