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Best Xbox 360 games: the finest rip-offs

Standing on the shoulders of giants

If there's one thing you can predict about any halfway negative game review, it's that the reviewer will complain that the game's predictable. "Gears of War wearing Call of Duty's pyjamas!" we'll spit, mounting rooftops with tattered Banner of Innovation in hand. "You need to throw away the rulebook in order to push the envelope through the ceiling which you've rebuilt from the ground up." Then we'll whip out dog-eared copies of Mirror's Edge and flagellate ourselves with them, hooting like baboons, till we're led away by kindly relatives.

In truth, adapting somebody else's idea is just as difficult as thinking one up yourself - or rather, it's a different kind of challenge. You've got to understand the source material intimately, and understand where to break from it. Here are the Xbox 360 titles which, in our opinion, come through with flying colours.

1. Ninja Blade
Who did it rip off?
Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden series, with perhaps the faintest dusting of Ninja Theory's Heavenly Sword. You play a ninja armed with different flavours of Japanese sword, strong and weak attacks, dash and block abilities, thrown weapons and magical "ninjutsu" tricks which resemble nothing I personally witnessed during my own, brief and painful career as a ninjutsu practitioner. Controls recall Ninja Gaiden 2, as do the frankly stupendous boss battles.

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How did it get away with it?
Via the ambitious but controversial tactic of making half the game a Quick Time Event. We exaggerate, of course, but not by much. Ninja Blade does QTEs the same way other games do checkpoints - pretty much every time you encounter anything larger than a man you're whipped into an unrelentingly stylish match-the-prompt sequence which generally terminates on the other side of the world, with most of the world in ruins. It's not quite Asura's Wrath, but it's getting there.

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