Friday, 25 January 2013

Top 10: Underrated Games

So I made a list of the top 10 games I find overrated. So I figured I might as well make a list of the games that I personally feel don't receive as much recognition as they deserve. Here's my top 10 list of underrated games!

10. TRON 2.0

While this game sort of branches on being underrated since it's actually sort of a cult hit, just like the movie it's inspired by, I feel it doesn't really receive as much recognition among FPS fans as it should. For one, the graphics, which were incredible back in 2003, are still pretty sweet today and with some fan made mods, you can run this game in full HD glory on your PC and it holds up incredibly well. It also felt like a better sequel to the 1982 movie than TRON Legacy was and in terms of style, keeps more in continuity with it too. As a movie-licensed game, it's one of the best I've played and as a game on its own, the gameplay just feels deeper and better than other FPS's of the time like Doom 3 or Half-Life 2 which relied far too much on gimmicks like horror and physics, whereas TRON 2.0 feels more like a proper FPS RPG hybrid set in the TRON universe. Multiplayer is also a lot of fun and if you ever dreamt of having a lightcycle match or disc game with your friends, you can do it here. If you're at all a TRON fan like me, you OWE it to yourself to play this game at least once and it still has a pretty active fan community.

9. Wario's Woods

When talking about puzzle games, you often mention games like Tetris, Bejeweled or Bust-A-Move. But rarely do I hear people talking about Wario's Woods on NES/SNES. It's definitely one of the most addictive puzzlers I've played and I remember playing it a lot in my childhood. You play as toad, going from tree to tree in Wario's Woods and the goal is pretty much to blast away rows of 2+ monsters either vertically, horizontally or diagonally using bombs given to you by Birdo. Birdo has a timer though and once it's run out, Wario will take over and start spamming more monsters to blast away and knock the tree to make a giant Thwomp at the top to fall down, each knock making it fall further and further down, making the game feel increasingly claustrophobic. It's a pretty good puzzler and can get quite hectic on later levels. Highly recommended!

8. Conduit 2

When talking about the Nintendo Wii, it's not often you talk about what First Person Shooters were good on it. Sure, the Call of Duty ports might have been decent if very stripped down and you did have Metroid Prime Trilogy on it which added a good amount of FPS action. But one of the franchises that I think did best on it was Conduit and Conduit 2 is definitely my favourite of the two games. It feels kind of like a mix of Halo and X-Files and does a good job getting the most out of the Wii hardware, even supporting surround sound and running in 480p mode. One of my favourite things about this game and that makes me prefer it over the original is that the protagonist is voiced by John St. John, famous for portraying Duke Nukem himself and he definitely adds a big cool factor to the hero. Conduit 1 and Conduit 2 are must-play games imo if you own a Wii.

7. Gunman Chronicles

When talking about Half-Life, I often feel like the game is kind of overrated. Sure, it did a lot of cool things and it is a good FPS but there is one game I actually feel is kind of superior to Half-Life and also used the exact same game engine. In fact, it started out as a Half-Life mod. Gunman Chronicles does a lot of really cool and actually quite inventive things that in my opinion made it a totally unique game and so much more than just a HL mod. For one, it gave you guns that you could customize, like customizing the spread and amount of shells to fire with your shotgun, or customizing your rocket launcher so you could make it into a grenade launcher if you wanted to, and use your grenades as trip mines if you set them correctly. Also, the setting of literally having cowboys in space makes it even more unique and I don't think I've ever seen a game have such unique and diverse levels before with such an interesting cast of characters. It's a really awesome mix of western and sci-fi and even cyberpunk that I think is incredibly cool. Definitely worth checking out if you can find a copy.

6. Syndicate

Syndicate is a game that sadly fell completely under the radar last year. Sure, it might have been a disappointing reboot to the fans and the heavy use of bloom might have thrown a lot of graphics-oriented people off, not to mention the PC port was kinda shoddy but this remains one of my favourite games of 2012 and favourite games of all time. It nails down the cyberpunk aesthetic and really made me hooked on the multiplayer. The more I play this game the more I just love how cool it looks and how well it makes me feel like part of a cyberpunk universe and I just can't help but think that I might be one of the few people who are still into this game. So yeah, I consider it kinda underrated.

 5. Eradicator

When you talk about mid 90's First Person Shooters, a lot of titles come to mind. Duke Nukem 3D, Doom, Quake, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone but me remembering Accolade's Eradicator. I remember playing a demo back in the day and just totally being sucked into it and since then I've just watched it fade into obscurity while better known games get all the credit. At the time, Accolade didn't have a good credit and granted this was probably their last really good game. It didn't help either that it used the Build engine and came out around the same time as Quake and failed to gather any audience since those who weren't into Quake were into Duke or Doom. Still it's a pretty solid FPS with a really good sci-fi atmosphere and worth looking into if you're into old FPS's.

4. Starfox Adventures

For some reason, Starfox Adventures is pretty much universally despised by the majority of gamers, especially Starfox fans. And while I guess I could see why since it doesn't really play like a Starfox game, actually it has more in common with Zelda than Starfox, I definitely don't agree that it is a BAD game. There is a LOT I love about Adventures, especially the whole atmosphere of adventure it has, that it takes time to set up a compelling universe and that it greatly expands upon the characters and mythology set by Starfox and Starfox 64. I remember reading about this game back in the day and actually being really hyped about it. I wanted to play a different Starfox game and to this day, I would still claim this game is pretty good. So screw the haters, it's worth at least one shot and you can get it cheap on ebay these days.

3. SiN

Oh... boy... you wanna talk underrated? Talk about fucking SiN. It's one of those games that I would like to call "Half-Life casualties", simply because it failed because it came out at the same time as Half-Life. Even though in many ways, SiN was a lot more groundbreaking in ways that Half-Life couldn't touch. SiN had actual missions where the outcome decided how your next level was gonna be like. You could enter it from another area, you could sometimes even find entirely new levels depending on how your mission went and for the time, this was mindblowing. Another thing that SiN did, WAY before games like Doom 3 made a huge deal out of it, was interactive in-game computers. That's right, in SiN, you could use computers. You could even go into a cute little DOS prompt and dig through the files to find passwords and hidden easter eggs and again, for the time, this was INCREDIBLE. I cannot even begin to state why I think SiN is probably the most underrated shooter of the 90's but there are lots of them. It's only sad that Half-Life stole the glory because I think SiN could really have taken it if it had gotten a bigger fanbase. To this day it remains one of my favourite games and I am still amazed at how much groundbreaking stuff they did back then. It also helps that unlike Gordon Freeman, John R. Blade actually talks and has a wonderful Duke Nukem esque attitude that just makes this game really awesome and in many ways, it feels like a lost Duke Nukem Forever. In fact, rumors has it that it started as a Duke Nukem game but grew into its own thing. Ironically, it got a sequel around the same time as Half-Life 2, using the Source engine. SiN Episodes: Emergence was the first of several planned episodes but sadly Ritual Entertainment got bought out and no further installments are planned in the series. I highly recommend checking SiN out because it's definitely an underrated classic in so many ways. It's so good, it's a sin.

2. Super Mario Bros. 2

SMB2 is often referred to as the black sheep of the original SMB trilogy. And why? Because when people found out that it actually is just a reskinned version of another game, they felt deceived. Thus, SMB2 is considered a bad SMB game. But hang on a sec, just because it's a reskinned version of another game, why does that automatically make it bad? I want to disagree here. I think it's actually a pretty good game and I've had a lot of fun with it. And for once, it was a game where you could play as several different characters, each with their own abilities and the difference between Mario and Luigi was much further established here and almost completely ignored in further installments were Luigi was reduced to a mere palette swap. It also introduced several other characters that are now canon as well as Birdo, the first transvestite in Mario history. Almost kinda fitting she comes from a game that is considered the freak of the franchise. Definitely an underrated game by all accounts.

1. Daikatana

With an ad campaign stating you were gonna become Romero's bitch, and with the hype train going insanely off track and with a development cycle that can only be described as total chaos, it's a wonder Daikatana even got released. And when it got released, it was an underwhelming game that looked really dated in comparison with other games of the time. Thus, Daikatana is widely considered one of the biggest failures in gaming and also one of the worst FPS's of all time. But personally, having played through the game and even writing a review of it, I would have to disagree. What Daikatana did at the time was simply mindboggling, it was trying to establish itself as a co-op FPS experience, something nearly no games to that point had tried. It was extremely ambitious and in a lot of ways, it sort of failed but this is definitely a game that I feel is incredibly underrated as I simply love how much variety there is in level design and weaponry, and how the RPG elements makes it feel like a deeper experience than Quake for instance, and how you build comradery with your companions. I really got immersed into this game and simply loved it and to me, Daikatana is the most underrated game of all time.

- Alyxx

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