I truly love me some underrated video games, so please allow me to share some of them with you.
One of my favorite early current gen games was Just Cause. None of my friends liked it. My wife (gf at the time) couldn’t understand why I enjoyed it. It’s a bug-filled, clunky game that is difficult to control and really enjoys freezing my Xbox 360 (the newer models work fine). But I LOVED that game. I saw such potential in the direction the creators, Avalanche Studios, were going- even if that game itself didn’t have much luster to it, the developers knew they were on to something and I could feel that despite the game’s shortcomings. In 2010 Just Cause 2 came out, fixing most of the bugs and adding tons more to do, and the game got lots of critical acclaim and all my friends love it. I did too, because I knew that was the game that those developers could produce.
After my Just Cause 1 fix, I got into Bladestorm. I haven’t completed it to this day, the game takes FOREVER to beat and it’s quite repetitive. It isn’t quite a strategy game or an action game or an adventure/rpg game- it’s a little of all of those, which makes it very unique. It’s made by Koei, famous for the hack and slash button masher series Dynasty Warriors (I love those games too). My wife bought me the game for my birthday simply because the DW guys made it. She didn’t like Bladestorm herself, because it doesn’t play at all like the DW games and doesn’t offer co-op. But there is something else there, while pillaging my way through the Hundred Years War, that I can’t help but get addicted to. Go play this game.
A couple years back I tried and failed to get into a beta for a game called Section 8 for PC, which heralded itself as a Tribes-esque team shooter. They had me at Tribes-esque. The game got released on PC’s and consoles to pretty bad reviews. Not mixed reviews, bad ones. Then a few months ago I saw the game on the Steam holiday sale for $5.00 so I grabbed it. HOLY CRAP THAT WAS A GOOD DECISION. This game packs some of the most fun and frantic multiplayer FPS action I’ve seen in a while. It’s not as Tribes-esque as I would have hoped, but seriously, the game is great. A sequel, titled Section 8 Prejudice is coming out soon on all platforms for $15.00 AND I SHALL OWN IT.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Trackmania is the greatest racing game of all time. All the attention goes to the Need For Speed series, and to Gran Turismo and Forza, but screw all those games. Trackmania gives you full control to design and customize tracks, and then race them with some of the tightest controls I’ve ever seen. The in-game options for sharing tracks with friends aren’t great, but if you set up a Dropbox shared folder with your friends to hold tracks and replays you’ll get addicted. Trackmania Nations Forever is a completely free game, but the upgrade to Trackmania United Forever is well worth it.
Finally, one of my favorite mixed-genre games is Battalion Wars for the GameCube. It is simultaneously 3rd person shooter and RTS. You control every unit on the battlefield by switching between controlling each of them in 3rd person mode whenever you like. This gives you the ability to control infantry, tanks, choppers, bombers and turrets all in the same mission, and switch between them whenever you want. The single player campaign is challenging but rewarding. Unfortunately, multiplayer wasn’t added until the sequel on the Wii, but I love the game anyway, as well as that sequel.
I wonder what obscure game I’ll get hooked on next…