It happens every year; despite great reviews and solid word of mouth, there is always a small selection of utterly fantastic games that, for whatever reason, completely fail at retail.
Be it a poorly chosen release window, an overtly high price point or a lack of advertising, these brilliant, often hugely innovative games criminally fall by the wayside. This year has been no different. There are always casualties of the increasingly unforgiving sales wars but 2012 has proven especially harsh with many top quality titles failing to register so much a blip on the majority gamers’ radars.
Here are some of the games that we at Brash Games think deserved a lot more love than they received…..
1) El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (Ignition Entertainment)
No game in 2011 deserved better than El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. While it did nothing particularly new in terms of core mechanics, as an advert for videogames as art, no game did more for the argument.
This is a game of consistently high standards and outrageously unique and beautiful art work. Even the gameplay, which is relatively basic, offers a pleasingly simple flow that seems to work hand in hand with the art design to create an experience quite unlike anything else. Sure, it was based on biblical text and yes, it does get very “Japanese”, but my God, unless you’re the kind of gamer who plays nowt but Call of Duty and FIFA, you deserve it to yourself and to this fantastic videogame to pick up a copy post haste.
2) Shadows of the Damned (Grasshopper Manufacture)
Again, not a game that does anything particularly new, but in terms of a unique, utterly bonkers universe, one that provides an antithesis to the ever growing number of po-faced, laugh free videogames currently doing the rounds, Shadows of the Damned provides a fun and highly refreshing shooter experience.
If nothing else, it’s worth experiencing for the sheer number of dick jokes thrown into the script. In less skilled hands, the script and art direction may well have come across as crass and childish, but under the tutelage of the highly talented folk at Grasshopper Manufacture, instead comes across as equal parts audacious and hilarious.
3) Crisis 2 (Crytek)
Yeah, I know, it’s not like it didn’t sell. In fact, it did kind of ok at retail. But really….. ok? This game has everything. It looks great, has fantastic mechanics and in terms of choice and battle options, left the uber linear types of Call of Duty and Battlefield for dust. Shit, even the multiplayer is great.
It may not have wowed in quite the same way as the open world original did, but this still stands as one of the finest first person shooters of the year, if not the generation. It would be a real shame if the Crysis story ended here – this is one of the few series brave enough to marry first person mechanics with innovative gameplay and sky high production values. It deserves to be played.
4) Child of Eden (Q Entertainment)
Many “core” gamers are still very suspicious of Kinect, and for good reason – a year after release and it’s still primarily used to promote party games and shovelware. Dig through the rubble of mediocrity though and there are a few nuggets of gold to be mined – one of which being Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s blindingly beautiful follow up to the unforgettable Rez., Child of Eden.
While this gorgeous shooter certainly makes brilliant use of the Kinect technology to help immerse you in the experience, it seems many gamers failed to appreciate that Child of Eden is still a fantastic game when played with a traditional controller. Sure, it isn’t quite as engaging, but if played as a traditional score chase shooter, an analogue stick and a few triggers is definitely the way to go. Either way, be you a Kinect owner or not, this is gaming as far away from the mundane as is possible and as beautiful a marriage of input and audio as you are likely to find.
5) Rayman Origins (Ubisoft)
This is a relatively new title and still has the potential to win over the punters but as of the time of writing, all signs are pointing towards yet another genuinely fantastic videogame being all but overlooked at retail.
Selling a measly 50,000 copies on its first four weeks on sale in the US, this genuinely brilliant, utterly gorgeous slice of classic 2D platforming action looks destined to fall by the wayside this Christmas, which, given the general lack of first rate family friendly titles this holiday season, does come as something of a surprise. It’s not like anyone was expecting Mario numbers from the lesser known Rayman, but with an array of glowing reviews in the bag, a decent advertising campaign and some of the most beautiful visuals of the generation, I think it’s fair to say that subsequent sales (or lack thereof) have proven hugely disappointing……..when Ubisoft release a Call of Duty clone next Christmas, you’ll only have yourself to blame.