We may have just finished our list of ‘5 of the Most Underrated Games of the Generation’, but it quickly become apparent that a list of 5 wasn’t going to be nearly enough. There are simply too many fantastic games that were criminally overlooked this gen to keep the list to a measly 5, so, you know what we did? We only went and made another list. We’ve only gone and added 5 bleedin’ more……..I know, we’re proper loco.
The first game got by on its unique premise and the fact that it was launch title for the software starved PS3. The second showed a lot of promise with developer, Insomniac Games promising the world. It failed to deliver. It wasn’t a terrible game, but by trying to do too much and emphasising scale above quality, it actually served to put many gamers off the series.
I myself was one of those put off by the excessive mess of Resistance 2 and its kitchen sink approach to video game development and subsequently waited well over a year after its original release before finally, and rather begrudgingly picking up the final game in the trilogy, Resistance 3. Somewhat surprisingly, Resistance 3 turned out to be absolutely fantastic, standing as one of the finest first person shooters of the generation and arguably the finest first party FPS to ever grace a Sony console. With its much more personal story, focussed narrative and much improved sense of connection, Resistance 3 delivered an often depressing, but infinitely more affecting and absorbing shooter than its predecessors.
It might feel a little old fashioned to some and a little too dour for others, but Resistance 3 represents just about everything that Resistance 2 wasn’t, and is subsequently the far superior game for it.
Half of Wheelman -
Whenever Vin Diesel steps out of a car and onto the pavements of Barcelona, Wheelman completely falls apart. Despite an interesting(ish) story and some ok(ish) performances, when on foot, Wheelman is, at best, a very poor man’s, Grand Theft Auto. Get behind the wheel however, and man, what a difference.
Despite its ill-advised ambitions of becoming the next big open world action game, Midway Studios did manage to create half a fantastic game. Ignoring the laws of physics in favour of all out entertainment, the aggressive, thrilling, arcade inspired car chases of Wheelman provide a huge highlight in an otherwise ho-hum experience. Ramming, smashing and, in acts of aerial acrobatics beyond even Fast 5, we see good ol’ Vin jumping between and hijacking vehicles as they tear down busy streets and carriageways.
In a genre renowned for dodgy car physics and boring driving sections, Wheelman bucks the trend by delivering some of the most exciting racing this gen, but then sadly forgets to do a decent job of making the rest of the game evenly remotely playable. Shame.
Lost Odyssey –
Lost Odyssey is a game very close to my heart and stands as one of my favourite gaming experiences of this generation. A traditional JRPG experience in the finest sense of the word, Lost Odyssey is a fantastic game and a great option for those looking for a return to more traditional JRPG mechanics.
Produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the original Final Fantasy, it’s a shame that Lost Odyssey was released at a time when the industry (seemingly) yearned for a major overhaul of the traditions that still held sway over the genre at large – it was subsequently criticized quite ferociously by the press for its lack on innovation despite being a fantastic game in its own right. This criticism was especially strange considering the backlash that Final Fantasy XIII was to receive a year or so later for changing and streamlining the genre too much.
Sure, Lost Odyssey does very little to push the genre forward, but when a game is this good, I say to hell with innovation. We all want to see the industry evolve, but there’s nothing wrong with delivering a traditional gaming experience every once in a while – especially when it’s delivered with the kind of confidence and quality with which Mistwalker delivered this absolute gem of an JRPG.
The Club (Bizarre) –
While it may be a third person shooter rather than an FPS like Bulletstorm and Bodycount , the main goal remains the same – kill everything, keep your combo rolling and try and look good doing it. The big difference here is that unlikethose games, which both feel and play like traditional shooters with score based combos tacked on top, The Club actually feels and plays more like a racing game masquerading as a shooter…..or PGR with guns to be exact.
Bizarre Creations’ work on the Project Gotham Racing series can be felt at every turn m(no pun intended). Like that series, The Club shares a very similar ethos of doing things with style. Sure, you could treat The Club like a traditional third person shooter just like you could treat PGR as a traditional racer but to do so would be to completely miss the point.
Taking its core mechanics at face value, The Club isn’t actually all that impressive – the gunplay, controls and weapons are all rather basic to be honest. But when considered within the confines of the games design, these simplistic controls and basic weapon options are actually perfectly suited to the overall gameplay. Why? Because of speed. The Club is a game that you are literally encouraged to race through. You still need to take down the enemies dotted around each map but you’ll want to do so as quickly and as accurately as possible. There will be no time to take in the sights or to carefully switch weapons based on the situation. Nope, this is all about reflex and memory.
It certainly won’t be to everyone’s tastes (as proved by the disappointing sales and mixed review scores), but for many, The Club will deliver the type of tiple-A gaming experience that you simply don’t find on consoles anymore. The production values of a major release with the mechanics of an arcade game, The Club feels like the kind of game that would have been released on the Dreamcast if it had survived long enough (it’s perhaps fitting then that it was published by Sega).
Splinter Cell Conviction –
Yeah, it’s not as ‘hardcore’ as the original Splinter Cell trilogy and sure, the gameplay has been simplified and naturally, the ‘Mark and Execute’ mechanic does make much of the game something of a breeze in comparison to its predecessors. You know what though? I don’t care? Honestly, I couldn’t give a monkeys. I liked the original trilogy just fine, but none of those games made me feel like a bad ass in the same way that Conviction did.
Surely the closest thing we will get to a decent Bourne game, Splinter Cell: Conviction found the gravel voiced, Sam Fisher in more relatable, dare I say, more interesting locales than ever before, cutting his way through an array of dastardly evil doers via a combination of stealth and utterly brutal attacks.
The tension levels certainly aren’t as high in this game, but something about stealth games of the past always making you feel like a bit of a punk the moment that you are spotted always got on my nerves. Why couldn’t I ever fight back with any sense of skill or mastery. Conviction delivered that sense of power. Be it fighting back against enemies aware of your location or simply taking down a room of unexpecting foes, Conviction does a fantastic job of making you feel like the most dangerous person in the room without ever feeling wholly indestructible.