Written by Rick Warren / Gfn2112
As soon as I finished the last top five and began writing up the honorable mentions, I realized that there were far more underappreciated games I’ve played than I originally thought. Once I reached five, I decided it was time to make a second list. Take a look!
5.) Batman: Arkham Origins
Reason for being underappreciated: Compared too heavily to the main trilogy.
To get it out of the way, this is the worst game in the Arkham series. The gameplay feels a bit “off”, the graphics aren’t as polished, the multiplayer was unnecessary, and the game’s big twist was an issue for some fans. With that in mind, though, Batman: Arkham Origins is not a bad game; it’s simply a good game in a great series. Even though they didn’t reach the heights of Rocksteady’s masterpieces, WB Montreal did a commendable job with their first go at the series. The Deathstroke boss fight was a blast to play, Troy Baker’s Mark Hamill-inspired performance was impressive, and seeing a younger version of Batman worked. All this game truly needed was more time in development, and it would have benefited greatly from being included in the "Return to Arkham" collection. At the end of the day, it’s not a masterpiece, but Origins is still worth playing for every Batman fan.
In the next spot, a modern entry in an iconic series...
4.) Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
Reason for being underappreciated: Poor marketing/a bad sequel.
This is a game I never had the chance to finish, as I borrowed it from a friend and got lost in new releases before I could get my own copy. However, I played enough of it to recommend it. With the popular Netflix series reviving interest in the series, this is the most recent Catlevania game that is worth playing and where players should look to get their fix. Lords of Shadow did a great job of bringing the series into the modern age of gaming, boasting a lengthy and interesting story to match its strong combat. Though its often forgotten due to some weak advertising and an even weaker sequel, this Castlevania game deserves to be talked about much more than it is today.
In third place, id Software’s forgotten FPS...
Reason for being underappreciated: Superior competition.
This game suffered from a similar problem to what Battleborn did: it looked too much like a more popular game that was releasing close by. For Battleborn it was Overwatch, and for Rage it was Borderlands 2. The sad thing is that, apart from the Cel-shaded art style, Rage differed greatly from Gearbox’s beloved shooter. The post-apocalyptic world was a bit more serious, while the gameplay was as smooth as one would expect from an id Software game. The weapons were fun to use (particularly the throwable blade), and the Mad Max-style enemy designs were impressive. While the ending was weak, and the tacked-on multiplayer could have been left out entirely, I still remember this game fondly due to the strong shooting mechanics and interesting setting.
In the second spot, a different take on the military shooter...
2.) Spec Ops: The Line
Reason for being underappreciated: Average gameplay.
This game came out of nowhere, and it’s become a bit of a cult classic over the years because of that. While this cover shooter was never looked at as more than “good” on the gameplay side of things, it delivers a phenomenal story with a terrific twist. The story is so strong, in fact, that it completely makes up for the decent gameplay. Set in the sandstorm-prone location of Dubais, players are faced with brutal choices that offer no peaceful resolution. Spec Ops: The Line paints a picture of war that is seen nowhere else in gaming, and it’s something that every gamer should experience because of that. Rather than spoiling the game’s story here, I highly suggest playing it yourself as soon as possible; you won’t regret it.
In the top spot, an example of Platinum Games at their peak...
Reason for being underappreciated: I... I have no idea. One of life's great mysteries, I suppose.
The best word to describe Vanquish is “fun”. It delivers in almost every area that a game should. At the time of release, the graphics were incredible. While that aspect of the game may be less remarkable today, everything else is as strong as ever. The story is solid, and the gameplay is exhilarating, mixing shooting and hand-to-hand fights brilliantly. The futuristic suit given to the player speeds everything up, making the combat encounters fast and stylish. Mowing down groups of enemies while sliding and jumping always feels great, and there's never an issue with pacing because of that. The game feels like an extended, playable anime fight scene, and it’s a perfect example of why Platinum Games is such a respected developer in the video game industry.
You know the drill: honorable mention in the comments, share your own pick, come back next week for a new top five.