Have you ever played that video game that you loved dearly as a kid or young teenager but when you bring it up in conversation, nobody knows what you're talking about? Don't you just hate it when that happens? This happens to me a lot with my friends and their flabbergasted faces at the obscure games I've played have given me the inspiration to countdown the top 15 underrated video games of all time. Why top 15? Because I played more than ten video games in my youth. Let's start with:
15. Jet Set Radio Future
I'm starting this list off with a game I loved dearly when I just a young lad. Jet Set Radio Future follows a gang of young teen roller-skaters named the GGs who graffiti all over the place and try to free the streets of Tokyo from the lame powerful Rokkaku Group and other rival rollerblading gangs. The game incorporated a lot of pro roller-skater moves like grinding on rails and up poles, wall-riding on billboards, and performing mid-air tricks. The soundtrack was both off the wall but also very catchy and surprisingly memorable by mixing a lot of hip hop, rap and techno music.
Jet Set Radio Future also not only incorporated skating gameplay mechanics but also fun combat gameplay where you can tackle enemies to the ground and graffiti them for the ultimate defeat. You get to battle against police officers, giant robots, tanks and a downright insane police captain. As you progress in through the story, you'll meet other playable characters with their own strengths and weaknesses in skating and combat. This game was original, fun, inventive and it blew the original game out of the water. If you ever get a chance to play this game, I suggest you take it.
14. Condemned: Criminal Origins
Now… this is how you make a creepy game and there technically isn’t even anything really that supernatural about it. Condemned follows an crime scene investigator named Ethan Thomas who has to investigate what is causing the denizens of the city to turn into violent psychotics. There is always a feeling that there is something more to what you are not seeing or doing, but you can’t explain it. You can’t explain what is happening to people across the city, just that something is causing them to go on violent rampages.
The game relies heavy on first person melee combat and it works surprisingly well. The player has to think on their feet quickly in order to survive a fight by properly timing attacks and defence. There is also gun combat but it’s very rare and you constantly have to conserve ammo because you cannot carry several clips. If you run out of ammo, you can use your firearm as a melee weapon, which is a pretty cool gameplay element. I won’t give away too much of the plot away but let’s just say that it’s well worth a buy. The sequel on the other hand… A weekend rental.
13. Shadow of the Damned
Gather round children as I tell you the story of a man named Suda51. Suda51 was a man like no other, he was over the top, he was silly, he was flashy and he was… kind of perverted. Some games under Suda’s belt include No More Heroes, Killer is Dead, Lollipop Chainsaw, and of course, Shadows of the Damned. Shadows of the Damned is an interesting case study of what Suda51 brings to the development table of his games. The game follows an demon hunter who goes by the name Garcia F. Hotspur as he travels to the underworld to save his true love from the evil clutches of the demon king, Fleming. Along for the ride is his demon companion named Johnson who transforms into the gun of Garcia’s choosing, which is basically a pistol, shotgun or machine gun.
What’s great about this game is that it really gives the audience a grand tour of the underworld and even give it some lore about what demons like to do in their spare time, what demons eat and what Fleming makes them do as torture. The gameplay is really solid, borrowing the 3rd person shooting mechanics from Resident Evil 4 and even throwing in some cool melee combat. The story and gameplay does, however, throw in some weird stuff like the fact that Garcia found his girlfriend in a trash dump, Johnson calling a sex phone line and turning into a gun called “Big Fucking Boner” and some other mentionables. If you think this is a cool game to check out, then do so because it is actually one Suda’s better games. Still doesn’t make up for the awkward and annoying Lollipop Chainsaw.
12. Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
You’d think a game where you can learn telekinesis, pyrokinesis, and mind control would be more popular but I’m shocked as to how many people have not played this 2004 classic. The story follows a soldier named Nick Scryer, who has woken up with no memory of who he is, what he is or where he is. He is released by a mysterious woman named Sara who explains to him that he had his mind wiped to infiltrate an terrorist organization called “The Movement”. Throughout the game, the player learns new powers and what The Movement is planning to do.
In the game, you’ll learn special powers such as Telekinesis, Pyrokinesis, Mind Drain, Mind Control and Remote Viewing and Aura View. You can move objects with your mind, create waves of flames, take control of enemies’ minds, and see into rooms before going in… and yet this game could not develop a sequel because the first game wasn’t popular enough. I personally could not get enough of this game and it was fun from beginning to end. It may not be in stores now but anyone with a FilePlanet account can download an advertised version of it for free. I highly recommend it.
Now, I’ am not a big fan of this game at all because I think it does a lot of things I think are annoying in a shooter game. They give us a boring silent protagonist, grimy brown environments and a pretty uninteresting antagonist. However, I got to give respect where it's earned because I thought what this game was trying to accomplish with a time-traveling first-person shooter and being able to use time travel as a weapon was kind of original and interesting. You play as a unknown Black Ops solider simply named Renko who has been sent to a mysterious island to investigate some electromagnetic surges that knocked an American satellite out of orbit.
However, when he arrives at the island, Renko finds that the island is sending him through different time lines and has been inhabited by strange, violent creatures. Singularity does have a solid foundation on the gameplay mechanic where you use a device called the TMD where you can age enemy soldiers into dust and reverse the age of some rusting or destroyed objects. Also the First-Person shooting gameplay can be pretty solid fun too. The game was well-received by critics but not a lot people talk about about this game because I guess a lot of gamers were pretty split about. I definitely say it’s worthy of a rental.
This one I’m actually pretty shocked to be putting on the list because a first look at this game would suggest that it would probably not be very good. The game does have a very ugly presentation and it is not one THQ’s (R.I.P) better games. However, Conan makes all this up with a fun third-person perspective slasher. The gameplay is fairly common for a slasher/brawler but the boss battles can be really exciting with quick-thinking button mashing. You can also gain the ability to use magic against your enemies and earn experience points to learn more attacks and powers. Conan is also voiced by Hellboy himself, Ron Perlman. The game was a financial failure for THQ but you should still check it out if you have a chance.
9. Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood
So apparently there was a big enough crowd who demanded for a sequel of Call of Juarez. The first Call of Juarez game was, for the most part, a boring and below average game in my opinion. It relied too much on stealth gameplay then shooting gameplay and that was kind of a big no no in a Western game in my opinion. However, in this prequel, you play as two brothers by the name of Ray McCall and Thomas McCall. You can choose who to play as in each level and each of them have their own strengths in gameplay. Ray is more of sharpshooter and is the stronger of the two brothers while Thomas is more agile and stealthier of the two.
You can choose which gameplay style you like more than just being forced into it like the first game. The game follows two brothers, along with their third unplayable brother William who is a gentle priest, as they try to pursue a valuable but cursed treasure while trying to figure out if they can trust each other. You get really into the characters and the story behind their family and their present problems in their broken family. Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is a major upgrade from the previous game and should not be as overlooked as it is.
8. Deadly Premonition
This is becoming more of a cult classic as the years go on but is still not talked about as much as it should be. At first sight, Deadly Premonition looks pretty awful with an ancient presentation, a weird control scheme and some wooden voice acting. However, the game quickly draws you in with it’s Twin Peaks style mystery and creepy atmosphere. You play as a FBI special agent named Francis York Morgan, but goes by York, who is assigned the case of a murdered girl in the small town of Greenville. The game literally has hours upon hours of gameplay, you’ll probably complete it at about the 60 hour mark and it’s worth it.
The game constantly throws twists and new plots that can just keep you sucked in until you find out who is planning to commit all these murders. There is also a long cast of characters with their own personalities and quirks and a large town to investigate. Deadly Premonition can really stretch what a person would call cool and/or interesting to things that are too over the top and goofy but this game should not be overlooked. If you love a good mystery, you’ll adore this crazy odd game.
7. House of the Dead: Overkill
Remember the old days of House of the Dead. When two important agent-type guys had to fight through hordes of the undead and other creatures in order to stop an evil mastermind. The original games are basically rail-shooter classics but were basically over the top serious about zombies killing innocent people and had zero laughs. House of the Dead: Overkill decides to give the franchise a complete makeover with a prequel to the very first House of the Dead. The game follows Agent G, secondary protagonist from the first House of the Dead and House of the Dead 3, on his very first mission to investigate a series of disappearances and apprehend a crazy crime lord named Papa Caesar.
Along the way, G teams up with a local detective named Issac Washington who loves the ladies and has one hell of a foul mouth. This game was meant to be gross, foul and laugh out loud hilarious. The game also parodies the old Grindhouse movies of the 70s that makes the look feel somewhat cheap and over the top goofy. We also get some character from the main protagonists like Agent G is a by the book, rule-following and somewhat hopeless romantic while Washington is a loud, foul mouthed playboy who does things is own way. These characters have great chemistry together and playing a House of the Dead game with a friend has never been more fun. There ain't no way motherfucking way you should skip this game.
Unfortunately, there was really no chance or audience for Madworld because it was only released onto the Wii console which was usually associated with the family-friendly Nintendo corporation. The game library for the Wii was from below-average to abysmal at best and Madworld just disappeared into the void. It’s too bad that it did too because Madworld was pretty damn awesome. You play as Jack Cayman who has entered into an televised game show called “Deathwatch” where people enter to compete and kill each other for money… it’s like the Hunger Games but without the teen drama and much more violent and gory. However, Jack is only in these competitions because the Mayor’s daughter is still stuck in the abandoned city where the games are held.
The gameplay is about killing other opponents as creatively and gruesomely as possible while racking up enough points to challenge the pro contestant/boss. There are also small mini games where you can kill as many opponents as possible in a set time limit for a bunch of points. The games are also narrated, amusingly, by two announcers named Howard “Buckshot” Holmes and Kresse Kreely who are voiced by John Di Maggio (Bender from Futurama) and Greg Proops (Whose Line is it Anyway). If you even still have a Wii, you should see if you can find yourself a copy of this game.
5. Deadly Creatures
Another great Wii game that just slipped through the cracks and basically nobody played. Alright, what I’m about to tell may really want you play this game… you play as both a young male scorpion and an adult female tarantula who engage in brutal battles against other insects, rats and reptiles. Doesn’t that sound awesome? The game also has a secondary cast and plot where two rednecks (voiced by Billy Bob Thorton and the late Dennis Hopper) are searching for a lost and cursed treasure. Each of the player creatures have very different gameplay styles, the scorpion has a more action-oriented gameplay style with bigger battles while the tarantula is more stealth-oriented with more platforming.
The game is basically about two insects battling and surviving out in the wild and that’s pretty cool. The plot eventually pits the two protagonists against each other and it turns into something really interesting that I cannot spoil here but it’s pretty cool for a game with two playable insects who can’t even talk. If you aren’t scared to death by insects and spiders, then you should definitely give this game a look.
4. Resistance 3
I’m wondering what ever happened to the Resistance franchise because it was actually really popular at one point, right after the release of Resistance 2, but then everyone just stopped playing or talking about them. I’m really confused by this because none of the Resistance games are bad. The first game was well received by both critics and gamers even though I thought it was just a plain shooter that didn’t really add anything to the FPS genre. The second game was much more action oriented and more creative with bigger boss battles, upping the difficulty and the multiplayer was full of hours of fun. Everyone enjoyed the first two games and then the third game came out and barely anyone was talking about it and I personally think it’s the best one of the franchise.
Resistance 3 follows a new protagonist named Joseph Capelli, who is now living with a new wife and son and trying to live with the fact that he had to murder Nathan Hale (The protagonist from the first two Resistance games). Joesph is then volunteered to escort Doctor Fyodor Malikov to New York City where he thinks he can stop the Chimera invasion. The game takes a bit of a new turn on the gameplay where instead of regenerating health from the first two games, you had to find medpacks to refill health. This kept the action more exciting and dangerous which I think the other games lacked in.
The story and gameplay just all around felt like the good old days of old school first-person shooters which I think more FPS's should do. You can probably buy all three of these games in a bundle and you I definitely recommend that you do.
3. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
Hey another Call of Juarez game surprisingly, and I’m pretty sure I know why this one isn’t that well known or liked… Call of Juarez: The Cartel. I just got chills and goosebumps from simply typing the name. It was pretty certain that The Cartel basically destroyed the Call of Juarez franchise and nobody figured another game would be in the works. Until Ubisoft put together this arcade-style western shooter that was nice to look at and the narration by protagonist, Silas Greaves, was very intelligent and amusing. The game takes place in the flashbacks of Silas Greaves, re-telling his tales for drinks to patrons at a local saloon.
The stories are really interesting and actually involve real people from history including Billy the Kid, Sheriff Pat Boone, Butch Cassidy, Newman Haynes Clanton and many more. The stories also go from interesting to a little fabricated and ridiculous as Silas Greaves claims to take the life of many famous outlaws. However, the gameplay is what really shines through here, where you can rack up points for how many bandits you kill, how you kill them and with what. These points can be used to level up your accuracy, ammo capacity and much more. This is probably my favorite Call of Juarez game to date and it maybe the best one to be released. You can purchase it on the Steam network bundled with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, how can you go wrong there.
2. Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
If you read my past articles… and you should if you don’t want to hurt my feelings, you will know that I put Spider-Man on the list of superheroes that doesn’t really transition into video games well. This is because the developers seem to just want him to punch things instead of swinging around New York City. Spider-Man 2 got this concept down pat and it's the best Spider-Man to date but no other game seemed to want to attempt to recapture the magic of Spider-Man 2… until Spider-Man: Web of Shadows was released. Web of Shadows follows Spider-Man, as he has been exposed to the black symbiote after a confrontation against Eddie Brock/Venom. The game then allows you to change between black suit Spider-Man and normal Spider-Man was you wish and each costume has their own strengths and weaknesses.
Spider-Man is then able to team up with other superheroes and villains such as Luke Cage, Wolverine, Moon Knight, Vulture, Electro and a few others. It's is not perfect through as some of the fighting mechanics can go all over the place and the voice of Spider-Man ear-shatteringly whiny and annoying. However, Web of Shadows is still good in my books for being the only other Spider-Man game to try and recapture the essence of Spiderman 2. The Amazing Spiderman tried to recapture it but they did a pretty horrible job at it.
1. Spec Ops: The Line
I hate that this game was released now, at this time of gaming, at this time of all the Call of Duty and Battlefield nonsense. This game on the outside looks like a poor version of a Call of Duty game but on the inside, it is so much more. The game follows a team of three soldiers lead by Captain Martin Walker to help the citizens of Dubai who are constantly at the mercy of bad sandstorms and low economy. When they arrive however, they find many dead American soldiers and that one of Walker’s old partners named Konrad has gone insane and wants to stay in Dubai.
No matter what you do, no matter how much you try to help, no matter how much good you think you are doing… You just make things worse. You are not going to have a good time playing this game, you are going to be exhausted after completing this game and you are going to feel like absolute garbage. This game has one of the biggest “punch in the gut” twists in a game I have ever seen in a video game. For me, this out does “Would you kindly” any day of the week. Spec Ops constantly punishes you for trying to be the all-American hero and the game calls you out on it and it gives you some amazing multiple endings… and none of them are happy endings.
If you were to only play one video game this year… make it Spec Ops: The Line! This is not only number one on my list because it’s an amazing video game, it’s not only number one on this list because it deserves to be played, it’s number one on this list because it needs to be played by everyone. EA needs to take notes on how to make a good war shooter because as of right now, Yager Development has my full respect and I hope they will develop more games like this one.