With the video game industry and the competition between publishers growing drastically every year, more and more games are hitting shelves with huge rival titles lined up next to them. Due to this, a lot of great games slip under the radar, not necessarily because they’re bad games, but because the likes of the annual Call of Duty’s and FIFA’s overshadow them.
Many games have been overlooked and neglected as a result of this, and it’s a shame, because there are some awesome experiences which have been greatly under-appreciated.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
The Castlevania series made a name for itself in the mid-80’s with a number of NES releases, and immediately garnered a cult-following with its exciting action-oriented side-scrolling gameplay. Fast-forward two and a half decades later and one of the most anticipated Castlevania titles, Lords of Shadow, lands and seems to slip off the map.
What went wrong? While the game received generally positive reviews, the initial impressions claimed that the game abandoned its traditional roots, therefore turning a lot of players away. Also not helping, Lords of Shadow released in October, a month known for delivering some strong triple-A titles. Lords of Shadow was left to compete with DJ Hero, Fallout: New Vegas, and The Force Unleashed 2, which didn’t help given its fan-attracting Star Wars tagline.
Why you should play it? Well, firstly it’s produced by Hideo Kojima, the man behind the Metal Gear series; and secondly, it’s an incredibly well-structured visceral action title. Lords of Shadow doesn’t only possess one of the longest and entertaining campaigns within the genre, an incredibly in-depth combat system, and Patrick Stewart narrating the events, but it’s also a drop-dead gorgeous game. Everything from the visuals right down to the enemy archive is meticulously polished, making Lords of Shadow one of the strongest and most solid titles to unfortunately slide under the radar.
Rayman’s 3D platforming stints on the Playstation 2 were well-received from gamers, and just as the series was starting to pick up some serious momentum, Rayman’s limbless body seemed to disappear. At the end of last year, Rayman did return, and what a return it was. Although one of the most exciting, memorable and refreshing titles of the year, Rayman: Origins sadly didn’t manage to make a big splash when it dropped.
What went wrong? Released a mere two weeks after Uncharted 3, days after Modern Warfare 3, and on the same day as Skyrim, gamers just didn’t seem to have the money or attention span to pick up Rayman’s first adventure in six years.
Why you should play it? Because it’s not only one of the best platformers around, but one of the best games to come out in recent years. The art direction and design is so bright, vivid and beautiful, it feels as if you’re playing a Saturday morning cartoon. The platforming and traversal mechanics are unbelievably tight and responsive, and the humour and soundtrack is more charming than Daniel Craig in a tux.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West has a lot going for it. It was developed by Team Ninja (Heavenly Sword), features motion capture from the best in the business, Andy Serkis (Gollum), and had a script penned by Alex Garland (28 Days Later). Somehow, this epic post-apocalyptic action/platformer didn’t manage to wow gamers as much as it did the critics.
What went wrong? Sharing a similar fate to Lords of Shadow, October 2010 got the better of Enslaved as it ended up competing with all the big titles in the fourth quarter of the year. The fact that it was a brand new IP and had minimal marketing also didn’t help its cause.
Why you should play it? Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is one of the more ambitious and heartfelt games that has come out in the last few years. The story is a definite highpoint as you’re introduced to two interesting characters, Monkey and Tripp, and experience their story as they try and get across post-apocalyptic America overrun by mechs. The gameplay is fast and fluid and features heavily on the platforming, which is incredibly organic, acrobatic and an absolute blast to watch. The combat is a strong point too, and there are numerous upgrades and a fair amount of depth to keep you engrossed during some intense boss battles.
SEGA’s speedy blue mascot made a valiant return in October last year, as Sonic Generations was one of the best Sonic games ever made, even considering the original Mega Drive releases – and that says a lot.
What went wrong? You may be picking up a trend in regards to bad timing of release dates, and Sonic Generations became another one of gaming’s Q4 victims. The untimely release schedule did play a role, however it was also SEGA’s tendency to disappoint fans again and again with lacklustre releases like 2006’s Sonic the Hedgehog and 2008’s Sonic Unleashed. Sonic fans became a bit disenchanted with the iconic character, and seemed to turn a blind eye to Sonic Generations, despite its quality.
Why you should play it? Sonic Generations is hands-down one of the fastest and most exciting games the anthropomorphic hedgehog has ever had. Generations manages to combine the old-school appeal of Sonic with the modern elements which hardcore fans related with. The result is an incredibly fun and frantic platforming adventure that revisits many of Sonic’s past adventures from the Mega Drive heyday to the high-points from the Dreamcast years.
What do you think were some of the most overlooked and under-appreciated games in recent times? Sound off in the forums and comment section below.