Finally! Now we’re talking about the good stuff. There’s a fantastic quote that perfectly describes what we’re going to talk about, “A Lover of words has no place where honest work must be done..” and it holds its truth when it comes to these underrated titles.
I for one, have always fallen for the massive initiatives that triple-A titles bring while being announced. Flashy Ads, huge billboards and pre-access gameplay trailers, it’s a hit and a miss.
These games, however, have been true to their word but have been ridiculously over-shadowed by their ‘Triple-A’ next-gen counter-parts, released unluckily at the same time, hence I’m making this list because these games really ought to be played. Let’s dive straight in!
Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
Arguably Bethesda’s best Fallout game (not even made by Bethesda), so far. New Vegas was pushed to the side by Bethesda and projected that wouldn’t fare well amongst other games in 2010 and well, it didn’t, because of the initial sales of the game.
This was, of course, a misled assumption eventually, because it garnered an impeccable fan following over the years to come. Obsidian did most of the hauling and they had absolutely no idea that they would be working on some of the best work they’d ever made. Bethesda (Zenimax) had the IP, Obsidian had the ideas, but the game never really surfaced. It took a while for players to come to it, but when they did, the positive reviews were flowing.
Fallout New Vegas is a gem that shines bright amongst most Action RPG lovers, the clumsy Fallout 3 engine was beautified to produce some of the most picturesque desert wastelands for its time. It had its touch of class, from a fantastic story with some of the best written NPC’s to gameplay elements that would revolutionise many games in the future (Hardcore mode), Fallout New Vegas was sincerely ahead of its time.
It’s a shame how there were so many games that made it to the eyes of the general public and not that this one. Obsidian did an incredible job knowing that it really isn’t easy to make an RPG game. If you haven’t played it you must right now, it’s something you will surely not regret.
Titanfall 2 (2016)
When talking about Titanfall, we don’t really mention the second game, heck! I don’t even think people know there’s a second game. Everyone was rilled up to play Titanfall 1’s fantastic multiplayer and that’s what it was known for. I don’t think people could ever imagine a great singleplayer, storyline and gameplay for the franchise and that’s exactly what happened.
Titanfall 2, was all about reassuring the franchise to super success, but they fell a little short. I remember stumbling across Titanfall 2’s incredibly underrated single-player campaign on a walkthrough YouTube channel, after which I couldn’t stop myself, I had to play it and It DID NOT disappoint.
Titanfall 2, had to compete with big names like Hitman, Gears Of War 4, Dark Souls 3, Uncharted 4, Final Fantasy XV, Dishounoured 2 and no many more the year it came out and to be honest it really fell short when being recognised. It took the game a couple of years before the wide review of it was positive, of course, there were franchise veterans who’d picked up the game and played it but the numbers were very less compared to it predecessor. Another classic case of being overshadowed by the big guns.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue (2014)
Assassin’s Creed is one of those franchises that doesn’t take no for an answer. They’ve been at it ever since AC2 came out, pushing out games every year and marketing them to be the next big thing, except for this one. I’ll admit it, AC4 Blackflag will always be one of the best games I’ve ever played, but AC Rogue isn’t far behind.
This is one of those few underrated games, that have remained underrated. I’m quite surprised how people don’t talk about this game as much, considering how terrible Unity was when it came out and how underwhelming AC2 Revelations and AC3 were. It’s sure shot proof that this is another classic case of overshadowing by Ubisoft.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue added all the swashbuckling elements of Blackflag, but put you in the shoes of a Templar (Initial Assassin, turned Templar to be exact), somewhat like AC3, but not remotely as dull. The gameplay elements were a testament to how good AC4 was as a game and the storyline perfectly placed itself amidst AC3, Blackflag and Unity to create the most sublime continuous storylines I’d come across during that time. Sheer genius. Another game that you must check out!
Spec Ops - The Line (2012)
In June 2012, little would the world know that 2K would develop one of the most talked-about underrated games in recent times. Spec Ops: The line’s story is one that existentialists would see fit to talk about.
Capturing one of the greatest twists (don’t worry I’m not going to spoil it for you), ever written in gaming history, right up there with BioShock’s, “Would you kindly…”, the game doesn’t seem to be fancy, the gameplay and its mechanics somewhat dictate all terms that any Third-Person action shooter would want or would have but what brings out the incredibleness of this game is its story.
I’m not going to delve deep into it, but all I’m going to say is, you have to play this game for its story and if you haven’t already, you must right now!
There’s something about the USSR that makes for great shooters. The premise is simple, there is an old technology that exists on an unoccupied soviet island and somehow the protagonist (you), come to use it throughout the game (there you go, spoiler-free). Simple stuff, great premise, perfect for a Sci-Fi shooter.
What captures the eye is when you add in time travel into this loop and the way you get to use this technology (again not spoiling it for you). Raven Studios have done some amazing work on the game, the gameplay is fluid, the level design might feel a little repetitive but that’s there in almost all games, but the most prized element is the solo FPS experience with these new gameplay mechanics.
This Sci-Fi shooter comes with some great new concepts that could be used even now (10 years later) in a 2020 persona. A severely underrated game, that FPS lovers will enjoy!
Enslaved: Odyssey To The West (2010)
Have you heard of this one? I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t and for those of you who do, you know how overlooked this game is. This Ninja Theory masterpiece came out back in 2010 and probably is one of the most underrated games of all time. I mean it took me around 5 years to even know that such a title existed and another 4 to get to playing it. Nevertheless, it didn’t disappoint.
Enslaved is an Action-Adventure gem, that places you in the shoes of a slave (named ‘monkey’, not literally a monkey), in dystopian earth, that has now been taken over by mechs. This ridiculously overlooked title should have paved inspiration for several more great Action-Adventure titles that could use the same, mechanics and gameplay to better their games, but that of course was never meant to be because of how unknown this title was at the time. It’s a real shame how this one didn’t make it to the top.
Splinter Cell: Conviction (2010)
Mixed reviews on this one, but for me, it was a great game. After the incredible success of the SC games that came before (Chaos Theory, Pandora Tomorrow, Double Agent), Ubisoft thought they’d make a change that would work. Unlike the predecessors of this title, the games were solely focussed on stealth as the main mechanic, Conviction, on the other hand, wanted to involve some action elements as well, which for me was not a bad call, but to everyone else seemed a little unnecessary.
The game is good, the story puts you in the shoes of Sam Fisher, the stealth mastermind, but in a different persona this time. Conviction portrayed him almost as an officer off duty, which made the story a little more compelling (which I thoroughly enjoyed) than the rest of the games.
Conviction solely didn’t work out too well because of the change in dynamics amidst the other games. They wanted to add things into the loop that wasn’t very well appreciated and many felt that it left a sour taste. Nonetheless, I loved this game, it had all the elements that a great SC title would have and then some.
BioShock 2 (2010)
“Would you kindly…” as mentioned before, could be one of the greatest gaming twists ever created. The giant success of BioShock 1, pushed to the expectations of the second game to an unbelievable high, a high that could have been met.
BioShock 2 nonetheless is the least appreciated games in the franchise and one that gamers are now re-thinking. BioShock felt its deserved praise only a few years later as many people were revisiting the older games before they got to playing Infinite which came out in 2013. Considering the competition it had back in 2010, BioShock 2, fared an average sum in its initial sale but got shoved away by massive titles like Red Dead Redemption, Call Of Duty: Blackops, Halo Reach and so many others.
In the game, you take up the role of the scariest enemy in the first game, The Big Daddy, which in itself is such a great concept. The storyline is good, the added gameplay elements are fantastic and overall presentation is commendable, but somehow this game never made it big.
Watch Dogs 2 (2016)
Watch Dogs 1 was such a disappointment when it first came out. It was nothing like what Ubisoft had promised. Glitchy, buggy and an outright blank mess, it was so bad some elements of the game that were promised weren’t even there in the final edition.
Watch Dogs 2, fell to the same impression initially. People thought Ubisoft wouldn’t learn from their mistake, but I’m very glad to say that they did. The second edition in the series is a gem, I played it very recently and I must tell you that it is nothing like its predecessor.
A fantastic open-world San Fransisco for exploration, great side missions, really interesting hacking mechanics, a good main storyline, great puzzles and an overall fluid gaming experience, Watch Dogs 2 made sure it mended the ways of the last Watch Dog. If you already haven’t played the game, you really should.
Mafia 2 (2010)
Looks like 2010 was ‘THE’ year for underrated games. 2K this time around with another gem, Mafia 2. Mafia 1 was a difficult but fantastic game back when it came out in 2002. It took 2K another 8 years to make a beast of a game in Mafia 2, only to be poorly received by reviews and fans alike.
Sometimes I really don’t understand why, of course, there was a tough competition that year considering the number of underrated game in this very list from the same year, but there isn’t anything to hate about this game.
Mafia 2, hits all the checkboxes with ease. From another breathtaking metropolis of an open-world to great vehicles to drive around, great shooter gameplay, an immersive storyline, fantastic visuals for its time... You know all that you needed in a good game, but just not received well amongst the critics.
It would take years for the game to float back up again, and this time to make a positive impression. 2K has done some of its best work with the game according to me and it’s been far better than the third instalment. A game that you should get ASAP.
In truth as much as we try to taunt the system, there’ll always be great games that will be overshadowed. It’s just how everything works. It eventually boils down to you and how you deal with it. Will you play the fancy next-gen title? Or will be playing a game from last year that you might have overlooked that’s just waiting to prove its greatness? The choice is yours.