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The games on this list have suffered poor critical review and even some player hate. Many of these titles are either misunderstood or are pieces of gold hidden under a lot of junk. I'm hoping many of you will share in my honoring the top 10 most underrated games of 2010!
10. Metroid: Other M
It was supposed to be the revival every Nintendo fanboy was waiting for (I could only imagine the massive amount of pressure the developers at Team Ninja must have felt): 3D (and 2D) gameplay, tons of exploration through various climates, fast-paced action, most of the old weaponry, and a voice and personal story for Samus herself.
Metroid: Other M, however, didn't receive the universal critical acclaim many expected. Reviewers chastised the voice acting, a lackluster and boring story, and the gameplay being too action-heavy with not enough exploration.
Others hailed it as a masterpiece, with Samus returning to true form. It just proves that with iconic franchises like Metroid, you can't please them all.
At its core, Singularity is a solid first-person shooter with much to offer besides exciting gunplay. The "time manipulator" mechanism can deteriorate your enemies to dust or rebuild stairwells and other structures. It boasts other special attacks and features, too.
This game fell under the radar and was criticized for being a "BioShock clone." If anything, Singularity is more of a "Back to the Future clone," with your choices and decisions altering the reality your character is in. Very few games have really explored this concept.
Upon first glance, yes it could be considered a BioShock clone, but the storyline and plot twists are what set this game apart. In a sea of FPSes dominated by the likes of Call of Duty, Battlefield, BioShock, and Halo, it is hard to get attention, and that's ultimately what hurt Singularity. The game may not offer the same level of excitement as those other shooters, but it still has a lot going for it with a riveting tale and varied styles of gameplay.
8. Dead to Rights: Retribution
Whatever happened to all the beat-em-ups we used to know and love? Oh yeah, we grew apart from that style of play in favor of a more realistic, story-rich style of gameplay.
Dead to Rights reminds us how much fun just running around beating the snot out of people really is. Mix in a little gunplay and the best sidekick anyone could ask for (your dog Shadow, who I feel is the best video-game A.I. co-op character I've seen in a while), and you've got a great formula for a balls-to-the-wall action game. The combat is well-done, the finishing moves are brutal, and the graphics are as good as they come.
For those looking for a more mature and involved plot of intrigue and betrayal with well-written dialogue, well…don't look here. Dead to Rights is a classic cop drama, like the sort we used to see a lot in the '90s: As the entire city crumbles under the weight of violence and crime, we can count on one cop to bring us back from the dark. Is that a good thing? Yes and no. Just don't go into the game expecting a Law and Order episode.
Beat-em-ups can be frustrating at times, which this one is, no doubt. But we don't just play video games because they're easy, right?
7. Lost Planet 2
Storyline? Yeah, this game doesn't have much of one, I'll admit. Character development? None whatsoever. You might not even know who you're playing as (the game switches characters so many times that there is no point in even getting to know your avatar). But some of the best graphics you've even seen? Oh yes.
The problem with Lost Planet 2 is that it fell victim to pleasing the fan base, like Metroid: Other M tried to do. Fans screamed for a four-player co-op campaign, but LP2 barely delivered on that. People slammed the game for its design messes and interface issues (let's keep in mind the Fallout games have so many bugs and glitches, yet they've received better acclaim). And if you're playing by yourself, your computer-controlled teammates can be kind of stupid at times.
Versus multiplayer is really where it's at, though, with many maps, modes, vehicles, and mechs you can use against other players. For those who aren't into that, the campaign might not be enough to keep you interested, to be honest. Still, despite the design problems (though I rarely ran into any, so I don't know where these critics got that idea), it is a great, action-packed game to play.
6. Red Steel 2
When the first Red Steel originally came out, you could almost feel the potential. Who wouldn't want to wave their Wii-mote around like a samurai wielding a sword? It was, of course, ladened with design issues, but let's also keep in mind that it was one of the first true first-person shooters for the Wii, and it set the foundation for other games to build on.
Red Steel 2 abandons the Yakuza-style storyline for a more Western, steampunk theme. Being the last of your clan to survive, you grab your legendary sword and seek revenge on those who left you for dead. Taking advantage of the Wii Motion Plus, your sword swipes are more accurate this time around, allowing you to block more effectively and attack your enemies with more precision. Also, the graphics are some of the best on the Wii.
Many put it down as "too easy" or having "unremarkable level design." It's a shame that not a lot of people bought this game, though, as it was indeed a great title that every hardcore Wii owner should own.
5. Quantum Theory
Watch the trailer, and you'll see why this game barely made anyone's "find a friend to borrow it from" list, much less "to buy" — it just screams, "Gears of War clone." It, however, is most certainly not one. The similarities stop at the beefy protagonist.
The game doesn't offer much in terms of a brilliant storyline, and the graphics can be a bit subpar. OK, very subpar. But the different gameplay features (fighting on top of creatures in motion, moving across growing, moving platforms) keep you engaged to the end. Plus, your hot co-op partner makes the dark and nearly impossible fight against evil seem not so bad.
The game launched with a whimper, barely receiving any sort of acclaim. For some, this third-person shooter may seem "business as usual" with not much to offer beyond Gears of War, but it still is worth checking out.
This modern update features what made the original game so awesome over 20 years ago: bloody, bloody violence. Blood is everywhere in this remake. And I do mean everywhere.
Rick is trying to save his girlfriend from an evil mad scientist, which is the same storyline as in the previous games. Near death, our hero puts on a possessed mask that grants him Mariusz Pudzianowski-sized muscles and demon powers that can chop up his monster enemies into chunks. It's what you would expect from the series: totally gratuitous gore.
The mask talks (many say his voice is annoying, but I think it's hilarious), the plot is thin, and the difficulty curve may be a bit steep for some. But Splatterhouse delivers what made the originals so great.
3. Medal of Honor
Having fallen behind the supremacy of the Call of Duty series, Medal of Honor was destined to fail. Reviewers across the world picked at every little thing they could, so they could give their awards to Modern Warfare 2 or even Battlefield: Bad Company 2.
Say what you will about the texture pop-up (name one game that doesn't have that) or poor dialogue (how are Special Forces supposed to talk while they're being chased by the Taliban — like they're at a dinner party, using $100 words?). And admittedly, the plot was very thin; it only has you fighting for strategic points and hunting down HVTs (high-valued targets) inside Afghanistan. But if anyone would bother to pick up a book once in a while, they would understand what the game is about. Medal of Honor did first what no other shooter has done before: tell the story of the real soldier.
Put away any preconceptions you have of this game, and enjoy it for what it's worth. It may garner a bit of interest from you as to why, truly, we are over there in the first place.
2. Alpha Protocol
In this RPG, you play Michael Thorton, a secret agent who does the kind of things you would want to do to save the world.
Kill everyone in your path? Knock yourself out! Be sneaky like Splinter Cell's Sam Fisher? Don't forget to take the change out of your pocket! Make allies with bad men who may help you in the end? Go right ahead. Be a smooth talker and seduce the ladies? I'll have a vodka martini….
Many called out Michael Thorton's character as bland, with no real direction. But that is where your own creativity lies. You are Michael Thorton — make him act how you want to act. It's just like Commander Shepard in Mass Effect (let's be honest — the acting for him wasn't that great either). It wasn't the game's fault that you can choose to be snarky in one conversation line then serious in the next.
The enemy A.I. can get atrocious at times, though.
1. Deadly Premonition
This game costs $20 new, so you really can't go wrong. The box art makes it look real dark and scary, kind of like a Silent Hill spin-off. The premise is real cool, too: In a small town, an FBI agent has to investigate a series of murders that has a serial-killer vibe to it. Sprinkle in a bit of old-town folklore, and you have the makings of a great game.
However…upon playing it, you are hit with last-gen graphics, poor dialogue and body language (think the first Resident Evils), a boring soundtrack, blah-level design, and a slow-paced story. After the first hour, you'll probably want to put the disc back in the case and never play it again.
And yet, you are drawn to it. You want to play more of it. You want to find out who the Raincoat Killer is — the one doing the ritualistic killings in this small, quaint town. You are drawn to the sexual tension between FBI agent Francis York Morgan and Sheriff Deputy Emily Wyatt, the mysterious aura surrounding Sheriff George Woodman and town entrepreneur Harry Stewart (and his odd assistant, Michael Tillotson). And you want to find out who the hell this "Zach" guy is, the one Agent Morgan keeps talking to!
You can't stop playing, and instead of being turned away by the bad presentation and gameplay elements, you are drawn to the story and characters involved in this mystery.
Many reviewers loathed the game, some calling it "awful in nearly every way." But Deadly Premonition garnered a big cult following of fans who can appreciate the B-movie quality that makes it so endearing…people who know that sometimes a great story can make up for bad gameplay.
And I think it has one of the best soundtracks of 2010. The whistle song will stay in your head all day.
Video games have the ability to present themselves as garbage to one person and gold to another (that's how you know they're art). To come out and judge a title harshly is everyone's right. Many out there, however, can see the value in games that have been labeled "bad" or "not worth your time." It's difficult, but we as gamers still must give these poorly reviewed games a chance to be discovered and played by others.
Have any games you want to talk about? Post them in the comments below!