I couldn’t bear to write about just 5 when there are so many games deserving of more attention, so here is another installment of 5 games I believe to be severely underplayed or drastically underrated.
- Velvet Assassin
South Peak Games/ Replay Studios
Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
Battles are won on the front lines but wars are won in the shadows. Velvet Assassin is a game that has received a lot of mixed reviews and on top of this, very few people have even played it. Taking on the role of Violette Summer, a British spy operating deep behind enemy lines in World War 2, this game was inspired by the real life story of secret agent Violette Szabo. Stealth is your greatest weapon as you sneak your way through levels, killing enemies and completing saboteur missions for the resistance. I must admit the game mechanics are a little choppy and the overarching storyline isn’t amazing (hence the mixed reviews) but if you are able to move past that, you actually find yourself with an awesome little stealth game that is as fun as it is challenging. It’s visually beautiful, the setting is cool and who wouldn’t want to play as a sexy assassin, slaughtering Nazis in a James Bond-esc fashion?
- Viva Piñata
Rare/ Climax Group
Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
Dismissed as a lame children’s game that came free with the 360 console, Viva Piñata quickly found its way into bargain bins and dusty shelves everywhere, but for those who actually played it, you will no doubt understand how much of a guilty pleasure it truly is. A farm simulation game in which the prime objective is to collect and bread rare piñatas for your garden, this game is far more complex than you could have ever imagined and seriously addictive. The things you have to go through to get these piñatas and the combinations you can make from cross breading them are endless. It’s the type of game you play for what you think was 30 minutes but was more like 3 hours. Everyone needs to play this at least once.
- Asura’s Wrath
Playsatation 3/ Xbox 360
If you’re a fan of Japanese cinema than this is the game for you. The whole thing plays out like an anime movie with stunning visuals, an epic storyline and over the top action. Perfectly integrating a mix of sci-fi and Japanese mythology, you play as Asura, a demi god betrayed by fellow gods and thrown out of heaven. Centuries later you awake to find your wife and daughter are gone and your rage ensues as you enact glorious bloody vengeance on hordes of enemies. The short coming of this game is that there simply isn’t enough gameplay. Fights are broken up
by extensive cut scenes and quick time events and the entire thing lasts a mere six hours. This game is a lot more like an interactive movie than a game, but that being said, it’s a movie worth watching.
Don’t feel like playing it, watch the cut-scences movie here.
- LA Noire
Team Bondi/ Rockstar Games
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
LA Noire is a game that never received the recognition it deserved purely due to ignorance. When people saw it was released by Rockstar, they thought “awesome an old fashioned GTA” but what they got was something entirely different. Change is good people, learn to deal! LA Noire is more than just the crime sandbox GTA fans were expecting, it is a psychological detective thriller that takes you deep into the sickening underbelly of 1940’s Hollywood. For a detective simulation game, LA Noire delivers: it has mystery and suspense, a captivating story, a exquisite backdrop and most importantly hard hitting decision making. This is a game that will have you over analysing every shred of evidence and doubting your every choice. One of the best things about this game is the way it successfully integrates facial capture technology. When interrogating suspects, you have to pay close attention to their reactions to help determine if they are telling the truth. If you are a fan of the detective genre, then I advise you play this game as it is one of my favourites.
See how the motion capture was done here.
- Bully (Canis Canem Edit)
Rockstar Vancouver/ Rockstar Games
Playstation 2, Xbox 360, Wii, Microsoft Windows
While LA Noire had Rockstar shying away from GTA style gameplay, Bully is a game that embraced it. However, it still manages to bring something new and refreshing from the Rockstar team. Set within the halls of Bullworth Academy, Bully plays like a smaller, more light hearted GTA that successfully encapsulates the typical American high school experience. If I didn’t know any better I’d think John Hughes developed it himself. You take on the role of Jimmy Hopkins, a troubled brute of a boy who fiercely climbs his way up the social ladder, one clique at a time. The thing that really makes this game stand out are the characters, they are hilariously absurd but at the same time emotionally deep. On top of this, the gameplay is fun and the missions are entertaining. Bully is an absolute treasure of a game that I still enjoy playing. It is a shame that controversy over its name and a subsequent name change held it back from reaching the heights it deserved.
There are countless other games that should have been on this list and if you know of any I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.