This is a guest post by Mike Leaño, a freelance writer, aspiring evil genius, and founder of Console Gamer, an independent video game blog.
There are literally hundreds of video games that come out every year. In the second half of 2014 alone, we’re already looking at over 70 titles with confirmed release dates, and that number grows. Not all are worth your time and money, but even if you do get rid of the bad and mediocre ones, what’s left remains a formidable backlog.
Wait till you see the ones you missed out on in the previous years. Is your wallet ready for more abuse? Here’s our list of terrific games that you probably haven’t played yet.
What can change the nature of a man? This is the question posed by Planescape: Torment, which is considered by many as one of the best–if not THE best–RPG in gaming history. What’s impressive about this reputation is that Torment’s combat system and visuals weren’t very good. Everything else however, is unequalled, even by today’s standards.
The characters are memorable; the world is bizarre and enthralling; the choices are difficult, but they shape the experience; and the dialogue is sharp and highly detailed. In fact, and the writing is so good that it made me stop and ponder my own actions. Sadly, despite its stellar quality, Torment wasn’t a huge commercial success, which is probably why many of us haven’t played it yet.
Tim Schafer’s Psychonauts was a critically acclaimed platformer that combined smart writing, funny characters, quirky and imaginative visuals, and fascinating level design. Unfortunately, Psychonauts was also a massive flop, selling fewer than 100,000 copies in the year it was released. The game actually caused publisher Majesco’s financial troubles in 2006.
There’s nothing quite like Grim Fandango, an adventure game that combines film noir, Aztec mythology, jazz, mystery, humour, top-notch voice acting, and many other seemingly disparate elements. And yet, the sum of its parts is impressive and highly enjoyable, even when compared with present-day adventure games.
Grim Fandango was released in 1998, and you probably didn’t play it because of the staggering number of classics that also came out that same year, which includes: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid, Half-Life, StarCraft, Xenogears, Baldur’s Gate, Resident Evil 2, Thief: The Dark Project, Fallout 2, Final Fantasy Tactics, and more.
Even in the era of HD games, MadWorld stands visually exceptional: its streets are painted black and white, while the copious blood of your foes is a stark red. Think of it as an odd mix of Sin City visuals and gratuitous Itchy & Scratchy violence.
MadWorld has three colours: black, white, and red
In MadWorld, there are many ways to snuff the life out of your foes: you can throw them against giant rotating fan blades, thrust them into spikes, stab then in the face–the choice is yours. Best of all, you’ll be pulling of these moves with no trouble because the game’s motion controls are surprisingly responsive and intuitive.
MadWorld may last only for six hours or so, but it’s one of the most enjoyable six hours I’ve ever had.
Okami is the Legend of Zelda game that the PlayStation 2 and 3 never had, except it looks arguably prettier, thanks to its watercolour-like visuals. But unlike Zelda, Okami comes with a Celestial Brush, which lets you draw on the screen by way of the analogue stick. What’s unique about the Celestial Brush is that it lets you repair bridges, slash enemies, and rejuvenate plants.
Despite being one of the best games of 2006, Okami sold only 200,000 copies in North America that year. Capcom attributes this to the announcement of new consoles during that time.
If you haven’t played Okami and own a PS3, you can still get Okami’s HD version.
Beyond Good & Evil
If there is one injustice in gaming that you should be wringing your hands over, it’s the commercial failure of Beyond Good & Evil, one of the best games of 2003. BG&E has it all: fluid combat, stealth, mini-games, outstanding art direction, platforming, exploration, racing, puzzle-solving, and get this–photography.
As the protagonist Jade, you can take pictures of animals (for credits) and evil government conspiracies, which you seek to uncover as the story progresses. Its gameplay and graphics may have aged a bit since its 2003 release, but BG&E is still immensely satisfying, especially when you see the population rise up against the Alpha Sections.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay
Amazingly, Chronicles of Riddick–a movie tie-in game with no multiplayer–somehow turned out absolutely terrific: it’s a first-person action game that seamlessly blended stealth, engaging gunplay, smart enemy AI, well-implemented melee combat, excellent audio, and moody visuals.
All these qualities, however, didn’t help Riddick’s popularity in 2004, thanks to the release of other highly anticipated games such as Doom 3, Half-Life 2, Far Cry, The Sims 2, Halo 2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and World of Warcraft.
Chronicles of Riddick: Great Game, Bad Timing
Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy
Ever heard of Psi-Ops? It’s a third-person shooter with Jedi psychic powers, and it’s incredibly fun. You can hurl thugs into walls, move objects with your mind, ride said object while it’s levitating, start fires, control your enemies’ minds, and BLOW SHIT UP. Not bad for a 2004 game.
Despite its potential to be a huge franchise, however, Psi-Ops has yet to get a sequel. Why? Blame Midway’s financial ruin, because right now, it’s not entirely clear who owns the rights to made another Psi-Ops game.
But enough about my list! Are there any games that you’ve always wanted to play but somehow haven’t? What are the reasons why you’re drawn to these games? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments section below.