The 10 Most Underrated Games This Generation

I hate seeing a game get undeservedly panned or tragically ignored by reviewers and consumers alike. But it happens all the time. Here are the worst examples.

I've picked out the ten PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 games I feel have been the most unfairly treated this console generation. By that I mean the consensus was that these games fell short of the mark in some or many ways. Yet for me, such criticisms were themselves wide of the mark.

Yep, believe it or not, the critics do get it wrong some of the time!

Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii)

What Did The Reviews Say? I haven't read every single City Folk review, but I feel confident in saying that every single one of them contained the phrase "More of the same." It's identical to the Gamecube version, except for some minor changes; also, it's identical to the DS version, except for some minor changes there, too. Nintendo, it seems, had failed its fans by refusing to evolve and innovate one of its key franchises.

What Should They Have Said? City Folk is easily the best Animal Crossing game to date. It builds on pre-existing foundations, yes, but they're ones that are proven to be one of videogaming's most charmingly addictive time-sinks. But City Folk isn't just a port; it stuffs in more villagers, more interaction, more fish, insects and fossils, vastly improved graphics and animation, extra activities, extra holidays and events, new shops, new tasks, new ways to upgrade your village, wittier dialogue, better trading and online features, even Wii Speak support. It's a superb package, all up.

The Club (360, PS3)

What Did The Reviews Say? Project Gotham developer Bizarre Creations took the mechanics of its racing games and applied them to a third-person shooter. In dispensing with the genre's predilection towards bombastic narratives (see: Halo, Killzone, Call of Duty, Gears of War), The Club distilled the shooter to its arcade roots of chaining together combos and competing for high scores. It was dismissed as shallow and repetitive.

What Should They Have Said? The whole point of The Club is replaying levels over and over again. You don't just play through the singleplayer campaign, beat it, find out what happens in the story and move on. You return again and again to hone your technique, master the flow of the map and perfect your marksmanship. It's a brilliantly tuned shooting gallery in which you're not merely clearing targets, you're testing yourself to do so as efficiently as possible.

Earth Defence Force 2017 (360)

What Did The Reviews Say? Any game that pits you against wave after wave of giant bugs is inevitably risking the unimaginative critic's wrath. Yes, we get it, Earth Defense Force 2017 is full of bugs. Of course, it didn't help that, technically speaking, it lacked a certain level of polish one might expect from an Xbox 360 release. Yeah, OK, it was as rough as they come, barely resembling a PS2 game. EDF copped it for delivering a third-person shooter that eschewed AI, story, high production values, online multiplayer and pretty much everything we expect from a shooter today.

What Should They Have Said? That all that isn't a weakness but a strength. EDF isn't so bad it's good; EDF is so good it's awesome. When you were playing Space Invaders and imagining what the future of games would be like, EDF was beyond your wildest fantasies. But now it all makes sense. This is the natural evolution of the shoot 'em up, a white-knuckled ride through sci-fi insanity where the only spectacle bigger than an army of skyscraper-sized robots marching towards you is the explosion they make when you blast them with lasers.

Excite Truck (Wii)

What Did The Reviews Say? That there wasn't enough game here. You could unlock everything in a day and that there were too few tracks. Worse, no online multiplayer!

What Should They Have Said? That the fun of a game cannot be measured in mere statistics. That just because you've raced at one track and won it, doesn't mean you no longer have any interest in racing there again. Not when there are S-ranks to achieve. Not when you're determined to beat that previous best time. Not when the simple act of racing around these adventure parks is such a joyous experience.

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon (Wii)

What Did The Reviews Say? An atmospheric adventure, sure. But all that endless wandering and tedious questing ruined the mood.

What Should They Have Said? That it's the very same somnambulant pace and mundanity that evokes much of melancholic loneliness that makes Fragile Dreams so moving. Its world is barren and desolate: it wouldn't be anywhere near as effective if the world was full of characters and quests and stuff to do.

Infinite Undiscovery (360)

What Did The Reviews Say? An absolute mess. In trying to revitalise the staid formula of Japanese role-playing games, tri-Ace mashed together too many disparate elements, many of which inevitably remain half-baked. The first two hours are surely some of the worst gaming ever committed to screen.

What Should They Have Said? A whipping tornado of fresh air sweeping through a stagnant genre, Infinite Undiscovery is the boldest JRPG in years. With a boisterous ensemble cast, genuinely thrilling party-based real-time combat, and a host of quirky character traits and secrets to discover, if you're looking for a JRPG that succeeds in being different then here it is. (The reviews were right about the first two hours though.)

Lost Planet 2 (360, PS3)

What Did The Reviews Say? Critics were baffled by the sparsely checkpointed save mechanic, the unusual Battle Gauge and T-Energy resource management, the weighty movement and stagger system, the meagre yet incomprehensible plot and the fact it wasn't Gears of War.

What Should They Have Said? That it's just about the most rewarding co-op shooter you can play, crammed full of encounters and boss battles that demand your squad works together as a team. The flow of unlockables, powered by a random slot machine, is as compulsive as any loot-focused RPG. Like The Club, Lost Planet 2 ought to be praised for striking out on its own path.

Lost Odyssey (360)

What Did The Reviews Say? Of the ten games featured here, Mistwalker's RPG boasts the highest Metacritic rating with 78. A good score, no doubt, but one that doesn't even put Lost Odyssey in the top 200 Xbox 360 games. Which, to my mind, is insane. Critics said it was little more than a rehash of Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi's past glories, a JPRG rooted in the past that offered nothing we hadn't seen before.

What Should They Have Said? There was, I think, an assumption amongst critics when assessing the JRPGs of this generation that Final Fantasy XIII would turn up and blow them all away. Thus, caution was taken, praise was withheld, and reviews tempered with reservation. With hindsight, such timidity was misplaced: Lost Odyssey shines ever brighter in the wake of FFXIII's colossal disappointment. It remains the best JRPG of this generation, weaving a powerful, heartbreaking tale whose quality of writing will fail to move only the coldest souls. Traditional its combat mechanics combat and character progression may be, but they innovate in subtle ways while strengthening the core RPG value of player choice.

The Saboteur (360, PS3)

What Did The Reviews Say? Pandemic's last hurrah was derided as a glitchy, run-of-the-mill GTA clone notable mainly for flogging DLC that unlocked in-game nudity, allowing protagonist Sean to visit cabaret clubs and cop an eyeful of stripper boobies.

What Should They Have Said? But gosh it was fun. It clips along at a cracking pace, befitting the knockabout Oirish charm of race-driver-cum-resistance-hero Sean, hurling you into street races, getaways, shoot-outs with Nazis, and even a decent stealth system along the way. Best of all, the use of colour, where occupied areas of town are suffocated in grim black and white while the resistance-held districts are bursting with lurid tones, is extraordinary, lending The Saboteur an aesthetic and mood of all its own.

Siren: Blood Curse (PS3)

What Did The Reviews Say? This cliched survival horror outing stumbles into many of the more common pitfalls of the genre: clumsy movement, terrible combat, bad writing and an incoherent plot. Plus, to add insult to injury, it took hours to install the downloadable episodes (though Siren was later released on disc).

What Should They Have Said? Blood Curse is superior survival horror in every facet. With multiple perspectives afforded by a diverse range of playable characters, each with their own motivations, you're presented with a tale that takes a while to warm up but one where the pay-off is worth it. Sight-jacking remains a stroke of genius and the controls, while tighter that the original, feel as if they've been designed to make you feel vulnerable rather than simply not working properly. Blood Curse is chilling, intense and perhaps the best survival horror game this generation.

Well, that's my list. Do you agree or disagree with my choices? What are your picks for the most underrated games of this generation?


Comments

    Agreed on the only two I've played: Infinite Undiscovery and Lost Odyssey.

    I'd forgotten how bad the start of IU was until I read this. The rest of the game was so engrossing it wiped that part of it from my memory.

    And Lost Odyssey remains one of my favourite games ever. For me it had the soul the past two Final Fantasy games sorely lacked. I didn't want the game to end.

    Similarly underrated...The Last Remnant. The battle system alone makes it worthy of much more praise than it received.

      Oops, make that three...I've played AC:City Folk too . I do agree that it was underrated, but not by much. Maybe I was just all Animal Crossing'd out by that time though.

      Agree completely - Lost Odysssey was an awesome JRPG - it was much more FF-like than FF13. 100+hours and I bought it for $25, one of the best value purchases you can make.

      Yeah I bought Lost Odyssey for some ridiculous low price too... but I tells ya... I nearly rage quit completely on that goddamn Bogimoray boss fight... though I persevered and finally passed it after realising that I could teach my characters anti-paralysis *facepalm*.
      I actually need to pick it up again and get back into it... I overplayed it a little and got sick of it... must be about time to delve back in.

      Would LOVE an explanation of WHY IU first 2 hours are really bad?

      I might have to pick up this Lost Odyssey however.

        It's a fairly awful series of crappy mini-games and scripted encounters that don't really resemble much of the rest of the game. I think the developers wanted to start the game with a bang, so they opened with this escape sequence that's meant to be terribly exciting. But it's hugely confusing and not very much fun.

    Good article. For the most 'over-rated' game I will say Super Mario Galaxy 2, ridiculously easy (30 hours without a guide for 242 stars) and not as memorable as the first. Time to sell it.

      Actually it was about 40 hours.

        Your complaining about 40 hours of colourful, beautfiul gameplay with awesome BGM and some of, hell, THE best platforming this genereation? Wow.

          It's one of the best games I have ever played! Nothing to complain about with smg2. If only all games had so much attention to detail and varied game play!

    Just going to pick one of them... The Saboteur.

    The game is really quite magnificent, as mentioned the use of colour is outstanding and one of my favourite features.

    There are a couple of bad over the top voice actors, but they still fit in with the story, which I thought was great.

    If you're a fan of an open world game, you are in for a treat, with over 1000 Nazi installments (Properganda, Tanks, Trucks, Fuel Depots, Sniper Towers, AA Guns, and more), lots of cars to collect, challenges to finish and many many hours to waste!

    Should be able to find this for $49 or less, just buy it there is no excuse.

      Absolutely, The Saboteur is just huge amounts of fun. It's not revolutionary gameplay (GTA + ACII), but when you're having a great time that really doesn't matter. The aesthetics are also top notch.

    Let's not get into over-rated here, it's the wrong thread for it.

    So, Under-rated huh? I thought Deadly Creatures (Wii) was surprisingly good, if not a little bit glitchy. Quite a unique game design that's worth checking out.

    Lost Planet 2... if you lose a planet twice, isn't that just getting a bit careless? *boomtish*

    The Saboteur is a game I've been eagerly awaiting for it to drop in price. I like a lot of the premises, and visually it's an interesting style. I could never justify full (or even half) price after the reviews I read for it.

    Anyone seen it at a good price, preferably under $30-40?

      It's been under $50 for ages and you'll probably find it at JB or Game for about $25-40.

      Seeing as Pandemic doesn't exist any more, no reason not go go 2nd hand as well, so you'll probably grab it for $20.

        Yeah, I've been seeing it at around about $50 (even for preowned in JB and EB) but I'm waiting for it to drop that extra 10 or so bucks before I make the plunge. Been mighty tempted everytime I see it though. D:

      Picked up The Saboteur for $18 new in the game sale.

      js: I'm kicking myself I missed the Game sale. There's just none anywhere nearby (no Melbourne CBD?!) and I don't have a car so I couldn't drive to some down south east. I missed so many great bargains :(

      Shane: cheers for that mate. I'll have to stop by later this week and see if I can find it :)

    Nice to see Fragile make any list of good games.

    Siren: Blood Curse pales in comparison with Forbidden Siren 2, it's just a remake of the first game, and once you can see past the british voiceovers of the first game, many of you will agree that 1 and 2 are the greatest survival horror games ever made.

      I haven't played 2. Why do you feel it's so much better than Blood Curse?

      Silent Hill 2 is, of course, the greatest survival horror game ever made.

        How can you honestly say that if you haven't played the game David?

          My mind cannot imagine a world in which Silent Hill 2 isn't the greatest survival horror game ever made.

            I feel that Forbidden Siren 2 was a much better game because it had more characters, more locations, better gameplay mechanics, better plot, better music, there's so much more to do...I could just go on.

            I rate it on par with Silent Hill 2, which is also one of my most beloved survival horror games of all time. You can get Forbidden Siren 2 for about $20 now, it's definitely well worth the money.

    Totally agree with Lost Odyssey. That game is one of my favourite games for the Xbox. I cannot understand why it was met with with such immense unenthusiasm. I still see copies of it in EB going for $20, and noone is buying them. It sorta breaks my heart a little bit.

    Totally agree with Lost Planet 2, except it can get infuriating in singleplayer.

    When playing through it with a friend, the rail cannon stage was one of the most enjoyable and satisfying I've played in a long time, but singleplayer gets frustrating fast when you're trying to juggle several objectives at once and you just don't have enough eyes. But the collection system is addictive and the battles are fun when you get used to them.

    Lost Odyssey is one of my favourite games ever. easily the best Jrpg since FF9. Everything about it is A++

    What about Dante's Infer... oh wait.. no, that sucked...

    Anywho, i've got Lost Odyssey but am still yet to play it (the whole 4 disc thing is daunting) but a lot of those other games i have seen but never picked up because i haven't heard much about them or they got poor reviews...

    BUT NOW!!! I'll be endeavoring to pick up every one of these titles (excepting PS3 games of course) as i know most of them are REALLY cheap anyway!! WOO!!!

    Thanks dave - awesome article!

    Agreed on Lost Odyssey. Classic JRPG style, great plot, likable characters and no major flaws to speak of.

    Good choices all around - haven't played all of them yet though.

    I've tried to promote Earth Defence Force 2017 (and its two PS2 brothers, released in PAL as Monster Attack and Global Defence Force) as much as I can over the years, but words can only do so much. People need to see the game in action to really understand why it's so good.

    I agree with most, especially Lost Planet 2... I was playing it with my friend a while ago at his house and he went to me "so... how is it broken?" (since he knew it had gotten like a 6.5 on some review sites).

    I haven’t played any of those games. It’s a real shame that so many great JRPG games are Xbox exclusives. I don’t get it, why make these games for the system that has the least impactful market in Japan?

    The problem with me is that I read a lot of reviews before I get any game. Sometimes this can be a total disaster like GOW3. Other Times I buy a game only to find it was totally ignored by critics. I think X-men Origins: Wolverine is probably the most underrated game I’ve played on this console generation. While some reviews did actually rate it highly, I think most were misguided by calling it just another cheap movie tie in. Most critics called the gameplay repetitive, because they constantly did the “leap” attack - it was usually an instant kill and could be done from across the room – But that’s the suckers way to play the game. Sure if you use the same attack over and over for the whole game, any game would get bland and repetitive. They totally missed the point. Go back, try to upgrade different reflex bonuses, use the different abilities that make the game different in subtle ways.

    Raven software did way more than was probably asked of them with this game. The general understanding with the big blockbuster movie tie in games is that they are rushed through production to meet a deadline, will be sold to hardcore fans and clueless people. The game then totally flops. But who cares? Because at this point they are already working in the next one. That’s why i was so surprised by the awesomeness of this game. All the character has their original actor doing voices (it’s not the best voice acting in the world, but considering they are the original actors it doesn’t have to be. Still, the voice acting does the job). The graphics are awesome. I love the real time damage and healing to Wolverines body. If he gets shot at enough you can actually start seeing muscle, and his adamantium skeleton.

    Some reviews said this game had little replay value. I totally disagree. Now I’m no X-men comic enthusiast (Outside of the cartoons and movies, I don’t know anything about the canon of the X-men universe) but even without that big sense of nostalgia, I still finished this game 3 times. The game has enough content to warrant at least 2 playthroughs. But you want to go back and get all the collectables. Not only because they improve the stats and performance of Wolverine himself, but because the extra outfits you get – that are of Wolverine throughout his comic book history – look totally awesome and are implemented well in the main story.

    At the end of the day, I enjoyed this game far more than people said I should, and I think that’s what makes this a greatly underrated game.

    This turned out way longer than I had planned,
    Sorry

      's why I rarely read reviews.

      I had heard nothing about Lost Odyssey, no reviews, no nothing...and I went out and bought it because I needed something to play...never played a JRPG before...

      Dear god did that game blow me away. It wasn't so much a game as it was an emotional journey/emotional experience. Also the 1000 Years of Dreams were amazing, something I hadn't seen in games before...Text and Music have never been used so brilliantly.

      I'm thankful for it for being the first JRPG I ever played because I didn't have any of that FF baggage...

    I don't see Folklore in this list.

      Agreed. Folklore is easily one of my favourite PS3 games.

    When I got Lost Planet 2 I thought it would be awesome. -I just got Lost along the way and said what the?! -Though I do agree its fun to play with a friend or 2 in storymode.

    Agree with everything except Siren Blood Curse and City Crossing because I haven't played them.

    And you are bang on with Lost Odyssey, after three hours of FFXIII I stuck in Lost Odyssey to play and in a few minutes got that feeling of 'That's what I was looking for'.

    I bought The Club for $7 the other day.

    On the PS3 - Siren was a real treat for survival horror fans. I am still the only person on my friends list who has played it.

    I also really enjoyed Yakuza 3, PixelJunk Eden and the Last Guy. All underated, and only managing modest sales.

    And of course the game that sells well but reviewers inevitably score low - Singstar.

    Timeshift,

    highly underrated game, I bought it as a 2 for $50 deal at EB ages ago, very cool game. Not the best story, but the best action I have played in a game for years (think HL2)

      Timeshift was a cool game but I grew tired of it pretty quickly. It was sort of like Half-Life 2 with one new feature. Granted I got bored of Half-Life 2 after having the Gravity Gun for about ten minutes. I think there may just be something about the engine that bores me on an almost fundimental level. That said Timeshift is definitely underrated.

      As for the games on the list I found that The Club just didn't do a good enough job of explaining itself. Nobody I showed it to paid any attention to the score mechanics and essentially treated it you would Horde mode. So in the end I think it came off more like they were playing the bonus side games for a shooter and missing out on the main campaign mode.

      Also David, if your after another good list idea I recommend 10 Games That Were Almost Great. Not the best example, but things like how in Stranglehold if you make the maps for chapters 2-6 as fun and engaging as chapter 1 suddenly the game goes from being a boring shooter to the really fun speed shooter it was meant to be.

      I thought i was the only one who liked Timeshift.

    Agreed, Lost Odyssey was brilliant, never been so drawn into a story. The Saboteur was just awesome, seeing paris taken over by nazi's, and progressing from black and white to colour just blew me away. Great games, and definatley worth playing

    Sadly, I have to disagree with Fragile Dreams.
    I say sadly because I wanted to like it. I really did. It was one of the main reasons for my buying a Wii.
    And for a while, I did like it. I loved it. The first half of the game is absolutely amazing; being taken through long-abandoned areas and seeing the decay time has waged on them, with an interesting and likable cast of characters and an intriguing plot I couldn't wait to unravel.
    And then the second half started, where you get stuck in bland corridors for the last five hours of the game, and the plot goes off in a direction that nobody expected or wanted.

    I absolutely loved the game until I got to that bloody dam, which just left that much worse a taste in my mouth when I finished it.

    Oh man, Earth Defence Force. I couldn't resist the lure of shooting giant bugs and robots with increasingly ridiculous weapons, and it did not disappoint.

    I also love the slight RPG elements of slowly increasing your health and getting better weapons.

    Quite enjoyed Lost Odyssey, but I abandoned it when GTA4 came out. Should finish it one day.

    I'd rate Far Cry 2 quite highly. A lot of people seem to loathe it...

      Far Cry 2 actually reviewed very well. And it certainly wasn't overlooked or ignored. But yes, not enough people rightly regard it as one of the best games of the last decade...

        Far Cry 2 was the most mind-numbing games of the last decade. You basically played the same mission over and over again across terrain that was not varied enough (despite the amazing graphics). Re-spawning the enemy checkpoints every time you walked away from them to 'lengthen' the game was frustrating. Enemies could spot you and hit you from 2 miles away with a shotgun, making it difficult to sneak. And lets not forget the ending, however easy it is to. A wasted opportunity, and a real chore to complete, with very little reward when you get there.

          I agreed with you on my first playthrough, i only got half way and i stopped playing it because i got bored. About a year later i was bored and had nothing to play so I picked it up again and absolutely loved it. I cannot wait for the sequel it is goiing to be mind-blowing awesome!!!

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