Weekend Open Forum: The most underrated video games

By on August 20, 2010, 7:27 PM
It's a cold hard fact of life: we can't all be winners. No matter how fun or unique a video game may be, the reality is, there's a chance it's destined for the eternal void that is Best Buy's bargain bin. Those odds increase substantially if the title isn't backed with media hype or the marketing budget of a multi-billion dollar publishing conglomerate. Even then, undeservingly harsh critics can steer consumers in the wrong direction. And sometimes, by the mysterious workings of an unjust universe, awesome games just slip between the cracks.

Whatever the case may be, we know there are hundreds, if not thousands of gems that have been tragically overlooked -- and you've undoubtedly come across at least one. A few examples from the last decade include Psychonauts, No One Lives Forever, and more recently, The Saboteur. Although we generally favor PC game discussions, all platforms, generations and genres are welcome in this edition of our Weekend Open Forum, so grab your soapbox and tell the world why a certain under-appreciated game deserves a little more attention.

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Three games immediately come to mind. They either received what I thought undeserved bad reviews or just weren't well publicized:

1) The original Populous by Bullfrog (1991)

2) Unreal II: The Awakening (2003)

3) Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators (2006)

Populous is the original "God" game and for it's time had great graphics and music. The gameplay was crazy addictive.

Unreal II: The Awakening to me was an early version of a combination of F.E.A.R. and Crysis. Great graphics and a very compelling storyline. I really don't understand why it received luke-warm reviews. I think most people either found it too hard or the storyline too complex. Be curious to know how many people started it but never finished as it had a terrific ending.

Space Rangers II is a Soviet made game that's been translated to English. Nothing special in the graphics department, but a ton of side games and puzzles to complete as you became the ultimate Space Ranger. Was really a lot of fun.

mrtraver said:

Freespace 2 tops my list of underrated games. Most gaming sites loved it, and there is still a hardcore following (check to the Freespace Open Source Project!), but it just did not have the sales befitting a title of this quality.

I always felt that Crimson Skies for PC was under-appreciated, too. It didn't help matters any that it shipped with bugs that corrupted game saves and made menus load very slowly; the reviews were all done before a patch fixed the corruption bug and improved the menu load times. But it was a blast to play, and the menus loaded even faster when I doubled my RAM to 256MB! I just recently played through it again, after finding a patch that lets it run on modern nvidia GPUs and let me bump the resolution up to 1280x1024.

Clrabbit said:

MegaMan Legends 1 & 2 both got horrible reviews and tons of "Old school" fan hate when they came out.

They both were the best Rockman games ever for story, world, characters, even the voice acting was amazing for being an early PSX game. Gameplay was fun and you had a good amount of replay value. about every 2 yeas I brake out the old copies and give them another run though, every time I enjoy the games a little bit more.

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

Alpha Protocol, while having it's fair share of bugs and technical shortcomings, is an otherwise outstanding attempt at an espionage RPG. The replayability and level of detail is pretty damn good IMHO, and the game deserved better than simply falling off the radar.

XIII was also an underrated gem of a game, and the unique cell-shaded graphics and Bourne-esque plot are rivaled by few other games IMHO.

The Neverhood is another almost-unheard-of title that deserves more recognition for it's great gameplay.

Killer7 is yet another title that offers a unique spin on the traditional FPS, but it wasn't very well received at its time of release.

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a fantastic Lovecraft-themed horror game that, surprisingly, wasn't as well received as Bethesda's Fallout 3 & Elder Scrolls series.

Another underrated psych-horror gem would have to be Sanitarium; the story, characters and sound effects are amazing for a game of its time.

princeton princeton said:

Killing floor. For the price it's a really really nice game. ATM it hasn't had any but it had 2 free major content updates consisting of over 10 new weapons and over 5 new maps altogether. I got it for 9 bucks on a weekend sale. But it's criticized for poor graphics and cheesy voice acting.

motrin said:

force 21 RTS. i loved this game.. untill my friend lost it!

ruben1992 said:

Day of Defeat: Source

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Osu! ?

Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

I was going to say Far Cry because at the time it seemed like it wasn't getting as much attention as other shooters (it went out just months before Half Life 2 and Doom 3). It's one of my favorite games of all time and perhaps for me it went like an underrated title, but looking at the Wikipedia entry it seems it sold a good amount of copies not to mention it has spawned a sequel and even a movie.

Other than that I remember Shogo: MAD. Awesome game with great gameplay. That one and the Blood series catapulted Monolith to mainstream light before they got acquired.

blue44 said:

Dune....with the live cut scenes...very addictive..pc

Perimeter....great game but difficult to master..pc

KG363 KG363 said:

Far Cry 2- loved it

Saboteur was good.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

But Saboteur was a terrible port. It lagged a fair bit for quite dodgy graphics at times.

Guest said:

oni my favour. i think it has been forgotten...

captainawesome captainawesome said:

ALL the Bullfrog titles. Especially

Dungeon Keeper 1 and

Magic Carpet 2. Man those Games were epic!

Then there is:

Baldurs Gate (they were ALL under-rated )

Guest said:

As mentioned above Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.

Also, Advent Rising.

Guest said:

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.

Drakensang : Dark Eye

The Witcher (IMO)

Guest said:

The Darkness on Xbox 360.

Guest said:

Mostly, I just wanna say that this was a great idea for an article. I so often catch myself going through old games, hoping I come across something good that I just never heard about. I'll be looking up some of the games people listed here, for sure. :)

I'm not entirely sure if 'TMNT: Turtles In Time (Reshelled)' is something that's been overlooked, but I certainly never heard of it until I stumbled over it on Xbox Live. I loved the old version on the SNES, back when I was a kid, and now I find myself ridiculously amused with the improved HD graphics (and fully 3D) version. It's a very simple little game, and the textures ain't exactly the stuff of legends, but it's awesome.

I downloaded the trial version first, and then when I played to the end of the trial I paid to unlock the full game. I just kept going until I went through the whole thing that same night. Every new level was different and refreshing. This game, like so many, is not available to PC users (just PS3/360). Typical. And that's why I ended up getting a Xbox console, really.

The same goes for Monkey Island 1 and 2, all updated with HD graphics. None of this is new to Xbox Live users, I'm sure, but I just bought my first Xbox (360 Slim) ever, so it's all new to me right now.


Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The first ever Prince of Persia (at least amongst the people I know), they would always argue how much time I wasted playing it, but really it was very addictive and the game play was very awesome for that era along with 2D graphics.

Guest said:

The witcher, mount and blade

MikeFE said:

The Gothic-series.

Guest said:

IMHO, THIEF III - Has a great storyline even though it could it hard to play at first.

Guest said:

American McGee's Alice. Wildly crazy imagination, great atmosphere, sound acting, the girl not having doubleD's was the only letdown.

Revolt. A racing game that was a blast and very addictive.

captainawesome captainawesome said:

Redneck Rampage! Also Carmageddon was rad.

Guest said:

IMHO, one of the most underrated strategy games is Massive Assault (2003). Maybe because it was turn-based.

Being a big fan of first-person shooters, I liked the way game was focused solely on warfare. While most of other strategies focus on resource collection and other girlish things, the economy in Massive Assault is very simplified and you're focused solely on warfare.

It also had an unique "secret allies" approach, which as I know now, exist in no other games. And it makes the game so much more interesting. Massive Assault was the only strategy game that I ever liked. And I tried C&C, Starcraft and others.

Guest said:

Oh, I wouldn't say that Prince of Persia was underrated. It was the greatest game of its genre at that time. We all played it for months, didn't we ;)

benken2202001 said:

I have to agree with two users on here. While Westwood was the unofficial king of RTS around 1995, it was Bullfrog's Dungeon Keeper and DK2 which I really loved. The sangiune humor and heavy metal music added to the feeling of being evil, without actually being evil.

Also, another poster mentioned Shogo: Mobile Armored Division. This flawless shooter was so clean and the story was so massive. I wondered why the series never took off. I seem to be the only person in my group of gamers who's ever played this game tho.

My addition to the list is a PS1 game titled MDK (Murder Death Kill). You played as a chick in a battlesuit similar to Samus Aran, but it was a shooter much like Serious Sam and Painkiller where stuff just constantly comes at you.

TitoBXNY TitoBXNY said:

My favorite story of all time and a highly underrated game, Planescape: Torment. Beyond Good & Evil was a sleeper as well. The Witcher before loyal fans went nuts this year at E3.

Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Deus Ex, (the original) it received awsome reviews but I don't think it sold very well, very few people know of it

Guest said:

Americas Army

Afenix said:

The Witcher, of course.

Can't wait till assassins of kings comes out!

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

My addition to the list is a PS1 game titled MDK (Murder Death Kill). You played as a chick in a battlesuit similar to Samus Aran, but it was a shooter much like Serious Sam and Painkiller where stuff just constantly comes at you.

MDK was amazing, and the second one was even better! It was a dude in the suit though.

@Per, I don't think Deus Ex was underrated; it was more like under-appreciated. It did garner a massive number of awards and high ratings across the boards.

Guest said:

Thief II for sure. Deus Ex and System Shock 2 to a lesser extent, they're obviously held in high regard in games journalism and serious games, but they didn't have the mainstream awareness of the big name releases like Half Life 2, Doom 3, etc.

Guest said:

serious gamers*

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

When i stumbled on Max Payne that ide never heard of for £2 a few years ago... Absolutely fantastic

Guest said:

Carmageddon. The only game I mis on today's PC. Still wonder how an up-to-date version would look like.

And Flight Simulator (MS is making a new one it seems).

Guest said:

The "Penumbra" series by Frictional Games.

myrmidonks myrmidonks said:

Geometry Wars. Any one of them. I'm glad that Tejb started the youtube challenge of geometry wars. Their original high score by Shorewarz was 118 million or so. Now FPS Kyle has achieved over 3 billion. No one knows if that was legitimate or not, but SAM5000 got a score of over 1 billion, and had never played the game before this challenge.

Guest said:

Dark Ages of Camelot, one of the first and best mmorphs, massive 3 way realm verus realm battles that would get every body from all realms involved, the elite and the casual.

gobbybobby said:

Populous, like TomSEA said defo. Well all Bullfrog Games for that matter!

Ritz said:

Civilization 2 is brilliant, as well as some RPG games like Tales of Symphonia for the consoles.

KG363 KG363 said:

benny26 said:

When i stumbled on Max Payne that ide never heard of for £2 a few years ago... Absolutely fantastic

so unknown that they mad a max payne movie and are working on the third game XD

Guest said:

The 2003 FPS Chaser by Poland developer Cauldron Software, did a first rate job with the grapfics and the story telling and the game was very long.

I would love to see Cauldron remake the game in its current state on there current Cloak NT Engine. Only on PC the first go around and a Sleeper Hit, So most PC users porbably never played the game.

Remake it on the XBOX 360, PS3 and of course PC.

Sentient 6

XoraKJoken said:

Ohh great article, Im glad to read all of these

Most Underated RPG: PlaneScape: Torment

FPS: Outcast

Cult Fav: American McGee's Alice

Horror/Puzzle: Sanitarium

Childrens/Brain Game: The Island Of Dr. Brain

RTS: Dune 2000

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

the "penumbra" series by frictional games.


Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

kg363 said:

benny26 said:

When i stumbled on Max Payne that ide never heard of for £2 a few years ago... Absolutely fantastic

so unknown that they mad a max payne movie and are working on the third game XD

Lol..i know, i meant a few years ago before 3 and film

Guest said:

Monkey Island!!! The whole serires was amazing, the first being one of the best, and still to this day one of the wittiest games around. Anyone who's played it loves it, but there's alot of people who haven't even heard of it...

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

^, Absolutely. The Curse of Monkey Island is the best of the series IMHO.

Guest said:

My all time favorite, DeusEx

Thief 3

System Shock 2

Hellgate London


Guest said:


vampire the masquerade


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