Friday, July 29, 2011

The Top 5 Most Underrated Games For Xbox 360

In my humble opinion we currently find ourselves in a golden age of video gaming.  There are hundreds of titles available on the xbox 360 and the games with the biggest budgets usually wind up getting the most notoriety.  Who isn't eagerly anticipating the next Halo or Madden installment?  The fact is there are more than a few quality titles, with significantly less press and hype, that deserve your hard earned money.  For this list I'm sticking with titles available on the 360 mostly due to the fact that its the system I play the most and it features games that appeal to the hardcore, true gamer crowd.  I also have to note that this list weigh's two important factors against each other: the games overall notoriety (sales, critical acclaim etc.) versus just how good I feel the game is, so expect some controversy. Enjoy!

5.) Borderlands: 
Borderlands was released in a year that included titles such as Bioshock 2, Assassins creed 2 and Batman Arkham Asylum and yet it is the best of that group.  Built from the ground up with hardcore gamers in mind Borderlands is the first perfect mix of RPG and first person shooter I've ever personally come across.  When I think about this game its hard to understand why it doesn't get more love.  With over 13 million guns to choose from, hundreds of missions to tackle solo or with a friend (the co-op in this game is truly a transcendent experience), areas that are downright huge, legitimate character customization and blazing action, who wouldn't want to play this game?  Borderlands has slowly turned itself into a hit (if the sales were any higher I wouldn't include it in this list and if they were any lower it would be much higher on this list) but it took much longer than it deserves.

4.) Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2: 
As far as next generation shooters go Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is probably the least remembered and least appreciated.  Everyone is going to remember how Gears of War brought you in-depth cover systems or how Call of Duty rewarded you with new equipment, but Rainbow Six Vegas 2 was a game that got both of those things remarkably right at the same time and never really got its due praise.  The game prized taking cover and being tactical in your approach, not jumping all over and strafing left to right.  It also had a fantastic system of rewarding players for their efforts with new weapons and body armor.  A blast to play cooperatively as well, RSV2 was a great game and sadly I do not think we will see a sequel.

3.) Condemned: Criminal Origins
If theres one word to describe the first condemned game ,other than underrated, it's visceral.  The combat in condemned is very well done but it is absolutely brutal.  This launch title ignored first person shooter traditions and made most of the game an up close and personal combat experience.  Whether you armed yourself with a ripped off pipe, 2 by 4, or fire axe, every fight was going to feel desperate, tense and shocking.  What else could you expect from a game that notes its biggest influences were the movies Seven and Silence of the Lambs?   Condemned: Criminal Origins let you take control of a detective hunting down a serial killer and scared the hell out of you along the way.  It is truly a classic that deserves more accolades and admiration than it ever has (or will) obtain.  

2.) Alan Wake
Ever wonder what it would be like if Stephen King made a video game?  Alan Wake is the answer.  Inspired heavily from his storytelling techniques Alan Wake puts most of its emphasis on the story itself.  Told in "episodes" Alan Wake is a one player experience that is truly cinematic and unique.  Alan is a writer who has a severe case of writers block and moves to a remote town in a forest (looks an awful lot like the maine settings from King novels) named bright falls, with his wife Alice.  Suddenly Alice goes missing and all sorts of spooky, supernatural, and crazy twists start happening.  On top of all of that the sequences (episodes) are told out of order so you want to replay the game even after its over to try and decipher the story as a whole.  Alan Wake has ,for some strange reason, flown under everyones collective radar.  A sequel may be in the works but the demand for it does not seem as high as it really should be for a game this special.

1.)  Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
What can I really say about Castlevania: Lords of Shadow other than it surprised me more than any game I've ever played?  After Castlevania 64 I had pretty much given up hope that any game from this famous 2 dimensional franchise would be able to transition well to 3D and the current console generation.  This game changed all of that however.  It should really be a rule that any time Hideo Kojima has anything to do with a video game that game should be given the benefit of the doubt. With 50 levels on two discs, incredibly complex and enjoyable combat, great platforming, mind bending puzzles and one hell of a story, Castlevania: LoS is a serious contender for the God of War action/platforming crown (I know, I know, some will say Castlevania ripped off GoW but honestly that series did it to Castlevania first if you really think about it).  In addition to all of those features the voice over work in this game is really special featuring Patrick Stewart, Robert Carlyle, and Natasha McElhone as main characters.  Oh and when you finally beat the game after about 25 hours of solid gameplay you will be treated to the best post credit scene I've ever come across in a game.  If you have the money any of these games would be a great pickup (by the way condemned and rainbow six are probably very, very cheap right now) but I think Castlevania LoS would have to be my number one recommendation.  It's a great game.


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