With E3 2015 right around the corner, I thought I would share with y’all my personal list of underrated shooters that need to make a comeback. By “underrated shooters”, I mean first-person shooters that generated a cult following over the past few years, or that didn’t receive the critical reception they deserved when they were originally released. In addition to the games that I’m going to list, I’m going to tell you why those games deserve a second chance. Hopefully those games will be resurrected by a benevolent developer/publisher that doesn’t solely care about commercial success.
Before we start, I want to remind you that this is my personal list. Feel free to protest my picks, but don’t lambaste me for having a poor taste in games. We all have our own guilty pleasures.
#1 - Shogo: Mobile Armor Division
Why it deserves a second chance: Two words: anime FPS. Normally, you don’t hear those words together, and some will argue that having both words in the same sentence is blasphemous giving the cultural differences between the two genres. But you’d be sorely remiss to pass on playing this highly stylish FPS. It’s got great combat (both mech and ground), an amazing anime presentation, and it’s unlike any other shooter on the market. Monolith was definitely onto something when Shogo was released to critical acclaim back in 1998. No one ever thought that anime and FPS would make for such an amazing pairing. It’s essentially gaming’s PB & J. While not quite as popular as Monolith’s other long-lost franchises, NOLF and Blood, Shogo is definitely the developer’s most unique FPS outing. As an avid otaku and FPS fan, Shogo is a love letter to fans of old-school shooters and mecha anime.
Where can I get it: You can get it at GOG.com for $5.99.
#2 - TimeSplitters
Why it deserves a second chance: TimeSplitters holds a very special place in my heart. It is one of the few shooters I spent countless hours playing, thanks to its fantastic multiplayer/single-player modes, colorful cast of wacky and OTT characters, fun-to-use weapons, and creative level design (not to mention the pitch-perfect soundtrack). Whereas most shooters took themselves SO SERIOUSLY and stuck to industry standards to stay relevant and competitive on the market, TimeSplitters stuck to its guns and gradually improved its fast-paced and arcadey formula with each subsequent installment. Sadly, the series has yet to make the jump to HD due to some nasty complications that impacted its developer, Free Radical Design (now Dambuster Studios). And although a fan-made remake (TimeSplitters: Rewind) is being developed, I really hope we’ll see another numbered TimeSplitters game in the near-future (pun intended).
Where can I get it: You’ll have to order the game at online retailers like Amazon and Ebay!
#3 - S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
Why it deserves a second chance: Survival games usually get a bad rap for being inaccessible or having steep learning curves that deter gamers from enjoying the experience. STALKER is not that kind of survival game. Although unforgiving and occasionally buggy, GSC Game World’s survival-horror FPS series has won the hearts of many PC gamers with its near-perfect combination of FPS and survival mechanics. The realistic weapon models, oppressive atmosphere, tough-as-nails enemies, and vast open-world compel you to think less like an action hero and more like a survivalist. STALKER is to shooters what Dark Souls is to RPGs: an uncompromising and brutal game that encourages you to get better at killing things and managing your scarce resources. Although not as popular as other open-world shooters like Fallout and Far Cry, STALKER is still the genre’s best example of a survival experience.
Where can I get it: You can get it on Steam and GOG.com, although the latter is the preferable option since the games come with extra goodies like wallpapers and OSTs for the same price as the Steam version.
4 - Condemned
Why it deserves a second chance: Another Monolith masterpiece, Condemned is incontrovertibly my favorite horror series of all time. Although not an FPS in the traditional sense, Condemned perfectly captures the macabre feeling of dread and terror that’s to be expected from a psychological horror game thanks to its brutal melee combat, spooky sound design, and downright frightening atmosphere that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. Whereas pure horror games started to go the way of the dodo during the seventh generation of consoles with their heavy emphasis on action, Condemned managed to offer a gloomy experience that perfectly married horror with FP melee combat. F.E.A.R. (honorable mention!) was also an amazing horror FPS, but I wouldn’t call that game “underrated” and its horror aspect wasn’t as refined as Condemned’s. Please Monolith, give us Condemned 3!
Where can I get it: The original Condemned is available on Steam for $15, or you can buy the 360 version at online retailers (Amazon, Ebay). The sequel, however, is console-only (PS3 and 360) and can only be bought at online retailers.
5 - Syndicate
Why it deserves a second chance: I’m going to get A LOT of flak for including this game on my list, but I’d rather be honest with myself than cave to nay-sayers (who are entitled to their own opinion, so no hard feelings). Syndicate might not be the game that gamers or Syndicate veterans needed or wanted. But it was a shooter that, although undercooked, was filled with really neat ideas and wrapped in an incredibly stylish package. The visceral gunplay, outstanding audiovisual presentation, high-octane setpieces, and incredibly inventive weapon design really gave the game a lot of character and further enhanced the “corporate world” theme that defined the Syndicate franchise. Dismal sales mean that the chances of seeing a sequel to this maligned but underappreciated shooter are slim to none, but at least its ideas and execution will inspire some developers to create a game in the same vein as this one.
Where can I get it: You can get it on Origin, or you can order the console versions at online retailers (Amazon, Ebay...).
So there you have it, my list of FPS games that deserve to make a comeback! Feel free to leave a reply to this article, and let me know what games do you want to see resurrected (it doesn’t have to be an FPS, I just happen to love them so much!).