A full 3D survival horror, Extermination may have been plagued with some of the worst voice acting ever (which was actually slowed down or sped up to fit the lip syncing, with hilarious results), but the core gameplay was great.
The game made use of traditional Resident Evil-style combat and exploration, but featured some great additions. The modular weapon you carried could be fully customized, and various environmental puzzles were put into play. Alongside this, ammo was very scarce, and so running from combat was often advisable. Dennis, the protagonist, could become infected with enough exposure to enemies.
Deus Ex is widely considered to be one of the greatest games ever made. It sold well on PC and won masses of awards. It redefined what we thought was possible in a video game, and the FPS genre, and out of all the games out there, this is one of the elite few to come so close to sheer perfection. It went on to spawn two sequels, and is now very much back in the public eye.
As Musashi, you roamed around various locations fighting robotic enemies, able to cut them into various pieces with a powerful katana. You could learn enemy attacks and use them against your foes, and side quests could be undertaken to earn more experience. A good, well presented game.
Also known as Indigo Prophecy, Fahrenheit came from Quantic Dream, the studio that also brought us Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and the earlier Nomad Soul. Like the later games, Fahrenheit was largely a glorified QTE, but it also had a little more gameplay, and the story was intriguing enough to draw you in, even if it went a bit Pete Tong toward the end.
Originally planned as an action-oriented and multiplayer entry in the Deus Ex series, Project Snowblind became a more generic FPS, but one that managed to be a pretty good title all the same, replete with nice visuals and some decent gameplay.
Before Guitar Hero and Rock Band emerged from Harmonix, there was Frequency and Amplitude. Like their eventual successors, these were music games set on ever-scrolling tracks that challenged players with hitting on screen queues to play music.
You controlled Joseph, a Summoner who could call into battle various powerful creatures. As well as Joseph, other party members also joined the quest, and you could take control of these, too. The game featured a myriad of side quests, and combat was real time. There was also a healthy amount of Diablo-style loot finding to be done.
We featured the first Klonoa in our list of underappreciated PS1 games, and the series continued to impress with its PS2 outing, which also went largely unnoticed, despite critical acclaim.
It possessed similar gameplay to the first game in the series, albeit with better visuals, and the 2.5D platforming was every bit as enjoyable as it was the first time around, even more so with the tweaks and refinements that came with the new platform.
Surviving in the city not only required plenty of agility and avoidance of collapsing buildings, but you also had to find water to keep your energy levels up, and the other survivors you encountered would need to be looked after. There was even a choice of companion, with each opening up different areas to explore. It was a great little game that came out of nowhere, and disappeared just as fast.
Darkwatch featured solid FPS gameplay with horse riding shooter segments and some useful vampiric abilities, which were unavailable in missions set during the daytime, making the player rely on standard tactics. It had a great art style, and was originally planned as a series, but this never happened as the sequel was canned.
Visually stunning for the time, Primal was a brilliantly polished game, and although the gameplay got a little bit repetitive, it was an enthralling adventure, and one that simply fell off the radar.
The game stars soldier Nick Bishop, who is remotely controlled by an operator elsewhere, and as the game progresses, Nick experiences flashbacks of repressed memories, leading to plot twists and a conspiracy.
This is one of the biggest gaming mascot-type characters to fail to make it as big as it should have. The Sly series is a great cartoon stealth platformer, which has now been re-released on PS3 in HD form (the original trilogy). Initially developed by Infamous developer Sucker Punch, the game is a cult classic and successfully merged 3D platforming with stealth elements.
Each game, including this debut outing, saw the titular Raccoon thief pull off various heists and engage in boss battles. Sly could use the world to his advantage, shimmying up drainpipes, perching on vantage points, and hiding so he could execute stealth attacks. He also fought foes face to face, but this was a noisy option. The end result was a great example of 3D platforming that demonstrated the genre could be more flexible and varied than it usually was.
The various powers were handled in a far more fluid and accessible way than Second Sight, particularly the telekinesis, which was very satisfying (you could even pick up and throw your enemies). The game itself, being a more action-oriented third-person shooter, was a little more appealing to a larger audience. Despite this, it still failed to make major waves, and was never heard from again.
Core Design was the team responsible for creating Tomb Raider, a game we all know, but it also dabbled in various other titles, including this very Tomb Raider-esque sci-fi outing.
Project Eden was a brilliant puzzler in the TR mold, only this time you had four different characters to control, each with their own unique skills. Team leader Carter could interrogate people and access high security doors, engineer Andre could repair machinery, Minoko was the hacker of the team, and Amber was a powerful cyborg, capable of surviving hostile environments.
It came out of nowhere, being a random video game of a 20-year-old movie, but The Thing was surprisingly good. Instead of focusing on the actual events of the movie, the game took place a few days afterwards. A team of U.S. soldiers were sent to investigate Outpost 31, before venturing to other facilities as they discovered the truth behind the alien invasion.
The game used an AI teammate system, giving player character Blake plenty of allies. These allies were made up of engineers, soldiers, and medics, and their skills were used to progress through the various locations.
The combat engine in the game was, as to be expected from a Capcom game, pretty solid, and the gladiatorial sections were challenging and satisfying. Agrippa could use all sorts of vicious weapons, even the severed arms of his enemies, and the arena changed and featured various combat challenges to keep things interesting, including chariot races. There were also sections for Agrippa outside of the arena.
Urban Chaos looked great for a PS2 FPS, and it featured some of the most satisfying gunplay around. Head shots in particular were gratifying (and often the best way to take out foes, so mastering it was important), and the riot shield opened up new game mechanics, such as having to slowly approach a hostage-holding gang member, shielding yourself from fire until you could get in that elusive headshot. Brilliant.
Blood Will Tell played very much like Devil May Cry, only with larger, more open areas and some stealth and puzzle sections (as Dororo). Hyakkimaru and his implanted weapons made for a great combat character, with all sorts of crazy moves and combos, which could be upgraded as you progressed. The levels were varied, and there was no cheating or shortcuts taken. You actually did seek out and kill 48 fiends, many of which were impressive bosses, and some were downright freaky. Each chapter of the game had its own mini-story, keeping things interesting. This was a brilliant fighter that really you should dig out.
You quickly noticed just how well produced The Mark of Kri was when you started playing it, and how violent the gameplay was. The characters were great, not out of place in any Disney epic, and although it took a while to get used to, the control scheme worked very well. Highly recommended.
The series is notorious for both its high difficulty and stiff controls, but underneath this is one of the most rewarding game experiences around. You may end up being killed time after time by that powerful wyvern, but when you finally figure out its patterns and weaknesses, and bring it down, the sense of achievement is palpable.
The hunting of the original game was accompanied by a complex gathering and crafting system, with every item farmed or carved off fallen beasts being used to make items, weapons, and armor. The game, thanks to numerous quests, many of which you needed to grind in order to find rare resources, is immense. It tried its best to make you dislike it with clunky controls and a dodgy camera, but this was one title where it was well worth persevering, just like the many sequels.
Okami was an epic and flawless adventure, and if there were any issues to be found, it was the lack of real difficulty. Still, with a long and varied story with tons of side quests, memorable characters, and all sorts of extras and mini games, Okami is unmissable, which makes it all the more upsetting that it was overlooked by most, contributing to the death of a very talented studio. Damn.
Ico was a long escort mission, but before you run for the hills, know that it was an escort mission that was actually fun to play. Its striking art style and mixture of puzzles and enemy confrontations were superbly designed. The game possessed a level of character and refinement few games can even imagine, and was a forerunner for the equally brilliant and more successful Shadow of the Colossus. 2b1af7f3a8